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Controversial and Thought-Provoking Articles for the Savvy Christian

How NOT to Witness to an Atheist

Posted By Denise Miller Holmes on Wednesday

Savvy Article # 1202

Apologetics and debate are the main ways to reach an atheist, right? Wrong! Although a Christian should know why he believes and be ready to answer when asked, it is not the primary way to reach an atheist.

There is one thing that too many Christians are currently doing that makes reaching atheists difficult.

For instance, last summer, Pastor Aaron Gardner visited the Creation Museum in Petersburg Kentucky. The twist is–he visited with a group called the Secular Student Alliance (SSN), a group of atheists.

The Creation Museum’s purpose is to convince others that God is real and He created the world, and yet, the message fell on deaf ears. Why? The shabby way the atheists were treated by Christians weighed more heavily on them than any ot the exhibits at the museum.

According to Gardner, the Christians’ “hateful” looks and rudeness were shocking. The museum staff and visitors treated him and others with the nametag SSN as if they were a disease.

Gardner’s experience is revealing. Too often, we believers act like the atheist is the devil.

When asked about how Christians should treat atheists, Coloradan Senior Pastor, John Snyder, of Crossroads Community Church, Parker, said, “Jesus was called a ‘Friend of sinners.’ He gave us, as his followers, these four commands: ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.’ (Luke 6:27-28) So why do we call him Lord, and not do what he says?”

In my recent post, Is Faith the enemy? A revealing look at the tenets of New Atheism, it was clear that there is a new breed of atheist and he/she is proactive and passionate to debate and proselytize.

The Christian response to this is commonly to see the atheist as the enemy. But if you want to reach an atheist, don’t do the following:

  • Make judgmental statements to the atheist
  • Shun the atheist
  • Argue intellectually with the atheist as your only form of witnessing

The last point is controversial because the New Atheists are proactive and witness actively about their beliefs. However, loving the unbeliever is the most powerful witnessing tool. Intellectual arguments are secondary.

It is God’s kindness that leads others to repentance.

As Pastor Snyder said, “Paul gives this challenge to us as Christ’s followers, ‘Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s KINDNESS leads you to repentance?’ (Romans 2:4)

“So Jesus has sent us to save the people of our world, not condemn them. Even if they seem to be our enemies – we are to love them.”

Below is a video interview with atheist Penn Jillette, from the magical duo Penn and Teller, who describes his experience of being moved by a believer’s love. He even took the man’s Bible!


About The Author

Denise Miller Holmes
Denise Miller Holmes enjoys teaching biblical topics, and especially researching and communicating what Christians believe about the world around them. She sometimes turns established viewpoints on end. A graduate of the University of Southern California School of Journalism, Denise also has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology, and has been a Christian for over 35 years. She belongs to the writers’ groups Words for the Journey and American Christian Fiction Writers.

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