Man, this holiday week has really thrown me off. Here it is, Thursday, and I’m just finally getting going on writing this next part of what originally was supposed to be a single-shot post. Though, when one takes into consideration my propensity for being verbose, this should not be a surprise.
Over the last couple weeks, we’ve been taking a look at the various ways or methods or perspectives in which we love the Lord our God as Jesus talks about in Luke 10:27. We’ve gone over what it means to love Him with all our hearts. Last week, we looked at how to love Him with all our soul.
Now we pick up with what is perhaps my favorite part…how to love Him with our minds. Perhaps this is my favorite for no better reason than the fact that it seems like this is the area that gets missed the most among the Church today. Most certainly there are some intellectual giants in the Church today, but from what I have seen, the average, ordinary, everyday Christian does not seem to focus on this area all that much.
Sure, there are lots of lifelong church goers who can recite the Ten Commandments. They know Psalm 23 by heart. They can recite the Apostle’s Creed without looking at cheat-sheets. But, does this mean that they truly are engaging their minds with their faith? Not necessarily.
How many people in the Church today can discuss even the most fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith? How well do you understand how God can be one God and yet exist in three, separate, distinct persons? When skeptics start firing questions at you about things like the existence of evil, eternal damnation, how God can become a man and be executed, church atrocities (i.e. the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc.), how Christianity differs from other world religions, the historicity of Christianity and many other areas that they use to try to poke holes in our faith, are you able to respond to any of these arguments?
What it comes down to is, most Christians know that the Bible is true and they know that they believe in God and and the salvation of Jesus. At the same time, most Christians are unable to back up their beliefs with historical, logical, factual arguments. I use the term “argument” not as a nay-saying or heated disagreement, but in the sense of being a logical premise that leads to a particular conclusion.
As Christians, we should know the history of our faith. We should know why Christ needed to sacrifice Himself for us in order to restore His relationship with us. We should be able to stand our ground when skeptics start trying to back us into a corner. Or when heretics try to lead us away from orthodox truth.
Not only are many church goers susceptible to secular skeptics, but they are also in danger of falling into heresies such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Jesus Seminar or other world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, etc. These groups can offer what, to an “unschooled” Christian, can seem like valid and logical arguments. They seem to make a lot of sense on the surface. But when you start to look a little deeper, their arguments really don’t hold water.
As an example, if a Jehovah’s Witness starts telling you that John 1:1 is supposed to say, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a God” (note the insertion of an indefinite article “a” God) are you able to go through and show them that this indefinite article does not exist in the Greek texts and therefore their rendering is false? Can you show them that Isaiah 43:11 where Jehovah explicity states that He is the only savior and there is no other? And then, can you turn to the New Testament and show where Paul refers to Jesus Christ as the savior?
There are many such areas in rebutting the arguments of Jehovah’s Witnesses or other heretical religions. The question is, are you able to stand your ground and (with love, of course) present your case to them and not be swayed by their arguments? God gave us minds for a reason. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just for us to be able to learn to type or learn to fix cars, or crunch numbers or build space ships. My guess is that the primary reason He gave us an intellect was so that we could understand more about Him so that we could use that knowledge for His glory.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that everybody needs to be a Bible scholar. The Bible specifically teaches that we all have different gifts. Some people simply don’t have an aptitude for knowing all sorts of facts and information. But we should all pursue knowledge of God at least to the extent that we are able to. From there, I believe that God will make sure that, if we are faithful to do so, He will ensure that we are not challenged beyond our capacity.
So, if you’re not the “thinker” type of person and not big on historical research, please don’t worry. If you know enough to keep yourself well grounded, that is sufficient. No need to memorize the dates and names of the kings of Judea and Israel, or which King Herod ruled when and did what. You don’t need to learn about the Kalam Cosmological Argument to prove God exists. Just make sure you learn what you can and always be prepared to defend your faith with whatever facts you have at your disposal.
In fact, it may be enough to know just enough to show that the Bible can be trusted to be true and then lean on scripture from there. There are a good number (never enough, in my opinion) who know scriptures pretty well. If they know the scriptures and take a few moments to think about what scripture teaches when confronted, that will probably handle most potential issues in this area.
As the pastor of Desert Breeze is fond of saying, “Don’t check your brain at the door.” Don’t just believe someone because they look nice or have a microphone or are on a stage or have money or a nice car or whatever. Hold up everything anyone says (including me) against scripture. Verify for yourself that what someone says is aligned with scripture.
Not surprisingly, I am not going to be able to fit the last point in this post, so I’ll have to reserve that for next week. Until then…
Grace, love and peace.