Perhaps the most helpful piece of evangelism advice I’ve ever been given was “keep bringing the conversation back to Jesus”.
It can be tempting to stay in the world of ideas, concepts and words that end in ‘ism’ but I often end up feeling out of my depth, sinking in a maze of philosophical hypotheticals and round-a-bouts. Much better to talk about a real person, who lived and died (and rose), a person who I know and follow. Having unpacked the unsightly implications of atheism, Ayers suggests that rather than live in denial or despair we investigate other options. His suggestion is Jesus, the man who claimed not just to know God but to be God.
Before investigating Jesus, Ayers clears away a couple of common objections – the first being that ‘all beliefs about God are equally valid’ (p60) i.e. that “what you believe is true for you (…but maybe not for me)”. Have you ever heard that? I’m sure most of us have. The philosophical name for it is 'relativism'.
Ayers helpfully distinguishes issues of opinion (such as what’s your favourite football team) from issues of fact (such as whether that team has ever won a premiership). Whether God exists is an issue of fact. Relativism would have us believe it is an issue of opinion.
I was having coffee with a non-believing friend of mine the other week. We were talking about her search for faith. There was something about the way she was describing her search, something not-quite-right about how she was going about it, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Reading chapter 7, I realized what is was - she’s a relativist. She’s searching for a belief system that will ‘work for her’, rather than searching for a belief system which is the truth. Perhaps you have a friend like that.
We’re good friends so next time we meet up I'll hopefully be able to raise this (I might even lend her this book). Please pray that I will.