Apologetic Sound Bites: ‘Why do you want to force your opinion on me?’

Continuing the Apologetic Sound Bites series, here are some pointers suggesting how to answer the question  ‘Why do you want to force your opinion on me?’

1. Avoid trading personal opinions by pointing people to something Jesus said or did. Confront people with Jesus so it becomes their opinion verses Jesus.

2. Suppose I spot a serious fault with your car that will soon cause a life-threatening accident and so I warn you of it. It would be madness to say, ‘Don’t force your opinion on me.’ Suppose I knew of a wonderful free gift available for all who ask. It would be madness to say, ‘Don’t force your opinion on me.’

3. ‘You may make it sound like a noble struggle for freedom. But the truth is you simply want the right to be selfish.’

4. When you say, ‘Let me decide for myself,’ you are saying, in effect, ‘I know better than God. I make a better god than God.’

5. “One of the most frequent statements I heard was that ‘Every person has to define right and wrong for him- or herself.’ I always responded to the speakers by asking, ‘Is there anyone in the world right now doing things you believe they should stop doing no matter what they personally believe about the correctness of their behaviour?’ They would invariably say, ‘Yes, our course.’ Then I would ask, ‘Doesn’t that mean that you do believe there is some kind of moral reality that is “there” that is not defined by us, that must be abided by regardless of what a person feels or thinks?’ Almost always, the response to that question was a silence, either a thoughtful or a grumpy one.”1

6. Christian missionaries are often accused of destroying indigenous cultures. Sometimes this has been true, but more often Christianity has adapted to, and reinforced, local culture. God himself came not in a transcultural form, but as a first century Jewish man. Unlike Islam, Christianity has always translated its message into local languages and practices. This has often created a new sense of cultural identity. ‘Now God speaks to us in our own language,’ said one tribal leader. The Bible celebrates cultural diversity and looks forward to a future when people from ‘every tongue, tribe, people and nation’ worship Jesus together and bring their glory into his kingdom (Revelation 7:9, 21:24-26).

1 Cited in  Tim Keller, The Reason for God,  Dutton, 2008, 47.

This material is adapted from a Porterbrook Learning module.

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8 thoughts on “Apologetic Sound Bites: ‘Why do you want to force your opinion on me?’

  1. Thanks, Tim.
    Regarding point 4, I would anticipate a retort to your suggestion along the lines of “I don’t think I know better than God but your opinion is only your opinion and you don’t know God any better than I do.” I would hen be stumped what to say next.
    (BTW, I think there is a typo in point 5: “regardless of what a person feels or things”.)

  2. Phil,

    A response to the retort you mentioned could proceed along these lines: “My thinking about life and reality is founded on my faith commitment to Jesus Christ and the scriptures that bear witness to him. All my opinions are regulated by my faith in Christ. I am pleased to admit that. But your denial of Jesus Christ is not merely an opinion, it is something for which you are quite certain. May I ask, on what basis can you be so certain?”

    If the unbeliever is certain that the evidence is against Christianity, gently show him that he has not an cannot know enough to be sure he understands his evidence correctly. If he is uncertain because there is not enough evidence to be sure, show him that he has not and cannot know enough to be sure that he must be uncertain. At this point you can challenge the unbeliever to recognize his commitment to his own independent opinion as the source of his own frustration and futility and proceed to present the gospel message of repentance and faith.

    By presenting the Christian apologetic you can show that dependence on God is not a self-frustrating position and enables you to live free from the futility of sin’s dominion.

  3. Thank you very much, Casey, for taking the time to respond in detail. I am very grateful because I am a novice at personal evangelism and usually don’t know how to avoid the discussion fizzling out before it has hardly begun. Although I know there is strong objective evidence supporting the reliability of the gospels and the resurrection of Jesus, my Christian faith is still only an opinion. Many people have studied the same evidence that I have and reached a different conclusion.

  4. Phil,

    It just so happens that your response came to me as I was writing a paper on the historicity of the resurrection and the nature of faith. How appropriate! I’d love to continue a conversation with you via email or facebook, if you would be willing.

    Feel free to message me on facebook: caseyandjessica smith.

    Cheers!

  5. Casey,
    Thanks! Yes, I’d be glad to continue this conversation with you. I’m not on Facebook, so I’d like to give you my email address. I’m not sure if Tim allows commenters to publish their email address on his blog, so perhaps Tim wouldn’t mind sending my email address to you on my behalf?
    Cordially,
    Phil

  6. Pingback: Passion Points | Three Passions

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