In which I write a very nice letter to my friend, the skeptic.
I apologize for not writing sooner, but I wanted this to be a meaningful response. Not one kicked out in an hour.
See, you level–like many others before you–a serious accusation at Christians that’s worth a deliberate, thoughtful reply.
A reply that evaluates every inch of your accusation…addresses the perception behind this accusation…and then corrects it.
Why Am I Doing This?
I think it may help you understand us a little better, because we’re all here to understand each other, right?
Well, let’s see how I do.
First, the Accusation
What is the accusation I’m talking about? Nothing more than we Christians like to change the subject on you.
Now, I confess: We do. At least I do. And I’ll tell you why in a minute. But right now I want to explore something else…
I want to unpack your perception of why you believe we change the subject. Tell me if I get it right.
See, you accuse Christians of changing the subject and suggest the reason why is that we can’t answer your objections.
Perhaps this is true in some circumstances. But let me suggest another option:
We change subjects because it’s pointless.
At some point in our discussion–and I’ve seen these struggles between believers and skeptics long enough to know when it’s happening–we have to draw the line and say this person isn’t open to an earnest conversation.
He isn’t interested in my beliefs…he’s looking for a fight.
Or he’s looking to get his kicks from making Christians stumble. Or maybe he’s simply looking for a platform to display his arrangement of arguments and sophisticated intelligence. In the end, he’s just looking to snub and ridicule another person’s beliefs.
How Do I Know Your Motivation?
It’s easy to see. So often you’re asking the right questions. Questions like, “Is there eternal life? Did Jesus rise from the dead? What do I need to do to be saved?”
But unfortunately, you’re not looking to understand our position. You’re looking for a soft spot. And when you think you find that soft spot–you punch it…
You demand we give you a systematic explanation that satisfies you. We explain, you find another soft spot–and punch that one. Ad infinitum.
The sad thing is you’ve already answered those questions for yourself–in the negative, which is fine–but now you demand Christians intellectually gratify you.
Sorry. But we’re not obligated to do that.
This Is All We’re Obligated to Do
All we’re obligated to do is deliver a clear, graceful articulation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To warn you of the consequences of rejecting that gospel. And to alert you to the danger of bowing down to men like Einstein, Aristotle or Plato.
Men who scientifically, logically and philosophically can walk circles around most Christians like me. But men who are morally inferior to the conquering Messiah.
Indeed, I wish I had the stamina and intellectual resources to answer your every objection. But thank God, I’m not obligated to do that.
I do try to evaluate each discussion. Answer honest objections. Discern the the sincerity of each question: Are they seeking? Or are they looking for a fight?
And it’s only the gospel that will pry your eyes open.
If you accuse me of being insane, irrational or simply naive, so be it. I glory in that accusation…in that association with the risen Christ.
Why I Change Subjects on You
Furthermore, when I change the subject on you, it doesn’t mean I can’t answer the question. More than likely it just means the subject you want to fight over is peripheral. And I won’t squander emotional equity on peripheral arguments.
Yet the subject I want to shift the conversation to–the wrath of God appeased on the cross of Christ–is the real issue.
And the issue I’m willing to die for.
It’s like fighting over the color of the seats while the plane is going down in flames. Let’s land this wreckage first then squabble over what remains. [Forgive me. I'm terribly pragmatic.]
I Won’t Neglect This to Satisfy You
Listen: I do have a biblical obligation to give a defense of my faith. To explain why I believe what I believe. Especially to those who come in a posture of humility–whether fans or opponents of the faith.
But I’m not obligated to gratify antagonistic, self-righteous opponents of the Cross. Christ didn’t. And I won’t.
Neither am I required to appease your moral shock or intellectual grievance over my beliefs. This is simply part of the territory. The Bible plainly states:
If I do try to fight…if I do try to answer your every objection…we will go around in circles. And I’ll neglect the most precious, joyful privilege I’ll ever have: Confessing Christ and explaining the law of the cross.
Understand, I’m horribly self-conscious about this letter. That I missed an angle. Or flubbed a point. But I hope at least I’ve edged our understanding of each other an inch in the right direction.
If not more.
I’m confident you’ll let me know if I did. Or didn’t. That being the nature of this type of communication. Looking forward to hearing from you.
P.S. Please, share your thoughts. Brutal and all.