Good questions asked winsomely can help people realize that their positions contain deadly holes. Then we can follow up with a loving explanation of the gospel. Here are some questions that will help you gain more information about someone’s belief system. Be sure to ask them in a gentle and loving way and realize that you don’t need to ask all four in one conversation.
1. What do you mean by that?
This question ensures that you both know what the topic is. If a person says, “I’m a Christian,” ask them “What do you mean by ‘Christian’?” or “I’m just a spiritual person,” follow with “What is a ‘spiritual person’?” You’ll quickly know exactly where they are coming from. Don’t necessarily try to correct an errant idea here – just get to know how they perceive themselves. You might respond, “Oh, okay, now I get it.”
2. What do you base that on?
Here you can identify the source of what the person believes. Many times, you will discover that they have simply assumed what they believe or that they have not investigated their beliefs. If someone says that they believe in reincarnation, simply ask, “Where do you get your information?”
3. How do you know that is true?
Now you will discover the true foundation of their belief and what they actually trust. Often you will hear, “That’s just what I believe,” or even, “I’m not sure it’s true but I’m comfortable with it.” Sooner or later, someone will respond, “I don’t believe in truth.” You might follow up with, “ Are you sure that you want to base your life/eternity on that?”
4. What if you are wrong?
Be careful here as they may hear this question as an arrogant attack. Ask it with concern and compassion. You’ll find that common answers will be, “I don’t know” or “Well, then I’d be wrong” or “I haven’t thought about that.” The answer to this question gives you a tremendous base from which to respond. A simple but powerful reply is, “Are you sure you want to do that?”
These questions used lovingly can give you insight into a person’s genuine beliefs and an opportunity to bring the truth of the gospel to bear on them.