“Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care.”
— Donald Miller, in Blue Like Jazz
I love this comment because I have felt this way many times. When someone presents an opposing view on God and reality, we quickly become defensive and move quickly to get our point across, sometimes with a lot of anger (or more likely, fear).
Instead of moving in for the argumentative kill, we can defuse a combative discussion if we ask questions to understand what a person is saying and to discover what life experiences led them to their beliefs. We would be more closely imitating Jesus if we sought to know a person’s story instead of seeking only to disassemble their argument.
“But doesn’t the Bible say to always be prepared to give a defense?”
Actually, the verse in 1 Peter 3:15 says that we must be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (ESV). This is from the disciple who was known for his “defense” of Jesus in an olive grove where he cut off a man’s ear with his sword. Like Peter, our efforts to defend Jesus sometimes end up leaving someone wounded, in need of the touch of Jesus to heal them.
Peter’s letters show that his approach to defending the faith had radically changed since that day in the olive grove. There are no complicated arguments about proving God’s existence to someone and no martial arts training to learn how to cleanly cut off an opponent’s ear. Peter’s school of faith-defense requires the answer for only one question: “Why do you have hope?”
What would your answer be?
5 thoughts on “Defend the Faith Without Offense”
Jason, excellent post. I very much appreciate the way you worked through the story of Peter in the garden. Even though I’ve agreed with your take on this for quite some time, I’d never before related that to the way “we” sometimes answer questions or even attacks on our faith.
true true true.
Jason—I have read just about every one of your posts the last couple years and as a reader, Jesus-follower and writer—I think I may like this one most. Keep writing and thinking. And keep your eyes on Jesus.
I would add—the message of a blood drenched Cross that we obstinate sinners were responsible for is an offense to those who are perishing—but to those who are being saved it is anything but an offense.
We need not add any offense to that and God surely isn’t looking for any defense attorneys.
Thanks for your comments, Ken.
thanks for saying so.
I had been toying around with writing for years and years and with my circumstances—accidentally bumped into your blog. Seriously. A dear friend of mine—Dr. George Grant there in Franklin blogged but not like you with a flare for being contemporary. So, you in a way—were my inspiration for doing something I knew nothing about.
Hope the new church is going well and all is great at Ramsey and with your wife. I have immensely enjoyed reading along and hearing about your journey. It’s neat to watch someone else grapple with God and his grace.
God is good no matter what we go through.