Defending the Faith

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 5, 2014 2 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

For those who have been following my posts, it does not take much for you to understand that I get into a number of debates, especially when it comes to the Creation/Evolution topics. In 1 Peter 3:15, we are called to be ready to give an answer and to know what we believe. We need to know what we believe and to be in a position where can we give an answer for why we believe it. Sadly, a lot of people who call themselves Christians don’t know God from a duck or know what is in their Bible. So when someone comes up with a challenge to their position, they are easily led astray.

The US Treasury has a number of agents who can identity a fake bill in a heartbeat. How do they do that? They could study all the ways that a fake could be made and such information is handy. The problem with this approach is that there will always be something new that comes up and then they will have to learn that new tactic. There is a better way to do so. The agents study the real thing. Anything that does not align with what is real is easily identified as fake. And this is the process we need to use when we defend our faith. We need to know the real thing because then we can easily identify any fakes.

But there is another part of 1 Peter 3:15. We need to do this in meekness and fear. As our leader of Worldview Warriors likes to say: “If we get the love part wrong, what’s the point?” I’m one of the guys that tends to be blunt. I call it as it is. I call it as I see it. One of the “issues” I’ve had my whole life is that I do not like false information being spread around. Even if it’s unintentional I have a habit of correcting someone even on minor things. And that is something I am working on. There are times I just need to keep my mouth shut and I’m learning that. It’s taking a while but I’m learning it.

This issue of making sure something is accurate has advantages but there are disadvantages. I can help avoid a disaster by correcting the issue on the spot, but when I do so, I must respect the chain of authority in the issue. If the decision comes through someone with a higher authority, even if it is going to blow up on them, I have to learn how to bite my tongue and respect the position of authority, even if it is blatantly wrong.

And where this issue has displayed itself the most is on my online discussions. The Bible is the truth and I will hold that even to the point of death. If ISIS were to invade my home or school (as a teacher) and they were threaten to kill me or behead me in front of my students if I did not curse the name of Jesus and convert to Islam, would I be able to have such confidence to hold my position? I believe I do, but it is something I am not interested in willingly putting to the test.

With those convictions, no atheist, no political statesman, no challenger to my position is going to convince me to change my mind. It’s going to take someone who shows a better and proper understanding of Scripture to point out my errors, because I strive to be as a Berean, where I check out what people say with Scripture. And while I will not be convinced to put my beliefs aside, those that tend to challenge me likely won’t readily put their beliefs aside either. And that usually leads to an impasse.

The Creation/Evolution debate is not a science vs. the Bible debate but a philosophical/worldview debate. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be ready to give an answer. It does not tell us convince the other person. I’ve learned that anyone who can be reasoned into Christianity can also be reasoned out of Christianity. Salvation and Christianity are not mere intellectual decisions, but a life-changing transformation that only God can do.

And here is where I tend to see my greatest weaknesses in defending my faith: my desire to be right when it is simply better to walk away, even if it appears like you are “giving up.” One of the tactics I know Satan loves to use is to find someone who had no remote interest of listening to what we have to say and get him/her to occupy our time with them trying to defend our position when all it really is, is a distraction to keep us from working with those who do have ears to hear.

And this is the great internal struggle: the battle between listening to our flesh, our heart’s desire to be right, and listening to God to obey him. God wants us to be a good witness, where our faith is lived out in word and deed. We are to speak truth, but do so in love. When we call someone out for being wrong (there is a time and place to do that), we need to understand the proper authority channels and we need to do so with an offer of redemption. If they are wrong about something, what can they do to make it better?

When we are defending our faith, we need to follow the advice of Proverbs 26:4-5. We need to be very careful not to answer a fool (the Bible defines a fool as someone who willingly rejects the truth, or as someone who is blockheaded) in the same manner he speaks. We need to not chase him around, using his logic and his reasoning or we will end up being just like him. And many of us easily take the bait, myself included. We do, however, need to address the fool by exposing his folly otherwise he will be wise in his own eyes. Knowing when to draw the line is always a challenge.

Jesus had another warning on this. In Matthew 7:6 Jesus tells us not to toss our pearls before swine. Pigs have no regard for anything of value and everything they handle or are around is messy. When people who have closed ears and have no interest in actually having an honest discussion with you, move on and don’t waste time on them. It is hard because we want them to see the truth and it is also hard because we want the audience who is watching to see that our side is true, despite the opposition. But we need to learn when to draw the line. A tactic I know Satan uses is to use someone who will waste our time to get us to focus on them, when we need to be focusing somewhere else. Distractions not only can be decoys where the enemy will get us to focus on one area and he will exploit another. They can also be used to keep us from actually attempting our intended target. This is why we need to be alert at all times and recognize what is being done. Chinese military general Sun Tzu says, “Know your enemy and know yourself and in 100 battles you will never be in peril.” We need to know who we are and what we believe, but we also need to know our opposition and what their tactics are. If we know that, we will not lose in the important areas of these discussions.

2 comments:

Bob Sorensen said...

You made some excellent points here. In citing the apologists' favorite verse, you did not explicitly say the very first part, "Sanctify Christ as Lord", yet you did show that you take this to heart when you said about people wanting to change your mind, "It’s going to take someone who shows a better and proper understanding of Scripture to point out my errors, because I strive to be as a Berean, where I check out what people say with Scripture". I think people use three parts of this verse, they try to be ready to give an answer, some remember the last part of "gentleness and reverence", but most forget the first part that I quoted.

I believe in using both strength (and being blunt) as well as showing biblical love (as I wrote about here). You rightly observed that some people just want to argue and waste our time, and there is a point where we have to move on and not be distracted from what God has called us to do. Some Christian sites have banned certain obstreperous time wasters because they actually have nothing to offer except abuse and mockery.

You said we're not to convince the other person. There is a great deal of scriptural support for that, because the Holy Spirit is the one that does the conviction and conversion. Our job is to present our faith and leave the rest up to God.

David J. said...

http://www.xkcd.com/386/