At a good friend’s wedding, I was seated next to a long-time acquaintance. We had chatted many times before and he is one of the kindest, most amiable people I know. This time around, the topic of the Bible came up, which I figured would be common ground for us, especially knowing that his wife was a Christian.
I made a comment along the lines of, “at least we can take comfort in knowing the Bible is true.”
Without batting an eye, he immediately responded by claiming: “There’s no way to know that. The Bible of today is not the original they started out with so there’s just no way to know what the original ever said. We just can’t know.”
Bam. Mind blown. Emergency red alert.
He had not spoken truth and I knew immediately I had to say something. But to my instant frustration, I opened my mouth and out came…nothing.
No response, no defense. Nothing but silence.
Why? Because I had no clue how to respond to his shocking claim. Where was I supposed to start? Cue the crickets and long, awkward silence. I felt like I was only two feet tall.
I walked away from that conversation that night more agitated than before and beating myself up, not because he had offended me or my faith, but because of how sorely unprepared and completely empty-handed my defense had been.
I immediately knew I needed to get some good solid answers.
A year and a half and a handful of churches later, I’ve come to a very alarming realization. The American church is sorely lacking in its ability to equip believers intellectually for the battle this world is currently waging.
Time and again, the thinking man’s battlefield is largely overlooked.
In addition, I’ve noticed there is an incredible misunderstanding in the community about the relationship between logic and faith and instead of marrying the two together as needed, each is instead separated completely from the other.
And it’s because of this great misunderstanding of how reasoning and thinking are used that there is now clearly a damaging lack of focus on the importance of the role reason and logic play in the church.
The war of ideas is the battlefield where secularism is unquestionably thriving and the church is severely unprepared to go out and fight on the frontlines.
Apologist Ravi Zacharias says “The problem with America today is not America, it’s the church. We have become very shallow as Christians…there is now very little thinking going on in church.”
J.P. Moreland also indicates that the majority of the average sermons in America can all be boiled down to the same two repetitions over and over again: sermons on obedience, and sermons about nice feelings. But virtually none on being trained to think.
This also affects families, and might be why so many Christian youth go off to secular college and come back home renouncing their faith in God entirely.
J.P. Moreland stresses this is because children were never challenged to think their faith through for themselves growing up. They were never challenged to discover their own answer to why they believe in God while still in a safe environment at home, were never taught how to defend their beliefs, and so by the time they went to college, once someone did start asking them for the first time why they believe what they believe, it was a skeptical, antagonistic world asking the questions.
It’s time we start hitting ourselves with some harder questions and figure out how to answer them.
For example, if an atheist or skeptic claims they don’t believe a single word of the Bible because it’s not true, do you know other resources so you can still make a case for the Bible, or is the conversation over?
Or if someone declares there is no God and therefore no such thing as the human soul, can you face them using the existence of consciousness as specific evidence for the soul and therefore evidence for God? (Did you even follow that?)
What about understanding different worldviews and describing the difference between theism, scientific naturalism, pantheism, polytheism, or postmodernism?
I haven’t even gotten to other big things like the new corruption of tolerance, or new ageism, or the current state of marriage in America.
And my greatest concern is that the answer to most of these questions is a resounding “no.”
It’s true that we don’t need to be rocket scientists to spread the gospel, but this is a war with ideas and we need to start training intelligent thinkers in the church how to go after the other side’s ideas.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 states,
“the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God…”
Now what on earth is a stronghold? It is any idea or theory.
Proverbs 21:22 also states,
“One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.”
(Learn more about this from J.P. Moreland’s book Love Your God With All Your Mind.)
Theories and ideas can’t do a thing about the power of God, but they can destroy, blur or corrupt knowledge about God.
Just look around today. 21st century America has no idea what absolute Truth is anymore, no concept of what its definitions are, has clearly fallen into the worst anti-intellectual abyss in recent memory, and has no grasp anymore about what can and can’t be known.
The world oddly enough has become certain about no meaning and certain about no Truth, and in the words of Ravi Zacharias, “we’re now standing with our feet planted firmly in mid-air.”
I’ve learned most of these things from apologists J.P. Moreland, Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias and other brilliant theologians. But what initially resonated with me the most when I first dove deep into this higher level of thinking, was the wonderful and much needed reminder we must love God with all of our minds.
We’ve gotten so good in the faith community at quoting and living out the first part of Matthew 22:37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” but so often we neglect to love Him with all our minds as well. All of it. Not part of it, not half of it, all of our mind.
A pastor friend of mine recently reminded me that the beauty of loving God with mind doesn’t stop at gaining knowledge just for knowledge sake, but when loving Him with mind leads straight to worship, then we are even more fulfilled in Him rather than simply studying just to study.
I think back on that night at my friend’s wedding reception and wonder how would I have responded had I known the things I’ve learned today? I probably would have tried to make a case for the Gospel using historical resources and documentation first, and then immediately address my buddy’s skewed perception of knowledge.
Today I can pick up on my friend’s logical contradictions, especially when he claimed to know that we just can’t know for certain. Basically, he was so certain he knew about not knowing. That’s a fallacy, a falsehood.
It pains me deeply to watch the faith community struggle so hard, and it hurts more than anything in my heart to see my brothers and sisters, whom I love dearly, try to grapple with ideas that are clearly bigger than what they are prepared for.
I do, however, look forward to the day when the community rises and embraces loving God with all their minds and as a result becomes a robust, passionate, thinking Christianity instead.
Have you ever encountered questions from a friend that you couldn’t answer? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll help you find resources.
And I challenge you to pursue loving God with your mind each day. Set aside a little bit of time each day or week to truly study something new.
Social distancing, so unprecedented for most of us, also raises particular questions for the Christian community. How do we do life differently during a global crisis like this?
Learning ways to include evangelism in your daily life.
"It shouldn’t surprise you that people hold onto their beliefs and ideologies strongly. I know this because it’s exactly what I do."
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