There was the time that a team of skeptics confronted me at our weekly Bible study for freshmen guys. The host of the study, in whose dorm room we were meeting, had been telling us for weeks of his roommate’s antagonistic questions. This week, the roommate was there—along with a handful of like-minded friends.
The inevitable question arose, more as an attack than a sincere inquiry. “So, I suppose you think that people who don’t agree with you, like all those sincere followers of other religions, are going to hell!”
“Do you believe in hell?” I responded.
My antagonist had probably never seriously considered the possibility of hell. He looked puzzled, perhaps because he was being challenged when he thought he was the one doing the challenging. Finally, after a long silence, he said, “No, I don’t believe in hell. I think it’s ridiculous.”
I chose to echo his word choice. “Then why are you asking me such a ridiculous question?”
I wasn’t trying to be a wise guy. I simply wanted him to face honestly the assumptions behind his own question. His expression seemed to indicate that I had a good point.
The silence was broken by another questioner: “Well, I do believe in hell. Do you think everyone who disagrees with you is going there?”
Again I questioned. “Do you think anyone goes there? Is Hitler in hell?” (Hitler has turned out to be a quite helpful—though unlikely—ally in these kinds of discussions).
“Of course, Hitler’s in hell.”
“How do you think God decides who goes to heaven and who goes to hell? Does He grade on a curve?”
From there, the discussion became civil for the first time, and serious interaction about God’s holiness, humanity’s sinfulness, and Jesus’ atoning work ensued. Answering with questions turned out to be an effective, albeit indirect, way to share the gospel.