Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When an Answer is Needed

In last Tuesday’s post, I outlined how I would be using social media with purpose; and I mentioned that for me, this meant not engaging in online debates.  I would like to clarify this position before being written off as a coward or intellectual sloth, or merely as one who choose not to articulate her beliefs because they are too weak to hold any weight.  The reason I am choosing not to engage in online debates is because I have been involved in these types of online discourse, and I have found that these debates

1.        Honor no one – not God, not my friend[s], not myself

2.        Change no one’s mind

3.        Reflect a poor representation of my God, myself, and others who also hold my opinions.

Thus, I will save my personal disagreements for in-person interactions, with one caveat, which I’ll delineate below.

That being said, I know that believers are called to give an answer for their faith.  And that silence, while at times may be the most prudent response, can make the silent party complicit in the opposing side’s argument or action. 

There is a tension I am exploring between meekness and setting boundaries, between holding my tongue to live in peace and making my voice heard.  I have a responsibility to both use my voice on behalf of those who cannot, or against those who seek to harm, and to stay my strength so that unity and love are given to a world that needs both.       

Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.

 ~ Proverbs 10:19

Blessed are the meek…Christ was silent in the face of His accusers.  He was silent on the walk up to Calvary.  He was silent when beaten, when insulted, when accused.  Yet, he overturned the money changer’s tables in the temple.  He answered (most) questions directly asked of Him.  At times, He rebuked those who challenged Him as openly as they approached Him.  So, are we to “turn the other cheek” when insulted, when the gospel is at stake?  Are we to be silent in the face of injustice?  Do we stand idly by when we see our fellow humans coming to harm?  I find that there are times when inaction makes us complicit with evil.  When silence itself muffles the call of the Gospel.  For meekness does not mean that we are always silent.  As Christ did, we are to jealously defend the God-ordained, through-the-blood-of-Jesus right, and therefore freedom, of all to come to the Lord unhindered.  We are to call out to the lost, the broken, and the weary with words of hope and truth.  We are to answer those who question us on behalf the God whom we are to represent.  We are to challenge those, as publically as they are presenting their case, who are preventing or marring the gospel.  And we are to do it all with a spirit of love, an attitude of grace, and complete humility – for not a single one of us may boast in anything except the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus on our sinful and fallen behalf.    

In practice, this means that:

1.        Every believer is an apologist.  That means YOU are an apologist.  And I am an apologist.  Certainly not on par with Drs. Lane, Dembuski, or Lennox[1]; but we are still meant to represent God and Christ and the Holy Spirit in our actions, words, thoughts, and yes, arguments.  Figure out what you believe and why you believe it; then learn how to defend it.  Be ready to give an answer for the Gospel at all times, under all circumstances.  Faith in God is not illogical.  It is the most reasoned and rational of all worldviews.  If you’re not sure where to begin, make a list of what you know to be true about God and find the scripture that backs up your statement; if it’s not in there, you need to revisit what you think about God.  Or, you can start with your church’s statement of faith (also called a doctrinal confession, or simply, “what we believe"); same exercise – make sure what they claim to believe is really found in God’s Word.  Or grab a book on theology or apologetics; for if you’ve made it to this blog, you can read and have been given the gift of intelligent thought.  I have been admonished that to waste this is sin.   

2.         If you are being insulted, mocked, and derided for your faith, do not seek the last word.  Turn the other cheek; pray for your enemies and bless those who persecute you.  Always speak truth.  Always offer grace.  Strive with every breath to live out the Gospel with love.  Never retaliate.  Don’t offend willfully.  Be humble and remember that before God, we are all equal – sinners in desperate need of His Son, our Savior.   

3.        If the Gospel is being misrepresented, correct this misrepresentation to the best of your ability, gracefully, as publically as the misinformation is presented.  Do not forward personal attacks against the speaker.  Example: if it’s at your dinner table, only address it with your family and guests.  If it’s a nationally broadcast sermon or speech, use your media outlets to offer a loving, thoughtful, rational counter position.  And heed the call to humility in #2.

4.       Politics do not equal faith.  Gun control is not the same thing as theology.  Yes, faith should map our political opinions.  But when we try to paint God as one brand of political agent or another, we make idols of our political system and mock the Kingdom of God.  The key here is to make sure that your political leanings line up with your theology.  Remember the apologetic exercises in #1?  Put your political views through the same paces – write them down and see if you can find scripture to back them up.  Be mindful of which scriptures you’re employing; and if you find yourself looking to modern television characters quoting Levitcal or Deuteronomical codes, you’re not thinking your position through.  Nor are you really reading scripture.     

 And so I want to encourage you – stand up for what you believe.  Do not be bullied into silence.  Do not allow slander to quiet the proclamation of the gospel.  Yet, do not make the Gospel something it isn’t – political fodder or personal judgment.  Do everything with the love of Christ in your heart, and the humility of a sinner on your tongue. 

I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”

 ~ Psalm 39:1


[1] If you want to watch these master scholar-philosophers and apologist in action, the following are links to actual debates with popular secular scholars.
Dr. William Craig Lane vs. Christopher Hitchens – Does God Exist Debate:  accessed 1/29/13 1:06pm
William Dembksi vs. Christopher Hitchens – Does God Exist Debate: accessed 1/29/13 1:06pm
John Lennox vs. Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion Debate:  accessed 1/29/13 1:05pm

No comments:

Post a Comment