Convincing Others to Believe

November 15th, 2013

I knew there was a college guy out there somewhere settling into a dorm, scoping out the weekend nightlife, and generally not thinking about the fact that his flippant comment about church had brought his mother to my doorstep. She caught me on the patio after church almost in tears. She told me her son was in his first year at college and had given up on everything she had taught him about faith. Years of Sunday school instruction had amounted to firm agnosticism. So many childhood bedtime prayers had now resulted in an adulthood of sleeping in on the weekends. She described recent conversations and arguments and e-mails, which had concluded in a closed door.

“How do I convince him that there is a God?” she asked. The things I said to her were really things I wanted to say to him.

“He already believes in God,” I told her. She paused and stared at me like she was trying to recognize someone she hadn’t seen in years. Then she proceeded to tell me the entire story over again, as though I hadn’t heard what she had said.

As she talked, she sounded like a mom who lived a long time ago, who, likewise, had gone to her local cleric in tears. Her name was Monica. Her son’s name was Augustine. Though she had brought him up in the faith, the young intellect soon came to see Christianity as a superstition of the peasantry. She also went to plead for explanations. The pastor said, “Go. It is not possible that a son of such tears would perish.” (Augustine, Confessions) Her pastor was a wiser man than I.

I suspect that his words relieved a grieving mother who wanted to know she had done everything she could. I meant only to assure this mother that nothing needed to be done.

Again when she finished, I repeated, “He already believes in God.”

Baffled, she stammered, “What do you mean?”

[My] book is the answer to that question.

Current Christian apologetics has wrongly assumed the position of defense attorney protecting a loose and circumstantial body of evidence. A group of angry prosecutors regularly hack away at the defense. The nominally religious population rests easy, assuming the work of keeping religious and moral obligations at bay is being done for them.

The Bible says we are in exactly the opposite position. The Bible says that God’s existence is so clear in creation that people are “without excuse” for not believing (Romans 1:20). Belief in God need not be defended, the Bible insists; rather it’s the one who rejects the faith who has something to prove.

For those who don’t believe, or who claim they don’t believe, the issue isn’t whether or not sufficient evidence can be presented to make a case for Christ. Rather, the doubtful person need only take a good hard look at what he already knows to realize that he already has every reason to believe.

Unlike other books that speak to reasons for faith, [mine] doesn’t present evidence and arguments for the supposedly rational person to weigh. Instead it shows that reasonable people have already been assuming God’s existence all along, and in fact can’t go on living the way they do if they want to disclaim belief in God.

The defense of the Christian faith in the Western world at the end of the twentieth century has been like an astronomer who keeps looking “out there” to see what can be found. In fact, the work of helping people believe is more like that of a geologist, who has been standing on the evidence all along and simply needs to start digging.

For those who claim not to believe, I don’t intend to persuade you to. I intend to show you that I don’t need to.

(Download Chapter 1 of Hardwired below.)

excerpt from: Hardwired: Finding the God You Already Know by James W. Miller Copyright©2013 by Abingdon Press. Used with permission.


Sample Chapter 1
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