What Are Objections?
If you have spent any time at all advancing the Gospel into the world around you, you’ve met with objections. I cannot think of a time where I have shared the Gospel where I did not meet with resistance. Moreover, these objections are often thrown out early in the conversation. Whether I am attempting to share the Gospel in a relationship or in a public setting, I meet naysayers.
At times the push-back I receive is well-meant. Some folks have genuine confusion over the Gospel because they have been misinformed by contemporary Christian culture. However, more-often-than-not, the objections I hear are merely excuses to continue in sin.
Furthermore, most objectors know this, and they relish it. Objections are predominately, the sign of a hardened heart and seared conscious. My hope in this article is to address both types of objections. Additionally, I hope to show you how to get past the protestation and turn it into a tool to preach the Gospel.
The Well-Meant Objection
The resistance you are least likely to meet is from the well-meant objector. This is often the poor person who has had an over-abundance of contact with cultural Christians. Cultural Christians are the bane of Christianity in the West.
Let me explain. Cultural Christians will espouse a plethora of different clichés meant to convince people to become Christian. This can be something as simple as “Jesus loves you just the way you are.” Or even worse, “The god I believe in would never send someone like you to hell.”
Cultural Christians are resolutely convinced that all people are basically good and just need a little fixing up. These are the same people that have given us the language of “broken” instead of sinful. It is this mentality that gives the well-meant objection its legs.
The person who has interacted with the cultural Christians will readily object to any presentation of the Gospel that calls sin, sin. Why? Because they have not been told about God’s Eternal Moral Law, or His Holiness. Instead they have been taught about the amorphous ethereal genie god that exits to make their lives better.
“But I was told…” is often how the objections begin. From there any number of other statements follow. This person isn’t objecting out of hardness, they are truly misinformed. Moreover, they are most likely to sit and listen when you try and explain why their objection is misplaced.
What the well-meant objector needs is patience and understanding, not a hard rebuke. You must be long-suffering with this person, and bear with them as God bore with you.
How To Respond To The Well-Meant Objector
I often think of the woman at the well from John 4 when I think of the well-meant objector. Here is this Samaritan woman, born and raised learning misinformation. Is she culpable for her own sin? Of course. However, she was not to blame for having been misinformed about the Messiah her whole life. Moreover, the question and objections she raised with Jesus were not meant to excuse her sin.
This lady was genuinely convinced that what she had learned all her life was true. Accordingly, Christ cut past that and went to her sin. Furthermore, Jesus didn’t attack her faulty presuppositions. He simply and profoundly revealed Himself to be the promised coming Messiah she had asked about.
Consequently, this should be our response to those we meet who are victims of faulty teaching. Jesus and Paul didn’t castigate the victims of false teachers. Instead, Christ took a dim view of those who led the uninformed astray. He told them they would be better off having mill-stones tied to their necks and tossed in the sea. Paul wished for false-teachers to emasculate themselves instead of teaching false doctrine.
Subsequently, we should respond in kind. We need to be gentle and kind to these people who literally know no better. Instead of beating them up with how wrong they are according to Scripture, we should walk them through the Word. We should kindly and gently take them to that place where their sin is exposed. We must model Christ’s methodology in these moments.
Objections Meant To Excuse
Most people we will encounter when engaging in Gospel work will use objections as means to excuse their sinful state. These are the folks that will tell you about the “god” they believe in. Generally, these are the folks that make statements like “only God can judge me,” or “Who are you to judge?” Perhaps my favorite of all time “God and I have an understanding.”
Usually, these objections are meant to deaden the piercing work of the Gospel message. The proponents of such statements want to remain untouched by conviction. Moreover, these people do not need understanding in the same vein as the well-meant objectors. They need a loving but sharp rebuke.
Consider how Jesus dealt with the rich young ruler. What was his approach? Was Christ as gentle in His approach to this man as He was to the woman at the well? Not hardly.
When considering the accounts of Jesus interacting with the lost we build a narrative in our minds of his demeanor. We know He was gentle and loving to many. Yet, He was also the one who fashioned a scourge and chased people out of the temple, twice! Jesus had pity on the rich young man. Yet, he was none-the-less firm in His approach. He would brook no excuses, and the rich man was full of them.
Jesus cut immediately to the heart of the matter with him. “Go and sell all of your possessions and give the money to the poor,” He commanded the man. Christ wasn’t falling for the man’s self-righteous justifications of how he lived. He knew what would hurt the man and He aimed for it with precision.
What was the result? The man went away saddened because he was a man of great means.
How To Tell Which Objection You Are Facing
This can be the hard part of any evangelistic encounter. Moreover, our tendency as Christians is to want to err on the side graciousness. Certainly, this is a wonderful trait. Yet, it isn’t always helpful.
Transversely, we may find ourselves wanting to give a pass to some and a rebuke to others. Consider how you interact with the kind and generous Mormon Missionary you meet. They are genuinely decent folks. Christians tend to be hard on the Mormons they run into. I can give account after account from LDS missionaries that have had insults hurled at them or had doors slammed in their faces by Christians.
Yet, is this really the way we should be interacting with Mormons? Sure, they come bearing false-doctrine. Moreover, they are certainly guilty of their own sins. However, they are not guilty of creating the false-doctrines they bear. These teachings have been heaped up on them as heavy burdens on the unsuspecting. Some of them are raised in Mormon homes and have no choice in what they are taught. Others till have been duped into believing that Mormonism is Christian.
What of the atheist you meet? How should you respond. I recently had cause to listen to an interview with an atheist. He stated that something that angered him about Christians is how they assert that he has no morals. Why would Christians attempt to address atheists this way? Where does that come from?
Is the atheist culpable for sin? Sure! Do we address every atheist in the same manner? Certainly not. Many atheists today have no idea why they believe that they believe (or don’t believe.) Attacking their outward moral character isn’t addressing the heart of the issue.
Simply put, the best way to ascertain which objections you are dealing with is to listen.
Listen To Understand Not Refute
I was once told that God gave me two ears and one mouth, so I could listen twice as much as I talk. (Thank you Grandpa Schmieder) It took me years to understand this; I am not sure that I fully grasp it to this day. I will say that when I am doing evangelism I tend to try and remember this admonition. My natural tendency is to want to destroy the arguments of those who raise objections. So basically everyone.
I want to point out something to myself and anyone who is reading this. The desire to destroy arguments flows from pride. We want to display our intellectual superiority over the naysayers. I touched on this in my article on apologetics. This trait is common amongst people who engage in Presuppositionalism. There is no better feeling in the flesh than dismantling an atheist’s arguments against God.
However, our desire should be see ourselves in the lost person we are speaking to. Moreover, we should be seeking to understand what they are objecting to.
Anecdotally, a while back I was evangelizing in the bar district of a small city near me. As I and a friend stood speaking to several young ladies a man came out with a sign. That sign directed us to go to a different location. My friend engaged with the man and it quickly became apparent that the man was a homosexual. The man stated something to effect of “I suppose you hate gays.”
This caught my attention and I had to engage. Yet I engaged by asking questions and listening. It would have been easy to jump down this man’s throat and attack his sin. Yet, what would that have accomplished? Nothing in the end.
We must learn to listen as much as we refute.
The End Goal
You may feel as if you are receiving the short shrift in this article. Perhaps you were expecting me to go objection by objection and give all the biblical counter-arguments. That was never my intent. Simply put, the best arguments of any man can be refuted by another man.
When I was an only child my dad used to love to watch Monday night football. I can still hear the distinct voice of Howard Cosell as he gave the color commentary for each game. One of the things I remember Cosell saying is that in any given game any given team could beat the other. This may seem less-than profound, but it was poignant. Cosell wasn’t stating the obvious, he was arguing the truth. What he was telling his listeners was that stats don’t matter. It all came down to drive and determination.
This should serve as a reminder to us when we are engaging in Gospel Advancement. Chances are that when you engage in evangelism you won’t be the most intellectually superior person present. Moreover, no matter how smart you are there is always someone smarter. In the back of your mind in every engagement you should be reminded of the biblical truth that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.
That truth alone will humble you and drive you to listen to the person you are talking to. What is your drive and what is your determination? If it is anything other than the conversion of souls, you are forgetting your purpose. God has called you out of darkness and into the light for His ends. God has called you to salvation to be the means by which the Gospel is advanced into the world.
Soli Deo Gloria!