Shouldn’t Ask Topic of CMU Apologetics Lectures
Never ask if people
are saved, or if they can be converted John Stackhouse
By Aaron Epp
If you’re a Christian, and you want to share
your faith, there are at least four questions you
Do you know what they are?
|John Stackhouse: Everyone
needs to hear the Gospel
John Stackhouse does. Stackhouse, a professor
of theology and culture at Regent College in Vancouver,
B.C. shared them March 17-19 during a three-part
apologetics lecture series titled “Is He Saved?
And Other Questions Christians Shouldn’t Ask,” at
Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg.
“Is he saved?” is the first question Christians
shouldn’t ask, Stackhouse said. Why? Because one
can’t know the answer.
“I can guess, and I can guess reliably,” Stackhouse
said, “but I can’t know for sure because I am not
privy to the [inner-workings] of his heart.”
The second question Christians shouldn’t ask
is: “Does he need to hear the gospel?” The answer,
Stackhouse said, is “of course he needs to hear
the gospel—everyone does.”
For non-believers, hearing the gospel can lead
them to salvation, he said. For those who already
believe, hearing the gospel is a reminder and reassurance.
Christians need to hear the good news at all stages
of their lives, he added.
“What can I do to convert him?” is the third
question Christians shouldn’t ask. The answer, he
said, is “nothing.” And not only is there nothing
people can do to convert non-believers, there’s
nothing people can do to convert themselves, he
“There are no sure-fire, snappy arguments to
[make people] become Christian, or to make spiritually
dead people alive,” Stackhouse said. “That’s God’s
The final question Christians shouldn’t ask,
Stackhouse said, is “How do I treat people?” Again,
his answer was simple: “Love them.”
“You care for them, you give them whatever good
gift you can,” he said, adding it may mean talking
about the gospel with them, and it may mean not
talking about the gospel with them—it depends on
whether they’re open to it or not.
Stackhouse illustrated his answer with the story
about his uncle. He talks about everything with
his uncle, except the gospel. That’s because his
uncle doesn’t want to talk about it, and Stackhouse
said he doesn’t want to be one more person trying
to shove it down his throat. His uncle knows, however,
that if he did want to bring it up, Stackhouse would
gladly share about his faith.
“When we are commending the faith to people .
. . we need to focus on what really matters,” Stackhouse
stated. First and foremost, that means loving your
neighbour as yourself, because “love is the context
in which anything else that’s going to happen is
going to happen.”
People don’t want to hear from someone who doesn’t
care about them, he noted; Christians need to genuinely
love and care for the person they are witnessing
This is different than how some view apologetics—the
practice of defending and sharing faith—he stated.
For Stackhouse, apologetics is not a “bang-clash
battle of the champions” or an “intellectual and
spiritual blood sport.” It’s not supposed to be
about “bagging victims. It’s supposed to be about
loving [our] neighbours.”
Sharing faith has to be “‘I care about you, and
I don’t care so much about how I look in this conversation,’”
Stackhouse concluded. “Let’s win the friend, not
the argument, by God’s grace.”
Pierre Gilbert, associate professor of biblical
and theological studies at CMU, praised Stackhouse’s
presentations, adding that lectures on apologetics
are important because “they provide an opportunity
for students and our community to be exposed to
scholars who have given considerable thought” to
how the Christian faith can be shared today.
In addition to speaking about questions Christians
shouldn’t ask, Stackhouse also made a presentation
about the problem of evil, spoke at Steinbach Bible
College, preached at The Meeting Place, participated
in CJOB’s GodTalk program and spoke at a pastors’
round table at CMU.
“John came here with a servant attitude, and
he went full-bore,” Gilbert said. “In the end, it
tells you that John is someone who loves Christ
and is working for the kingdom of God.”
Posted March 28, 2008.
For more information contact CMU Communications Director, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3P 2N2, telephone: 204-487-3300 ext. 630, fax: 204-889-1694, (www.cmu.ca)