What about Aliens, UFOs, evolution and suffering?
Street evangelists have to be ready with answers!1
Open-air, or street evangelism, is the place to be to interact with the multitudes today who know nothing of God, the Lord Jesus, the Bible, or the way of salvation. It is also the place to find out what is important to people and what they believe. Christians surely need to know those things if they are going to witness to people effectively. This is a good reason, in and of itself, why church leaders should regularly be engaged in out-of-doors evangelism. If we are going to scratch where people itch, we need to know where it is that they itch. The Open-air Mission has been appointing men to go amongst the unchurched masses in order to share the Gospel since 1853. The work is needed just as much now as 163 years ago. In fact, since church-going has massively declined in the Western world over that time, it is surely even more important to take the Gospel to where people are, rather than thinking that our duty starts and finishes with us praying that the unconverted will come into our church services!
The #1 objection: Evolution
It is very interesting to note, from the first-hand experience of our many evangelists,2 the number one objection to the Christian message, that we hear over and over, is the theory of evolution. Tragically, time and time again when people bring up the subject, they will speak of ‘the fact’ of evolution; in their minds it has been scientifically proven (but see here). However, when pressed about it, so many have a knowledge that is based upon a few sound bites they have heard or read in the media. It is interesting to see many people surprised to discover that there are answers to their questions, which they had assumed were unassailable. When I was preaching on one occasion in the town of Luton (about 30 miles north of London), a man called out, “What about all the dinosaurs then?” He was very surprised when I replied, “Actually sir, I have a free booklet I can give you, which addresses that very issue”.
Often connected with questions about evolution is the subject of suffering. There can be many different reasons for people to ask about this subject. Some think this will catch the preacher out, but others ask because they have had some deeply painful experience. Take for example a conversation that took place in the town of Bedford recently (where the great Christian writer John Bunyan3 hailed from). A woman approached the preacher and her first words were, “Why did God allow my four year old daughter to die?” Responding to that broken-hearted mother took a great deal of tact. Thankfully, after sympathy was expressed for her pain, she was willing to listen to what the Bible said about suffering in the world. She even stayed to listen to more of the preaching and accepted a copy of The Gospel of John before going on her way.
Of course the theistic ‘God used’ evolution view (how tragic that this is the position of many Christians today) can surely only flounder when questions such as this are raised; why did God make a world full of evil and why do people die? How glad we should be that we can actually tell the enquirer that the answers to those questions are found in the Bible. Genesis 1 and Romans 5 are crystal clear. The answer to the first question, of course, is that God did not make an evil world at all; He made it perfect in every way (Genesis 1:31). In answer to the second question, we can inform people that death is the result of the first man’s rebellion against God—a rebellion that every human being is infected with. We can then expose the fact that no amount of science or philosophy or religion can ever deal with that rebellion but, wonderfully, God has provided a remedy in the life, death, burial and resurrection of His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
UFOs and aliens?
Another issue that people raise is the subject of UFOs. In Liverpool, earlier in the year, a man told one of our evangelists that he was fascinated by alien sightings. He even admitted that he believed that God was an alien who had come to earth billions of years ago and seeded life, only to then leave it to evolve, returning to his own planet. Several of our evangelists have spoken to people who believed that mankind came from an alien life-source millions of years ago. While sounding wild and speculative, this again demonstrates how people’s views are influenced and shaped by popular culture. Even mainstream science postulates the ‘alien creators’ idea today. Of course, there is no evidence whatsoever for such ‘designed by aliens’ beliefs.
Open Air Mission’s most senior evangelist, Clive Williams, has had several friends who claimed to have seen UFOs. One even said he believed that Jesus was just an astronaut and that only part of the New Testament was true. Upon investigation, Clive discovered that these sightings nearly always happened in areas associated with Satanism. Sadly, these friends all ended up being involved in New Age practices and even witchcraft. There is no doubt that the devil is doing all he can to turn people’s attention away from the truth of the Bible. He wants them to believe anything other than the truth of God’s holy Word.
An encouraging conversation recently took place in the city of Leicester with a man named David. Having received much literature from the outreach team, David now understood that God created the world out of nothing, and that works-based religion is false. He had also left behind a former interest in aliens, stating that he had heard that UFOs were really evil spirits, so he wanted nothing to do with such things. Certainly, some of the phenomena that people interested in Ufology get involved with are little different from the occult. I can recommend Gary Bates’ fascinating book Alien Intrusion, which very thoroughly examines the close links between evolution, interest in aliens and the occult. Now David needs to focus instead upon his need of faith in the Lord Jesus. Perhaps that needs to be your focus as well.
Are you prepared?
Our open air evangelists encounter all sorts of people and must be equipped to answer objections and to point men and women to Christ. I encourage you to be similarly prepared. At the end of the day we have to find out what people believe before we counter it. Whether asked about alien life, quizzed about evolution or challenged to account for death and suffering, all Christians must be ready to reason with people (2 Timothy 4:2) and to give solid answers in defence of their faith in Christ (1 Peter 3:15). CMI provides a wealth of books, DVDs and magazines to assist you.