Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Should Christians Just Share Their Testimony?

A lot of Christians like to think that sharing their testimony is the best form of witnessing because "people can't argue with it." I have not found that to be the case. People may not be able to argue with someone's subjective personal experience, which might make the conversation easier on the sharer. But I don't see why people should believe it just because someone claims to have had a personal experience. 

I mean, there are plenty of people who tell their personal experience of why Mormonism is true or about how they saw aliens in a space ship, but that doesn't make me believe them. You have to be able to provide evidence, not just that Christianity works for you, but that it is actually true. Otherwise people are going to tell you (or think in their minds, even if they don't say it) that they're glad you're so happy, but they just don't think it's right for them.

The other problem that happens when you only tell your personal testimony is that you risk teaching people that Christianity is just an opinion - something that works for you. A lot of people think choosing a religion is a lot like choosing a favorite ice cream flavor. Everybody has a little bit different taste, so just pick the one you like. When you only give your personal experience, you are telling them that you like Christianity and maybe they should try it, but you aren't telling them why it's the ONLY way. It's of no more importance to them than you telling them you like one brand of something better than another and suggesting they try your brand. That's the way people see it when you only give subjective, personal experience - as a statement of your preference and maybe a recommendation, but not as objective truth.

But when you give that impression - that Christianity is just your favorite flavor of religion - you aren't actually sharing the gospel. The gospel is radical and exclusive. Christianity claims to be the ONLY way, not just one way of many. And that claim to be objective truth requires evidence. God doesn't want people to just "try" Christianity - going to church, being a good person, saying prayers. He wants them to believe it to be actually true. He wants them to believe that Jesus is the only way to be saved from the sin that is killing them spiritually and to place their trust in Christ alone for salvation. That's the gospel. Anything less is selling Jesus short and doing no favors to those we are speaking to.

Of course, we don't have to share the entire gospel with every person in every conversation we have. Most of the time, we won't have the opportunity to tell the whole thing. But we do have a responsibility to do what we can to leave them with some evidence that makes them question some aspect of their false worldview or have a better understanding of the Christian worldview. We have a responsibility to speak of Christianity as objective and knowable truth, not just our subjective preference, whether our conversation is long or short.

There is also a proper time to share our personal testimony. That should certainly be a part of what we do as Christians. However, it should not be the only thing we do or even the main thing we do. There is much more to the gospel than our personal experience of it. And Christianity is much more than simply what works for us. It is truth, not mere preference.


  1. Lindsay, this isn't about this post, but I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your blog, and I share posts quite often. I think I found it through a Matt Walsh comment (does that sound right?) but I feel like you say so well the things that roll around in my head. Thank you for continuing to write.

    1. Thank you. I am glad you like the blog. And yes, I did write a very popular comment on Matt Walsh's blog that I later added to my blog. (

      Anyway, thanks for letting me know you're reading and enjoying what I write.

  2. Yes, I think that it might be true that one's testimony tends to be a more powerful encouragement and witness inside the Church and good secular-philosophical apologetics are the effective witness outside of the Church (and inside too).

    However, I think the two can be combined. In my testimony, I allude to the fact that certain intuitive renditions of both the cosmological and moral arguments helped lead me to theism, and ultimately to Christianity. I think these can be interwoven, if they are a true testament to one's journey to the Cross of course.

  3. The way I have come to see it when I give my testimony. Yes there will be those who wont believe me because of no supporting evidence (other than my faith and a change in my life that has been made because of what God has done for me). Yes. We need to share the gospel too. But if there are opportunities to speak. Or you feel God prompting you to speak. And you start giving your testimony. It isn't about those who don't believe you. Or think you are utterly out of your mind. It is about planting seeds in hearts who need Jesus who might be going through something similar. Something to give them encouragement and hope. We are SUPPOSED to give our testimonies. If we did not share our testimonies (along with the gospel) how could anyone find proof otherwise? It's not about the ones who dont or won't believe you. It's about the ones who will believe you. And come to know Christ because of it.

    1. How is someone's personal testimony "proof" of anything? And how does it plant a seed in someone else to tell them how you came to be a Christian? If they don't believe Christianity is actually true, how does it help them for you to tell them you believe it? Won't they just think you're deluded unless you provide some evidence that they can verify?

  4. I congratulate you on another very well written post, Lindsay! I find your writing very clear and you have the gift of making very difficult concepts relative to the average Joe. These are issues that ought to be discussed. Well done!
    Another interesting blog post...
    I must ask why you seem to believe, in presenting personal experience as evidence, that the Christian is forced to concede the point and admit that such testimonial apologetics is merely presenting a personal opinion? For instance, if I was pressed for evidence (or, that which provides me with good reasons to believe that a certain proposition is true) to demonstrate that Irene is my mother, I am afraid that I can only appeal to my personal relationship with the woman! Am I supposed to take seriously the sceptical objection that the fact that I have a personal relationship with my mother is just my personal opinion? I don't find that to be a valid objection.
    What are your thoughts?
    Kind regards,

    1. I would hope you have much more evidence that your mother is your mother than you realize. For example, you might say that you have photos of her holding you as a baby, perhaps even in a hospital right after your birth. You might be able to point to family resemblance or a birth certificate as evidence. You should certainly be able to point to your mother's testimony of having given birth to you and perhaps the testimony of others about the event, such as your father, grand-parents, etc who knew your mother was pregnant with you and were there during the events surrounding your birth. You have much more to provide evidence for your mother being your mother than merely the fact that you have a relationship with her.

      Similarly, you should have much more evidence for the fact that Jesus is God than merely your personal relationship with him. You have the scriptures, which record the accounts of those who witnessed the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. There are other supporting evidences as well, from history, which can be studied.

      I am not saying that your personal relationship with God or with your mother are incidental or unimportant, but they are subjective evidences and thus not very accessible to others. For that reason, we cannot expect others to believe them without corroboration, especially when doing so would require them to place something of value on the line (such as their soul). People might choose to believe your personal testimony and accept Christ because of it, but it's not nearly as effective as providing a stronger, more objective case.