Don Carson and Tim Keller share their experiences regarding evangelism and apologetics in a university context over the past 30 years. Don argues that in some ways, because of the post-Christian atmosphere that now exists in the US and Europe, evangelism is easier than it was in the past because of the ignorance of Judeo-Christian values that were still being rebelled against.
Keller suggests that the exclusive claims of Christ and how a good God can send anyone to hell is one of the main challenges that offend students today. Answering skeptics with a question like, “So you don’t mind if Hilter or Idi Amin go to heaven?” Keller suggests that this brings the theoretical argument back to reality and helps set a baseline for a better and more serious conversation.
Christianity, Keller argues, makes a way for salvation for anybody who asks for the mercy of Christ, through genuine repentance—be it the abuser, the prostitute, the mafia man who kills people for a living. People who are humble enough to ask for a savior are in and the people who are too proud and self reliant are out. Once you can get to a more serious conversation, it becomes clear that everyone holds an exclusive view of who should go to heaven. It’s often the case that Christianity is a more inclusive exclusivity than that of the skeptic.
Another objection that Carson finds prevalent in evalgelistic contexts today is the offensive of sin before a Holy God. Because the majority of people today view sin as a sociological or cultural definition, this is a particularly difficult challenge he often faces. Without a proper view of sin, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross makes no sense.
Keller ends with an illustration of a mother who sacrifices greatly to put her son through school only to have the son ignore her, which he finds helpful to try and press into that issue with skepts to show how sin is a real offense against God.
In this episode, Carson recommends a helpful book by Randy Newman called, Questioning Evangelism.
For more resources on evangelism, visit https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/topics/evangelism
Thanks to the The Gospel Project who sponsored this episode. To learn more about The Gospel Project, visit gospelproject.com
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Today’s episode was produced by Heather Calvillo and Steven Morales.