How do I convince an athiest to believe in the Bible?




How do I convince my friend to believe in the Bible, as well as God?  My friend doesn't believe in God, Heaven, the devil, anything that the Bible teaches.  This friend told me that, to her, the Bible is complete fiction.  I know that I cannot even begin to convince her that there is a God without her first believing in what the Bible teaches.  So, my question is, how do I convince her to believe in the Bible, and then, a little further down the road, convince her that there is a God?

If you are willing to look at this as a long term project, one where you might get the ball rolling in the right direction, but not be around to see it reach the target, then it is doable. I had a friend in college who wasn't interested in religion at all. When moral topics came up, he would avoid any mention that there were limits on his actions or other people's choices. It wasn't until fifteen years later, in which time I had never heard from him, that he tracked me down and called me. He just wanted to say "Thank you" because, he said, he won't have been a Christian if it wasn't for me. When I asked why, pointing out that I never got a chance to talk about religion with him -- though I had tried. He said that when he met a young woman and found out she was a Christian, his first impulse was to run the other way. But his second thought was "Jeff wasn't such a bad fellow, so maybe I'll give her a chance." A year later he was baptized into Christ and he married the young woman.

What makes it difficult is the lack of common ground. Where do you start? What you need to realize is that atheism is a religion; that is, it is a system of beliefs, derived from selected facts, to explain what cannot be explained. As a religion, it is no different than Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, or any other religion that has a different god or gods at it center and different books to explain its beliefs. How would you start with a Hindu in discussing religion? Or, a Buddhist? The answer is the same: find common ground, or common interests. There is a wonderful example of this in Acts 17 when Paul talks to the philosophers of Athens. He started with an idol that he saw dedicated to the unknown god. The Greeks had so many gods, they had resurrected a monument to any they might have overlooked. Pointing it out was important because it demonstrated their own belief that they did not know everything. Thus, there was opportunity to learn something more. Paul also quoted one of their own writers. Even people of a wrong religious belief do get things right once in a while. But by using something they already accepted, Paul was able to move them closer to the truth. But even with his best effort, when you get to the end you find that Paul was only able to convince a few people. As far as we know, no church was established in Athens.

This then brings a second point. Try to the best of your ability, but don't ever label yourself a failure if you do not succeed in persuading your friend. You can't make someone become a Christian. You can only awaken the desire for Christ within a person if they are so inclined.

Third, take a clue from the teachings of Jesus. Often times Jesus was approached with questions where it seem that he had to choose between two options -- neither of which were right. Jesus' answers often startled people because he found a third option that was overlooked and that third option was right. Instead of beating your head against the wall your friend erected against the Bible, look for opportunities to bring up points whose logical conclusion is that there must be something there. I worked for a short while with a molecular biologist (I'm a computer scientist by trade and I was doing some programming work for him). He was an avid atheist and knowing I was a preacher he would bring up points about evolution. Knowing the nature of his research from my work with him, I asked him why he was searching for molecular communications if nature was random. He admitted that the signs of design puzzled him and the thought crossed his mind , but ... I didn't get far, but the seed was planted. I pray that one day soon someone will water it.

Finally, think about why your friend accepts atheism over Christianity. In other words, what is in his background that led him to conclude that atheism is preferable. Rather than attacking atheism directly, work on the foundations of his beliefs.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Atheism
Articles on Atheism
Sermons on Apologetics