Apologetics: Handling Negative Responses
Handling Negative Responses well is something that every practicing Christian needs to learn.
While sharing and defending the gospel and challenging other faiths we get negative responses every day. But in today’s world, just being known as a Christian brings criticism your way. As with so many things in life, expecting something and knowing how to respond makes a big difference in how you act, and the stress that you feel doing it.
Here Luke and Dr. Cynthia discuss how they handle negative responses. Luke reminds us that it is natural to a get negative response on any topic, not just religious. Here are some types of negative responses:
- Respectful disagreement: although they disagree with a point, they agree with a lot of what is said, and the idea of talking about it.
- Moderate disagreement: “You’re wrong” and here’s why…
- Hateful or “toxic” disagreement: includes insults, and often anger.
QUESTIONS about RESPONSES:
- LOGIC: Dr. C asks Luke, “What if you are being logical, but are accused of being illogical?”
Luke responds that they might disagree on the facts and genuinely think that we are illogical. So, don’t get angry. Especially in person, ask them why they think this way so you can understand and respond.
In general, Luke says, we want to maintain a calm demeanor, more so that theirs. Try not to escalate the tensions, which can be tricky. Luke finds that in person, people are more inclined to be respectful than online, which lacks personal connection.
“As ambassadors of Christ, sometimes we need to take a beating,” says Luke. When we are out sharing, we need to expect resistance, even insults, “Just don’t make the bad things they say about you true!” he cautions.
- PERSONAL ATTACKS: What if they attack you personally? Shrug off insults. Jesus said they would hate us because they hated him first (John 15:18). The goal is to bring attention to the issue without escalating the confrontation.
But if it is really bad or distracting, consider finding a reasonable way to highlight how they are treating you. For example, saying, “I’m glad to talk to you but I’m not going to talk to you if you do this.”
You always have the option to stop talking and walk away. It is better than having a blow-up. In public, hopefully those watching will see that it was a reasonable option.
- REPEATING QUESTIONS and ANSWERS: What if they keep asking the same question over and over, rejecting your answer? You may sense that they are insincere and perhaps should discontinue the discussion. Online you might not want to keep repeating, “I already answered that” over and over. It makes a boring post. It is OK to have a focus in the post or conversation and divert attention back to it because you have “bigger fish to fry.”
- GOAL: There is so much to say on this complex topic, because of the large variety of responses that you may get. So, keep your goal in mind.
Are you trying to win the argument? In a public setting this could be the goal. Do we want to make a specific point or share the gospel? Then keep on track with “the main thing the main thing.” But we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and consider the needs of the person arguing as well.