When speaking of religion and someone says they are an "agnostic", how should a Christian respond?
Well I think the response needs to be determined by the context of the conversation but...
...one thing I think happens when Christians talk religion with Agnostics (or Atheists) is that they tend to think because that persons belief doesn't involve "God" or the Bible, that they can't be offended or that their belief isn't as important to them as a Christian's is.
It's not that it's not important, it's the glaring difference between the 2 that gets overlooked. Agnostics/Atheists don't typically feel the need to convert those around them (a to each their own attitude) whereas it's the nature of the Christian to try and save this person which has the undertone of telling them that they are wrong, bad, lost...none of which anyone wants to be despite their religion.
If the conversation is to continue amicably, it needs to remain a discussion, not a sermon. Otherwise, an agnostic/atheist will go on the attack because again, it's the undertone regardless of the intent.
TIP: If you want to reach them, speak from personal feelings and experience not scripture. You can't reach them with something they don't believe in.
The polite thing to do would be to say, "Oh. OK, if that's what works for you, cool," and leave it at that.
Depends on what you are talking about in regards to religion. If it's just a general conversation, and you aren't sure about what Agnostic means, then feel free to ask us.
However, the most offensive and ill advised response would be to assume that just because they 'aren't sure' of the existence of God/s that they want to be converted or encouraged to your religion.
We Agnostics are usually quite happy where we are in our spiritual/non-spiritual journeys, and do not wish for a religion nor to be convinced of one in particular (or even convinced that atheism is correct either)
I personally enjoy the freedom that is granted to me as an agnostic to learn, enquire, and generally observe the differences and similarities in the worlds religions. I feel that without clouding my view on religion by having one faith advising how I should view another faith, I can learn about all faiths equally.
This does not mean that we cannot have discussions on religion, because I'm all for that, but it does mean two things - 1, I do not wish to be converted to yours, and 2 - I do not wish to convert you to mine.
How should you respond? As respectfully as you would like to be treated really.
Most of the agnostics I know are only unsure if God exists and, thus, not sure if the rest of a religion based on God is true. If they're interested in learning more, I ask them what points of Christianity or God do they doubt. I'll then try to explain why I believe what they're having doubts about.
I would respect their choice and let them know if they ever have any questions regarding Christianity, I would gladly answer them or find the answer for them.
"Stop sitting on the fence you pansy!"
But seriously, I would start questioning them. See how many times they say "I don't know" or whatever. Then you should know where to go from there, and what other questions to ask or suggestions to make.
Because there are only two kinds of agnostics: The ones who don't know what they want to believe, and, the ones who think that God is unknowable. The first type are people that are usually looking for an answer, but can't find one, so be ready to do a lot of explaining. The second type aren't really looking for an answer or anything in particular, they would rather God just stay unknowable so they don't have to deal with the whole "law and sin" thing that goes with a deity.
Either way, prayer in asking God to direct and guide your answers is the first think you should be doing when talking to anyone about "religion". I put religion in quotes, because I am really skeptical to say that Christianity is a religion. It's more like a world-view, a way of living, a reality. Religion is something you only do once a week or whatever, on Sunday. But this Christianity thing I've been a part of is something I want to do every day of the week. I love God, and want to talk about it all the time. I want everyone to know about God.
Are you just trying to get them into your church, or are you really trying to get a sinner to repent and accept Jesus? It's real important that we as Christians should never try to play the "Churchianity" game. The Great Commission (Mark ch16 v15) is something we should all be striving for, not getting a gold star next to our name on the board at church. A well founded knowledge of scripture, a love for God and a lot of patience with prayer, is a huge part of filling that great commission. This is a personal and very profound thing to take up, and not for the fair-weather followers. Talking about Jesus to people, makes some angry, and the bible warns us that this will happen so don't be surprised if the message you give... Gets rejected.
Be prepared, be sober, be vigilant.
Though I think you're response has good intent, it's pretty arrogant to say Agnostics are either lost or choosing ignorance. Why is it impossible to be convicted in the fact that there's no sure answer and life/guidance is lead from within.
Because guidance from within is Gnosticism, the search for hidden/secret wisdom, and not Agnosticism which is the admittance that some things are unknowable (like God). An agnostic can not know by definition, while a gnostic defines it themselves.
U misunderstand. Ur advice 2 Casey then - tell them 2 jump into something they don't believe, insult, interrogate & then batter w scripture. U ever think they're happy w their belief & self? Think u can actually have a "nice"discussion like t
Gnosticism and Agnosticism are clearly defined, in just the way I have defined them. I'm sorry if you don't agree with the definitions, but it is what it is. Definitions aside, I can say what I want, and if you don't like it don't listen.
She asked how to respond...no one asked for definitions...your advice is poor and Casey, if you wish to connect with this person, please choose a slightly less condescending way. Otherwise, they may just "say whatever they want" too.
The question was how to respond to an AGNOSTIC as a Christian. That's different than responding to a Gnostic, so yes the definition matters. Because if someone asks you how to drive a car, you don't hand them instructions on how to fly a helicopter.
Aside from the fact that you're the only one who mentioned Gnostic...I wouldn't start or respond to a religious conversation with anyone of any belief with those tactics. I believe you'll simply shut them off to you if so.
"Why is it impossible to be convicted in the fact that there's no sure answer and life/guidance is lead from within."
Gnosticism is inner/hidden knowledge. You mentioned it, so that's why I did. Agnosticism is more about physical proofs.
With love, and compassion; with openness and kindness.
Christian: What's your religion?
Christian: Really, would you like to believe in God?
If yes, invite them to read the bible, pray, and do things that would help them believe in God.
If no, then just end the conversation in a polite way.
I would encourage their search, their quest for answers, and ask them what conclusions they'd arrived at to this point, then discuss their opinions without being judgmental or condescending. If they're open to it, I'd invite them to accompany me to church. If they were acquaintances, I'd invite them to dinner. Discussion develops easily over good food. I'd want to learn more their background and what guidance they grew up with in their home. I'd want to know exchange ideas with them, and pray for them intently to ask the Holy Spirit to guide their footsteps.
For many, our lives are the only Bible they will ever read. No one will accept my "preachy" opinions unless they understand my priorities and motivations. In friendship, if they reject the message, then my timing (or my example) is poor.
I have a friend who identifies as an atheist but is technically (and he even admits this) an agnostic. Our conversation went like this:
HIM: "I guess I'm technically an agnostic, but...whatever."
ME: "I can respect that."
Has the conversation ever gone deeper than that? Sure. Have we talked more specifically about what each of us believes and why we believe the way we do? Yeah.
But you should really get to know someone and show respect for their views (you don't agree to show respect) before just jumping at them with a Bible the instant you hear that he isn't a Christian. God changes hearts, not us. HIS is the changing message, we are just the messengers.
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