The Unger Move of Apologetics?

Today I saw in my Twitter feed that someone had blogged about me!

Not only that, but it was a good buddy from Seminary who had grabbed an apologetic tactic that I had talked about before and he wrote a little about it here.

Now I’ve gotta admit, I laughed when I saw the picture that accompanied the post:

Dandruff Shaker

Is it just me, or does it look like the first guy is using the second guy to get a light coating of dandruff on his pizza…(apparently I’m too sleepy to be blogging…)

I was going to write a response, but then I realized that I’ve already written a post that’s ALMOST entirely along those lines. I did something slightly different and wrote about it here.

That shows what the “Unger Move” looks like in practice.  I call it the “list technique”, but I might use a more flashy name for it now that it’s an official technique of apologetics.  Maybe something like the “Unger Games” technique?



Once that movie is gone, that won’t be funny anymore.

Or maybe something like the “UngerStruck” technique?



I don’t want my apologetics identified with sad and balding Australian jock rockers that get the seniors discount at Denny’s.

Well, maybe we’ll leave choosing a name for now.

Back to discussing the list technique/Unger Move.

Here’s the technique in a nutshell:

1.  Meet someone and start talking about God/Jesus/the Bible/whatever.

2.  Person says “I don’t believe in that because (insert reason)”.

3.  I respond “Oh really?  So that one reason is why you don’t believe (insert reason)?”

4.  Person responds “No, I have more reasons than just ONE!”

5.  I ask them to give me all their reasons for not believing in God/Jesus/the Bible/whatever.

6.  Person gives me 5-7 reasons (off the top of their head; no internet cheating allowed) and I list them out in front of the person.


(Add up these reasons and ta-da!  I’m an unbeliever!)

7.  I ask the person “Is that all?  Is that the whole list?”

8.  Person says that there’s more, but (likely) needs some time to think.

9.  I add another 1 or 2 to the list and then either (a) ask them which one is the strongest, most convincing reason, or (b) ask them if I can start at the top of the list.

10.  I tear through their most weighty reason, or the reason at the top of the list and ask them either (a) “if that’s your best reason and I made fairly short work of it, how well do you think your other reasons will hold up?” or (b) “So, is your lack of belief 20% weaker (or whatever percentage) since you’ve lost a reason off your list?”

11. Person laughs and says “well, tackle the whole list and we’ll talk”.

12.  I refuse and re-state the question more firmly. I ask them if they recognize that their list is shrinking and ask them if they’re ready to face the music when the list is gone. I lay out a 5-6 point super basic gospel and ask them if they’re ready to accept that all in the next 20 minutes after I’m done dismantling their list of arguments.

13.They (inevitably) say “no”, then I ask them for the REAL list of reasons why they’re not a Christian/don’t trust the Bible/whatever since, by all logical count, once their list is gone they have nothing holding them back.

14.  I usually get a fairly stunned look at that point, as if I’ve done some sort of card trick they cannot figure out, and I ask them if I can explain the phenomenon that they find themselves currently experiencing.  Apparently the list of reasons for their unbelief they gave me isn’t their real list since their unbelief stands regardless of the condition of the list.  If the reasons go and they still don’t believe, they must have reasons they’re not telling me…or they’re unaware of.


15.  I head back to the gospel and start in Romans 1 with the suppression of truth and Luke 16:19-31 with the reality behind their (self-admittedly irrational) unbelief. I generally try to point out the very conversation as evidence against them (i.e. “you’re so consumed with suppressing the truth that you’re currently arguing about Jesus/the Bible/whatever in a Safeway/Bookstore/wherever with a total stranger! Why aren’t we talking about politics?”) and bring up Matthew 12:34, pointing to the fact that apparently God doesn’t exist and they’re really mad at him.

There’s lots of rhetorical tactics I’ve picked up from all over, but that’s one evangelistic tactic that I use frequently with good effect.

The whole purpose of it is to not get side-tracked for hour upon hour of arguing about creationism, philosophy, epistemological issues, or whatever.  When I’m talking with someone, I tell them I don’t want to get sidetracked and waste their time because I actually believe the Bible, including the part that says God exists and they actually matter to him.  This is important enough stuff to actually focus on.


I’ve even started using the line “this conversation, right here right now, is actually more important than your own death.”  If they are rightly restored to Christ, then there is an upcoming life after death but if they’re not rightly restored to Christ, there is an upcoming death after death.  I tell them I believe that and somewhere, deep down, they do to; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t still be listening to me speak and we wouldn’t be talking as seriously as we currently are.

In a nutshell, I’ve come up with the list technique/Unger Move because I’ve tried to apply a biblical understanding of sin and the noetic effects of sin to the apologetic enterprise, as well as a biblical understanding of the conscience.  Both are almost completely foreign components in most apologetic endeavors and if your evangelistic/apologetic endeavors don’t use the allies that you have at your disposal (i.e. the conscience), you’re not using the powerful weapons at your disposal that the Lord has provided.

Nuclear Explosion

Just some thoughts.  The technique doesn’t have all the kinks worked out, but I hope that others can steal from me as I’ve stolen from others (I don’t think I originally came up with the list technique) and improve on the work already established.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “time for sleepy man to go to bed!” Unger

10 thoughts on “The Unger Move of Apologetics?

  1. That is brilliant! Done with humour too. (Angus Young should really give it up.) I’m grateful to Jim for his ‘Unger Move’ post and for the link here. As a convinced Presup it’s extremely clear. Thanks.

  2. Pingback: The Unger Move of Apologetics? | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely… | Exercised to Discern

  3. The issue I encounter here in Indiana, a very conservative state, is the person almost always responds with a list of vile behaviors by self identified public Christians and indicates they have no desire to be remotely associated with such trash. Sadly they make an excellent point in that the people they point to are loud supporters of conservative politics, (death penalty, cutting food stamps, lax environmental regulations, torture (water boarding), low taxes on the rich, anti union, etc.) and the people I speak with are often on the cutting edge of the pain inflicted by these policies- my wife is a home health care nurse and we routinely pay for extra food and necessaries for some of her disabled patients who have had their already meager government aid cut. The people I deal with, police, medical, social workers, probation officers etc., make jokes such as ‘when’s the best time to shop?…..Sunday morning! All the crooks are in church.” These people are in careers where their daily work is very hard, the pay and advancement are very poor, they have numerous people in need and see their resources to help them constantly cut and are subject to frequent contemptuous public remarks from Christians about useless and vile government workers. They legitimately see Christians as proponents of the politics that cause real pain and suffering to innocent people while using their religious status to avoid being held accountable for their actions. The bible verse I can’t overcome with them is ‘by their fruit you shall know them’ – God himself simply states that if you want people to believe it’s not what you say, it’s how you live. The saddest example I have is one friend who sat me down and lectured me that my wife and family were ‘too good’ to be Christians, it saddened him to see us demeaned by that association. Anyway, sorry for the rant, it’s late and I enjoyed your review of “Noah” and was cruising your blog and this hit me wrong- the bible is easy to defend (I’m a government lawyer, or was until I was sacked by a budget cutting Christian governor) but Christians? Bumper sticker I see frequently is “Jesus deliver me from your followers”, to which I say Amen.

  4. Pingback: Missions Monday ~ 10-12-15 | Michelle Lesley

  5. Pingback: Proverbs 26:4-5 and Presuppositional Apologetics | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely…

  6. This is an excellent technique. Presuppositionalism, without Bahnsenism! Taking them all the way to Scripture, with Romans 1. I think I will pinch this idea! (I’ll give credit, honest!)

    • Thanks! It’s always a work in progress, but I’d be delighted if you would return the favor and share the progress you make when you implement the idea and work out the kinks!

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