Pensieri Pastorali – August 21, 2016

Apologetic Interaction: Dr. Timothy Monahan

Pre-evangelism: Shut up and Listen

Why do we have such a hard time applying James 1:19? Many people love to hear themselves talk. They love to hear how logical or convincing they can be, though they “humbly” admit that “the Lord is the only one who can convince a person of the truth of the Gospel.” I reiterate James’ advice, “Shut up and listen.”

Dave Geisler explains that we should be like musicians when we witness. Geisler states, “Everything begins with careful listening.”1 When we listen, we hear people’s real concerns. We understand the questions that people have. We involve others in dialogue. We comprehend their worldview and belief system. We observe their contradictions and inconsistencies.

In chapter three of his book, Geisler says that an evangelist ought to be like a musician listening for sour notes. Here is a list of four types of sour notes: (1) beliefs versus heart longings, (2) belief versus behavior, (3) belief versus belief, and (4) belief versus illogical belief.2

To begin, the sour note of “beliefs versus heart longings” has to do with what one desires and how that contradicts his or her belief. For example, an atheist could not expect justice for the cowardly act of a suicide bomber. There would have to be a judge in the after-life to bring the bomber to justice. Then, if a biological materialist believes our lives must count for something, he would have to acknowledge that there is a grander scheme to life other than biological determinism or survival of the fittest. Hindus should not expect a personal relationship with his impersonal god. The only way to uncover the discrepancy of a personal belief and a heart’s desire is by listening to the person with whom you are sharing Christ. Be quick to listen this week.

1Geisler, Norman, and David Geisler. Conversational Evangelism: How to Listen and Speak So You Can Be Heard (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2009), 46.

2Ibid. 51.

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