Apathy and Whatever-ism
Apathy is the antipathy of substantive conversation. Deep conversations require at least two interested parties. In evangelism it can be challenging to convince someone that it’s important to have a discussion.This is true of any topic: politics, economics, religion, etc. What if the other person says, “Who cares?” Before a substantive discussion can take place, the illness of “whatever-ism” must be cured.
3 Ways to Cure Whatever-ism
Apathy and whatever-ism are manifestations of a “so what?” attitude. Overcoming apathy, therefore, means showing someone why they should care. Dr. Groothuis (professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary) has three ideas for how a lackadaisical attitude can be overcome:
- Appeal to their sense of shame
- Appeal to their sense of prudential self-interest
- Pick the right environment
Here’s what Dr. Groothuis said when we asked him how to handle someone who’s apathetic about God.
You certainly need to pray for insight, for discernment, for love of the other person. I think sometimes the apologist wants to hit someone over the head and say, “listen to my arguments!”
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But I think you can appeal to people’s shame and say “Shouldn’t you pursue these ultimate questions in life? Why avoid them? Shouldn’t you think about this seriously, use your intelligence in this way?” And I think also you can raise the issue of prudence. If Christianity is true and you don’t come to Christ there are eternal consequences, very unpleasant consequences. If you come to Christ and Christianity is true there is tremendous fulfillment and reward. Now that’s not an argument to become a Christian per se. That is an argument to investigate the possibilities.
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I think another significant thing is to try to interact with people about apologetics in a calm, intellectually hospitably situation. Because part of the problem of indifference of whatever-ism is that people are over stimulated. Their mind is saturated with all kinds of things. They say, “Oh I don’t want to think about Christianity I’ll think about this and I’ll be involved with this. So an environment that’s quiet, that’s one-on-one, that’s relational, that’s intellectual, I think can help people take things more seriously.