How Do I Share the Gospel With a Staunch Atheist?

Show Notes:

Matt: Welcome

J.D., you’ve heard from a member at The Summit Church’s own Chapel Hill Campus who asked you how to share the gospel with a staunch atheist, which we felt like would be a great topic for this week’s episode.

J.D.: Yeah Matt, I’m sure many of us have been in a situation like this where God lays someone on your heart to share the gospel with, but you know they’re firm in their belief—or unbelief—as an atheist. And it can feel like, “Where do I even begin to share the love of God with them when they don’t believe that any sort of god exists?”

  • A lot of prayer: pray 1st, 2nd and 3rd
  • Don’t overwhelm them. Don’t talk about it all the time
  • Pray for opportunities to show extraordinary grace (Acts 16)
  • Invite them to read the Bible. Heb 4:12: Charles Spurgeon talked about the Bible like a caged lion: all we have to do is let it out because who’s ever heard of defending a lion? Read the Bible… 
  • After you’ve had a couple of intentional conversations, shift more to answering questions 1 Peter 3:15. Trust the Spirit of God to do the work and think of it more like fishing.

Now, that said… 

  • Of course, I do think it’s wise to be prepared for conversations like these, and I’ll try to be as practical as I can in that.
  • Theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer talked about “taking the roof off” of various worldviews that people might hold. 
  • Everyone has some kind of worldview – even an atheist – and Schaeffer meant that a person’s worldview is kind of like a house that they construct. But there’s only one “blueprint” that can effectively explain all aspects of life, support all the evidence in the world, and be lived out consistently with all of that, and that’s a Christian worldview. All other worldviews are defective in one way or another.
  • So to “take the roof off” of an atheist’s worldview, I’d ask questions. 
    • On that topic, Randy Newman has a great book called Questioning Evangelism, where he talks about evangelizing through questions like these. He even points out how often Jesus asked questions of skeptics and people curious about his ministry.
    • One of the very best questions we can ask people in these conversations, Newman writes, is very simple: “Really?”
      • Questions like, “Do you really believe we came from nothing, and yet life is so meticulously and miraculously held together?” Or, “Do you really believe that nothing happens when we die?”
  • Gavin Ortlund, Why God Makes Sense in a World that Doesn’t
    • Christianity versus naturalism in relation to the basic elements that all stories have: origins, meaning, conflict, and hope. The constant question will be: Which is telling us a better story—a story that better accounts for the strangeness, the incompleteness, the brokenness, and the beauty of our world?
    • A Christian apologist once remarked to me that on university campuses thirty years ago he was asked more questions about Christianity’s truth (Does God exist? Did Jesus rise from the dead? etc.); today he is asked more questions about Christianity’s goodness (Is the church intolerant? Are Christians homophobic? etc.).

  • Matt:  Next up we’re answering the question, “Does Modesty Matter?” Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and be sure to check out YouTube and subscribe @J.D.Greear.


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