1 Timothy 2:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to an accurate knowledge[1] of truth.

Witnessing to a Muslim

Many have not had many opportunities to witness to a Muslim. Most of us because of radical Islam (e.g., ISIS and Al Qaeda) over the past 15-years have gotten to know that they have a fervent belief in Allah, the Islamic name of God. However, most Muslims are not that familiar with what the Bible truly teaches. It is our hope that we can share our faith with Muslims when the opportunity presents itself. (1 Tim. 2:3-4) The following is a simple introduction to that process. For more on this subject, please see the following book that will be out late 2015. A CHRISTIAN’S GUIDE TO ISLAM: What Every Christian Needs to Know About Islam and the Rise of Radical Islam by Daniel Janosik[2]

Islamic Worldview

A worldview in the simplest terms is “the sum total of a person’s answers to the most important questions in life.”[3] Ironically, in today’s world, while everyone has a worldview, most are unaware of what it is and how it may affect their lives. For this reason, most worldviews are deficient, contradictory, and seldom are they united in thought with their many different pieces. (Nash 1999, 13)

While most of the earth’s seven billion residents are walking around unaware of the fact that they are carrying an insufficient worldview; it actually affects every facet of their life. Moreover, it is actually a matter of life and death that one not only become better aware of their worldview. However, it must be brought into alignment with the only worldview that matter, the thinking of the Creator of humankind himself as he has revealed to us through his loving revelation, the Bible.

What is of supreme importance then, is that the Christians continuously evaluate their own worldview, making sure that it is in harmony with God’s Word. Nevertheless, it is just as important to familiarize ourselves with the worldview of others: Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, and Islam, to mention a few. “Converts and immigrant [of Islamic] communities are found in almost every part of the world. With about 1.62 billion followers or 23% of the global population, Islam is the second-largest religion by number of adherents and, according to many sources, the fastest-growing major religion in the world.”[4]

Evangelism is the obligation of every Christian, to teach and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. (Matt 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8) It is for this reason that we will look at the worldview of Islam and contrast it with the Christian belief system. Initially, we will offer a brief overview of how Islam got its start and explain some terms that should help us better understand the Islamic mindset. Next, we will look at a short overview of five facets that every worldview possesses: Islam’s view of God, view reality, knowledge, moral code, and religious character. Finally, we will contrast the beliefs systems of Islam with Christianity before ending with a brief overview of what has been said herein.

Short Overview of Islam[5]

Muhammad bin [son of] Abdullah, was born about 570 C.E., in the prosperous trade city of Mecca. Young Muhammad was very much dissatisfied with the religious system of his day, it became known as the ‘time of ignorance.’ His people were steeped in idolatry and the worship of hundreds of local deities. Muhammad through his interactions with local Christian and Jewish traders had become just as disappointed with their approach to God as well. As far as he was concerned, both Judaism and Christianity had abandoned Allah,[6] and for this reason, the God of the Bible was raising up one last prophet to restore the pure religion of Abraham.

According to A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Islam “the Jews, the Arabs gained a superficial knowledge of the Old Testament stories and Jewish folklore, which is seen in the pages of the Quran. The Christianity that Muhammad encountered was brought to Arabia chiefly by Christians who had fled from the Byzantine Empire, victims of the intricate Christological controversies of those days, who had been condemned as heretics. Muhammad’s very imperfect understanding of Christian doctrine was probably due to the nature of these informants.” (Sookhdeo 2001, 10)

Muhammad’s marriage into a wealthy family afforded him the opportunity to engage in meditative thought as to his religious environment. It was on one of these occasioned trips that Allah or Gabriel began to come to him while he was in his trance. The inhabitants of Mecca were not receptive to these visions, believing Muhammad to be “demon-possessed.” It is at this point, about 622 C.E.; Muhammad made his flight to Medina. This also corresponds with the start of the Muslim[7] calendar. As a result, dates are known as A.H.[8] (Sookhdeo 2001, 12, 80)

The Arabic word jihad[9] was given birth to in about 624 C.E. after the battle of Badr, in which it was decided that the Muslim had an obligation to perform a jihad whenever they perceived a threat of any sort. Further, it was here in Medina that the Quran, a sacred textbook, was further developed into the final revelation from Allah. It is here too that many of the traditions of Islam had their beginning: prayer toward Jerusalem, Friday as the day of worship, and the fast of Ramadan.[10] In Muhammad’s lifetime, he managed to conquer all of Arabia, being the first to unite all Muslims as one, into the religion of Islam. Muhammad died in 632 C.E. and was succeeded by Caliph[11] Abu Bakr in 634 C.E. and Caliph Umar in 644 C.E. Throughout this initial period of unity, Syria, Iraq, Persia, and Egypt fell to the newly founded Islamic empire. (Sookhdeo 2001, 13)

There are the two major divisions of Islam, the Sunni and the Shiah. This came apart back at the time of Muhammad’s successors and is based on a discrepancy of understanding as to who is his lawful religious heirs. Does the procession come after Muhammad’s lineage as the Shiite Muslims assert or is it based on the elective office as the majority Sunni claim? The argument continues to this day, with no resolution in sight. The Sunni Muslims are in the majority by about ninety percent, with most of the ten percent of Shiah being found in Iran. Of course, with the Shiah being in the minority, they are under constant persecution by the Sunnis. (Sookhdeo 2001, 65)

Five Facets of the Islamic Worldview[12]

Unlike most of the religious systems that exist today, Islam has accomplished a way of life that many other institutions only dream of, a unity to the point that the Quran and the hadith[13] govern their religious system, state laws, and all social settings, Shariah law.[14] It is sacrilege to violate any of the religious norms, and one Muslim will correct another, and in many cases, it can mean death in Islamic countries.

View of God

Allah is the God of Islam. The Quran states: “So believe in God and His apostles. Say not ‘Trinity’: desist: it will be better for you: for God is One God.” (Surah 4:171, AYA) The Quran does not dispute the reality of God’s existence, like the Bible, it simply speaks as though he is. For the Muslim, Allah is almighty, all powerful, all knowing, and has no equal. Allah is the God of judgment and is to be feared in the sense of dread, not a reverential fear. As Abraham was God’s friend, the concept of a Muslim being the friend of Allah would be foreign to his mindset.

View of Reality

Islam believes Allah, “Almighty God” is the One who created the universe. They believe that the universe we are living in is not eternal as on the Day of Judgment there will be new Heaven and new earth. “On the Day when the earth will be changed to another earth and so will be the heavens and they (all creatures) will appear before Allah, the One, the Irresistible.” (Quran 14:48) Further, they believe the universe to be material, as the earth is under your feet, and is directed by God.

Knowledge

Aristotle’s work greatly influenced the Arab world. Arabic scholars, such as Avicenna and Averroes, expanded on and built on Aristotelian thinking in their attempts to bring into line Greek thought with the Muslim teaching. Setting aside the philosophical aspect of epistemology, and looking at the knowledge of Islam as it pertains to their religious institution, one will find that it has predominately been borrowed from late Judaism and Christianity and fused into Muhammad’s understanding, as later interpreted by the Arabian scholars. For example:

  • Quran: “Allah receiveth (men’s) souls at the time of their death, and that (soul) which dieth not (yet) in its sleep. He keepeth that (soul) for which He hath ordained death.”
  • Quran: “I do call to witness the Resurrection Day . . . Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? . . . He questions: ‘When is the Day of Resurrection?’ . . . Has not He [Allāh] the power to give life to the dead?” (75:1, 3, 6, 40)
  • Quran: “They ask: When is the Day of Judgement? (It is) the day when they will be tormented at the Fire, (and it will be said unto them): Taste your torment (which ye inflicted).” (51:12-14)
  • Quran: “And as for those who believe and do good works, We shall make them enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow to dwell therein forever.” (4:57) “On that day the dwellers of Paradise shall think of nothing but their bliss. Together with their wives, they shall recline in shady groves upon soft couches.” (36:55, 56)
  • Quran: “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess.” (Surah 4:3)

Christian Moral Code vs Islam

Each human that has descended from Adam and Eve have a moral code (conscience) that is inherent in them from birth, which corresponds to the words found in Genesis when God said, “Let us make man in our image.” This moral code is an internal awareness that enables one to choose between what is right and what is wrong, “and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” – Romans 2:15.

This inner moral code, while inherent from birth must be trained; if not, it can be deceptive. It can serve as a guide to one’s life. However, it can become dangerous or even treacherous if it has not been enlightened under the correct standards, being in harmony with its maker. As this moral code develops over time it can be influenced for the good or bad by one’s environment, worship, and behavior. It is the correct understanding of the Word of God, which trains the moral code.

THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGISTOn the surface, it may appear that the moral values of the Muslim are humane and selfless in nature. Even many similarities further the misbelief that the Christian and the Muslim are worshiping the same God, similarly, but just by different names. Islam believes that faith is dead without evidence of good works; God will punish any worship that is not directed at him, rights against crime against your fellow man, adultery and fornication are wrong, similar abhorrence to the seven deadly sins, the obeying of the law of the land, drunkenness, suicide, and homosexuality are forbidden.

This section does not contain the space to look at all facets of the Islamic moral code; therefore, we will briefly consider how the women of Islam are treated. Unlike the West, it is the woman, who brings honor to the family. Thus there are many restrictions on the women of Islam, in order to protect the family honor. There is an equation within Islam: the greater the restriction, the greater the honor. For example, without exception, a girl must retain her virginity for marriage. The woman must have someone, even a child, who accompanies and supervises her everywhere she goes. The woman’s role in the house is to be the caretaker, and no Muslim husband would dare lift a hand, even if the wife has a full-time job outside the home. In the name of modesty, the woman is to be covered from the ‘neck to wrist and ankle, as well as her hair.’ The marriage is arranged, and while the female may refuse, the pressure is usually insurmountable. While it is permissible for a man to marry a Christian or a Jew (as they would then be Muslim), a Muslim woman can only marry a Muslim man. Divorce in the Islamic community is very similar to the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus day: the man can divorce the woman for any reason by simply saying three times, in front of witnesses: “I divorce you.” The woman, on the hand, is largely unable to divorce the husband. The rape of Christian women within Islamic countries, while being a dishonor to the woman, it is a means for a Muslim man to proliferate the Muslim population because a child is Muslim if born of a Muslim man. While many today are attempting a progressive liberal approach in looking at similarities between Islam and Christianity, it has its dark side, and any syncretism attempts are severely misplaced. (Sookhdeo 2001, 59-64)

Religious Character

As opposed to delving into Islam’s highly developed religious rituals and traditions; we will take a brief look at how Islam’s tolerance, or lack thereof for other religious institutions. Actually, Islamic scholars who are behind the footnotes in the Quran and articles dealing with Islam’s view of Christianity and Judaism have begun a campaign to conceal their hatred for these religious institutions, viewing them as infidels.[15] For example, while the word fight may be found in the writings, it actually means kill. The end game for Islam is to convert the world to Islam and to rule from Jerusalem, under Shariah law. This can be done by preaching, or by terrorism and killing the infidel. The words of the infamous Osama bin Laden bring this point home with a chilling effect: “I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad.”

Islam versus Christianity

ISLAM CHRISTIANITY
View of God: Islam considers the Trinity to blasphemous. (Q: 4:171, 5:17, 5:72-75) View of God: Trinity―one God on three persons―separate in person, equal in nature and subordinate in duty. (John 1:1; Isa 44:8)
View of Man: While man may be may be weak, he is capable of righteousness before God. View of Man: Man is fallen and sinful by nature, as inherited from Adam. (Rom 5:15)
View of Salvation: Islamic belief is that we can attain a righteous standing before God by works, and the denial of Christ’s ransom sacrifice. (Q: 4:157) View of Salvation: Man, who is fallen cannot save himself, and is in need of a savior, and salvation is by faith alone. (John 3:16; Matt 20:28)
View of Heaven: The Islamic perception of heaven is very carnal as they will drink wine and have sexual relations with dozens of virgins. (Q: 2:25, 4:57, 13:35, 36:55-57, 37:39-48, 47:15, 52:20-23, 55:46-78, 56:12-40) View of Heaven: The Christian perception of heaven is that we are no longer troubled with the concern of eating and drinking, there being no one getting married, for we will be like angels and drinking and with our new bodies, pain and suffering will be no more. (Rom 14:17; Matt 22:30; Rev 21:4)
View of Predestination: Ironically, while Islam believes that man cannot be held responsible for his actions; Shariah law is very quick to exact justice for certain actions, many of which result in death. (Q: 35:8) View of Predestination: This term is really dealt with under doctrines, such as: foreknowledge, salvation, eternal security, the destiny of the unevangelized. Under these doctrinal positions, you have numerous views, but the majority consensus is that man is to be held responsible for his actions.
View of the Qur’an: Islam believes that the Qur’an is the very word of God through Muhammad and inerrant, never attaining copying errors. (Q: 61:6) View of the Bible: Conservative Christianity believes the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant Word of God. (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21)
View of the Bible: Islam believes the Bible to have been the inspired Word of God, but has been corrupted beyond all trustworthiness. View of the Qur’an: Early collections of Muhammad’s writings came in several different variations because they were retrieved from memory. Around 650-656 there was an attempt to deal with this by creating a standard edition.

(Sookhdeo 2001, 25-48)

While it is paramount that the Christian, who attempts to engage the Muslim in his ministry, be very much aware of the belief system of Islam, it is best to accept that, it is very difficult to disprove Islam based on knowledge alone. It is God alone, who will help the message grown within the Muslim heart. (1 Cor. 3:5-9) However, this knowledge of Islam will enable the evangelizer to counter, explain, and overturn the wrong beliefs that may be raised by the Muslim. It should be understood that most Muslims are like most Christians, in that; they are not that familiar with their Quran, like the Christian with his Bible.

To the Muslim, Muhammad is the greatest prophet that has ever lived, and it will bring the conversation to a complete stop if it should be perceived that the Christian is criticizing him in any way. While the Christian cannot honor Muhammad in a conversation with such honorifics as ‘the blessed Muhammad,’ it is fine to say ‘the prophet Muhammad.’ Instead of attempting to dethrone Muhammad, it is the wisest course to educate them about Christ, which they do not view as being the Son of God, but rather a great prophet like Muhammad.

Islam has circled the earth with its presence, and it would be a mistake, to assume that every Muslim is the same. Many Muslims are only Muslim in a very basic sense: prayer, Ramadan, and occasioned visits to the mask. They may have been westernized and feel ousted by the conservative Islamic community. However, Islamic extremist is just as prevalent, and caution is the word of the day. Until one has come to realize whom they are speaking with, it is best to be very cautious about what is said, and how it is said. It must also be kept in mind that his objective is to evangelize his visitor, as much as it is the Christian’s objective to evangelize him.

A white Christian attempting to evangelize a non-white Muslim is at a disadvantage from the start because they are lumped in with the immoral western world. It is best to address this immediately with, “I know that the western world is immoral in the extreme, and even within the Christian community, there are such cases, but would you agree that all major religions have those who do not represent themselves well?’ (Sookhdeo 2001, 73-75)

Some final suggestions are to be friendly and tactful. (Pro. 25:15) Keep in mind that while Most Muslims do not know their Quran well, what they do know is deeply entrenched has been learned by rote. Part of the Muslim development is hearing the fundamental Muslim teachings repeatedly, which is part of their spiritual development. If we are to reach the heart of a Muslim, it will be through patience and understanding. Arguing with a Muslim will serve us no better than arguing with any other person over religious matters. Instead of using the word “Bible,” refer to it as the book of God. Muslims also do not like the phrase “Son of God,” but they have great regard for Jesus as a prophet or messenger, so avoid the phrase “Son of God” until you have a long record of rapport. It is best to witness to just one person and avoid talking with a group. Most importantly, women should witness to women and men to men. If a female Muslim were caught talking with a westerner for an extended time, her life could be in danger, as honor killings are becoming the norm even in the West. In addition, keep in mind modestly dressed in the West is not necessarily modestly dressed in the Muslim world. Some things to build rapport on are the greatness of God and the love of God. We could speak on the wrongness of idol worship, the wickedness found in the world today, wars, uprisings, racial hatred, as well as the hypocrisy of religion. If we sense any anger, it is best to excuse ourselves from the conversation as soon as possible.

Each of us is affected by the diversity of the world we live in, and it has come to almost every neighborhood. With this variety of beliefs, it is no longer the case of a Christian attempting to share his gospel with unbelievers. Thus, we need to educate ourselves and broaden our understanding of what other worldviews are, which may very well open up the opportunity of one receiving life. As Islam makes up 23 percent of the earth’s population (1.62 billion followers), we have given more space to them, which will not be the case with other groups below.

Witnessing to an Atheist

First, it should be recognized that today’s atheist is not the same as the atheist of 30-50 years ago. The atheists of the 1950s to the 1980s simply did not believe in creation or a Creator and were not eager to share that belief with others. Today, the atheist’s movement is more involved in sharing their beliefs than Christians are. Their messages are on billboards, the radio, and television, and they have actually written many apologetic books defending their faith, i.e., secularism, humanism, relativism, and nihilism. We have now entered the era of the New Atheism.

New Atheism is a social and political movement that began in the early 2000s in favor of atheism and secularism promoted by a collection of modern atheist writers who have advocated the view that “religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.”[16] There is uncertainty about how much influence the movement has had on religious demographics worldwide. In England and Wales, as of 2011 the increase in atheist groups, student societies, publications and public appearances coincided with the non-religious being the largest growing demographic, followed by Islam and Evangelicalism.[17] New Atheism lends itself to and often overlaps with secular humanism and antitheism, particularly in its criticism of what many New Atheists regard as the indoctrination of children and the perpetuation of ideologies.[18]

CONVERSATION EVANGELISMWhile the New Atheists authors write mainly from a scientific perspective, we should not assume that every atheist is a scientist. Many atheists have read the bestselling books by such authors as Christopher Eric Hitchens (1949–2011),[19] Richard Dawkins,[20] Sam Harris,[21] and Daniel Dennett.[22] Christopher Hitchens said that a person “could be an atheist and wish that belief in god were correct,” but that “an antitheist, a term I’m trying to get into circulation, is someone who is relieved that there’s no evidence for such an assertion.”[23] Another thing that we should not assume about all atheists is that they are super intelligent and there is no way that we could ever compete with them in a conversation about science. Most atheists only know what they have read from the atheist books listed in the footnotes, which are not science textbooks.

Well, it should be noted that we have some Christian apologists who have done the work for us, giving us the material so that if we choose to have a better understanding and wish to at least hold our own in such a conversation, we can. The Christian apologists highlighted below are not given extra space because they are all around the best apologists. Christian apologist can have a vast knowledge of many subject areas but they cannot be an expert on everything. While one may be an expert on textual criticism, defending the trustworthiness of Scripture, another may be a Christian philosopher and theologian, while others may be a physicist, mathematician, or scientist, studying the philosophy of science, it is the latter, who are focused on here because of the subject matter.

 The leading Christian apologist is William Lane Craig. He is a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University. He is an American Christian apologist, analytic Christian philosopher, and theologian. Craig’s philosophical work focuses primarily on the philosophy of religion, but also on metaphysics and philosophy of time. His theological interests are in historical Jesus studies and philosophical theology. He is known for his debates on the existence of God with public figures such as Christopher Hitchens and Lawrence Krauss. Craig established an online apologetics ministry, Reasonable Faith. His current research deals with divine aseity and the challenge posed by Platonist accounts of abstract objects. Craig is also an author of several books, including Reasonable Faith, which began as a set of lectures for his apologetics classes.[24]

John C. Lennox is an Irish mathematician, philosopher of science, Christian apologist, and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. He is a Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford University. He is also Pastoral Advisor of Green Templeton College and Fellow of Wycliffe Hall. He is a leading voice defending the notion of the relationship between science and religion. Lennox is a leading figure in the evangelical intelligentsia movement.[25]

Christian apologist Stephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science. A former geophysicist and college professor, he now directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle.[26] Christian Apologist William A. Dembski is a mathematician and philosopher. He is a Research Professor in Philosophy at Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, where he directs its Center for Cultural Engagement. He is also a senior fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle. Previously he was the Carl F. H. Henry Professor of Theology and Science at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where he founded its Center for Theology and Science. Before that, he was Associate Research Professor in the Conceptual Foundations of Science at Baylor University, where he headed the first intelligent design think-tank at a major research university: The Michael Polanyi Center.

Christian Apologist Norman L. Geisler (Ph.D., Loyola University) has taught theology, philosophy, and apologetics on the college or graduate-level for over 50 years. He has served as a professor at Trinity Evangelical Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Liberty University. He was the co-founder of both Southern Evangelical Seminary and Veritas Evangelical Seminary. He currently is the Chancellor of Veritas Evangelical Seminary, the Distinguished Professor of Apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary, and a Visiting Professor of Apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary.[27]

The list of Christian apologists could go on for some time, as we have so many, to name just a few more, Ravi Zacharias (RZIM.org), Greg Koukl (STR.org), Paul Copan (PaulCopan.com), Gary Habermas  (GaryHabermas.com), Richard Howe (Richardghowe.com), Hugh Ross (Reasons.org), and (Tim Keller (TimothyKeller.com). Many may be unaware that we now have some very prominent female Christian apologists, such as Judy Salisbury (logospresentations.com),[28] Dianna Newman (ses.edu),[29] Sarah Renee,[30] Nancy Pearcey,[31] Melissa Cain-Travis,[32] Holly Ordway,[33] Leslie Keeney[34] Kristen Davis,[35] Lori Peters,[36] Pamela Christian,[37] and Sarah Geis.[38] These women are taking the apologetic world by storm. They are setting a fine example for young girls, who can relish in the fact that they can prepare to defend the faith and the Word of God just as well as a William Lane Craig or a Norman L. Geisler. Why have I given you so many names and links? These are indispensable resources if we are going to defend the faith against the New Atheism. While many of the above Christian apologists, both male, and female, possess some of the greatest minds, which would seem to prevent the average Christian from partaking of their knowledge, it just is not so. Their books, their websites, their blogs and their videos are designed for the churchgoer, written on about a 9th-11th-grade level. Below, I will offer the reader the basics of what we can do to succeed in giving a witness to the New Atheist, but first, we must consider the various reasons as to why they may not believe in the first place.

Reasons for Disbelief

Not all atheists were born to atheist parents. Many were a part of some religion or another, believing in God, but over time abandoned their faith. Their faith was weakened by severe health problems in the family, a death of a loved one, or some great injustice befell them. With others, it was one agnostic or atheist professor after another once they reached schools of higher learning, which eroded their belief in the Bible or God.

A man was born with a debilitating illness. As an infant, he had been baptized into Catholicism; he had long felt there was no God. The end came one day when he asked the priest, “Why did God make give me this illness?” The priest replied, “Because he loves you.” The answer was so insane, so he walked out, never looking back. Consider a young woman who was diagnosed as having cancer at the age of thirteen, who spent most of her youth in and out of hospitals. The mother of this child was so desperate; she brought a Pentecostal into the hospital to pray for the young girl because the word was he could heal the sick. Sadly, though, there was no cure, there was no miraculous healing. After her daughter’s death, the most swore that she would never believe in some God, becoming an atheist.

  • “I have seen many friends that I went to high school with just completely abandon their faith, and I was in danger of doing the same when I first went to college.” – Chad, college junior
  • “No matter what background you come from, the transition from high school to college will try your faith.” – Vanessa, college sophomore[39]
  • A pastor’s kid tells his father, “I’m not a Christian anymore. I don’t know what happened. I just left it.”[40]

Again, we turn to William Lane Craig’s words, as he offers the following exhortation to parents, which would also apply to pastors and elders as well,

I think the church is really failing these kids. Rather than provide them training in the defense of Christianity’s truth, we focus on emotional worship experiences, felt needs, and entertainment. It’s no wonder they become sitting ducks for that teacher or professor who rationally takes aim at their faith. In high school and college, students are intellectually assaulted with every manner of non-Christian philosophy conjoined with an overwhelming relativism and skepticism. We’ve got to train our kids for war. How dare we send them unarmed into an intellectual war zone? Parents must do more than taking their children to church and read them Bible stories. Moms and dads need to be trained in apologetics themselves and so be able to explain to their children simply from an early age and then with increasing depth why we believe as we do. Honestly, I find it hard to understand how Christian couples in our day and age can risk bringing children into the world without being trained in apologetics as part of the art of parenting.[41]

Reaching the Heart of an Atheist

Many are like the above example or have other reasons as to why they abandoned the faith. The key ingredient is their reason, which they have dwelled on to the point they have hardened their hearts. If we repeatedly violate the Christian conscience that has been trained to distinguish between good and bad, it will become callused, unfeeling. To violate the conscience is to ignore it when it is tugging at you to do the right thing. While this applies largely to sinning and ignoring the Christian conscience, it can just as easily apply to irrational thinking as well. If we have an issue with God, with his Word, with the faith, with someone in the faith, with injustices of the world and we ignore these, failing to find an answer, we will eventually fall away from the faith. Paul called this a spiritual shipwreck. Paul told young Timothy “some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.” (1 Tim 1:19, NASB) If we entertain our false reasons, our confidence in God and his Word of truth, the Bible, can grow weak and our faith can die. Just as we have reasons for the hope that dwells in us, we can also have reasons if they go unanswered or at least addressed, they can kill the hope that dwells in us.

THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOKMany of these ones, not all, simply need a solution to their reason for abandoning the faith. ‘Why does evil exist?’ ‘Why does an all-powerful God of love allow evil to exist?’[42] Why do bad things happen to good people?’ ‘Why is life so unfair?’[43] ‘What is the meaning of life?’ ‘Why is there so much religious hypocrisy?’ If we lack understanding of an issue that is eating at us, we begin to drift away, become sluggish, become hardened by the not knowing, so that we shrink back to destruction. Just as we entered the path of life, we can also reenter the path of death.

Our first goal when someone says, ‘I am an atheist,’ is to ask why. If he is open to talking further, we need to try to find out what led his reason and his falling away. As we listen to his story, we need to do so with empathy because this could be us, or it could be a loved one, and we would want an empathetic ear if that were the case. After we have what we need to make a spiritual diagnosis, we can look for a solution. We can start by saying, it has been our experience that there is a reasonable and logical answer to every Bible difficulty that we have encountered. We can show even more empathy if we have struggled with something that made us pause for a moment. After this rapport, ask something like, “What if I can find you a reasonable, logical answer to this issue that has plagued you for so long. Even if you still choose to remain an atheist, would it not be a relief to have that answer?” If he answers yes, we now have a serious job ahead of ourselves. Undoubtedly, there is much information on the issue. We must find it and the answer that we promised. Undeniably, not all atheists are going to accept the truth. However, there are many who are willing to find a response to the issue that tore them from their faith. Use reason, logic, persuasion and, above all, the power of God’s Word, to lead them into the truth or back to the truth.[44] – Acts 28:23-24; Heb. 4:12.

Witnessing to a Jewish Person

The sons of Israel in the first-century responded positively to the preaching of Jesus and his apostles. (Acts 10:36) The same holds true for today. However, you have Messianic Judaism, is a movement that combines Christianity, most importantly, the Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah, with elements of Judaism and Jewish tradition. This is not going to be acceptable, though, as Jesus told them we are not trying to put new wine in an old wineskin. First, we must deal with the fact of whether the Jews are still God’s chosen people.

Are the Natural Jews Today Still God’s Chosen People?

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: (James 1:1c)

The twelve tribes in the dispersion that James mentions are not actually the 12 tribes of Israel. We note in verse 2 James says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers,” and the tribes of Jewish Israel were not James’ brother, ‘who were holding their faith in their glorious Lord Jesus Christ, as natural Israel rejected Jesus Christ vehemently. (Jam. 1:2; 2:1, 5) During the last days of Jesus’ ministry, he explicitly stated what was to happen to natural Israel. Jesus said, “I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” (Matt. 21:43) A short time later, he said,

Matthew 23:37-39 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Lament over Jerusalem

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!

39 For I say to you, from now on you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

In looking at verse 37 of Matthew 23, we see that Jesus’ words are not those of a harsh judge, who is looking ready to punish the Jewish people for their 1,500 years of rebelling and sinning horrendously against the Father. Rather, he has tried to be patient with them throughout his last three and half year ministry. When Jesus began his ministry, all Jesus wanted was nothing more than what his Father wanted, i.e., repentance for centuries of willful sinning, so that they could avoid the judgment that was coming. Well, over five hundred natural Israel responded to Jesus’ words, with thousands upon thousands more listening to the apostle Paul and other evangelists. They escaped the judgment that came upon Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (Lu 21:20-22) In verse 38, Jesus indicated that very soon God was not going to accept the worship of the Israelites, at the typical temple in Jerusalem. (Matt 24:1-2) In verse 39, Jesus is saying, they will never see him with eyes of faith unless they accept him and his Father.

In other words, natural Israel lost its favored position as God’s chosen people, and this was to be given to another. Who? This new nation proved to be a spiritual Israel, which the apostle Paul referred to as “the Israel of God.” It would be made up of Jews, who accepted Jesus Christ and non-Jews. Entry into this “Israel of God” was not dependent on the natural descent, but rather on one coming to “know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3), In other words, it was a matter of ‘trusting in Jesus Christ.’ (John 3:16) Nevertheless, natural Israel was made up of 12 tribes, so James was simply drawing on the number 12, which carries the connotation of completeness. If a natural Jew or a non-Jew were to become a part of this spiritual Israel, the Israel of God, they would have to acknowledge, “Circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.” (Rom. 2:29) He must further understand “it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all …” (Rom. 4:16) There are many verses, which qualify what it means to be a part of this Israel of God. See also, Rom. 4:17; 9:6-8; Gal. 3:7, 29; 4:21-31; Phil. 3:3

These spiritual Israelites were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. Shortly after Pentecost 33 C.E., there were arrests, threats, and beatings. (Ac 4:1-3, 21; 5:17, 18) At that time, Stephen was seized and stoned to death. ” (Ac 7:52-60) The murder of Stephen was only the beginning, as Saul of Tarsus was to bring great persecution on the Christians in the Jerusalem area, which led to the dispersing of Christians throughout the then known world. (Ac 8:1-4; 9:1, 2) However, this really failed, as it was not long before Christian congregations were found everywhere, by the evangelism of none other than the very persecutor turned Christian, namely, the apostle Paul (formerly known as Saul). In fact, about 62-64 C.E., Peter writes, “To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”–1 Peter 1:1

Written for Our Instruction

We can learn some object lessons from what God has disclosed to us in his Word. Paul told the Corinthians “these things happened to those people as an example but are written for our instruction.” (1 Cor. 10:11) He also told the congregation in Rome, “For whatever was written beforehand was written for our instruction, in order that through patient endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) The Israelites are a perfect example for us to learn. God personally chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they were walking with him, while others chose to abandon him. The nation of Israel was the descendants of Jacob’s 12 sons. They became God’s chosen people, of whom he made a covenant, to which they agreed to follow. If they walked in the truth, they would be blessed by Jehovah’s presence. If they abandoned that walk like the pagan nations, they would lose his presence, resulting in the difficulties that came with living in this fallen world. Whilst they maintained their loyalty, they never became victims to enemy nations. (Deut. 28:7) Furthermore, they could depend on crop growth that was exceptional year after year, as well as their flocks of animals. (Ex. 22:1-15) Moreover, they had no reason to build jails to house criminals, because they had the perfect social system. (Ex. 22:1-15) In addition, they did not suffer from diseases like other nations (Deut. 7:15). Jehovah promised them that they would “be blessed more than all of the peoples,” and when they walked in the truth, this proved to be true.

Deuteronomy 7:14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle.

We all have the history before of how Israel refused to walk in the truth. They would walk in the truth for a number of years, and then they would abandon that truth until life was impossibly difficult, moving them to return to Jehovah. This walking in the truth, abandoning the truth, and repenting to return to the truth, went on for 1,500 years. The final difficulty in this back and forth was their rejection of the Son of God. His words to them were quite clear, and needs to be repeated again:

Matthew 21:43 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation,[45] producing the fruit of it.

Again,

Matthew 23:37-39 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!

39 For I say to you, from now on you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Just who are the people that the Kingdom was to be given to after the Israelites fell out of favor with Jehovah God? God chose for himself a new spiritual nation, which became the Christian congregation that Jesus established between 29 and 33 C.E. He no longer had the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as his chosen people, by which other nations would bless themselves. Keep in mind again, only Jews were brought into the Christian congregation from 29 C.E. (Jesus started ministry) up unto 36 C.E. (first Gentile Baptized, i.e., Cornelius). This is explained in greater detail below.

Acts 10:34-35 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears[46] him and works righteousness[47] is acceptable to him.

Acts 13:46 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.

YOUR GUIDE FOR DEFENDING THE BIBLE_Third EditionDid this mean that no Jewish person could be a part of the Kingdom? Hardly! The first disciples of that Kingdom for seven years, 29 C.E. to 36 C.E. were only Jewish people. After 36 C.E., and the baptism of the first Gentile, Cornelius, anyone, including the Jews, could be a part of this Kingdom, as long as they accepted the King, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) At Jesus’ Baptism, there was a voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt.3:16-17) Jesus’ teaching, miraculous signs, his ransom sacrifice, and resurrection, established him as the truth, having the authority and power of the Father.[48] The Christians in the first century were given the position of being God’s chosen people. (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 43) It would be through Jesus to the Christian congregation that the truth would now flow. As Paul told the Corinthians, “For to us God has revealed them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10) It happened just as Jesus had said it would, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to young children.” – Matthew 11:25

However, more truth was on the horizon with the birth of the Christian congregation. There had been 39 books written by the Jewish writers of the Hebrew Old Testament (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and now there was to be added an additional 27 books by Jewish Christians, making up the Greek New Testament (2 Peter 2:15-16). Thus, there were 66 small books, written over a 1,600-year period that would make one book, which we hold today in our modern-day translations. Yes, some 40 plus Bible writers were, as Peter put it, “men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:21) The above view is Scriptural, but it is also the minority view. Most believe as Dr. Elmer Towns,

Israel’s hardness of heart. The Bible speaks of a partial and temporary insensibility of the nation of Israel. The Jews, who had the Scriptures and should have welcomed their Messiah, rejected him and called for his crucifixion. “He (Jesus) came unto his own (the Jews), and his own received him not” (John 1:11). Paul spoke of “blindness (hardness)” as happening to Israel (Rom. 11:25). Israel’s rejection is temporary. The time is coming when many Jews will turn to Christ (Rom. 11:26; 2 Cor. 3:14, 15). God’s temporarily setting aside the nation he loves so much ought to be a warning to Christians not to reject the teaching of the Scriptures.[49]

Elmer Towns says, “Israel’s rejection is temporary. The time is coming when many Jews will turn to Christ.” They had 1,500 years as God’s chosen people, favored in every way, and they abandoned God at every turn, to the point of sacrificing their own children to false gods, culminating in the rejection of the Son of God, who said he had come specifically for them. Moreover, John himself says that anyone or group who rejects Jesus Christ is the antichrist (i.e., instead of or against Christ). The Messianic Jews do accept Christ so most would think they are fine. However, that just is not the case because it is the combining it with elements of Judaism and Jewish tradition. What did Jesus say about Jewish tradition? He said you are “making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.” (Mark 13:7) Let us look at Jesus words at Luke 5:38, “But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.” What did Jesus mean?

The conclusion of the second picture is stated positively: new wine must have new skins; new ways must have new containers. Jesus’ teaching will not survive by making it conform to old ways. A new form, a new spirit, and a new approach are required. Old questions are irrelevant. Such a message had relevance beyond the time of Jesus’ ministry. In the early church and throughout the new age, to re-Judaize Christianity would have missed the newness of what Jesus brings. The issue raised here is one of the major concerns in the Book of Acts, as the church wrestles with the proper limits of the influence of its Jewish heritage. The focus is not on a return to something old and ancient, but on the presence of something new. This does not mean that some forms of the old worship, like fasting, cannot continue; but it does mean that they are seen differently. The remarks fit the situation in Jesus’ ministry, but the significance became timeless for the church’s perspective.[50] (Bock 1994, p. 521)

Will the Jews in the last days, or during the great tribulation, finally be moved to accept Jesus Christ?

Romans 11:25-26 Good News Translation (GNT)

25 There is a secret truth, my friends, which I want you to know, for it will keep you from thinking how wise you are. It is that the stubbornness of the people of Israel is not permanent, but will last only until the complete number of Gentiles comes to God. 26 And this is how all Israel will be saved. As the scripture says,

“The Savior will come from Zion
and remove all wickedness from the descendants of Jacob.”

Notice the GNT says, “this is how (ESV, HCSB, “and in this way”)  Greek, houtos] all Israel will be saved.” In addition, notice that this “all Israel will be saved” is not accomplished by the same conversion of all the Jews, but rather “the complete number of Gentiles comes to God.” A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament [Edinburgh, 1937, G. Abbott-Smith, p. 329] defines houtos as meaning “in this way, so, thus.”). In addition, A TRANSLATOR’S HANDBOOK ON PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS [New York, 1973, United Bible Societies, p. 227], says, “This is how relates back to what Paul has previously said.”

If we are to understand Romans 11:25-26 correctly, it must be in the context of the book of Romans as a whole, and the rest of the New Testament. What did Paul say at Romans 2:28-28, “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” At Romans 9:26 Paul says, “For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel.”

What about the argument that the Abrahamic covenant assures that the Jews will always be God’s chosen people.

Galatians 3:27-29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christthen you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Italics mine)

Here we see things from God’s perspective, it is not a matter of being a natural descendant of Abraham that makes one a part of Abraham’s seed. Are the things going on in Israel today and un unto Christ’s return a part of Bible prophecy?

Ezekiel 37:21-22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 then say to them, Thus says the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms.

Israel has not been under one king of the line of David for well over 2,300 years. The state of Israel today is a republic.

Isaiah 2:2-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

2 It will come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of Jehovah
will be established on the top of the mountains,
and will be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations will stream to it,
    and many peoples will come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us concerning his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For the law[51] will go forth from Zion,
and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations,
and will correct matters for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.

What do we find when we look at the city of Jerusalem today? Do we find “the house of the God of Jacob”? No, we do not; rather we find an Islamic shrine. Certainly, living within the heart of Islamic nations, they would not ever dream of “beat[ing] their swords into plowshares.”

Zechariah 8:23 English Standard Version (ESV)

23 Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

Zechariah 8:23 American Standard Version (ASV)

23 Thus says Jehovah of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.

Zechariah 8:23 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

23 Thus said Jehovah of Hosts: In those days take hold do ten men of all languages of the nations, Yea, they have taken hold on the skirt of a man, a Jew, saying: We go with you, for we heard God [is] with you!

Within the book of Zechariah alone, the personal name of God (Jehovah JHVH, or Yahweh YHWH) appears 130 times. If you are ever around an orthodox Jew, say Jehovah or Yahweh, and he will jump back and say something like, “we do not say the blessed name.” Jews, because of traditions and superstitions have not said the personal name of God for about 2,000 years. It is to the point that it has even been removed from almost all English translations, replacing it with the title “the Lord” or “LORD.” These prophecies of a restored Israel, who do they apply to, natural Israel?

Galatians 6:15-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

This “Israel of God” is not based on the requirements that Abraham had received from God, i.e., all males having to be circumcised. Instead, as was stated in 3:26-29, “there are neither Jew nor Greek, … for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”

The Average Jewish Person

It should be noted that the average Jew we might run into is generally a faithful follower of the traditions of Rabbis, and doctrinal views are likely not of interest. Somewhat like the Catholic Church viewing the word of the pope to be equal to Scripture, this would be true of the average Jew and Rabbi traditions. Therefore, while we might have thought we could have had some deep Bible discussion to build rapport, this is unlikely. In addition, the word “Bible” is generally viewed as a Christian book. It is for this reason; it is best to talk of the Hebrew Scriptures, even the “Torah.” If anyone can read biblical Hebrew, which I know there are a limited number, his or her success of reading from the Hebrew Scriptures directly would be very success with the Orthodox Jews, who will seldom give a Christian the time of day.

Well, we might be wondering just what can we talk about with the average Jewish person. They hold to the fact that there is one God, monotheism, who is interested in the welfare of his creation. However, it is best not to use the personal name of God (“Jehovah” or “Yahweh”), as one of their traditions is that the divine name should not be pronounced. They, like Christians, believe that God has involved himself in human history and continued to do so. Some Jewish people struggle with why God would allow the atrocities of six million Jews being slaughtered during the Holocaust of World War II.[52] Most are aware of the history within the Hebrew Scriptures, which makes for many talking points.

Of course, it is best to stay away from Jesus being divine but many Jews do see Jesus as a prophet. It might be best not to refer to him as the Messiah, even though that is the Hebrew transliteration and preferable to “Christ.” The reason is the Jewish people are still awaiting the Messiah. This deep discussion would have to wait until we have talked with someone many times and have built up much rapport and trust. It would be better, to begin with such ones as Noah, Abraham and Moses, and their role in Jewish history and how it affects us today.

When the time comes to address Jesus as the Messiah, we would want, to begin with, Deuteronomy 18:15 (UASV), which reads, “Jehovah your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers to him you shall listen.” Then, ask the person, “Who was it that Moses was thinking of when he spoke of a prophet like himself?” “How should this prophecy be understood?” [Allow for an answer] Ask/state, “You would agree that Moses was speaking of a specific, special individual, right?” [Allow for an answer] I know some Jewish scholars have held that Moses was just making a general comment about God’s intention to rise up many coming prophets, but the Hebrew word for prophet (navi) is in the singular is it not?” [Allow for an answer] “This coming one is being compared to Moses in what way?” [Allow for an answer] Then, have him read the closing words of Deuteronomy,

Deuteronomy 34:10-12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

10 Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom Jehovah knew face to face, 11 for all the signs and wonders which Jehovah sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land, 12 and for the mighty hand[53] and for all the great wonders which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

Ask him if he would agree that is was like the Joshua, the son of Nun, who recorded these words about Moses. [Allow for an answer] Ask, if he feels that Joshua, who too was a great leader in Israel, viewed himself as the coming prophet like Moses. [Allow for an answer] Ask again, “what do you think Moses meant that God would raise up a prophet like Moses?” “In other words, what was it about Moses that this coming one would resemble?” [Allow for an answer]

We could then delve into how Moses was a great leader; he was a representative of God, “a prophet, a miracle worker, a teacher, and a judge.”[54] We could ask as series of leading question. What did Jeremiah promise at 31:31-34? (Read)

Jeremiah 31:31-34 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares Jehovah, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares Jehovah. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares Jehovah: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know Jehovah,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares Jehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

“What was this new covenant and what was its purpose?” [Allow for an answer] “When was the new covenant to come into effect?” [Allow for an answer] “Consequently, what would happen to the Mosaic Law?”

What is promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34? What was the new covenant’s stated purpose? Consequently, what would become of the Law covenant? [Allow for an answer] How was this new covenant going to affect the nations?” (Read Gen. 22:18) [Allow for an answer] This type of building and leading will evidence your familiarity with the Hebrew Scripture and give him something to ponder.

Witnessing to a Jehovah’s Witness

This is no easy task for most Christians. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are well trained to defend their beliefs. They spend five meetings a week, much personal study and meeting preparation in taking in what they believe and learning how to defend their version of the faith. This is not said to scare anyone off from trying to approach the Witnesses, but rather to encourage you to prepare well. The irony is; we do not have to go out and find the Witnesses, as they come to us because they go house-to-house. The objective is not to be confrontational, as Witnesses are trained to abandon such conversations.

The best thing we can do is know what we believe very well and be accomplished at defending it. It is best to know what they believe as well and what Scriptures they use to defend such views. However, it is not that simple because they will know what we believe and what verses we use and they will be prepared to undermine those verses. As I said, it is not going to be easy. It gets worse still, if the average Witness cannot deal with our preparedness, but they believe we are sincerely interested, they will bring a pioneer[55] with them the next time they visit us. These ones have far more experience and knowledge. If that fails, they will bring the most qualified congregation elder. Do not be fooled; some Witnesses study secular books; they learn Hebrew and Greek, among many other academic fields. These latter ones are few in number, but I thought I would mention it in case they happen to be in your area.

If we want the Witnesses to visit us, all we have to do is write or call the main branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses[56] and ask for one of their books, which will give us the basic beliefs they hold too. They will not mail us the publication; they will have someone from the local Kingdom Hall (their church) deliver it. When they come, they will walk us through the book and look to start a study with us. If we want to win them over to our side, this is the best way, as we would have them all to ourselves in our home, going over doctrinal positions. It is best to make this stipulation, though, “I will study your book with you, but as you know, I believe differently, so along the way, I may raise objections, ask for more proof, as well as share how I see whatever we may be discussing.” They will agree to this stipulation because they always believe they have the upper hand.

The best approach is to agree where there is an agreement because believe it or not; there will be more agreement than one might imagine. When we come to points of disagreement, have them make their case, letting them get through the entire presentation and then undermine it with Scripture from their New World Translation. We can be prepared because they will give us a copy of the book to prepare for the study; they will also provide us with a New World Translation if we ask for one. As we prepare for the study, be prepared to be surprised because the Witness literature is excellent at using verses based on isolated reading sound as though they do support what is being said in their publications. Thus, we need to look the verses up three literal translations (NASB, ESV, and HCSB), we need to read the section of Scripture that the text is found in and look it up in a commentary volume. A superb, easy to read commentary volume set is Holman Old and New Testament Commentary Volumes. If there are translation issues, we need to investigate these. If there are textual issues, we need to examine these.

Once they arrive for the study, we should have our legal pad or our tablet right beside us with our information. Once we complete the study, let the Witness know that we take issue with some of the verses that they had used to support their position. Then, go through them one by one. It is as simple as that. If we share this information without asking them to defend against it, over the course of their study book (4-6 months), they will begin to doubt their position. One cannot sit through one correction after another over so many months and not begin to wonder about whether they are in the right religion. One thing that we do not want to do is what many of the cult books that undermine the Witnesses beliefs recommend, i.e., shock and awe. They want us to sit there, take a Witness belief, and methodically undermine it. This will not work; the Witness will not open, look in, or be a part of such a book. Even if we do not show them the book, they will walk out if the situation looks like an assault on their faith. I apologize for this analogy, but one can cook an animal alive if they turn up the heat slow enough. If we walk through a couple of their books over an extended period, it will be so slow of an undermining that it will not be an affront, an assault.

Exercise

Biblical Interpretation: After reading Romans 12:19, The student will explain the results of the steps that he followed:

Step 1: What is the historical setting and background for the author of the book and his audience? Who wrote the book? When and under what circumstances was the book written? Where was the book written? Who were the recipients of the book? Was there anything noteworthy about the place of the recipients? What is the theme of the book? What was the purpose for writing the book?

Step 2a: What would this text mean to the original audience? (The meaning of a text is what the author meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his readers.)

Step 2b: If there are any words in this section that one does not understand, or that stand out as interesting words that may shed some insight on the meaning, look them up in a word dictionary, such as Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

Step 2c: After reading the section from the three Bible translations, doing a word study, write down what you think the author meant. Then, pick up a trustworthy commentary, like the Holman Old or New Testament commentary volume, and see if you have it correct.

Step 3: Explain the original meaning in one or two sentences, preferably one. Then, take the sentence or two and place it in a short phrase.

Step 4: Now, consider their circumstances, the reason for it being written, what it meant to them, and consider examples from today that would be similar to that time, which would fit the pattern of meaning. What implications can be drawn from the original meaning?

Step 5: Find the pattern of meaning, the “thing like these,” and consider how it could apply in our modern day life. How should individual Christians today live out the implications and principles?

Review Questions

  • What is the approach for witnessingto Muslims?
  • What is the approach for witnessingto atheists?
  • What is the approach for witnessingto Jews?
  • What is the approach for witnessingto Jehovah’s Witnesses?

[1] Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.

[2] http://www.christianpublishers.org/apps/webstore/products/show/5749263

[3] Zondervan (2010-06-19). Life’s Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy . Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[4] Islam – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam (accessed September 14, 2015).

[5] [Ar islām submission (to the will of God)] 1817.—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003

[6] (Arab. Allāh, a contraction of al-Ilāh, “the God”)—The Encyclopedia of Christianity, 749

[7] [Ar muslim, lit., one who submits (to God)] ca.1615—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003

[8] Anno Hegirae, year of the flight

[9] [Ar jihād] 1869a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty alsoa personal struggle in devotion to Islam esp. involving spiritual discipline—ibid.

[10] [Ar Ramaḍān] ca. 1595the ninth month of the Islamic year observed as sacred with fasting practiced daily from dawn to sunset—ibid.

[11] [caliphe, Ar khalīfa successor] 14ca successor of Muhammad as temporal and spiritual head of Islam —ibid.

[12] As the Sunni are in the vast majority, this worldview will largely reflect their belief system. The hadith is the narrative record of the sayings or customs of Muhammad and his companions; and the collective body of traditions relating to Muhammad and his companions.—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003

[13] The hadith is the narrative record of the sayings or customs of Muhammad and his companions; and the collective body of traditions relating to Muhammad and his companions.—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003

[14] Shariah law is the immensely detailed body of rules and regulations, instructions for religious practice and daily life.—A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Islam. Pewsey, Wiltshire: Isaac Publishing, 2001, p. 19.

[15] Suras 2:190-193, 2:216, 2:244, 3:56, 3:151, 4:56, 4:74, 4:76, 4:89, 4:91, 4:95, 4:104, 5:51, 5:32-38, 7:96-99, 8:12-14, 8:39, 8:60, 8:65, 9:5, 9:14, 9:23-30, 9:38-41, 9:111, 9:123, 22:18-22, 25:52, 47:4, 47:35, 48:16, 48:29, 61:4, and 66:8-10.

[16] Hooper, Simon. “The rise of the New Atheists”. CNN. Retrieved 16 March 2010.

[17] “Census 2011: religion, race and qualifications – see how England & Wales have changed”. The Guardian.

[18] New Atheism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_atheism (accessed September 15, 2015).

[19] Christopher Hitchens was the author of God Is Not Great and was named among the “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazine. In addition, Hitchens served on the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America.

[20] Richard Dawkins is the author of The God Delusion, which was preceded by a Channel 4 television documentary titled The Root of all Evil? He is also the founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

[21] Harris is the author of the bestselling non-fiction books, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, and Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, as well as two shorter works initially published as e-Books, Free Will and Lying. Harris is a co-founder of the Reason Project.

[22] Daniel Dennett, author of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Breaking the Spell and many others, has also been a vocal supporter of The Clergy Project, an organization that provides support for clergy in the US who no longer believe in God, and cannot fully participate in their communities any longer.

[23] Christopher Hitchens’ Religion and Political Views | The .., http://hollowverse.com/christopher-hitchens/ (accessed September 15, 2015).

[24] On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (Mar 1, 2010) by William Lane Craig and Lee Strobel; Reasonable Faith (3rd edition): Christian Truth and Apologetics (Jun 15, 2008) by William Lane Craig; Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors (Aug 1, 2009) by William Lane Craig and Paul Copan; Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics (Mar 1, 2012) by William Lane Craig and Paul Copan

[25] God’s Undertaker (Feb 18, 2011) by John Lennox; Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (Aug 23, 2011) by John Lennox; God and Stephen Hawking (Feb 18, 2011) by John Lennox; Gunning for God (Oct 21, 2011) by JOHN C. LENNOX

[26] Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (Jun 3, 2014) by Stephen C. Meyer; Signature in the Cell (Jun 23, 2009) by Stephen C. Meyer

[27] I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Mar 15, 2004) by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek; Christian Apologetics (May 15, 2013) by Norman L. Geisler; Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options (Jan 1, 2010) by Norman L. Geisler; The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (Jun 1, 2008) by Norman L. Geisler and Thomas Howe

[28] A TIME TO SPEAK: PRACTICAL TRAINING for the CHRISTIAN PRESENTER Authored by Judy Salisbury, Foreword by Josh McDowell

http://www.christianpublishers.org/apps/webstore/products/show/5943504

[29] BASICS OF BIBLICAL CRITICISM: Helpful or Harmful? [Second Edition] F. David Farnell, Thomas Howe, Thomas Marshall, Benjamin Cocar, Dianna Newman

http://www.christianpublishers.org/apps/webstore/products/show/5346435

[30] http://thevalleygirlapologist.blogspot.com/

[31] http://www.pearceyreport.com/about.php

[32] http://sciencereasonfaith.com/

[33] http://www.hieropraxis.com/

[34] http://www.lesliekeeney.com/

[35] http://www.doubtlessfaith.com/learning-center.html

[36] http://graniteapologists.com/

[37] http://pamelachristianministries.com/

[38] http://justifiedfaith.com/

[39] Top 10 Challenges Christian Students Face in College | eNews .., http://www.cedarville.edu/eNews/ParentPrep/2012/Challenges-Christian-Students-Fa (accessed September 15, 2015).

[40] The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church | Christianity Today, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/november/27.40.html (accessed September 15, 2015).

[41] Craig, William Lane (2010-03-01). On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (Kindle Locations 267-274). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.

[42] http://www.christianpublishers.org/suffering-evil-why-god

[43] http://www.christianpublishers.org/why-is-life-so-unfair

[44] This author has accomplished this several times with ones who have left the faith. They bought out the time and over an extended period, they finally saw their way out of the long years of darkness, and the light of God’s Word was eventually a welcome sight.

[45] Or people

[46] This is a reverential fear of displeasing God because of one’s great love for him. It is not a dreadful fear.

[47] I.e., does what is right

[48] Matt. 15:30-31; 20:28; John 4:34; 5:19, 27, 30; 6:38, 40; 7:16-17; 17:1-2; Acts 2:22

[49] Towns, Elmer (2011-10-30). AMG Concise Bible Doctrines (AMG Concise Series) (Kindle Locations 960-965). AMG Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[50] Paul raises such issues in 1 Cor. 7:17–24; 8–11; and Rom. 14–15. While not rejecting Jewish worship forms, he did not regard them as required. His approach parallels Jesus’.

[51] Or instruction or teaching

[52] http://www.christianpublishers.org/suffering-evil-why-god

[53] I.e., mighty power

[54] Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction ? (genesis, quotes, baptize .., http://www.city-data.com/forum/religion-spirituality/507377-crucifixion-cruci-fi (accessed September 16, 2015).

[55] An auxiliary pioneer is a Witness, who spends 50-hours a month out evangelizing. A regular pioneer is a Witness, who spends 70-hours a month out evangelizing. It used to be 70-hours for the auxiliary and 90 hours for the regular pioneer. They also have a special pioneer that spends 120 hours a month.

[56] Jehovah’s Witnesses

25 Columbia Heights

BROOKLYN NY 11201-2483

UNITED STATES

+1 718-560-5000