In discussions about Christ, Christianity, and important spiritual matters, one question often emerges, referred to as THE question. This question challenges the exclusivity of Christ and poses a significant hurdle for many Christians in their interactions with others. As a critical issue in Christianity, it demands thoughtful consideration and response. However, answering it directly can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and negative stereotypes.

In a TV debate with Deepak Chopra, a New Age guru, this question was put forward in a confrontational manner. He asked, “So you’re saying that anyone who doesn’t believe just like you is going to Hell?” While the truthful response might be yes, it risks portraying Christians in a negative light and playing into rhetorical traps. In such cases, sidestepping the issue may seem tempting, but it is essential to address it responsibly.

One effective approach to dealing with THE question is through the use of questions themselves, employing what is known as the Colombo Tactic in its third sense. By skillfully using questions, a person can prompt the other party to place their pieces on the table, making it harder for them to deny or dismiss the claims.

For instance, in a scenario where someone asks, “Why do I need to believe in Jesus?” one can lead up to the main point by asking a couple of thought-provoking questions. First, inquire, “Do you think that people who commit moral crimes should be punished?” Most people will agree that those who do wrong should face consequences. The next question is, “Have you ever done any wrong things?” By appealing to common moral intuitions, the person is likely to acknowledge their own shortcomings.

Now, with these pieces on the table, the conversation moves forward. Rather than labeling the person as a sinner or under judgment, they themselves have recognized their moral failings and need for forgiveness. At this point, they may be more receptive to the idea of a solution for their guilt. Explaining the concept of substitutionary atonement, where Jesus took our punishment on Himself, allows for a clear understanding of why Jesus is the only way to redemption. Only through His sacrifice could the guilt problem be solved, offering true forgiveness and salvation.

Using this tactical approach, difficult questions like THE question can be navigated with sensitivity and understanding. By prompting individuals to reflect on their moral intuitions and personal shortcomings, the conversation shifts from a theoretical argument to a realization of our need for divine pardon. Rather than creating a divisive debate, this approach fosters a constructive dialogue where the message of Christ’s sacrifice can be conveyed in a way that resonates with the listener.

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Jeff Hagen
President & Founder
Hill Cities, Inc.

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