Sharing the Gospel with Religious Nones in Naperville
The other day I shared the gospel with a ‘none’ in Naperville. Not a nun–a Catholic woman devoted to a life of chastity, poverty and service–but a ‘none.’ I’m referring a person who claims to not adhere to any religious beliefs. A recent poll shows a dramatic rise of these individuals in our country. [You and I likely have friends or family members who say they do not have any religious beliefs and would fit this category of ‘nones’].
The notion of not having any religious adherence is something I encountered strongly in 2004-5 among British college students at Edinburgh University. That year I was serving as a missionary with CRU, and many students I spoke to told me that they didn’t think or worry about God. This spiritual apathy was manifested in comments like ‘I can’t be bothered to think about God.’ For these students, the topics of God and the afterlife were irrelevant and ultimately unknowable. Sadly, it is this very same attitude that we find in many religious nones here in the USA today.
Part of our evangelistic efforts then ought to include explaining the idea that God is knowable in a true and real way. Often times I ask people: ‘Do you think it is possible to know who God is?‘ This question at least gets people to consider the possibility that God is knowable. After this, I attempt to explain that we can have real and true knowledge of God and that this knowledge is not mere opinion or cultural impositions of a by-gone era; God has revealed Himself in a way that is real and accessible (accessible through the Scriptures and Jesus). The heart of what we know about God is this: God, the King and Creator of the universe, made us for His glory and is reconciling us to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.
While we as Christians don’t claim to understand God comprehensively, we do claim to have true and actual knowledge of Him. Psalm 103:7 celebrates this: “He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.” John 1:18 also speaks of us this: “He has made him known.” I believe we need to help non-Christians around us–especially ‘nones’–understand this concept, or else they will likely think that we just espousing our opinions or point of view. We need to help them feel the weightiness of the gospel message, a message we believe is truly from God and is alone the power to save.
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2 replies on “Sharing the gospel with Religious Nones in Naperville”
Good post, Tom. Yea, it’s a great question to ask non-Christians: Do you think it’s possible to know who God is? Another way to ask it is: Do you think it’s possible that God makes himself known? Some additional relevant questions to non-Christians are: 1) What is your basis for morality, and how was that derived? 2) Do you believe we have a moral intuition and a moral conscience? If so, where did this come from? 3) What is your basis for justice, and how was that derived? 4) What do you think compels us to act in a way that we “ought” to act? 5) If you believe in some form of moral law, is there a transcendent moral Lawgiver behind it? 6) If you believe in some form of justice, is there a transcendent Judge behind it? 7) If you believe there is no ultimate justice in an afterlife, what would be the basis for justice in this life? 8) If there is no God, and thus no divine Lawgiver or Judge, wouldn’t the universe be governed by survival of the fittest, where the only law is that “might makes right”? 9) If we possess only amoral instincts which protect and promote our own survival, wouldn’t any deeds of altruism be mere accidents with no justification for being a good and noble thing? 10) Can there be such a thing as a good and noble thing, if whatever happens just happens?
Fantastic Dan, those are excellent followup questions! We have to get the unbeliever to consider their presuppositions…