You see, when you are evangelizing and somebody challenges you on some doctrine of the Christian faith, it takes great practice and understanding to realize what is truly going on. Piggybacking on some of the posts I have done recently regarding worldviews, you must recognize that the actual objection is typically not at all the objection stated or being asked. If you can't see through the apparent objection into the heart of the actual objection, you will forever get stuck in rabbit trails and side issues, and will never begin chipping away at the ultimate authority in their worldview. Dr. White (via rough paraphrase) says:
The skill that we need to be cultivating is the ability to identify what the fundamental error is in the assumption that lies behind the objection. What I find myself doing more and more is immediately jumping to it and challenging that.1
Now, how would you respond? Think about it for a moment. If you dive headlong into arguing about the fact that the Bible is God’s Word and cannot lie, you’ve taken the bait. If you begin arguing how Jesus’ ministry was full of eyewitnesses to many miracles and they affirmed what the writers of the gospels recorded, you have been duped.
Think hard about this. What is lying at the heart of this objection? What philosophical bias and presupposition is he holding to that causes him to object in this way?
The ACTUAL objection is this: you opponent is a naturalist and doesn’t believe that miracles can happen. Now nobody will ever come right out and tell you that, but they hint at it with what they will tell you. It is up to you to be able to cut through all of the distractions and get to the heart of the matter. Your response therefore should be to challenge his underlying philosophical naturalism rather than to argue about particular manifestations of that philosophical naturalism (his voiced objection being one such manifestation).
Again, we must realize that what is happening when you encounter an objection, is that the entire edifice of the Christian worldview is coming into opposition with the entire edifice of the opponent’s worldview. There is no neutral ground on which you and the detractor agree so that you can argue from that point. You must get them to see that their objection lies not in some “fact” or “proof,” but actually in a philosophical bias or presupposition at the heart of their web of beliefs. Furthermore this presupposition is nearly always unproven and untested and adopted by FAITH.
James White gives a couple more examples in his lesson with particular responses that he might give:
Question: You really believe the bible is the word of God?
Answer: So you don't believe God can communicate?2
Question: How can Jesus pray to God if he is God?
Answer: So you think the God-Man would be an atheist?3
Facts are the if the Christian God exists, these objections are not objections at all, and so it is clear that your opponent is assuming Christianity must be false from the outset. You must get them to see this assumption and then challenge them on it.
I would like to make one final point on this topic. The vast majority of the time your opponent has no clue about their philosophical biases and presuppositions that are the root of their objections. Again, most people think in a very poor fashion and as such rarely stop to contemplate the intricacies of their belief system. I don’t say this to be mean or rude, our society as a whole does not promote thinking in such an encompassing fashion and as such most people have never been taught these things. This is why we need to be thoroughly prepared as Christians to be able to challenge people while we teach them how to think well. Our hope is that because they are made in the image of God, when our opponent’s biases and foundation-less assumptions are exposed, they will see their inconsistency and arbitrariness and seek to establish their worldview and frame of thinking in something that is neither arbitrary nor inconsistent. It’s at that point that we can present the Christian worldview as the only viable alternative.
1 White, James. "The Doctrine of the Trinity." Sermonaudio.com. http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=112141314305 (accessed 8/13/2014).