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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

My friend Mike Bauman is the greatest living practitioner of the Socratic Method on the planet, bar none—as many of his terrorized students will attest.  #Hillsdale  #SummitSemester

Michael Bauman

Michael Bauman


Michael Bauman Teaching Milton

“The first rule: Don’t trust anything I say

(I might be speaking for the Enemy),

But when Truth calls to you, you must obey.”

The student body shuddered in dismay,

With pens arrested in mid-note, to see

The first rule:  “Don’t trust anything I say.”

“For there is Truth, though narrow is the Way,

And few that find it.”  (But they will be free

If, when Truth calls to them, they just obey.)

“Do you think that, or is it just O. K.

Because I said it?”  This, persistently.

The first rule: “Don’t trust anything I say.”

“And what is Truth?  And what the Good?  To play

The game, you have to know the rules—the key—

So when Truth calls to you, you can obey.”

His every wink and word was to convey

The simple skill of doubting faithfully.

The first rule:  “Don’t trust anything I say,

But when Truth calls to you, you must obey.”

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!




EXPLANATION:  People today are so hostile to any presentation of the biblical view (see Objection 1) that they will probably not listen to a direct proclamation and will consider it offensive however gently and lovingly it is given.  But they will find it harder to be offended by questions.  Well-designed Socratic questions can help to defuse tense encounters and also give non-believers the opportunity to encounter a different view without rejecting it out of hand before they even hear it.    Here are some suggestions that you might find useful, organized by frequently heard objections to the biblical view.

A Future Socrates

A Future Socrates


OBJECTION 1:  Any criticism of the LGBT lifestyle is homophobia and hate speech!

Do you really believe I think less of a person for having a different set of temptations than I do?

If I believed you were heading off a cliff, and I said nothing to stop you, would that be, let’s see, loving . . .  or hateful?

Have you heard of the fallacy of Poisoning the Well?  Is it possible you are unintentionally doing that?

OBJECTION 2:  Why don’t you abstain from shellfish and from wearing mixed fabrics?  You have no credibility unless you obey all of Scripture!  (It’s amazing how familiar non-Christians seem to be with the Book of Leviticus!)

Have you heard of progressive revelation?

Do you think God could have revealed everything we needed to know about Him all at once?

Is it possible that some practices might have been appropriate for an earlier stage of that revelation but be made obsolete by later stages?

Do you think it is possible that the Bible might tell us which practices this is true of and which it is not?

Where might it do that?


OBJECTION 3:  The New Testament does not condemn faithful homosexual relationships, only promiscuous ones or male cult prostitution.

Where exactly is this distinction made in the New Testament?  Is it in Rom. 1:26-7?  Is it in 1 Cor. 6:9-11?  Could you show it to me there, please—in the actual wording, not in assumptions imported into it?

Have you ever heard of the difference between exegesis (reading out of a passage) and eisegesis (reading into it)?

OBJECTION 4:  Jesus says nothing about homosexuality.

Did Jesus say anything about marriage?

Was Jesus at all shy or timid about opposing Jewish interpretations of the Old Testament that He did not agree with?  If not, then if He does not address something, what does that silence actually imply?

Did Jesus authorize the Apostles to speak for Him?  Do they have anything to say on the subject?


OBJECTION 5:  It is unfair to condemn people for an orientation they did not choose and cannot help.

I did not choose to be greedy and I cannot help wanting things.  Does that make it OK for me to take them?

If I did not choose to be heterosexual or to desire more women than I am actually allowed to have, does that make it OK for me to have them?

CONCLUSION:   To be effective, these questions must be asked out of a genuine desire for dialog, not in a “gotcha” spirit.  So think beforehand about how you might want to guide the discussion that ensues, and try them out!

For more of Dr. Williams’ writings, go to and order Inklings of Reality or Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.