The state of Florida has just adopted new science standards for their textbooks. Leading up to the adoption of the new standards, there was considerable debate about one particular element – the part having to do with the teaching of evolution.
The pro-evolution people wanted it to be stated that evolution was the entire basis of biological science, and didn’t even want the word “theory” included. Those on the other side, who believe in God, were not trying to eliminate the teaching of evolution in the classroom, but did want to make sure that it was acknowledged as a theory and that the problems with the theory could also be discussed.
The day that the standards were voted on, an article appeared in my local newspaper giving the results of the vote. On the online edition of the paper, it is possible to write comments about an article. Most articles really don’t get much comment, but when a controversial topic is written about, it can really get going. This was one of those articles which had comments out the wazoo.
Since I had a particular interest in this topic, I began reading the various comments. What I read was actually quite predictable. There were those who were pro-evolution who were asserting their point and insulting the Christian viewpoint. And on the other side were those who were anti-evolution and were asserting the truth that God created the world.
Now I think that a discussion like this is a good thing. To me, it is an opportunity to share a witness – and I took that opportunity to express some of the serious drawbacks of the Naturalistic point of view. But I did it in a way that was respectful and, hopefully, convincing.
Unfortunately, that was not the case for many of the Christians who commented. Some of them were down right insulting. That disturbed me because I believe an attitude like that really hurts the Christian witness. Others made comments that were just plain ignorant. They made rash belief statements without being able to back them up in any way. Now, I appreciate the fact that these folks had faith in God, but insulting and ignorant statements are not going to have any credibility with people who are of the other persuasion.
As Christians, if we want to be good witnesses in situations like this, there are two things we are going to have to take care of. First of all, we have to have the right attitude. We have to show respect to other people – not agree with their viewpoint, just respect them as persons. Secondly, we have to know our stuff. Let’s look at this a bit and see if we can come to an understanding of how we can make these things a reality in our lives.
The Right Attitude
Jesus was very clear in teaching that the ends do not justify the means. He clearly taught that we are to be kind, considerate, humble and meek. He did not even approve of Peter trying to protect him by using the sword when the mob came to take him away. We must understand that God is holy and that serving him requires holiness on our part – even if that brings some kind of personal disadvantage. As an example, it is not okay to kill abortion doctors, even though they are responsible for the deaths of many babies. We must oppose them in other ways. Jesus clearly said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Jesus meant that as we share a gospel which opponents find offensive, we must, ourselves, be willing to endure injury with patience and without resentment. It involves both humility and constraint.
Know Your Stuff
But we also need to understand that meekness does not mean weakness. We are not called upon to simply allow our faith to be walked on. Jesus wasn’t that way. He often stood up to the Pharisees and other religious leaders. He once even went so far as to violently drive merchants out of the temple.
So, how do we reconcile this? How do we stand strong in our faith while, at the same time, doing it in the proper way? Well, once our attitude is aligned with the attitude of God, we have to make sure that we have the knowledge to make our argument in a convincing way.
It is extremely important to know the truth. But that by itself is often not enough – especially when we have to confront people opposed to the truth. We must also know, and be able to explain, why it is the truth. Just hurling insults at people because they don’t believe in God, or because they believe in evolution, is not going to win any arguments, even if our beliefs are right. It is a poor witness and poor technique. And it is particularly ineffective when the other person believes they have solid evidence as to why their position is correct. We have to be able to show why there is a God and why evolution is not the truth. This does not guarantee the other person will be convinced, but there is certainly a much greater possibility.
There are a lot of people who love their Christian faith and are firmly committed to it. When untruths are put out in the public square, like an assertion that evolution is the truth, there is nothing wrong with opposing it. In fact, that is a tremendous thing. But it is not okay to be ignorant of the whys of our faith. The unfortunate fact is that too many Christians are content to know what they believe, but not why they believe it.
So, just what is necessary to get the whys? Simply put, study and effort. The knowledge one needs to acquire in order to give an intelligent reply to opponents is readily available. You can get some training from your church or pastor, and there are all kinds of books and other resources available. In fact, that is the entire reason MarketFaith Ministries exists and why we have so many free resources on the website. It is also why I do this newsletter.
If we have the right attitude and the right knowledge, we can turn any attack around and use it to give a witness. We actually do have an intelligent leg to stand on. We literally do have the truth. And if we know how to express it, we wield a pretty powerful weapon.