When it comes to defending faith, many people get upset because they do not like the idea of us claiming to be right and assuming that other people are wrong. Also, they do not like the idea of us engaging forcefully in disagreement over biblical doctrines, human philosophy and ideologies.
Any examination, any scrutiny is viewed as unloving, ungracious, and divisive. We are living in a time when men with biblical conviction who confront doctrinal errors are not popular. As long as you play nice you are everyone’s friend, but the moment you speak up, then you are on the wrong side.
Here are a few comments I recently received from a friend: “In recent times I have noticed that you are becoming a “finger pointing” Christian. What makes you think that the church that you belong to is the “righteous one”? Faith without love is empty. Take a deep breath, calm down!”
There are Christians who branded you as unkind, unloving trouble-makers if they see you engaging forcefully in a doctrinal or moral issue. They are offended when the errors are exposed. They are perfectly fine with the error but have a problem with you being not nice. They do not like the battle. Their perspective is that we are Christians, we should be loving, we should not engage in battles with people.
Here are seven responses to those critics through the lens of Scripture.
We are called to a battle
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For 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 6:10-12
“Wrestling” (G3823=palē) implies that it is a hand-to-hand and foot-to-foot fight for mastery. It is a contest between two in which each endeavor to throw the other, and which is decided when the victor is able to hold his opponent down with his hand upon his neck. Jude 3 says to contend [‘epagónizomai’ (ἐπαγωνίζομαι)] for the faith entrusted to us. You are to not only continuously hold fast to the ground firmly, but also at the appropriate time slam the opponent to the ground to win the competition.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having belted your waist with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having strapped on your feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Eph 6:13-17
This is a war language. This metaphor is a uniform of a Roman soldier. So, if you don’t like the combat language you have a problem with God.
We are not in a war with people
We are in a war with the ideas that stand in opposition to the truth of the Gospel. It is a spiritual warfare. The apostle Paul instructs Christians to wage war against the schemes of the devil. Our battle is ultimately against spiritual forces of evil in the world. Christians don’t fight people, they fight ideas. If a Christian disagrees with someone, they are disagreeing with an idea, not a person.
Loving Christian should engage in Battle
Jude writing to Christians says, “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you” (v2). Then he says, “I urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to you” (v3). This means there is no contradiction being a loving Christian engaged in the combat of apologetics. That is the mandate of a Christian who received the Mercy of God, reconciled to God and loved by God.
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. – 2 Cor 10:3-4
We do not depend on our intelligence, our arguments, or on any cunning strategies. We are not calling upon our own abilities. We rely on God’s power, not our own. The Gospel is offensive enough that it does not need our help. The Word of God is aggressive enough that it does not need our aggression. The Word of God is sufficient to distinguish the flaming arrows of the opposition.
We are called to destroy ideologies against the truth of God
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. – 2 Cor 10:5-6
We must go to war with arguments and opinions against the knowledge of God. We must identify the danger that they pose and must dismantle them.
We must endeavor to build a biblical worldview
Christians must learn to think biblically about everything (we take every thought captive to obey Christ – 2 Cor. 10:5b). The problem among Christians is that not everyone has a well-developed theology. Some Christians are tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14).
There is a war being waged against Christians. God commands Christians to engage in this combat. But, Satan is so sneaky that he arouses unsuspecting Christians to dislike the very combat that God has commanded them to engage in. God calls us to do something and the enemy has caused us to think that it is evil. That is sinful.
Christians must develop their theological understanding, hold fearlessly to the biblical truths in order to engage in a combat.