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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Better Arguments

More than a few times I've read where people are recommending that we need to make more coherent arguments. Opponents will tell us we're losing the culture wars because are arguments aren't as strong as theirs. Christians hold up Apologetics as a field we need to major in and tell us that we're just not making our defense of the faith in reasoned lines of thinking. We have great organizations like Stand to Reason and marvelous defenders of the faith like Phil Johnson, J.P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, J. Warner Wallace, and even C. S. Lewis. And it's not enough. Better arguments. Clearer reasoning. More evidence. That's what we need.

While I'm quite sure that we need to make a reasonable defense of the faith, I think we're misunderstanding the world in which we live. Here, allow me to illustrate. A while back I read a Facebook entry from a girl I know about how she was glad that the court had struck down the vote of California that enshrined traditional marriage in California law. I asked her what had changed her mind. Here was her reasoned response. "Well, I imagined how I would feel if someone told me I couldn't marry the one I love." Ah, yes, you see? Good logic. The arguments carefully considered. Well, no, not at all. The key here was "How would I feel?"

As it turns out, the world is a wiz at playing with your emotions. It does it by pulling at your desires rather than your brain. You know, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). Sin rots the brain (Rom 1:28-32), and for reasons unknown we're thinking that by better use of the brain we can fix the problem.

We're not dealing with misguided thinking. We're dealing with deceived hearts (Jer 17:9) and blinded eyes (2 Cor 4:4). We're not trying to correct thinking; we're working with dead people (Eph 2:1). It is the mistake that many conservatives make. As an example, you can show how the Bible says that homosexual behavior is a sin and you can show how it is opposed to nature and you can show the negative ramifications and you can show how history has viewed it. A nice, well-built line of reasoning. But none of that matters because it's not about well-built reasoning. It's about how they feel and what they want. You know, lust and pride. Scripture and nature and science and history aside, it all makes sense, right? So they'll fall back on name-calling ("You're a hater" and "homophobic" and "anti-LGBT" and "bigoted") without responding to the reasoning or the evidence. It's not that we're not providing a logical defense. It's that logic doesn't matter. If they can paint you in a negative light and rally emotional support for their view, you're not only wrong, you're dangerous. "Don't bother me with facts; I know I'm right."

"Oh, Stan," you'll tell me, "you're just being an alarmist" or "a defeatist" or "You just don't have it right." Maybe. But I come to this conclusion because Scripture says, "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Eph 6:12) So, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil." (Eph 6:11) Because proper arguments, keen logic, evidence or evident reason are not going to solve this problem. Oh, sure, you need those. I'm all in favor of that. But you just need to keep in mind that while you're rallying the evidence and arguments, they're rallying the emotions against you. Count on it. You're fighting improper thinking and while you're actually battling sin nature. So be ready to give a defense (1 Peter 3:15) (with gentleness and reverence), but remember, like the demons the disciples faced, "This kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting." (Matt 17:21) A couple of extra tools in the toolbox never hurt.


Bob said...

for some reason i recall the story of Lazarus and the rich man.
9 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Stan said...

Oh, sure, Bob, if you're going to go all biblical on me.

Bob said...

Ok, my bad..
hey i have an idea, instead of creating arguments to convince the lost, why dont we create tough questions for the disciples of Christ, you know to see if they too can hear Moses and the Prophets. ahh never mind. i spent a lovely day in the cemetery yesterday, i was giving a detailed discourse on the nature of Grace and Salvation, the people were quite receptive, not one critic among them. the silence spoke volumes.

Bob said...

all joking aside.
the concept of presenting a rational argument that is both clear and concise is absolutely important. but the fundamental difficulty is that Man in his natural state , is dead in sin.
i love the great apologist you mentioned, i love the way they present the Gospel in ways i can understand. and this is because the HOLY SPIRIT has given me life. now i have ears to hear and eyes to see. so i guess the presentation of the Gospel is a double edged sword. because for some it saves, and for others it condemns. but never the less we are admonished to study so we man have an answer, when men want to know why we believe.

Stan said...

Bob, you should be careful. When you rely on Scripture (Luke 16:27-31) for things like the suggestion of being in the cemetery (Eph 2:1-3) or that the unsaved are blind (2 Cor 4:4) and unable to grasp spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14), you're being arrogant ... or biblical. I'm not sure which. Depends on who is critiquing you, I suppose.

Bob said...

yea my arrogance is only exceeded by my utter dependence upon the scriptures. to the world i am a narrow minded man. i can only see one way, that man may be saved. buy the Grace of God.
but hey what do i know, it's not like i started this thing. one day i was dead, then the next i was alive. right now i feel so "Kaplempted" so talk among yourselves, talk among yourselves.