How should a Christian prepare to take his or her belief into the public square?
One of the primary purposes of Chasing Squirrels is to equip believers to defend and explain their faith. It does this by giving them simple little analogies that they can use in discussion with believers and non-believers alike. But that means sometimes you enter into discussions with those who don’t accept the Bible as God’s Word.
Or the existence of God at all.
Last week’s posting was a prime example of that.
And instead of having a conversation in the comment section of Facebook (because we all know how helpful that would be) it seemed that this week it would be good to help believers to be ready to give a reason for the hope they have within them. (1 Peter 3:15)
So, to that end, here are four points to help prepare you to discuss your faith with any person you encounter.
Know Your Stuff
If you are a Christian, it is your responsibility to know your Bible. It doesn’t mean that you have to have a PhD in theology, but you should know the big picture of Scripture. You cannot defend what you do not know.
Know the different types of biblical genres and how they function. Know how you are supposed to read them. And how you aren’t.
Another point to know is the Threefold Purpose of the Law. Know that the categories of civil, ceremonial and moral law exist in the Old Testament. (A phenomenally helpful and blessedly short pdf on the issue can be downloaded here.) And know why the categories of civil and ceremonial are no longer valid for followers of Jesus.
Know that the civil laws were only applicable to the theocratic nation of Old Testament Israel. That they were meant to distinguish them from the people around them.
We aren’t Old Testament Israel.
Know that the ceremonial laws were a function of Old Testament worship. Know those laws were completed when Jesus established a new covenant. Know that for Christians to practice Old Testament ceremonial laws would be to ignore the completed work of Jesus.
We do not want to say that.
Many of the misunderstandings that people have when discussing Christianity occur because they aren’t aware of those distinctions. One of these questions came up last week.
Should we stone people who don’t worship on Sunday? (This is also a logical fallacy that we will discuss in a moment, but for the time being we will just take this as a serious question.) And the truth is, what people are really asking is the same question that people asked Paul in the New Testament.
What is the relationship of Old Testament law to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
First century Jews wanted to know if a person had to be circumcised in order to become a follower of Jesus. They wanted to know about that relationship.
Paul had to deal with the same questions Christians have been answering for 2000 years. It would be a good idea for you to be ready to answer that question as well.
Know Their Stuff
This may seem strange, but I would encourage you to spend a little time reading atheist blogs. Spend some time talking with people who do not believe the same as you. It can be very helpful.
One, you want to make sure that others aren’t right. If this involves your eternal soul, we had better make sure that our beliefs are accurate. This is too important to be wrong.
Two, once you begin to read what those who disagree with you are saying, you know better how to answer them. Be prepared for what you know they are going to say.
Know their stuff.
Know their stuff even better than they do.
Know Logical Fallacies
I would strongly encourage you to read this book. (The book is designed for young people, but it is a great first foray into logical reasoning.) Or at least do some research about logical fallacies. You will find that people commit them all the time.
Two were committed in last week’s posting.
ad hominem – this is the type of logical fallacy that is simply a personal attack; assuming that I haven’t done my research because my conclusions differed from theirs. The reality is, personal attacks amount to saying that someone’s position is wrong because their dog is ugly.
Even if the personal attack is true, it bears no weight to the discussion.
Make sure people argue the points, not the person.
straw man – this type of logical fallacy is started when a person brings up an issue that wasn’t being debated. It is designed to be easily refuted and therefore it is used by the person to discredit the previous point (the one they can’t argue with) by tying it to the straw man point.
Consider last week.
Arguing that mistakes about the Bible can occur because the different genres can be misread has nothing to do with whether or not Old Testament law should still be followed.
Those are two completely different discussions.
Know Your Audience
I cannot argue anyone to the faith.
Neither can you.
Only God can open their eyes.
Yes, we must be ready to give a reason for the hope we have within.
Yes, we should be able and willing to point out where other worldviews cannot support their own weight.
But, ultimately, we must depend upon the Lord.
So pray, a lot.
And do your part to be ready to take your faith out in to the big bad world.
It really needs it.