If someone were to ask you the reason for your faith, do you feel equipped to respond?
Dr. Sean McDowell offers fresh insight and advice about how to effectively engage in conversations with those who don’t share the same beliefs as we do. He emphasizes importance of listening to find out where exactly people are coming from.
“I spend a lot of time listening to people, believe it or not. I’m an apologist, I’ve had public debates, but I spend a lot more time in conversation with people trying to figure out really what they believe and why they believe it.”
He refers to Proverbs 20:5,
“There’s a passage in Proverbs that talks about ‘a person’s beliefs being deep in a well, and the wise person brings it out.’ So evidence is important for our own confidence to be able to give an answer, like 1 Peter 3:15 says when people ask, give it with gentleness and respect. But I want to know, tell me what you believe? Why do you believe that? How did you come to that conclusion? What people have shaped you in your life?'”
“Christians need to first get a lot better at empathetically listening, just being there for people, and then earning the right to even speak that truth into their lives.”
One of the questions that someone from a Muslim background may ask is, ‘Don’t we all worship the same God?’ While some people believe that the same God crosses all religious lines, Sean says this simply isn’t true for Christianity.
“People often confuse commonalities across religions, which may be there, implying that we’re worshiping the same God. I’ve read through the Quran and like a drumbeat it says that the worst thing you can commit is called ‘shirk,’ which is to associate anything with God. So if you say ‘Jesus is God,’ then you can’t go to heaven.”
“Well, Christians say, ‘you have to believe Jesus is God to get to heaven’ and so they can’t both be true. People don’t worship the same God across different religions if they differ over God’s character, differ over God’s nature, differ over the means of salvation, etc. That’s why a knowledge of different religions is so important so we can actually worship the right God in the right way.”
As believers, we need to understand these differences and be able to communicate our faith effectively with those around us. But it’s equally important for us to be good listeners and understand where people are coming from.
Dr. Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, especially young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support of a biblical worldview.