Open thread (1): “Would you like to look at the Bible with me?”

I’m about to go offline for a few days, so I thought I’d leave a couple of questions on here for discussion.

First, what prompted the recent discussions about law and gospel was my post about Rico Tice’s talk at the London Men’s Convention last Saturday, in which one of Rico’s main points was that we should be looking to get the Bible open with non-Christians. It was a friend reading Psalm 103:13-17 with him that brought Rico to faith, and he is a fervent advocate of using Mark’s gospel in evangelism.

So my question is this: given the opportunity to look at the Bible with a non-believer, what text(s) do you think you’d go for? Please share the passages you’d choose, and if you have any particular reasons for your choice then do please share these as well.

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3 Responses to Open thread (1): “Would you like to look at the Bible with me?”

  1. Jim says:

    I start with what interests the non-believer. Since the Scriptures are christocentric, it doesn’t really matter where you start. All roads, as it were, lead to Jesus. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4.12).

    The important thing is to keep focus on reading the text “honestly” — trying to understand what the author wrote before we argue or wrestle with what the author wrote.

    So often, people seem to think that you need to dumb things down for non-Christians. But if non-Christians want dumb Christianity, all they need to do is turn on the T.V. They’re full of pat answers.

  2. Phil Walker says:

    Like Jim, it depends what questions are being asked.

    A non-Christian friend of mine at university got to the point where he could see that there was some sense in which the Gospel “stacked up”: not that he could believe it, but he could acknowledge its credibility. However, he really struggled to see what, even if it were true, it had to do with him. So we went to Isaiah 53: “all we like sheep have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

    I chose that passage because (a) it put him on the spot as one who has turned astray, showing very pointedly what it had to do with him, and (b) because I know that passage by heart (thankyou, Handel!). Despite being sat at my kitchen table, we had no Bible immediately to hand, so I had to use whatever I could dredge up from my notoriously dodgy memory.

    And those, I think, form the two main criteria I’d use. Firstly, choose a passage which deals with the non-Christian where they’re at, with all their questions and problems and issues. Secondly, choose a passage you know well.

  3. Rick Ritchie says:

    Just a couple weeks ago, we had a missionary speak to our congregation and recommend this method, of just reading the Bible with non-Christians. It strikes me as a good one.

    My best evangelism has usually been either where I’m bringing apologetics into a conversation started by another Christian, or where the non-Christian approaches asking questions. I am a bad initiator of these conversations, even though once rolling, I’m often quite decent within them. I think part of this could be that I don’t like the dynamic of interrupting someone who is happy with things to announce something that doesn’t seem to connect with how they feel things are going in their lives. That dynamic has a psychotic tinge to it. (Those who successfully preach the Law are often not introducing it from nowhere.) But when we enter into Scripture, it tends to be compelling. We are not like Jonah going into Ninevah to preach repentance. Even St. Paul fared differently before Herod Agrippa II and Bernice than John the Baptist did before Herod and Herodias. Same immorality, but different message.

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