About two weeks ago I had the honor of speaking in chapel for a Christian grade school in my area. The age span was from first to the twelfth grade. I had to think and pray about this presentation a lot because it had to be done in such a way that it would interest the first graders and teach them something and at the same time have some substance to engage the twelfth graders. I decided to use an illusion (magic trick) and talk about the need to be able to ask the fundamental questions instead of being distracted by the slight of hand. Part of the talk was my testimony about growing up as an atheist and the process of coming to the faith. As an atheist I had hard questions which Christians typically ran from. The occasional retort of “That’s a stupid question” was unpersuasive to me. I prided myself at cultivating questions that required thought and evidence. Christian’s inability to answer helped to confirm my atheism to me. Eventually I discovered there were actual, credible answers to the hard questions. A pivotal point for me was the evidence for the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Lately I’ve been thinking about Paul’s warnings against Christians checking their brains at the door of the church. I’ve been meditating particularly on 2 Corinthians 10. The context is that Paul is defending his ministry and in particular his harsh words for false teachers. He says in v. 4:
… weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses
The February 10 WorldNetDaily carried the article, Bishop: Christians don’t go to heaven -Anglican challenges widespread belief, says believers asleep until God returns and as I read it I reflected on the importance of definitions For example, in early 1998 when then President Bill Clinton was asked why his claims to the the grand jury that there is no sexual relation between him and Monica Lewinsky wasn’t a lie his response was:
It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”
Apologetics and countercult ministry is a very difficult calling. Why? In order to “make a defense for the faith”, one must necessarily feel that truth itself can be ascertained and should be defended against falsehood. Truth defending is, by its very nature, “divisive”. Truth draws a line. If Christianity is TRUE, then anti-Christianity, in all of its forms, must be non-TRUE; some brave counter-culturalists might even say that anti-Christianity is FALSE. To stand for truth and against falsehood is to swim against the raging current of our “everything goes”, “truth is relative”, “judge not”, culture. It is considered bigotry today to say than any belief system, any person, any group, is in error. We are supposed to respect other “truths” as true and valid for “them,” while just perhaps preferring “ours” for “us”. Truth is a mere preference in Third Millennium America. We do not and cannot hold this view. As tempting as it may be to appear broadminded and tolerant, we believe that it matters very much what people believe, and that “sincerity” will count for nothing on judgment day. Jesus said that his followers would be hated by the world for His sake, and we see that more and more every day.