You Cannot Argue Someone to Jesus (Except When You Can)

Probably one of the most common critiques of apologetics is that you cannot argue someone to Jesus/Heaven/Salvation etc. That is an easy assertion to make but is it true?

Examine this passage:

“After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This is the Messiah, Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you.” Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.” (Acts 17:1–4 NRSV)

What does Luke tell us here? Paul argued with the Jews and some of them were persuaded. Paul argued people to Jesus.

Some may note that the NRSV says “argue”, but other versions translate διαλέγομαι as “reasoning.” What do people think apologists mean by “arguing”? Apologists do not claim that you can angrily yell at people and make them Christians.

Arguing is about putting forth reasonable ideas in order to convince a person. This dictionary defines the Greek word as “to converse, discourse with one, argue, discuss.” Paul argued.

So people are free to deny that people can be argued to Jesus. But if they do, they are going to have to also deny what the Bible teaches on this subject.

I would like to recommend a book by a fellow Canadian apologist, Paul Buller’s Arguing With Friends. (USA) (Canada)

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