The QuasiChristian

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Reasoning

The Road to Belief: Evangelizing Intellectuals

Excerpt from “Engaging the Closed Mind: Presenting Your Faith to the Confirmed Unbeliever”

Tough-minded people are primarily concerned with objective truth (truth that exists independent of personal beliefs, feelings, and experiences; truth that is verifiable). These people are rationally motivated; that is, things must be logical—make sense—before they’ll believe it. They are the people who want so-called “scientific proof” before they will accept something. Hence, to the tough-minded, belief is bound up with evidence. Like Jack Webb in the 1960s television show Dragnet, they want “Just the facts, ma’am!”

Tough-minded people are the ones who usually raise intellectual objections to Christianity. The road to belief has many obstacles. They need their questions answered and their doubts resolved before they will accept biblical truth-claims. Consequently, tough-minded people are not moved by subjective religious experiences. Personal testimonies or dramatic, life-transforming conversion experiences are usually unconvincing to them.

Tough-minded people tend to look for natural explanations for religious phenomena. They are skeptics of anything with a hint of the supernatural. For example, a religious conversion is merely a psychological phenomenon. A miraculous healing is attributed to the so-called power of suggestion or to positive thinking. Answered prayer is seen as coincidence, a natural occurrence whose timing simply coincided with prayer; it would have happened anyway.

Although we should initiate a witnessing encounter with the gospel, in most cases this approach is ineffective with tough-minded people. They almost always raise objections or shrug us off. We usually have to work our way up to a gospel presentation by removing intellectual obstacles. In a sense, we have to earn the right to give a gospel presentation.

On the brighter side tough-minded people are more likely to listen to the facts and go with them. If they are convinced by the evidence, they are more likely to alter their existing worldview assumptions and go with Christianity. As with all genuine conversions to Christianity, the Holy Spirit is involved in the conversion of tough-minded people. But tough-minded people come to Christ through their heads rather than their hearts, through their intellects rather than their feelings. In other words, rather than law or gospel, the Holy Spirit uses the intellect—often through extra-biblical (apologetic) evidences—to reveal spiritual truth to tough-minded people. Apologetics is the key to evangelizing these individuals.

Story, D. (1999). Engaging the closed minded : Presenting your faith to the confirmed unbeliever (28–29). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

September 2, 2010 Posted by | Apologetics, Evangelism | , , , | Leave a comment