Conversations about faith and religion always bring important questions and objections to the surface. These objections can often be misinterpreted as scary, discouraging, negative moments. In reality, an objection isn’t something to be feared; it’s an opportunity to engage.
When it comes to addressing objections, often it’s as much about how we respond as it is about the response we give.
For example, someone might be resistant to faith because of the violence involved in the Crusades. But as you listen more closely you realise that behind their question is a personal experience where they were hurt by the church. Why would people who claim to love in the name of Jesus act so hurtfully? Often resolving a question doesn’t just mean giving “the right answers”.
Ever heard the old adage: “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care”? How we speak speaks volumes. At the same time how we discern what’s behind the question can hold more value than a masterful apologetic response.
Here are 4 tips so you can respond rather than react when objections are raised:
1. Don’t be surprised
If challenging questions are raised, don’t assume that you’re being attacked. There are many reasons that objections to Jesus and the Bible are raised. They can come from a place of hurt, misunderstanding or from competing worldviews. And often the most alienating way we can respond is with surprise or alarm. Don’t be surprised: invite conversation.
Don’t avoid objections when they’re raised, engage with them. Good questions are your superpower. They are an excellent conversational tool that you can bring out when an objection is raised. Ask often: “What makes you say that?” It slows down the conversation and makes the thought process more of a dialogue.
It also gives you space to listen, think, and pray. Let’s say someone says “I just don’t understand how a good God can allow so much pain in this world.” By asking “What makes you say that?” you will uncover the heart behind the objection. You might discover they have an illness, or a loved one died recently. Ultimately, you’re not answering a question, you’re answering a person.
3. Learn as you go
Getting completely stumped in a conversation is an opportunity to learn. Don’t try to be an expert or “get it perfect.” Admitting that you don’t know an answer can sometimes be the best answer to give. Say you’ll look into it and get back to them. This keeps the conversation going, shows humility, and helps build your knowledge and resources.
Remember – there’s more going on behind the scenes than just a conversation. The Holy Spirit is always at work. Be honest and trust Him.
4. Be ready
The Bible says to be ready to “make a defence to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Sharing Jesus and loving your neighbour means engaging in difficult conversations.
Spend time thinking about why you believe in Jesus–specifically. Why do you believe in Jesus rather than Buddha or Mohammad or nothing? Study the Bible and listen to a wide range of good apologetics podcasts (apologetics means defence of the faith). Include them in your weekly listening and study. Consider these things for yourself, and be ready to respond in gentleness and respect.