Monday, March 21, 2011

Billy Graham: Atheists argue because they are unsure of their unbelief

In the Kansas City Star, a reader asks Billy Graham a question about an atheist friend:
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: My friend claims to be an atheist, and I don’t know what to say to him. I am a Christian, but he bombards me with questions I can’t answer and I feel stupid. He really needs Jesus because his life is kind of messed up, but I’m afraid I’m not a good witness. What can I do? — P.G.
I'm not sure how "messed up" is being used here--is the atheist messed up due to personal or financial difficulties, or because he isn't a Christian? At any rate, Billy Graham's answer is enlightening:
DEAR P.G.: The most important thing you can do is to pray for your friend. You can’t change his heart and mind; even if you answered every argument he threw at you, he’d probably still keep clinging to his unbelief.
I'm also not sure how someone clings to an unbelief any more than someone stubbornly refuses to collect stamps. But when Christians hold true to their faith, come what may, that's supposed to be virtuous.

The Holy Spirit is far greater than we are, and he is able to break through even the hardest heart. The Bible says that “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
In this case, 'sin' is probably, 'not believing in the existence of the Holy Spirit.' So we find ourselves in the situation where the Holy Spirit will some day induce guilt in atheists for not believing in the Holy Spirit's ability to induce guilt in atheists due to a lack of evidence of the Holy Spirit inducing guilt in atheists.

The other thing you can do, however, is to be an example to your friend of Christ’s love and transforming power, both by your words and your life. Even the strongest argument can’t stand up to the reality of a changed life. The Bible says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5).
Now that's good advice, and a decent scripture verse as well. Be wise to outsiders and live a good life.

I suspect that down inside your friend is unsure of his convictions; otherwise why would he feel compelled to argue so much?
Says the preacher who argued for his faith before millions.

Don’t be discouraged, and don’t give up on him. Some of God’s greatest servants over the centuries were once atheists.
And many notable atheists were raised Christian, but perhaps they fall under the category of 'messed up.'

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