Last spring, my church hosted a debate about the textual reliability of the New Testament. The response to the event was mostly positive, but one reader emailed me to explain that the debate was a bad idea because…Satan could have hijacked it. I promise I did not make that up.
I was going to ignore the email, just reading it irritated me. But I decided to respond because I think the reader’s comments illustrate a point apologists have made many times: Christians who reject apologetics often do more harm to the faith than any atheist could ever hope to do. So if you’re a Christian, don’t be like the person who wrote the following email. Not only are you damaging your own faith, but you’re also hindering the effort to convert others to Christianity. The email is in quotes with my comments interspersed.
I’m very leery of Christian “Professionals”, some/most are very liberal in their understanding and practice/teaching of christian theology.
I don’t know how to estimate “most” or how to define “Christian professional,” but I do know that the speaker we brought in defended the New Testament’s reliability in front of a largely atheist audience. Why would any Christian object to that? Keep in mind that these are the people who go to atheist book clubs and high five each other while quoting their favorite lines from The God Delusion. They don’t care how good the church worship team is or how believing in God will make them feel good. We’ll never reach them unless we can appeal to them on an intellectual level, by poking holes in their worldview. And that’s only possible by engaging in debates and other apologetics efforts.
I don’t like these “debates” because I suspect that they are all too easily hijacked by Satan in order to confuse people.
For a variety of theological reasons, I don’t think the devil is capable of such a sneaky maneuver. But let’s assume that he is for a moment and think through that scenario. Satan, as part of his plan to (insert your favorite apocalypse reference here), is going to trick a bunch of skeptics into attending church and listening to an apologist speak for two hours? That must mean he wants people to know that the Bible is trustworthy, and he’s kind of an idiot if that’s the case.
More to the point, the problem isn’t that Christians are being deceived by them evil liberals. The problem is that they’re not growing in their faith at all. They may go to church once a week and sing some songs and listen to a sermon about living a good life, but that’s about it. They’re not seriously studying the Bible or reading any scholarship. Over time, that can cause serious problems for anybody’s faith, however devout they think they are.
I accept a standard writing of the Scripture and the inerrant word of God as the Prophets were inspired to write. How do I know? I don’t! One must absolutely depend by faith through prayer and the Holy Spirit to understand Scripture.
That’s great. What about the aforementioned people who think God is nothing more than a fairy tale character? They will never be convinced by the “just have more faith” argument. How many people have to abandon Christianity before we realize that? Don’t get me wrong. Prayer is very important, so is belief in inerrancy. But people, especially people who aren’t Christians, have to be given good reasons to accept those things. And that, again, is why apologetics is so important.