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What Do You Mean By That?

A friend gave a scenario.  

“…their response is (this is usually what i get) “ok, well how do you prove the Bible isn’t full of errors? it was put together by a bunch of guys, etc.” and then i don’t usually know where to go from there because we have different beliefs on the Bible. “
 
What to do?  Haven’t we all at least dialoged with someone about the bible and something along these lines comes up?  Are we suppose to be walking PhDs in all the respective areas to be able to “be ready”?  I think this is a great discussion to get into. As Christians we simply don’t have the liberty to deny the authority of the bible in our lives and therefore at first glance it may appear to put us at the disadvantage. However, I think Pastor Matt once told me something of great encouragement and that is to let the bible do the work. Then they don’t disagree with us but with the bible.


This shouldn’t be confused with the accusation that we don’t want to be bold in our faith but it ought to be seen as our confidence in Scripture. That it is able to defend itself and doesn’t need us but we need it.

Moving on to the other question of some skeptics or non-believers who would try to invalidate the bible by trying to have the Christian validate it first. Perhaps a tactic can be shown that I have found quite helpful.

Keep in mind: whoever is asking the questions is in control. When we are in a dialog with (JWs, mormons, atheist, or uncle Jim the skeptic) and the questions begin to come at us we freak out. Our initial response is to bring out proofs, (i.e. science, archeology, prophecies, etc) However, the control of the conversation can be brought back to the believer with a simple question. Thus forcing the skeptic to establish and validate their own ground or premise. Remember this phrase

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?”

I have found this phrase quite handy particularly in a situation such as the one described previously. The person says the bible has errors. Fine, question their question. “What do you mean by that?”. Now they have to demonstrate a place the bible has err’d and how they know it is an error and not simply a misunderstanding on their part. Generally you will find they have severely failed to do any research and are simply spouting out unintelligible regurgitation.  Plus the Christian is in the “driver’s seat” and they have control of the conversation again.

Instead of rattling off tons of responses and being on the defensive end, we reply with “What do you mean by that?” It gives you control of the conversation and even better it allows the Christian to really aim their response at the concern of the unconverted.

Still we ought to study the Scripture but at least now our response can be more focussed instead of irrelevant to the issue. 

This is a tactic taught by Greg Koukl at Stand to Reason.  I would encourage any believer (or even skeptic) to browse through his website for well thought out discussion in the areas of Ethics, Values and Religion. www.str.org

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