“There is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods . . . for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” 1 Cor 4-6 How do we share Jesus with someone who believes that any version of god will do?
They might be a family member, or friend, or coworker. If you talk to strangers, like I do, you hear this view a lot. Typically, the person sees themselves as “open minded” and “tolerant” because they believe that everyone’s version of god can be true.
Most of the time, however, there is actually one God that they reject as the true God—the God of the Bible who saves us through faith in Jesus. In their view, this God is arrogant, angry, unloving—intolerant. This God is not god because He actually claims to be the ONLY God, and He demands exclusive worship and devotion to His Son, Jesus, as the way to enter heaven.
Some of these people have thought a great deal about their beliefs, and some have not. However, at least they believe there is some kind of god, and that makes them a good person to have a conversation with.
People have a wide range of views in this regard, but from Gen Z’s to Baby Boomers, most see themselves as tolerant toward others, and believe that god doesn’t have any particular standards to get into heaven—as long as you are “a good person.”
The best way to talk to someone with this view is to ask them questions. You want to engage them and get a sense of what specifically they do believe. Here are some that I might start with and see where the conversation takes us:
- In your view did god make the universe?
- Does god have any expectations from us or our behavior?
- Does god love us?
- Is there a heaven? What do you think it is like?
- Is god a person that can be known, like us, or just an energy that can’t be defined?
As one question is answered, you can follow up with another question. The point is to honestly ask, and sincerely listen. You don’t need to defend God, or confront them. Most of the time, you’ll find that people haven’t really thought through the logic of their views, and now that you are asking, some contradictions naturally arise.
Here are some follow up questions:
- If god didn’t make the universe, then what makes it a god?
- If god did make the universe, are there many gods, or just the one? Did they all make the universe, or was there a first god?
- Who gets to go to heaven? If everyone goes to heaven, what about murderers? Rapists? Hitler? Mean people? What standard does god use?
- If god loves us, how do we know? How does god show this love?
- If god can’t be known or defined, then what makes it a god?
- What kind of evidence has convinced you of these beliefs?
Many people tell me that god isn’t specific, or can’t be defined—“you can’t put god in a box,” they like to say. There’s something I like to do when they suggest this. I’ll say:
“Hey, by the way, my name’s Wendy. What’s your name?”
They always tell me. Let’s say it’s Jamal. Then I say something like:
“Okay, Michael. You say that god can’t be known or defined . . .”
They always interrupt me and correct their name—usually little offended. Then I’ll say:
“I know what you said, but I like the name Michael better, so can I call you that instead?”
Typically this irks them. Then I might say:
“And I think you are a white woman who has three children. You grew up rich and you don’t like pizza. . . You don’t mind do you, because that’s who you are to me.”
Usually by now they catch on. Some think it’s funny, and some get a little ticked. Then I tell them:
Listen, there is only one YOU. You have a specific history, personality, with likes and dislikes. You want to be known for who you are—you want to be understood by the people in your life.
Doesn’t it make sense that IF there is a god, that this God has unique characteristics? He can’t actually be CHANGED by what other people THINK of Him. Either He is, or He isn’t. We don’t get to decide who He is. He tells us. He has told us. And there is a lot of evidence that reveals who He is.
There isn’t any evidence or logic to support a god that can’t be defined, or one that changes to suit everyone’s opinion. The different gods in the world are too contradictory. God can’t possibly be all of them and be anything like a real god. That god can’t be real at all, logically.
Then sometimes I will give an illustration from the Bible that sounds like this:
You know, the Bible talks about this in the book of Isaiah. It’s kind of funny, because God’s serious, but He’s funny too. God asks His people:
“Let’s talk about this. You go and cut down a tree. Then you burn half of the tree to bake your bread, but with the other half, you carve for yourself a god. You give it eyes, and a mouth, and ears, and you bow yourself down to it, saying ‘This is my god.’ But you don’t even consider, with half of the tree you baked bread, and the other half you created a god that cannot see, cannot hear, cannot speak. You have to carry it wherever it would go, and yet you bow down to it.”
After this, I say:
“It’s kind of silly, isn’t it?”
They usually agree, chuckling.
Then I say:
“But really. Isn’t it the same thing that we do? We pick and choose the traits, the likes, the dimensions of our god to suit our tastes and view of the world?”
They usually nod at this point. Then I say:
“Let me ask you. If YOU chose the traits of your god, then who really is the god?”
At this point they realize. And they always answer:
“That’s right,” I smile, encouraging them. “You are.”
Then I share the Gospel—something like this:
There is a God, and He made Himself known to us through the wonder of His Creation. He told us who He is through a written history confirmed by archeological evidence. And He showed His love by making a way for us to enter heaven through the free gift of His Son, Jesus, who is a fact of history.
And all this evidence confirms that He cares for YOU. He loves YOU, and has a good plan for your life. His word promises He will give you joy, and peace, and eternal life. All He is asking is that you believe.
After this, I sense by the spirit if they want to confess a faith in Jesus. I’ve had one or two get really serious. Usually, however, I leave them thinking about it, and let God fit together the next stage. I might say:
“So listen, Jamal, you’ve been great. I really appreciate you talking with me.” I offer my hand to shake theirs. When they do, I look them in the eye, and say something like:
“This God of the Bible loves you. You’re a smart guy. I urge you to honestly check Him out. The Bible promises that ‘Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.’