“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6;12)
This saying I use as satire but I want us all to actually imagine what we are up against. As believers we fight a war on many fronts. It seems that the battle within is not enough, we have to contend against outside forces that rival our faith. This seems to happen in every area of our lives. It’s like the end of the "300" when Leonidas is waiting for the hail storm of arrows to descend on him.
This article, “Surfing against the gods of war”, is about what we face as apologists and how to respond and help others discover what we are truly up against.
We live in a time of increased skepticism and doubt. One only has to observe the universities where many give up their faith after year one. Who’s to blame? The church? Religious freedom? Lets look at religious freedom first.
Religious freedom is often a double edged sword. On one side we see freedom to worship and not be persecuted for the belief you hold, we see a fundamental human right and a beautiful, powerful one. On the other side its blind, subjective, deceptive and often ignorant. It’s like C.S. Lewis describing the three natural loves, in his book of the four loves, each has its beauty and danger. This same truth applies to religious freedom.
Is religious freedom to blame? No. Religious freedom is necessary for any free society. If we are the church, then one only has to go as far as the mirror to see who is to blame. Yes, can untaught pastors lead large congregations? Can the ignorant amass huge followings? Can the blind guide people in crisis’s of faith? Yes, but it is our responsibility to know why we believe what we believe and to discover truth. I believe its time, no longer can we sit idly by. The evangelist must begin to incorporate apologetic’s into discipleship.
It was in 2007 when my crisis of faith hit. I had been a Christian since the year 2000 but on the night, in the wake of my fathers death, I decided to debate an informed atheist and I lost. I left with more questions than I had answers to and I woke up. I decided that if I was to give my life for something I knew to be true, I needed to know why I believed it. It was a journey, one I am so thankful to have gone on. The discovery of my faith brought me closer to God than I thought possible.
To narrow this, there is a huge road block we all face. This road block is all the misinformation on the internet that may hinder or lead you astray in your search. Social media has become the classroom for the average Joe. It is a hotbed for debate, in promoting wild conspiracies, inaccurate religious views, political reflections, and philosophical ruminations.
When evangelizing in the work place I am often challenged with questions posed on Yahoo or reddit, I even get the occasional YouTube speaker that teaches on everything except for what they are credentialed in. Some questions are reminiscent of ideas Christianity dealt with hundreds of years ago, and dealt with effectively. Others cite certain notions about the bible that aren’t at all biblical.
In the information age we are all google scholars and YouTube graduates. Regardless of the truth, some make eternal choices believing internet lies or revisionist history. It is quite scary when you truly think on it. In even the last few years, I find people are even too lazy to come up with their own arguments. Instead, they flood you with articles that they haven’t even fully read or give you statistics without understanding how to read the statistic.
So, In the age of surfing against the gods of war, how is the apologist supposed to respond? How about exactly how Peter tells us…. “15But 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, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” That last part of verse 15, with gentleness and respect. A gentleness that drips with patience or should I say pours? We have to remember hearts and souls are at stake. Respond with truth, facts, and credible sources. Also, remember your battling ideas and not just people. Be respectful, nobody will care how much you know until they know how much you care. Don’t allow your own knowledge to puff you up, that will only build walls between you and others. It will also make you arrogant. Don’t ever attack someones character, deal with their arguments.
Another good measure is to get things as clear as possible. Respond by asking questions. This usually ends up bringing out the presuppositions of the one your engaging and can give you an idea or reason the presupposition exists. We see Jesus did this often, we see he often would follow a question with another question. Finally brothers and sisters, be compassionate. Debates can turn into conversations, conversations build relationships, and relationships are where you will experience the most success.