How To Talk To Your Atheist Friends
Just A Few Observations
Warren E. Berkley
Do you have friends or family who are atheist? Are you able to engage them in conversation? This is from a sermon I’ve preached a couple of times about HOW TO TALK TO YOUR ATHEIST FRIENDS.
PRAY FOR WISDOM. Jas. 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him askGod, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Talking to atheists may create some anxious moments even before the conversation. What words should I use? Where should I start? What should my tone be? Timing, place and other decisions come to mind. You want come across in the best possible way. Pray for wisdom.
LISTEN TO THE ATHEIST. You are going to listen to an atheist? YES. In the spirit of James 1:19 – Be quick to hear. The better you listen, the better prepared you are to know exactly what response is appropriate. If you claim all the time, do all the talking and never give the atheist a chance, you may defeat your opportunity. Let them tell their story. Listen carefully. Show that you care. Then respond, having asked for God’s wisdom.
MAKING CERTAIN THAT YOU SHOW GENUINE INTEREST. James 2:8 says – the royal law is to love your neighbor as yourself. Hate is never a good argument. So much discourse and debate these days is driven by hate. (Have you ever heard anyone say, “you know, I was an infidel for many years. Then I met this Christian who yelled at me, told me I was a stupid and needed to change and get baptized!”) No. That doesn’t happen.
SHOW YOUR FAITH BY YOUR WORKS, not just your word. James says, “…someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your , and I will show you my faith by my works.” (Jas. 2:18). Later (3:13) – “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”
You can have a room full of atheists listening to your lectures about the existence of God all day long. You can have a session on faith in Christ. You can open the book of John and point to all the evidence. You can spend some time demonstrating the integrity of the New Testament. You can make all those arguments and make them with the highest level of clarity and eloquence. And perhaps some good will be done. But if you are not living what you preach – the value of your arguments and lectures are drastically reduced. People we talk to need to know that we care. And they need to know that we are committed to living what we preach about God and His Son.
Atheists may be as wrong as they can be about denying God’s existence – but most atheists have good hypocrisy radar. By that I mean – if you are not living what you preach, they see it – and what you say loses credibility. “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”
NEVER HESITATE TO READ THE WORD OF GOD, OR ASK PEOPLE TO READ IT. I hope each one of us understand perfectly that God is a better speaker and writer than we will ever me. His words are more powerful than mine. God is the perfect communicator. Bring up the simple arguments of Rom. 1:19,10; Heb. 3:4 and Heb. 11:3. Let God be heard.
ALWAYS TELL THE STORY OF JESUS. Paul said, I am not ashamed of the gospel.James said, in Jas. 2:1, we are people who “hold thefaith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” If we hold that faith we are certainly motivated to share that faith. Will you tell the story of Jesus to an atheist? Can you read from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and let the word of God convict and turn the atheist from his unbelief?