The world is full of people who have very stong opinions about current cultural, theological, philosophical, and world-view issues.
The truth is that all of us (Yes, A-L-L of us!) have a world view!
I was astonished the other day when Dr. Al Mohler quoted a liberal academic (Joyce Appleby, UCLA emerita professor and co-director of the History News Service) as opining that Roman Catholic judges and justices should recuse themselves from cases relating to Roe v. Wade because they have a world view that would influence their decision making! That kind of shocking talk demonstrates a breathtaking lack of understanding! EVERYONE has a world view–be it Christian, Atheistic, Agnostic, Secular Humanistic, Muslim, Eastern Mystic, etc. And our (ALL of our) world views have an effect on how we think about all controversial issues. Perhaps atheist judges should recuse themselves from making judgments because of their belief system?
Many sincere people can get quite emotional and even apoplectic as they affirm their beliefs about certain issues. However, there is a huge difference in stating our position and in being able to give reasons for that position.
If not careful, we may find ourselves taking a strong position on a current issue just because someone we love or admire has taken that position. Many take stands because their group or church or political party has taken that particular stand.
The question is, if pressed, are we able to offer reasons for taking the stands that we take?
If we wish to persuade people to accept our point of view (rather than merely attempt to bully, manipulate, humiliate, bait, browbeat or attack them), we must do the mental work necessary to be able to articulate not just what we believe–but why we believe it.
Do we believe abortion is wrong? Do we believe homosexual behaviour is sinful? Do we believe in the appropriateness of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms? Do we believe the Bible is trustworthy? Do we believe Jesus rose from the dead? Do we believe that God created us (as opposed to chance formation of the mind-bogglingly complex molecules of life and random mutations)? Do we have convictions about doctrines that we believe to be taught in Scripture?
Then why? Why do we believe what we believe? What kind of evidence can we offer to someone who might be trying to make up his mind about these issues?
To be able to do that requires the hard work of serious study and thinking.
To rage and emote about an issue does not require work. To say I believe that “just because that’s what Baptists are supposed to believe” does not require work. And it usually does not persuade.
Many of the posts to this weblog and web site have been my attempts to kick start our thinking by offering some of the evidence that supports my convictions about some of these issues. (You can use the search window at the top to find them, or click on one of the categories at the right.)
Christians are commanded to love God with all our minds! (Not only with all our hearts!)
Christians should lead the way when it comes to clear Biblical reasoning and thinking. Those in opposition to us may emote and rage and fume and bluster. Those in opposition may try to sway opinion with politically correct pronouncements. They may choose to talk about the way we talk about issues, instead of the issues themselves. They may call us stupid, pig-headed obscurantists. But Christians should be different. We must do the rigorous thinking and work required to offer persuasive reasons for what we believe. Our goal isn’t to blast people away. It is to graciously persuade them of what we believe to be the truth.
Of course, I realize that many people are not looking for truth. Many people do not have a teachable spirit. They just enjoy the process of argument. (I have a handout we use with the Veritas Club that deals with this problem.)
So, will we change every mind? Of course not. Ultimately, only God Himself can bring conviction to another’s heart. But He may use us to remove barriers to belief and to articulate the reasonableness of what we believe for those who are honestly seeking for answers.
So here is a project you may want to begin to tackle. It will take some time. It will not be super easy.
First, make a list of some of the controversial issues that matter to you.
Second, imagine that someone has approached you and said, “I’m confused about this issue. Could you tell me what you believe about it? And could you please tell me why you believe it?”
If you cannot give persuasive reasons, get busy! Start doing some serious study of the issue. Be sure to keep a teachable spirit yourself! God may change your own mind a little (or a lot!) as you pray and study.
And get ready! As you become better prepared to state the evidence, God will likely provide some unexpected situations in which you can be used for His glory!
He said it this way through the Apostle Peter… “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” (1 Peter 3:15)
Stay in the battle!