Dr. Jeremiah Johnston welcomes Dr. Andy Bannister, apologist, popular speaker, and author of books including “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments.” Bannister says his journey into apologetics began with fledgling attempts at proving the Christian faith to a group of Islamic faithful. Realizing his answers and resources were inadequate, Bannister read extensively and practiced interacting with unbelievers in winsome ways.
“The goal is to lead them Jesus,” he says. “We can become obsessed with winning the argument – even with our own denomination or pet theology. Start by listening. Ask questions about what they believe. Ask about their worldview. Repeat back to them what they’ve said and ask them to clarify. Not only will you get more of where they’re coming from, but often, you’ll learn that the question they’re asking is not really what they’re asking.”
Before we think of far-flung places, Christians would do well to start with their own friends, families, and circles of influence, Bannister says. Even a simple invitation to one’s home, for example, can open the door for further conversation and relationships.
Assumptions can be the enemy of meaningful Gospel sharing. For example, an evangelist can assume that his hearers want the answers to the questions the sharer deems important. However, finding out what is important to other parties, and then relating how Christianity answers their needs and questions, is an important first step.
“We leap into arguments,” Bannister says. “When it comes to the Gospel, I think we’ve missed the trick: how do we make people see the difference that Jesus makes? If Christianity is true, all those things you care about depends upon it.”
Johnston paraphrases Blaise Pascal’s idea: “Present the Gospel to your friends and family in a way that they wish it were true, and then show them that it is.”
Dr. Andy Bannister is the director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity and an adjunct speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). He is a professor, speaker, and author of books including “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments.”