The hardest ones to reach …
Educating against the Gospel
Published: 3 November 2015 (GMT+10)
Many in the Western church lament how reaching the world for Christ is getting more difficult all the time. The soil where the seed of the Gospel is sown continues to grow harder, overgrown with weeds of doubt and confusion, with a resultant diminishing of the Christian faith across the board.
On the front lines
Those that do open air preaching and street evangelism will be among the first to tell you how western culture is rejecting the Gospel more so now than even a few years ago. They are on the front lines so to speak, and interact with large numbers of people across the entire range of society.
A few hours of street witnessing can bring you in contact with a wide variety of people. From painters to professors, secretaries to stock brokers, bouncers to businessmen, loggers to lawyers. Those who evangelize on a regular basis are in a much better position to comment on the professed reasons as to why people claim not to believe in God, the Bible, need for salvation etc because of the sheer numbers they interact with. They can also tell you who (in general) are less willing to dialogue about spiritual things.
Who isn’t listening?
Edin Azabagic1 is a Training & Research Associate with an evangelistic ministry called The Cross Current (TCC) in London, Canada. He heads up street teams that participate in one on one evangelism and is also engaged in studies working towards a PhD (focusing on evangelism). He says:
"One of the areas in which TCC serves is public evangelism. We share the truth of the Gospel with strangers who are willing to dialogue. Of the various people groups we encounter, students are most likely to stop and talk. The most difficult populace to engage publicly are the middle-aged, middle-income, university educated, second or third generation Canadians. Their attitude is one of disdain toward anyone who would dare to challenge their deep-seated non-Christian beliefs."
Why aren’t they listening?
And Pastor Cory McKenna (Pastor of Local Missions at a church in London ON and founder of TCC) describes why he believes this certain demographic is less open to even hear the ‘good news’:
"God has graciously allowed me to share Christ with thousands of homegrown, garden-variety Canadians. Over the years I have experienced an escalating disinterest among those most fervently worshiping at the altar of ‘higher education’. Sadly, it seems that the longer they have been systematically spoon-fed false knowledge of God through secular indoctrination, the less willing and able they are to intelligently dialogue about all matters of truth and reality. Today, the ‘point and click’ correspondence between education and approachability in the West seems quite that simple."
So even though many students are willing to discuss spiritual matters, once they have completed a typical western under graduate degree they seem, in a sense, immunized to the Gospel. Why?
In Luke 6:40 we read:
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher (emphasis mine).
The simple fact is that the vast majority of children (even children from Christian homes) are educated in state run schools. Who is teaching them? Vox Day’s 2008 study on atheism contains the following quotes;
“A 2006 paper by Neil Gross of Harvard and Solon Simmons of George Mason University reported that 72.9 percent of the Professors they polled described the Bible as ‘an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts’ … ”
“The fact is that a professor at an elite university is as likely to be an atheist as a suicide bomber is to be a Muslim.”2
All thinking atheists are evolutionists of course (because they have to have a way to explain their existence without God), and evolution is taught as fact in all western state run school systems. So the bedrock of atheism is taught as fact/science and the majority of ‘higher’ educators are themselves atheists. So the result is atheists teaching atheism to produce more atheists.
This has made it increasingly difficult to reach people because they have literally been taught a materialistic apologetic outlook that is diametrically opposed to the Christian worldview. The two viewpoints couldn’t be further apart! No wonder it is hard to share the Gospel.
I distinctly remember two incidents in my own life that highlighted this. The first was when I was out with one of Edin’s teams evangelizing on the streets of London Ontario. The group of four I was with were passing out tracts when we came upon two men at a bus stop (because they were catching their bus it was easier to speak with them as they weren’t ‘moving targets’). Edin began to share the Gospel with one of them. I vividly remember the variety of expressions and contortions that crossed the fellow’s face as he listened impatiently to the most important message any human could ever hear.
With a bored expression his eyes wandered up and down, side to side, and he was constantly trying to interject something as Edin boldly proclaimed Christ as Creator, Saviour and Redeemer. Finally when he could get a word in edgewise he blurted out “OK! What do you people believe about dinosaurs!?”
Our group seemed a little dumbfounded for a second, and then Edin (knowing I worked with CMI) simply pointed both hands towards me. I started to explain that dinosaurs were a great way of confirming the truth of the Bible. I explained soft tissue, red blood cells and even fragments of DNA had been found in dinosaur bones, which was strong evidence that they died just a short while ago, not millions of years ago. His demeanor changed, he looked puzzled and he started to comment when unfortunately his bus came and our conversation ended.
Now think about it. Why was this person impatient and not listening to the Gospel message? Why was his ‘big question’ about dinosaurs when the topic being discussed was sin, salvation etc? Likely because he had been taught about evolution occurring over millions of years. This is a replacement for the Creator God of the Bible, so all of the words seemed meaningless to him in light of what he had come to believe. Dinosaurs are evolution’s poster boys and so he brought up what he thought was an ace card to trump the Christians, probably believing that we wouldn’t have cogent answers so he wouldn’t have to listen to all of that religious ‘mumbo jumbo’.
The other incident took place years before that when I was meeting a pastor friend of mine at a coffee shop. I had arrived early and so was working on my laptop when a well-dressed gentlemen approached me and asked if I was so and so (he was meeting a client he had never seen face to face before). I explained I wasn’t the person he was meeting and we struck up a conversation. He asked me what I did and I told him I was a youth pastor. He never blinked an eye and said that was great. He was very friendly and we continued talking about various subjects until finally he asked what I was working at on my computer. I told him I was working on an article debunking the theory of evolution.
All of a sudden he sat very upright, his expression became very serious (almost hostile) and he challenged “Well what about carbon dating!?” I have to admit I was taken aback at his change in his countenance and attitude, as well as the specificity and choice of question to lead with. Why had he not reacted when I told him I was a youth pastor? Likely because it didn’t overly challenge his belief system. He knew there were ‘religious people’ in the world and probably thought that I was helping young people with moral teaching etc.
But when I told him I did not believe in evolution it challenged his worldview directly and he responded with something he thought was solid evidence that backed his position; C14 dating (supposedly showing the earth is older than the Bible says it is).
Many say He doesn’t exist
Hebrews 11:6 says; And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Many profess God does not exist because of the materialistic worldview they were taught in school. Evolution is a shield which many hide behind to protect themselves from the idea of a Creator God which they would then have to be accountable to. It is also used to launch attacks against the word of God and is a huge stumbling block for almost everyone in the Western World, because most people attend state run school systems where the teaching of evolution is mandatory.
This worldview is taught almost universally in a slick, professional format (museums, documentaries, books etc) that is promoted as trustworthy and dignified because it is supposedly a scientifically based system of thought. Because it is equated with the same type of science that gives us computers and jet planes it seems modern, non-religious and therefore more legitimate than alleged arcane, ‘faith based’ ideas.
So much so that some act as if it’s embarrassing or ‘taboo’ to talk about religion, as if it were akin to talking about childish fairy tales seriously. But they feel comfortable talking about evolution because they think it’s about ‘science’. Arming yourself in this area of apologetics is a way to help promote the Gospel, as often that wall of evolution needs to be shattered before people’s ears become open to the good news.
Using tools to break down the walls
So how do you reach that family member, friend or co-worker that typically will not even discuss religious topics? Using resources that will challenge them is often a good non-threatening approach. Once the subject has been broached through a DVD, book or even a small booklet and they have had the chance to see that there are intelligent rebuttals to evolutionary ideas they may come to see that the conversation can be intellectual rather than what they simply see as ‘religious’.
Unfortunately many believers are hesitant to give out Christian material to a non-believer because the product is ‘cheesy’ and not well done. It may contain truth but may be seen as a little ‘hokey’ and dismissed. This is to be expected as Christian organizations are often underfunded, and it is hard to compete with the world’s budget (especially when they use public funding) to produce their materials. This is a major reason CMI is committed to producing top quality resources.
Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels
An excellent new DVD resource to get into people’s hands is Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels. Its high quality production, excellent graphics and cutting edge scientific information is sure to shake up an evolutionist’s worldview. It is a great way to remove that barrier of intellectualism that many put up as their defence against the Gospel message.
One approach is to lend DVDs to people while reading the book yourself (which is much more comprehensive). In this way when you follow up with them you will be much better equipped to dialog with them when they have questions or objections (the book contains much more information than the DVD covers).
We are receiving many testimonies from people now who are getting multiple copies and lending them out to people they know as a way to consider the truth claims of the Bible. Here are just a few;
Just got through today watching the Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels. I'm so inspired to reach the lost through the creation story. I have used brokenness of man as a therapist but this seems to penetrate to a deeper level … I now have the answers to go back to my atheist friends … Vontice H, USA
Mr John T from Taiwan, ordered 11 EAH DVDs and made the following comment:
This is a great film and will have a big impact in TAIWAN. Another group I showed it to is ordering 26 copies! Thank you!
And Jonathan H said;
I thought it was the best defense of the Bible and Creation I have ever seen. I am a Christian and frequently debate with evolutionary friends. This film and the book are two resources I have been after for a very long time … Best of all it is even understandable by anyone.
A grassroots approach
For the most part the western world’s centres of higher learning are cut off from the influence of the church. But everyone knows someone personally that has been influenced by evolutionary teaching (whether Christian or non-believer) who could benefit from being shown the truth of God’s word and His message of salvation. Many of these people will be among that group that seem the hardest to reach, but no one is beyond God’s reach. Please continue to pray that CMI and like-minded ministries will continue to help believers share the Gospel by producing faith building and Bible affirming information that God will use to open the eyes of even the most hardened of hearts.