Here’s How Tim Keller Suggests Christians Should Engage Skeptics And Atheists
Tim Keller is sharing some tips about how to engage an atheist or skeptic in a conversation about God.
The founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City who is also a bestselling author, theologian and apologist said many people have questions about things like the meaning of life and identity. Even though some people don’t realize it, Keller said those types of questions have a religious basis.
“Everybody has working answers to those questions, and whether they admit it or not, they’re actually religious answers. They don’t see it that way, but they are,” he said in an interview with Christianity Today. “If over in Asia you get your identity from basically fitting into your family and pleasing your parents, and over here you get your identity from achievement and following your dreams and expressing your inner desires, those are not empirically proven, those are both basically religious answers to the question of How can I really get a strong identity?”
Instead of overtly speaking about religion, Keller suggested that people can get to know one another as individuals before trying to convert them.
“So what happens is that when you’re talking to people, and not about religion, you get to know them. You just become friends,” he said. “Then, when you start talking about personal struggles, like when there are breakdowns, when a person gets disappointed, or when there’s a love relationship that falls apart, and their working answers to those big questions aren’t cutting it, there arises an opportunity to talk about not so much Christianity in general, but how Christianity works in your life and how it helps you deal with those issues.”
Keller said Christians need to be prepared to answer some of the tough questions about how their faith relates to life’s big questions like, “What’s my meaning in life? How do I handle suffering? How do I face death? How do I ever really find satisfaction? How do I get an identity that’s not unstable and fragile?” The pastor also suggested that Christians should work together to develop the answers to those questions.
“You need to work with other Christians, your pastor, or whoever to develop working answers that you feel good about. Otherwise, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to hide who you are from other people because you’re afraid of those questions,” he said. “If you can answer people’s questions and also learn how to question people’s answers, that’s how you can approach having these conversations.”
(image via screengrab)