Are you asking the right questions when you are talking with others about Christ? If you are wondering, you may want to read on.
I have been reading Randy Newman’s book Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did. In his book, Newman provides five principles and questions that serve to help build plausibility structures. Plausibility structures are arguments, facts, or ideas that make a belief seem more probable or reasonable.
By keeping the following principles in mind and asking the questions associated with them, we can help people to see belief in Christianity is reasonable, while at the same time showing them that their belief is the one that is not plausible.
Newman’s Five Principles and Questions
(1) We must awaken people to see the fallacy of their argument
ASK: Really? Do you really think [all religions are the same]? Do you really think [your religion is the same as those who thought they would catch a ride on a comet]?
This question serves to wake people up so they will begin to think about their beliefs.
(2) Some things can’t be true – To say all religions are true is self-refuting because all religions cannot be true.
ASK: Can you explain that to me?
This question serves to soften hearts and demonstrates an unwillingness to be put on the defensive. It helps build the plausibility structure that some things can’t be true.
(3) Some things can be partially true – There is nothing wrong with admitting other religions get some things right.
ASK: So? [X Religion] is right about [X Topic] but what about [Mention a major tenet of their faith]? Have you studied [X Religion] much? What else do you know?
This question helps to build the plausibility structure that some things can be partially true without being fully true.
(4) Somethings might be true – You want them to admit that it is probable something might be true with hopes they will accept your probable statement as truth one day.
ASK: Isn’t it possible that [Jesus is Lord/Died on the Cross/God is real/God is a personal God]?
ASK: Would you like it if Jesus were Lord/There was a God?
These questions help to expose a flawed plausibility structure – one that says, we sometimes believe things because we want to, not because they’re true.
(5) Somebody sees the whole elephant – Someone who claims to see the truth when others are not is taking an arrogant position. The only way someone can claim that others get it wrong and they get it right is if they know the truth themselves.
ASK: How do you know that? What makes you believe that?
This question exposes the underlying issue of how we know what we know. In addition, the plausibility structure erected by these questions makes a more solid foundation for people’s beliefs than just a hackneyed illustration or story.
By employing these principles and questions we are able to support facts and ideas about Christianity, which serves to build plausibility structures and make belief in Christianity more probable. These questions also serve to challenge people’s ideas and beliefs so they will begin to think about their religious system on a deeper level. Something all to often people do not do.
These Principles and Questions are taken out of Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did, 54-71. You can check Newman’s book out by clicking here.