Apologetic Interaction: Dr. Timothy Monahan
Pre-evangelism: Sour Notes
Listen to the sour notes. In our last article we learned that an evangelist ought to be like a musician listening for sour notes. The four types of sour notes are the following: (1) beliefs versus heart longings, (2) belief versus behavior, (3) belief versus belief, and (4) belief versus illogical belief.
The sour note, “beliefs versus heart longings” has to do with what one desires and how that contradicts his or her belief. An atheist cannot expect justice for a suicide bomber. The biological materialist cannot affirm that our lives have a grand scheme or purpose.
Belief versus behavior is the second sour note for which we must listen according to Geisler (p. 53). One might find a discrepancy with beliefs and behavior in the following illustrations. Christians teach that lying is a sin, but one might tell a lie if it procures a benefit.
I stood by an atheist at his mother’s funeral. He started addressing his mother and told her how much he loved her and how much he would miss her. This was the beginning of an interesting conversation. Hindus believe the body is an illusion because it is perishable, subject to decay and death. However, Aditya combs his hair and brushes his teeth every day so he might be appealing to his girlfriend Amita. Buddhists believe they must overcome all desires, but desiring to overcome desires is a contradiction.
Listen to the other person’s perspective if you want to share Christ effectively. Do not merely repeat Christian vernacular that has no meaning to your listener. Our goal in sharing Christ is not to win an argument. If someone thinks you have little respect for their ideas and opinions, you will not get a hearing. Listening also demonstrates respect for others. It demonstrates that we are open to ideas and that we value the relationship. People who don’t listen well are considered obnoxious know-it-alls.
Proverbs 12:15 teaches that the wise man listens to advice. Proverb 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Be a good listener. Be a “musician” who listens for the sour notes. Learn to identify the four inconsistencies in people’s beliefs.