Before I became accomplished in this pursuit, I began to have doubts. The doubts arose as I began to practice my growing knowledge in face-to-face encounters (arguments) or large bull sessions. It was great fun arguing. It was even more fun winning the argument. But there weren’t any results. No conversions.
Part of the problem was that I found it difficult to be kind while I was being methodically rational and clear in my presentation. There was another problem. It seemed that most of the people who had questions didn’t really want answers to their questions. They just wanted to have questions. This contradicted an assumption I had made that people who had questions want answers.
“But in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
This is the kind of question we should generate, answer, and answer with gentleness and respect.
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Written May 1986.