- Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p. 22 ($3.03 on Kindle)
Once granted permission to pose my question, I asked, “Would you be willing to describe the god you are pretty sure you don’t believe in?” This question does several things. First, it affords me an opportunity to listen, which is both honoring to him and enlightening to me. Second, it elicits from him a clear articula- tion of just exactly what it is he denies, an exercise that helps me understand his mental obstacles and helps him rethink his own objections as he spells them out. After all, if we are going to have differences, it will be helpful to know exactly (and not merely imagine) where they lie. Third, it—surprisingly, to him— revealed common ground. You see the puzzled and startled look on their faces when I say to self-professed atheists who know I am a God-fearing Christian, “I don’t believe in that god either.” We still have a difference, and we both know it. But at this point, he knows I treat him with respect as a thinking human being and that we actually have some thinking in common. We have something in common to build on. I don’t believe in that god either, but now he may want to know what kind of God I do believe in.