If you’re a parent, then you want your kids to live well. You want them to flourish. You want them to follow Jesus all the days of their lives. This is a prayer I regularly pray for my kids. But how does this happen? What does this look like? What’s at stake? It starts with building a biblical worldview.
We have all run into the buzzsaw of skepticism at some point in our lives and it’s not a fun experience.
Perhaps your conversation went something like this:
Skeptic: So as a Christian you must believe in God right?
You: Yes. I believe in God…don’t you?
Skeptic: Actually, no, I don’t. Are you saying that you have 100% certainty that God exists? I mean , isn’t it possible that God doesn’t exist?
There are several things going on in a scenario like this, but I just want to highlight one.
The One Question That Will Help You Break Free From The Grip Of Skepticism
Whether from a well meaning friend or an aggressive critic, the problem of skepticism can be hard to break free from. The unspoken assumption of skepticism is that if it’s possible you could be wrong about something, then you can’t know it. Usually this comes in the form a “How do you know that you’re not wrong?” (which could be repeated forever….)
This is mistaken. Here’s why.
In other words the mere possibility that I could be wrong doesn’t mean that I actually am wrong. I’m going to need some reasons to think my belief is mistaken before I should begin to doubt that particular belief.
There is a better way. Here is the basic template of a question you can ask when you find yourself dealing with a skeptic.
“That’s an interesting question. Just because it’s possible I could be wrong about a belief, it does not mean that I am wrong about that belief. Can you tell me why you think I am wrong about ______________ .”
- “I admit that it’s possible Christianity isn’t true, but can you give me some reasons why you think it’s not?”
- “I admit that it’s possible God doesn’t exist, but can you give me some reasons why you think God doesn’t exist?”
- “I admit that it’s possible Jesus didn’t exist, but can you give me some reasons why you think Jesus never existed?”
Bottom line. Don’t play the skeptic’s game.
Ask them this question and clarify what the real issue is and then have a productive spiritual conversation exploring the evidence together.
If you found this post helpful, you would enjoy How to Respond to the “That’s Just Your Interpretation” Objection
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Raise your hand if you want to be seen as judgmental. Any takers? Me neither.
But how many times have you been shut down by this little slogan–“Who Are You To Judge?” After all, didn’t Jesus say “Do not judge so that you will not be judged?” Hmmmm….that does sound like something from the Bible…
Yes, Jesus did say that. But most people have misunderstood the point that Jesus was trying to make there.
And if you’re able to master the context of this oft quoted but frequently misapplied passage then you will be ready to help your friends and family think more clearly about important spiritual and moral truths. And every step towards the truth is a really big deal!
Move Over John 3:16…
Many people today may know John 3:16 is in the Bible and has something to do with Jesus, but Matthew 7:1 has surpassed it as the most quoted Bible verse in our increasingly secular culture.
Let’s take a closer look at this famous passage found in Matthew 7. For the full context, we will examine verses 1-6:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Is Jesus’ point here that we are not to say that what someone else is doing may be morally wrong or spiritually misguided? The short answer is clearly and unequivocally no. How do we know that? Because if so, then Jesus disobeyed his own command within only a paragraph!
Look at verse 5. Jesus calls people hypocrites. Gasp! Jesus was judgmental too? Actually, lets be more specific. Given this group’s behavior, he makes the informed judgment that they are hypocrites.
And in the next verse he makes another judgement that dogs don’t deserve what is sacred and pigs aren’t worthy of pearls. By the way, dogs and pigs represent people and their attitudes towards what is truly valuable–ouch.
So what is Jesus against?
thinking that you are morally or spiritually superior to someone else or earning God’s special favor by obeying the rules.
Jesus both assumes and illustrates in his life and teachings that making judgements is not only unavoidable but completely necessary and appropriate.
The Bottom Line
Bottom line: Jesus is for making judgments between good and evil, what is morally right and wrong, and what is true and what is false. What he was completely against was people using knowledge of the truth to beat people up with, belittle, or make themselves appear morally superior.
Once we look at the context of this passage, it becomes obvious that we need to grow in our ability to make judgments. But we need to be aware of our hearts ability to become self righteous. There is no room for arrogance in the Christian life.
The psalmist’s prayer is a good reminder to check our hearts:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24
But we also need the moral courage to stand for truth in the midst of these common slogans and not buckle under the pressure of those who think God’s revealed truth is outdated.
If you found this post helpful, you would enjoy How to Respond to the “That’s Just Your Interpretation” ObjectionCLICK HERE TO GET MY FREE GUIDE: "TOP 10 BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW RESOURCES FOR TEENAGERS"
When it comes to having conversations about controversial spiritual and moral matters you can usually count on one thing for sure, namely, that someone will inevitably raise the “that’s just your interpretation” objection. This is especially true if the Bible is involved.
You’ve seen this happen before right? Once someone throws out the “that’s just your interpretation” line, the conversation comes to a screeching halt. Again, this usually happens when a moral or religious topic is brought up like “abortion is wrong” or “Jesus is the only way of salvation.” Perhaps you have found yourself in a conversation like that and thought you were making progress only to be dismissed with a slogan. What do you do?
Two Options For Engaging This Objection
There are a few options on how you can engage here.
The first option is you can get into a passionate (but pointless) yelling match where you go back and forth screaming “no it doesn’t” / “yes it does” for 30 minutes or so (note: I didn’t say this first one was a good option).
Or you can chose option number two where you can try to move the conversation forward by asking a well placed question. This will be much more effective because typically people throw down the “that’s just your interpretation” slogan to dismiss you and your point of view without an argument.
At this point, you can clarify what they mean by asking, “Are you saying you don’t like my interpretation or that you think it’s false?” If they think it’s false, great. You can then ask them the reasons they have for thinking that it’s false and have a productive spiritual conversation. If you need some help in learning how to know “which interpretation of the Bible is correct” then start here.
“I Don’t Like Your Point of View”
However, more often than not it will become obvious that this person simply doesn’t like the implications of your view. Maybe if your view is correct, they might have to alter a behavior they enjoy or change their mind about a controversial social issue.
Philosopher Paul Copan suggests a reasonable response in situations like these: “There are many truths that I myself don’t like or find difficult to accept, but not liking them doesn’t give me the freedom to reject them. I have to accept that they are true.”
Sometimes the most loving thing you can do in a spiritual or moral conversation is help someone discover that reality is indifferent to our preferences. The truth about God and the way we flourish as human begins is too important to discover to allow it to be dismissed by an uncritically examined slogan.
So the next time you feel like yelling when a spiritual and moral disagreement shows up, just take a deep breath and ask a question.
If you found this post helpful, you would enjoy “How to have a conversation about Bible contradictions.”
Recently, I wrote about how and why we are failing our students. But, what does it mean to teach from a christian worldview? The foundation of the Christian worldview is the conviction that in Christ are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). In other words, Jesus has the best information about everything. To live out a Christian worldview is to “think Christianly” about all of life. Here’s how I have tried to flesh out this conviction: Christianity actually rises to the level of being true or false (and there are good reasons to believe it’s actually true). And if Christianity is true, then it speaks to all of life; it makes a comprehensive claim on reality. “If Christianity should happen to be true – that is to say, if its God is the real God of the universe,” said G.K. Chesterton, “then defending it may mean talking about anything and everything. Things can be irrelevant to the proposition that Christianity is false, but nothing can be irrelevant to the proposition that Christianity is true.”
In light of that, I teach with the following core commitments. First, Christianity is a knowledge tradition, which means that truths about God, history, the spiritual life, and morality can actually be known, not merely believed (cf. Col. 1:9-10 and Luke 1:1-4). Second, I assume (and argue for) the existence of objective truth. That is, truth is discovered; not created by an individual or culture. These two commitments will give students the confidence to cut through the mindless sound bites and slogans so common in our culture today.
Teaching from a Christian worldview requires that we ask and answer four vital questions:
1.) What do Christians believe about this? (Understanding / Content)
2.) Why do Christians believe this? (Reasons / Evidence)
3.) Why does this matter to my life? (Integration / Ownership)
4.) As an everyday ambassador, how can I help others connect with this important truth? (Embodiment / Connection)
This isn’t everything that could be said. But I think it’s an important starting point. Our beliefs and our thought lives provide the live possibilities for us to choose from in the day in and day out of life. If our thoughts are mostly away from God, then our choices most likely will be as well. Renewing our mind is fundamental to being an apprentice of Jesus and worldview formation (Col. 3:1-3; Rom. 12:1-2). I have tried to flesh out and apply this approach in my latest book with Zondervan, Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture.