Sharing our faith with others is almost always difficult. It is rarely easy to share with another person that he is a sinner and in need of a Savior. The foolishness of the gospel makes us feel like fools. Yet it is our great honor and privilege and responsibility to be fools for Christ and to serve Him by sharing the good news with others. Despite this, we are often unprepared. When friends or acquaintances or even strangers provide us an opportunity to share with them, so often we find ourselves fumbling and stumbling. Some of us turn to “fillibuster evangelism,” hoping to talk our friends into the kingdom by never giving them a chance to voice their questions or disagreements. Others say little, perhaps finding ourselves intimidated at having been challenged.
Charlie Campbell, pastor of Calvary Chapel Vista in southern California, believes that we should be able to provide one-minute answers to the most common questions posed by skeptics. “When someone asks me, ‘What evidence do you have that the Bible is actually true?’ I do not attempt to walk them through a whole pile of evidence (‘The eighth reasons is…’). I try to answer their question in under a minute or two. Frankly, that is all the time people often have before their cell phone rings, the baby starts crying, or they have to get back to work. If they want to hear a more in-depth response to their question, I let them know that I would be glad to go on.” This book, One Minute Answers To Skeptics’ Top Forty Questions seeks to provide just enough information to answer questions thoroughly yet without taking too much time.
Here are some of the questions Campbell addresses:
- What evidence do you have that there is a God?
- Hasn’t the Bible undergone corruption as it was translated hundreds of times down through the centuries?
- If God is so loving, why does He allow evil and suffering?
- How can a loving God send somebody to hell?
- Doesn’t the Bible have scientific errors in it?
- Can God make a rock so big that He cannot move it?
- Why aren’t dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible?
- Isn’t being a good person enough to get to heaven?
On the whole the author does quite a good job of answering the questions. He continually refers back to Scripture, allowing the Spirit to convict the heart of the person asking the questions. Having said that, there were a couple of answers that I felt were quite poor. In answering, “What about those who have never heard of Jesus? Will they be condemned to hell?” the answer contains the words, “I personally believe…” In this case Campbell goes outside of Scripture to suggest that if there is a person alive who would receive Jesus, if only he could hear about Him, God will somehow save that person, perhaps through a missionary, a vision or so on. The answers to “How can a loving God send somebody to hell?” and a couple of the other questions are, as we might expect, based on an Arminian understanding of Scripture. Still, most questions are answered well.
I had a couple of disappointments with the book. First, I am not entirely sure who the audience is. At times the author uses fairly advanced language such as “the inspired, infallible Word of God.” Yet the book closes with a section outlining steps to peace with God. It seems that the book has something of a dual purpose and it would perhaps have been better to focus on either believers or unbelievers. It is rare that a book can be targetted successfully at both groups. Second, most of the chapters close in a quote or two relevant to the topic that has just been discussed. Several of the quotes were by people who may lead the reader to read books that would not prove conducive to sharpening his faith. I would suggest that the author could have been more selective in choosing quotes.
One Minute Answers To Skeptics’ Top Forty Questions is an easy read and provides valuable answers. Perhaps its greatest value, though, at least as in so far as it applies to believers, is that it will help convict Christians that they need to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Christians should think through the most common questions and objections and be prepared to give an answer that is convicting and biblical, but not necessarily exhaustive.