While I would agree that the Church needs to purify itself of immorality, I have begun to notice another issue with Christianity – a growing deficiency that is starting to harm the witness of the Church in a way that threatens to rob the faith of its authoritative power and neuter the Church’s ability to convince the lost that the gospel of Christ is the one true way of salvation. Quite simply, the Church is losing its confidence.
Why No Confidence?
Today’s culture is one of rampant skepticism where everything is questioned and little is wholeheartedly accepted. Moreover, the current climate is one where pluralism rules in that equal weight is given to any worldview as long as that worldview doesn’t make exclusive claims like Christianity does – that crosses the pluralists’ line and exposes the true and ungodly side of the pluralist movement. Finally, science and the theory of evolution have seated themselves in the chair of supreme authority where they routinely dismiss any challenge put to them that does not square with their presuppositions, even if the evidence leads in a direction that is away from them.
Few believers have the confidence to confront the skeptic, pluralist, and scientist when they openly attack the claims of Christianity. The reasons for this lack of confidence can be boiled down to three deficiencies on the part of most Christians:
- An inability to recognize the faulty and (many times) contradictory arguments of the opposition.
- An insufficient personal knowledge of the rich evidences for the Christian worldview.
- An unwillingness to be obedient to God’s command to contend for the faith
Who’s really on Shaky Ground?
The relativist, agnostic, skeptic, post-modernist, and pluralist positions most often always suffer from the same problem – they are either self-defeating or they deny actual reality. But few Christians see through the smoke-and-mirror arguments put forth from these groups and challenge them on the assertions they make. For example, how many relativists (who assert that everything is relative and that absolutes don't exist) would prefer a relatively faithful spouse over an absolutely faithful one? Make no mistake; the relativist demands absolutes in their life even though they deny absolutes exist.
What about the agnostic who says you can’t know anything? Well, how do they know that? If they admit that they know at least one thing, then they have to admit you can know, for sure, certain things. How about the skeptic who says you must doubt everything? Do they doubt skepticism? Every time the skeptic gets paid, do they doubt that the funds end up in their bank account?
By far, the worst in my opinion are the post-modernists and the pluralists who either affirm no truth or say that all truths are the same. Yet post-modernism asserts that the post-modernist stance is true, which is odd for a philosophy that says truth doesn’t exist. The pluralists stance becomes perhaps the most silly as it clearly violates certain logical principles such as the law of non-contradiction, which says that something cannot be A and Non-A at the same time and in the same sense. One philosopher quipped that anyone holding to pluralism should be beaten and burned until they admit that to be beaten and burned is not the same thing as to not be beaten and burned.
The point is that no Christian should feel intimidated or lose their confidence in the presence of those who hold to such easily refuted and shaky philosophies.
A Lack of Answers
- “The Bible is just a bunch of error-ridden books and nice stories put together by men – it certainly isn’t relevant for today.”
- “Jesus was a good moral teacher, but he was just a man like Buddha and other like gurus – nothing more.”
- Evolution is responsible for everything you see around you – given enough time and chance, anything is possible.”
These and other such assertions fly in the face of Christians everyday, and outside of retorts such as, “Well that’s not what I believe”, there are little though-provoking counter-arguments that believers offer to those who challenge the Christian worldview. The terribly sad fact is that is oftentimes the Christian who walks away from such encounters with seeds of doubt planted in their heart instead of the non-believer being the one left questioning their position. Such should not be the case.
One of the most wonderful things about the Christian faith is that it is so evidential in nature. In truth, when you take time to carefully examine all the facts and use a critical thinking approach in comparing Christianity to any other worldview, you reach the conclusion that it is a far greater leap of faith to believe in Darwinism, atheism, or any like worldview.
But most Christians don’t realize this because they have invested little time to understand exactly what it is they have chosen to believe in. They become perfect targets for weak worldly arguments that should bounce off with little effect, but instead most any challenge causes them to fold up like a camping tent.
If you were asked to name the key doctrines of the Christian faith and to provide sound reasons for belief in each, could you do it? If not, why not? Make no mistake, the cults and secularists are well-versed in their beliefs and they are convincing people everyday to walk down a broad road that will ultimately lead to a place they don’t wish to go. Do you care enough about your own faith and the lost to arm yourself with the evidences that God has so richly provided you? Don’t be fooled – it takes time and study to become well-equipped in Christian apologetics, but the truths you study are food that the new man inside you will love to eat, and during the process, you will gain an appreciation and awe for God that you don’t currently have. And instead of sliding into eternity with your fingers crossed, you will develop a contagious confidence in the truths of Christianity that rub off on everyone you meet.
Although you many not realize it, God has commanded you to be ready and willing to defend the Christian faith in today’s world. His mandate isn’t just for those who speak well or are bold in personality. If you think this is not the case, carefully consider the following verses:
- “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;”, 1 Peter 3:15
- “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”, 1 Corinthians 10:4-5.
- “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”, Titus 1:7-9.
- “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”, Jude 3.
Doing an About-Face
You might be thinking that doing a one-eighty degree turn like this is impossible, but actually, it isn’t. In fact, it’s a process God specializes in.
When Jesus was murdered, His disciples ran and hid for fear that they would suffer the same fate as their Teacher. The religious leaders' arguments had persuaded the crowds to reject Christ (just like today) and the disciples no doubt thought they were next on the Pharisees' hit list. But only a short time later, these same men boldly confronted the religious leaders who put to the death the Son of God and stood their ground when ordered to stop teaching in Christ’s name. In Acts 4:13 we read, “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” The lambs had become lions and exhibited a confidence that they likely never knew they had.
The same thing can happen with you. If you are a Christian, then you possess the same Holy Spirit that baptized the disciples on the day of Pentecost. You have the high privilege to open God’s Word, spend time with Christ, and learn the same eternal truths He taught His disciples. And you have the same duty as they did to guard the sacred trust and message that has once and for all been delivered to the saints.
The Church of God is in desperate need of confident men and women who possess a strong knowledge in what they believe and who won't wilt when the inevitable challenges of the world come. Can we count on you?