I’m going to be completely honest here. I have a really, really hard time listening to people who have never read the Bible discussing it. In general, these discussions [for the sake of charity, I will use this term extremely loosely] are not kind in tone or intent. And are so ill-informed that I wonder if the participants have ever read even one sentence of the book they attack so viciously.
These conversations [again, a charitable term] remind me of individuals who have never met someone, whom I’ll call Bob for the sake of this metaphor, consistently speaking ill of Bob. Intimately. As if the speaker, and s/he alone, possess special knowledge about Bob. In spite of the fact that s/he has never spent a moment in the same room with Bob. And the fact that s/he is basing this poor opinion on what they have heard from other people.
How can one have the audacity to claim knowledge about any subject without first familiarizing one’s self with the topic at hand? And how can anyone assume to know anything without first examining their hypothesis against the very matter itself? I must say that it boggles the mind, and speaks volumes about our culture’s intellectual slovenliness.
But assumptions of knowledge aren’t limited to contemporary culture. When Jesus asked his very disciples, the men with whom he’d spent the most amount of time during his incarnate ministry, “who do you say I am,” only one of them got it right. And even then, Jesus said that the correct answer didn’t come from Peter’s heart or mind, but from the Father in Heaven; as if this knowledge was indeed too intimate a truth for even Jesus’ closest friends to comprehend (Matthew 16:13-17). For Peter and the others walked, prayed, ate, laughed, even wept with Jesus on a consistent basis. And even they did not really know him. Not fully, at least.
Thus, I can hardly expect those mired in darkness to know anything of which they speak.
Yet, I can expect respect. I can hold my fellow sojourners to decorum and civility in the public sphere. I can request they educate themselves before forwarding their opinion on matters of such great import. And I must treat them in an exponentially more grace-filled and winsome manner, that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ be made central to each of these conversations.
Finally, I can be ready with an answer for their misinformed rhetoric. I can prepare a defense, based in sound reasoning, against the slander to which my faith and its tenets are subjected. I can reject lazy or false intellectualism in myself, pursue truth, and hone an apologetic that is well-informed, culturally appropriate, and engaging. And I can start today.
So can you. For when you stand up against fallacious claims about Christianity, you are standing up on behalf of the bride of Christ. And I have a feeling that is something with which her groom will be well-pleased.