Have you ever thought about what the point is for a Christian to debate an atheist? I think there are a couple reasons, one touched on by Dawntreader.
This isn’t exactly how it might sound….debate isn’t the road to conversion. It is one avenue to thinking out the long term ramifications of ones view.
For a Christian, logical arguments and emotional appeal create the presentation of the choice. That is all. No one is argued into the Kingdom of God…. not exactly. I say that last part because Paul of Tarsus did spend alot of time making cases for the gospel. But that, by itself, was to present things with clarity. It was paired with an expemplary and giving way of life and with prayers.
And after the presentation is made I think this is most convincing factor for an atheist to consider, or reconsider, the other side of the question: Do they feel the love? Is your love convincing enough?
The other reason for a Christian to discuss the atheists platform is to test one’s own. I have probably learned more in the last few years by way of unbelievers than by way of believers. That has not always been the balance, but it is one reason to spend some time “on the streets” discussing ones faith.
You may not walk away with conversions of others , but you will will certainly walk away with greater understanding of some things. If you will.
I was going to write a small post on why I so appreciate Francis Schaeffer’s writings. This might be a good place to do that.
One great gain from reading his works is that they clearly define where Christians are in relation to this culture. They also help one to value the unique message of Jesus Christ. They helped me more than a few times to discern where the large questions are in the battle of world views. As a Christian, I found it is very easy to get sidetracked. The red flags are often in very different places than we expect.
For instance, do you view the atheist as your greatest opposition? Wrong. The atheist is very often honest or, at least, values honesty. That is never a problem for Christianity.
But I think what I most appreciate about Francis Schaeffer is the consistant tone of genuine compassion and concern for those he deals with: those with real questions and search for meaning in their world. Like Jesus, he expresses within his writings the tendency to grieve first and then answer. Schaeffer understands, and relays that understanding, what a predicament man finds himself in.
It is a wonderful counter to all the prideful talk you tend to hear, and be tempted to spout, in the ‘defense of the gospel’.
So what is the point of taking all this time for discussion, especially in arguments where you don’t really expect to win anything?
You engage your generation. And lots can be said for that.
A related post, Christian Bloggers Awake.