Question: My Friend Turned Atheist, Now What?

March 27, 2012 — 8 Comments

Anonymous asked:
Three things, number one: Your blog is great, you have an anointing that not many pastors have today. No. 2: My dad died about a month ago and i am really struggling, i could use prayer. # III: Being a former atheist, how would you say is the best way to witness to them. I have a friend who was raised in the christian church an decided to stop believing.

Thank you so much for that.  And I will certainly pray for you.

I’m not sure there’s an exact science in talking to atheists that would be different than talking to any other human being.  No matter how much you tell people there’s an incredibly awesome party next door, there are always a few who won’t believe you.  They might call themselves atheists, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindu, Wiccan, or Jedi, but stubbornness runs through all of us. 

Keep in mind: There is a proportionate relation between a person’s stubbornness and your attempts to reach out.  The more intensely you reach out, the more they will thicken their walls.  Some will say, “Kill them with kindness,” but even being-a-nice-guy can turn into Love Bombing, which is the insincere show of sincerity to “win” them. 

Your friend is in a delicate state where your movements, no matter how kind or classy, can be interpreted as aggression.  Your logical arguments, those airtight apologetics, and your superior Christ-like behavior cannot ultimately persuade someone back to church, much less back to God. 

If this sounds pessimistic and you’re waiting for, “BUT here’s how to …!” — then I’m sorry. There’s no happy-ending bowtie here, at least not in the immediate future.  This is only the part where I tell you that instead of worrying about your friend, worry about yourself. 

As much as you might not think so, you will soon feel a need to control the spiritual life of your friend so he or she “snaps out” of his whole unbelief, and this will make you act really weird.  Like frustrated, overly nice, angry, impatient, depressed, self-blaming, and guilty.  Please don’t go that direction. 

Three things: Pray, be patient, and be a friend.  1) I believe prayer isn’t just a means to change ourselves, but actually gets God to change things.  2) Patiently wait, because anything else would be sin, and sin only divides. 3) Your friend still needs you, whether they admit it or not, because you might be the only voice of reason left. 

At some point they may or may not come to the end of their atheism-rope, and if you were a patient, praying friend, they’ll come looking for you.  If you weren’t, they won’t. 

In the mean time, study up on your apologetics (it might help), know your Bible (that always helps), and pray like crazy.  Pray for a heart of love towards your friend, which it seems like you already have.  Imagine if you knew your friend would come around in six months.  It would suck if you only stayed around for five.  God can find someone else for His glory, but I bet He’d rather much do that through you.

Also read this.



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8 responses to Question: My Friend Turned Atheist, Now What?

  1. 

    Not that I have any particular interest in helping Christians try and convert (or re-convert) atheists, I will say this:

    Find out why your friend is an atheist. If nothing else, it will help you understand them better as a person, and perhaps be a better friend…whether they believe something different than you or not.

  2. 

    I agree with the post and with NotAScientist.

    I’m an atheist that left Christianity about 2 years ago. Having gone through that, I can tell you that I had solid reasons for leaving. What I really needed were friends who might not agree with me, but could still remain friends with me. Luckily, a few of mine were able to — much of my family was not.

    I’d also make this suggestion: if you’re interested in bringing your friend back to Christianity, and you want to talk to him/her, then research the issues for yourself, not just to show him/her where they’re wrong. I think it’s much more helpful and genuine to take their issues seriously and to look at them with an open mind. They’ll probably be able to tell if you’re not doing that.

  3. 

    Absolutely agree with both of you. Thanks for your input. I never have an agenda nor the ability to “convert.” Friendship first.

    • 

      Well, whether or not you have the ability, that certainly is the intention a lot of times.

      Just to be clear, you will be appreciated if your friendship is for friendship’s sake. If your intention is to get the person to become a Christian (however you do so), and that is your only or primary intention, your friendship will often not be appreciated at all.

  4. 

    More ouch. Check out this blog post I just read, written by a friend. http://ofdustandkings.com/2012/03/27/building-a-better-evangelist/

    My failures are here. I haven’t been loving and praying as a friend. The way I’ve treated some people, if they need help I know they won’t run to me!

    http://imagodeivision.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/oh-go-away-the-natural-response-to-god/

    http://imagodeivision.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/evangelism-and-forgiveness-listening-to-god/

  5. 

    I was born Pentecostal yet have been atheist for 8 years now. I have not changed as a person and my life really hasnt changed either. I work and go to college just like anyone else. Friends are still there for me even tho they know this fact. This is all I can suggest to you, if this person truely is your friend you should not let something as stupid a religion come between you. If you try and push religion back on this friend you may loose them forever. So just axcept it your friend is not suddenly evil and is still the person you have always known.

  6. 

    Thanks to those who understand my heart in this, and not arguing for argument’s sake or to be reactionary. This post is not the only thing I’ve written about “talking to a non-Christian.” I agree that friendship is priority. An atheist is obviously still a human being.

    I’d also humbly like to add that there’s a Penn Jillette dilemma going on too, because part of me loving you as a friend is telling you what I believe is truth. No, I won’t bombard you or try to “win you” or think of you as a project. But at the very least we’ll be having that conversation, as uncomfortable as it makes us both feel.

    Sometimes I feel like my atheist friends expect me to “kiss their butt” to respect them, but respect is a mutual thing. I’m not going to be super-sensitive around you on that. There’s no dancing around the issue, not for long, and I think you can at least respect that much.

    In any case I love you guys and thanks for your thoughtful replies.

  7. 

    From this atheist’s perspective, your “awesome party next door” analogy is quite amusing. I pictured the two of us walking into an empty room, and you saying to me, “Isn’t this great? Best party ever!”

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