I used to really get anxious that I wouldn’t be able to answer people’s questions. My experience is that far more frequently I don’t even get the opportunity. More often than not, people back off, change the subject, or otherwise take steps to shut down the conversation when they realise I’m prepared to answer their questions.
A very recent example is a conversation I “didn’t have” last week:
I was having a 2 day lesson in a leather-craft shop last week. Someone came in to browse and started chatting. As is quite common he asked what I did for a living, and on hearing that I was a pastor said “you can’t take the Bible literally”.
I pointed out that the Bible isn’t just one book, it’s 66 books written by 40 different authors over a period of approximately 1,400 years in 3 different languages. I said that it contains all sorts of different literary genres, and that what ‘taking it literally’ means, changes according to the genre you are reading. So, ‘when you say you can’t take the Bible literally’, I asked, ‘what do you mean by that?’
He backed off, made some comment about it ‘all getting a bit too heavy’ and left as fast as he could! I didn’t even get as far as asking him for evidence for this belief!
When people make claims about the Bible, God and Jesus, THEY have the burden of proof. You don’t have to refute their claim, they have to prove it. Ask them to. And they don’t prove their belief by disproving yours (even if they think they can), don’t allow them down that detour.
But remember, YOU also have the burden of proof for your claims:
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)