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A Time for Silence: When to Stop Sharing

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This is a great article by Dr. Bob Gonzales, on when to stop sharing the Gospel with an unbeliever. In this case, the author finally called it quits on a couple of people who subscribed to a materialistic-evolutionary view of reality—much like the unbelievers who comment on this blog. The article ends with a heartfelt letter, and a tactful, gracious plea.

One of the marks of a Christian is a desire to share the good news of the life-transforming gospel with others. In the words of the apostles, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). But what if a friend, fellow worker, schoolmate, or family member asks us to desist? Does there come a time when we should refrain from speaking to a person about Jesus and Christianity?

A few years ago, I sent John Piper’s booklet The Passion of Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die to several close friends and relatives. To my knowledge, most of them were not Christians. I had already shared the gospel with some. With others I had not–at least not in a more comprehensive way. I wanted to be able to face Jesus on Judgment Day with the knowledge that I had attempted to share the gospel with those who were close to me.

Disappointingly, one couple replied with a letter and some materials that made it clear they rejected Christianity, affirmed materialistic evolution, and wished me to relinquish my attempts at trying to convert them. They were polite. But they were also resolute. They didn’t believe in God, and they preferred that I give up any attempt in persuading them otherwise. Click here to read the rest.

70 Comments

  1. That article is one giant passive-aggressive association fallacy. That would explain why you found it so insightful.

  2. Really good article and well written letter! Thank you for sharing this one Pastor Steve!

  3. Hi Steve,

    For the record, I encourage people to evangelize to me; I find it strange that many Christians shy away from it.

    And that drbobgonzales.com article was absolutely hilarious to read, especially the “I used to be an evolutionist” (I bet you money I could show that to be an absolute lie, by showing that he understands NONE of it), or suggesting Behe’s and Johnson’s books.

    It’s almost like the guy isn’t even trying.

    I agree with Swan, that was passive-aggressive as all get-out, but that stuff doesn’t bother me.

    Christians everywhere, please feel free to evangelize to me, jerkily or otherwise.

    • Nohm, I am certain I could find a scientist who would say that you know nothing about evolution. Would that mean that you are not an evolutionist? If I find a CS professor who doesn’t think you know much about coding, does that mean you aren’t a developer?

      • Hi Glenn,

        Nohm, I am certain I could find a scientist who would say that you know nothing about evolution.

        Are you willing to put money down on that “certainty”, Glenn? Because I am.

        In other words, I’m calling your bluff. No, I don’t think you’d be able to find a biologist who would say I “know nothing about evolution”.

        Granted, I did use a bit of hyperbole in my comment above, and I apologize for that, but the guy himself exposes his lack of knowledge in the letter.

        As I’ve said many times before: if I thought that evolution was what you, and he, and Steve think it is, I also would think it’s a bunch of bunk.

        We’ve gone through this before, Glenn.

        Would that mean that you are not an evolutionist?

        The word “evolutionist” doesn’t mean anything to me, although I understand what you mean by it. I don’t care if anyone thinks I am or am not an “evolutionist”, but I would bet money (literally) that your situation of a biologist saying I know nothing about evolution wouldn’t go well for you. But I don’t think you’ll put your money where your mouth is.

        If I find a CS professor who doesn’t think you know much about coding, does that mean you aren’t a developer?

        Again, Glenn, I dare you to try it. I (literally) will bet that you can’t. Bring anyone that you want, as long as they are neutral to this situation (i.e., they aren’t simply going to agree with you because they know you or because you paid them off to agree with you).

        (Also, for the record, I haven’t worked professionally as a developer for a while now, but I still keep up for personal programming projects.)

        But here’s the real thing: do you see me stating that coding doesn’t really exist, and that programmers just say it does because I can mind-read them and they all hate God so much that they talk about this made-up “programming” concept because they want to avoid His authority?

        Your analogy is not equivalent.

        So? How much do you want to put on this, Glenn? $200 work for you?

      • Glen:
        I’ll bet you’ve never had an exegesis done on any of your other questions!

      • Hi Steve L.,

        You wrote: “I’ll bet you’ve never had an exegesis done on any of your other questions!

        He has.

      • Nohm, I believe you have now underscored, bolded, highlighted, and italicized for everyone here exactly what your problem is, and why you don’t believe the Gospel.

        For those atheists that also don’t get it, here it is: pride.

      • Exactly. And that’s the reason that the two banned atheists will never apologize. Yet, the two Christians DID.

        Pride: The Mother of all sin.

      • Hi Glenn,

        Please explain how I have shown pride by calling your bluff. Do you honestly believe you could find someone who would either say I know nothing about evolution, or a CS professor who doesn’t think I know much about coding? Name names, please.

        So now you have redefined “calling you out on the carpet” as somehow “pride”. Even after I said I apologized for using hyperbole. Glenn calling me out for “pride”… my oh my that is rich.

        Motes and beams, Glenn. Motes and beams.

      • Hi Glenn,

        You wrote: “Nohm, I believe you have now underscored, bolded, highlighted, and italicized for everyone here exactly what your problem is, and why you don’t believe the Gospel.

        For those atheists that also don’t get it, here it is: pride.

        Failed mind-reading. Even if I had the sin of pride, as you point out (with a beam lodged in your eye), that’s still not the reason I don’t believe the Gospel.

        I don’t believe the Gospel because, when I ask why I should believe it, I’m told I should believe it on faith.

        If I should believe it on faith, then why shouldn’t I believe the Book of Mormon on faith, or the Qur’an on faith? I haven’t received a good answer to that.

        Therefore, I remain a nullifidian.

      • Nohm,

        You’re getting close. But you missed one little thing.

        How do they know that their holy book is right, and every other holy book is wrong? How do they know that their supernatural, evidence-free assertion is correct and every other supernatural, evidence-free assertion is sinful and misguided?

        Because it’s their holy book, and is therefore correct.

        Or to put it another way: pride.

      • Yep. Pride in our God, who is forever praised! Amen!

      • Not pride Glenn, logic. Why do you make things up, instead of simply listening to people?

  4. Great article. I have had family members specifically tell us that they don’t want to hear it anymore. I did take a similar approach in corresponding with them. It is all in God’s hands now. The sheep will respond to His voice, the goats… well… they can’t say they never heard the truth.
    p.s. Cinco de Mayo was awesome!!

  5. So what is an evolutionist?

    No joke here, I do not know what the term means, if it means someone who has studied biology and finds the theory of evolution through natural selection, to be the best supported explaination for the diversity of life, then cool, I am one.

    On the other hand it has something to do with Comforts “street evolution”, if it implies anything about abiogenesis, or if it has some philosophical connotations, or is somehow seen as “atheistic”, then no I am not one. None of those things apply to the theory of evolution. It is not a philosophy, it is accepted by bost theists and atheists because of the evidence, it does not try to explain other disciplines such as abiogenesis, or cosmology, and it does not attempt to disprove the Christian God or any other. My best friend is a Christian, has studied much more biology than I have, and is fine with evolution even though he is a fairly literal believer in creation. He simply believes that for whatever reason the patterns present in DNA, in homologies, and in the fossile record, look the way they do because God wills it and the way they look suports the theory of evolution. Even if the theory turns out to be wrong it makes accurate predictions, it advances medical and biological research and is consistent with all of the related sciences.

    He has said in discussions with me that Jesus didn’t advocate a scientific theory and never required evolution denial as a work one must do to achieve salvation. In fact he considers Christians who worry about evolution to idolaters because they place their reverence for the book of Genesis over the clear and simple instructions of Christ. Now myself I don’t have any more belief in the Gospels than in the Old Testament but I do understand both, and he is quite correct Jesus required no works to be saved and that would mean knowledge of a branch of science makes no difference on whether one is saved or not.

    • “…if it means someone who has studied biology and finds the theory of evolution through natural selection, to be the best supported explaination for the diversity of life, then cool, I am one.”

      That definition will do.

      And, yes, I reject that theory hands down. I am in favor of a better theory, the one that has theo as it’s basis.

      • Steve, I would take that far more seriously if I believed that you understood the theory.

        For the record, you can’t technically call what you believe in as a “theory”, as it fails on some of the more important parts of the definition:

        1. Falsifiable
        2. Makes predictions
        3. Tentative and correctable
        4. Parsimonious
        5. Supported by multiple strands of evidence

      • You reject the theory hands down!? Wow Steve, have you uncovered some evidence that points to evolution not happening? What ground breaking research have you uncovered that points to a better explanation for the diversity of life than evolution? Can you provide some links?

      • Yes, theory. It doesn’t mean, in the context of “the theory of evolution”, what you appear to think it means.

      • What I think it means is all it matters. In other words, it isn’t true. That’s what I think.

      • What I think it means is all it matters. In other words, it isn’t true. That’s what I think.

        Yes, but how do you know (in general) that what you think is true?

        I don’t want Scripture, though you could probably quote it for this specific conversation. I’m asking you in general, what does it take for you to know that what you believe is true, regardless of whether the question involves politics, math or food consumption?

      • Hi Steve,

        You wrote: “What I think it means is all it matters.

        Are you suggesting that your definition of a word trumps the way it’s actually used in the context that you present?

        Does it matter to you at all that you use the word incorrectly? Let’s say we both agree that the theory of evolution is bunk; is it still unimportant to you that you use the word “theory” incorrectly?

        It seems that such a mindset would make communication difficult.

      • I forgot to mention that “What I think it means is all it matters” sounds very Humpty Dumpty-ish, for all of those Lewis Caroll fans reading. 😉

      • OK, Steve. Go back to the cliche. Feel free.

        But if you’re resorting to the worn-out, oft-disproved “see, evolution is a theory!!” argument, then I get to pull out the tired, overused responses.

        See, gravity is a theory, too. Are you flying yet?

    • Steve, when you said “What I think it means is all it matters. In other words, it isn’t true. That’s what I think.” I was very impressed with your honesty, very few Christians I have met are willing to admit that. Most atheists are, I am sure, aware that a Christian does not really care if something is true, only that they believe it is true. That is symptomatic of most religions, few however have the gets to admit it, especially to their critics. I am glad you are capable of bravery sometimes. Kudos.

    • So Steve, does your brand of Christianity require evolution denial as a work, like repentance that one must accomplish in order to recieve Christs free gift of salvation?

      If someone is well educated in biology and accepts that the theory of evolution is the best supported explanation for the diversity of life, and believes that Gods will is behind the evidence that supports this, can they be a true Christian? I mean if they believe in Jesus and have faith in him, if they have performed the work of repentance, would their knowledge that the theory of evolution has not been falsified automatically mark them as a false convert?

      • I’m sure that over time, as they read the Word of God and start to understand it, their views will change. Mine did. I used to be a liberal. I used to believe in evolution. I used to be an adulterer.

      • Steve when you say you believed in evolution did you ever know ANY of the science behind it, how the process works, the chemistry of it? Or did you simply take someone’s word for it and shrug your shoulders without giving it any real thought or investigation?

      • The latter. Who cares? Read Genesis 1 for refutation.

      • Steve,

        The point I’m trying to make is that there’s a vast difference between “believing in evolution” and “understanding the concepts of the theory of evolution”.

        The former is irrelevant to me, but the latter is quite important to me.

      • Matters little to me. Read Genesis 1.

      • I suppose I would be called a liberal (except by liberals who call me conservative, by the definition we agreed on I could be called an evolutionist (although I don’t think the term actually exists outside of certain brands of Christianity), I have never been an adulterer though, you got me there.

        As to your believing in evolution I doubt it, oh I mean you probably agreed with it, because you had been told it was true, but you have not shown that you posess enough understanding of what it actually is to know whether you believed it or not.

        At any rate I do not think your opinion holds up, My good Christian friend is quite the student of scripture just as he was a pretty good student of biology back in college. His knowledge of biology and understanding of the theory of evolution has, according to him, strengthened his faith in God. As I said knowledge of the TOE does not mean denying God, in fact many biologists are Christian. It simply means that one has both education and honesty.

      • Thanks for the clarification.

      • I used to believe in evolution.

        I dare say you never understood it. I can imagine it was something you took on faith – an understanding built on sand as it were. And it’s easy enough to change your mind about something you don’t really understand.

      • Hi Steve,

        You wrote: “Read Genesis 1

        I have, many times. Also, Gen 2 and 3 and so on.

        If you know of a way to test to see if the first few chapters of Genesis match reality or not, I’m all ears.

      • None. It’s by faith. Simple. I once was lost…

      • Hmmm, should I listen to someone who knows nothing about evolution or someone that does… Have to say, it’s not very impressive to have someone change their mind about something they know nothing about. And it’s rather meaningless if you accept Genesis in the same way you once accepted evolution. Truth matters to me.

      • Don’t have to listen at all. Fine with me. There is a time for silence. That time is now.

      • Why should we consider Genesis as anything other than myth?

      • Hi Steve,

        If it’s all by faith, then I’ll ask this question again:

        Why should I accept the Bible on faith, instead of the Qur’an?

      • Mohammad didn’t rise from the dead. There are no guarantees of salvation apart from being a good person and that other one.

        Choose this day whom you will serve. (Or tomorrow.)

      • The latter. Who cares? Read Genesis 1 for refutation.

        Matters little to me. Read Genesis 1.

        None. It’s by faith. Simple. I once was lost…

        If you truly feel this way then why bring up evolution – or link to others that bring up evolution?.

        The time for silence is before you spout ignorance, misunderstanding, and bad logic. (Yes, the letter the guy wrote is all of that and more.)

      • I thought it was a great letter…. That’s why I posted the article.

      • Did I already say, “Jesus rose from the dead exactly the same way Mohammad ascended into heaven”? If not, I will now.

      • Hi Steve,

        You wrote: “Mohammad didn’t rise from the dead.

        Correct, because he was a prophet, and not divine. Mohammad is not analogous to Jesus (Isa) and isn’t intended to be; he’s far more analogous to Paul. Also, Mohammad did rise to heaven on a flying horse, which is pretty impressive, right? Paul never did that.

        But here’s the important question: why is it important, in this context, that Mohammad didn’t rise from the dead? What does Mohammad’s lack of rising from the dead have to do with me accepting the Qur’an on faith?

        I could just as easily point out that Paul (who is the real analogy to Mohammad, and not Jesus) didn’t ascend to heaven on the back of a winged horse, and that’s why someone should have faith in the Qur’an instead of the Bible.

        There are no guarantees of salvation apart from being a good person and that other one.

        Okay, and again, why should that affect whether or not I should have faith in the Qur’an or the Bible? I could just as easily say, “Christianity gives no guarantee of removing body thetans and becoming clear, but Scientology does.”

        But arguing against another religion based on the precepts that only exist in another religion doesn’t make sense, does it?

      • Steve wrote: “Choose this day whom you will serve. (Or tomorrow.)

        I’m just catching on this now. Steve, for further discussions about this, as I mentioned above, Mohammad is not analogous to Jesus; Mohammad is analogous to Paul.

        In Islam, Jesus (Isa) and Mohammad are similar, in that both are prophets.

      • I thought it was a great letter….

        I know. But you’ve just admitted that you don’t have the knowledge to judge his arguments against evolution and that you aren’t interested in gaining that knowlege. You seem to have faith that he’s not just spewing ignorance – you certainly couldn’t judge whether he was or not.

        Even with my level of ignorance, I know he got a few things wrong. If he’s that wrong on things that I can verify, why should I trust him on the things I can’t verify?

      • Mohammad didn’t rise from the dead.

        Weirdly, other people, with more invested in Islam, have had this same argument.

        “the unbelievers asked Muhammad to perform a miracle so that they could believe. All they got in response was,

        They say: “We shall not believe in thee, until thou cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth, (Q. 17: 90)

        And he would reply:

        Say: “Glory to my Lord! Am I aught but a man,- a messenger?” (Q. 17: 93)”

        See? Different sides of the same coin. You want to believe because there are unverifiable stories of miracles. Muslims believe because Muhammed didn’t create miracles.

        (An argument, much like those you make, could point out that the Islamic people thus have more faith. Tricky, huh?)

      • Nameless, I tip my hat to you.

  6. The Atheists invented passive-agressive, says me in a polite way.

  7. Matthew 10:5-15 King James Bible (See verse 14)

    5. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. 9. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, 10. Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. 11. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
    12. And when ye come into an house, salute it. 13. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

  8. How is this anything than a simple declaration of defeat?

    “Jesus/Ray/WotM hasn’t provided me with the tools I need to bring the lost to Christ. My trick pony isn’t working, so I will just throw up my hands and condemn the lost to hell and go home. ”

    Once again we have an example of an Evangelist with a built in non-believer audience, does he attempt to use that audience to become a better evangelist or just spit at them?

    The hilarious thing is you are much more likely to even bring up evolution than anyone else, you’ve done it twice in the last 2 weeks. I can’t remember the last time I did. And you bring it up in the same context, to divert discussion on lying.

    If you are planning to just abandon all the lost who accept scientific theory, then you are abandoning a lot of people.

    I won’t bother to go into how that screed diverts from reality, you’ve made it quite clear that posting such comments is a sure-fire way to get your post censored.

    Not even Answers in Genesis considers evolution a ‘salvation issue’, a ‘biblical authority issue’ sure, but not a ‘salvation issue.’

    I, and I am sure almost everyone else here, would have no trouble listing countless Christians who accept scientific theory, indeed are active contributors to it.

  9. I have one quick question. What’s an evolutionary view of reality? A view of reality that changes over time as people’s views evolve? Isn’t that a good thing? Maybe you can explain.

    • Evolution as it is usually siscussed here is about biology, not reality, but I like where you are going with this. I would say reality (on a fundamental level) is a constant, but what we see as reality does indeed evolve as our knowledge improves. When man thought the sun and stars were small lights set in the sky, realitu to them was a flat world with corners and a dome set over it. As man learned more it became clear that this was false and our “reality” evolved. Likewise when man saw direction and creation behind natural phenomena it made sense that they would see reality as being full of Gods and magic. Now that we are aware of the various properties of physics our conception of reality is evolving past this.

      Now of course, there is no evidence that the nature of reality “evolves” in any way. The details of reality change constantly but there is nothing to indicate any sort of evolution.

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