Book review: Evangelism in a Skeptical World – Sam Chan

Christianity is true. Now, if that is the case, it makes sense that worldviews that deny Christianity are false. And since they are false, if you poke and prod them enough, you will find the (sometimes gaping) holes in them. Now there is a very unfortunate tendency among some Christians to find those holes, tell everyone about them, and then proceed to hi-five one another. Now, while I enjoy a good hi-five as much as the next guy, one thing that this approach tends not to do is persuade.

I don’t know if you have ever been trounced in an argument. If you haven’t, let me tell you, your disposition usually isn’t “what must I do to be saved.” It’s usually more like, “I hate that guy.” Because of this, although trouncing others has its place (Acts 18:27-28), it may not be the best path to take in one-on-one evangelism.

Enter Chan’s book. It is actually more like a series of lectures than a book, per se, but I am going to focus in on his talk on engaging with worldviews that disagree with you. Hang with me, because I’m going to illustrate these points. He breaks the engagement down into 4 parts. First, you see what the existential cry or desire of the worldview is. Second, you feel the longing of that worldview. Third, you point out how the worldview is deficient or will not lead to the stated goals. And lastly, you speak to how Jesus fulfills the desire better than their own view.

For instance, say you meet someone who says life is about studying hard, getting a good job, staying out of trouble, and having a good reputation. (I’m not naming any specific Indian-americans)

First, look at what the actual longing or desire is. It is a good name, to be accepted and respected by the people around you. Secondly, we feel the legitimacy of that need. We do all want to be accepted and respected. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and as people, we are created to be in community. Part of that is to be respected and accepted. But the third prong is the deficiency of the worldview. It is good to be accepted and respected by others, but, if I can only obtain that by having a great job, an intact family, and no visible problems, then I am always one mistake away from being crushed. And if only the “winners” are accepted, what do we do with the “losers?” A worldview like this will lead to people being in a state of perpetual anxiety and distrust. Anxiety that I will make the one mistake that will cause me to lose face and distrust of everyone. I distrust them because I know if I am vulnerable with them, they may use my mistakes to gain social leverage. The worldview leads me where I do not want to go.

And finally, the fourth prong. How is Jesus better? God accepts me because all my shortcomings and sins were put on Jesus. All of Jesus’s good deeds were put on me. I will forever be accepted and respected by God, the one whose opinions really matter. And the more I realize that, the less I have to constantly worry about getting my validation from the people around me. Yes, some people may love me and yes some people may hate me, but ultimately that is not where I get my acceptance and respect. To pursue Jesus is better than pursuing the praise of men.

So, yes, I would definitely recommend Chan’s book to anyone looking to share their faith. This 4-step was only one of the many useful things in his book. Thumbs up all the way.