Saturday, June 4, 2011

Answering Difficult Questions (1)

A short introduction to the "Answering Difficult Questions" workshop to be conducted by myself for the 16 & 23 July Centralised Alpha team training at Leng Kwang Baptist Church.


The common saying, “Where there is smoke, there is fire,” helps us to focus on putting out the fires, not just the smoke. Another version says, “There’s no smoke (questions) without fires (issues or presuppositions)”.  

When we are confronted with difficult or challenging questions on Alpha, our immediate response is to spew out our ready-made answers. While ready-made answers can help clear the smoke, it will not put out the fires if the deeper issues are not dealt with; the smoke will simply re-appear in another place. So, just having the “model answer" to every conceivable question that can be asked by a pre-believing guest on Alpha is not the way to clear the smoke. I’ve written a book, Frequently-asked Questions about Christianity (Armour Publising) where I’ve given short answers to 51 most commonly-asked questions heard on Alpha. However, just having the “right answers” will not satisfy the questioners if the basic issues are not settled.

What are some of these issues (fires)? There are basically three types:

1. BAD EXPERIENCES WITH CHURCH OR CHRISTIANS: Some guests have negative experiences or encounters with church or Christians. This has left them with an axe to grind, so that their questions on Alpha are always sharp and confrontational. But their questions are just what counselors would call “presenting problems,” but not the real issues. So, we need to deal with the hurts & offence that have triggered these confrontational questioners.

2. PERSONAL ISSUES & STRUGGLES: Some guests have personal issues (inappropriate relationships, ethical issues and personal struggles). Such guests will raise more philosophical questions like “Is there a standard morality for all?” or “Why does God allow the innocents to die?” So, until we have helped the guests identify and face up to these issues, they will always have doubts about God or Christianity.

3. UNBIBLICAL WORLDVIEWS: This type forms the majority of guests who ask challenging questions. They have no personal hurts or issues to resolve, but they have a worldview that they cannot reconcile with the biblical worldview.

The goal of the "Answering Difficult Questions" workshop is designed to help you deal with all three types of difficult guests, but focusing more on the third group.

(More postings on the way on the content to be covered in the workshop later... STAY TUNED!)