Monday, September 16, 2019

Anonymous Asks (58)

“How can I witness to peers who have intelligent answers to all my arguments for Christianity?”

At some point we all hit the upper end of our capacity to effectively persuade others with dialectical arguments. Education, IQ, maturity, grasp of relevant facts, logical mindset, time spent in the word of God and life experience are all “ceilings” of a sort. Limitations in these areas, understandable or otherwise, create a barrier beyond which we become significantly less persuasive when we try to make the case for the gospel to people on the higher end of each spectrum.

Some of these barriers may be hurdled with sufficient time, prayer and hard work; others, like IQ, are pretty much hardwired whether we like it or not.

Destroying Arguments

It can be discouraging to read the apostle Paul saying, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” when our own lived experience often amounts to being silenced by the cleverness of the other side, and maybe seeing our fellow Christians flummoxed as well.

But it is also important to look carefully at the context of that statement to see exactly what it is that destroys arguments. On that subject, Paul says this:
“The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
Fleshly weapons are not necessarily wicked weapons; they are simply the best efforts of the natural man or woman. Regardless, the apostle says, the arguments, strongholds and lofty opinions of unsaved people are not knocked down by these “weapons” of the flesh — intelligence, charisma, years of theological study, etc. — but rather by divine power.

Divine Power: The Spiritual Wrecking Ball

Now, this spiritual wrecking ball may in some cases turn out to be a persuasive case made intelligently in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul often used such a “weapon” to get the job done, as did Apollos, who “powerfully refuted the Jews in public” and Stephen, whose wisdom and spirit when he was speaking could not be withstood. Some Christians are equally gifted or able, and the Lord can certainly use their skills when he wishes to.

But not all Christians are intellectuals, and intelligent arguments are far from the only weapons that may be divinely empowered. Solomon says, “With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.” Peter tells believers to always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you,” and to do so with gentleness and respect. Such a defense need not be intellectually overpowering so long as it is based on simple faith in the word of God and the plain facts of the case. What is necessary is that your hope be real and heartfelt, not that you are unusually verbally skilled at defending it.

A Man Born Blind

Here, for example, is the irrefutable logic of the man born blind:
“Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
There is nothing complicated or learned about the point he is making. It is the common sense of a common man, and it frustrated and confounded the Jews. It demolished their argument. The same sort of case can be made by anyone who has experienced freedom from the bondage of addiction, the slavery of greed or the chains of depression by coming to know Christ. It need not involve anything obviously miraculous so long as the person delivered sincerely believes it is Jesus that has transformed him.

The $20 Testimony

I recently heard the testimony of a man who first came under conviction of the power of Christ to change lives when he witnessed a roommate hand back a twenty dollar bill to a waitress who had inadvertently given him too much change. It wasn’t that the act was wildly out of the ordinary so much as he knew it was wildly out of the ordinary for his rather tight-fisted and cheerily dishonest pal. When asked about it, his friend quietly confessed that he had been secretly going to church for the last six months and that he just couldn’t take someone else’s money because he knew it would displease the Lord.

You don’t need to be a genius to make that kind of persuasive argument for Christianity with your life. You don’t even have to be trying to be a testimony or make a point. You may not have the slightest idea you’re doing it. You simply have to be consistent and faithful.

Divine power is available to any Christian, not just intellectuals.


  1. I would like to put one other point forward though that I think tends to be neglected when talking about all this. The point is that I for one would not necessarily feel a compelling reason to belief in the Bible story and the divine authenticity of the person Christ were it not for my opinion that the reported biblical miracles were accurately being reported and were authentic. The reason is simple in that if extra physical things are claimed (spirits, angels, God, afterlife) etc., then it is essential that it cannot remain speculative and conjecture only. In our physical world there must be physical proof. If the eyewitness accounts are therefore accepted as such then the unavoidable conclusion is that God exists and Christ is who he claims to be. It's simple, there is no terrestrial or extraterrestrial entity in the universe who by laying hands on a person 's eyes who was born blind (as one example)and by speaking a few words could restore sight. It's simply impossible for a material being to be able to do that. To fail to draw that conclusion from these miracles for any person of any intellectual level is just not honest and impunes that person's integrity. The only way out for that type of person is to claim that miracles never have, can or will occur. Of course it is clear that that attitude allows you to question that person's veracity and motives since their claim depends on them categorizing other people as liars or incompetent observers. That in itself shows how unrealistic and recalcitrant their own position is.

    1. This is the problem the miracles of Jesus presented for the first century religious authorities in Judea. There were two different kinds of unbelief at work there. On the part of the ruling Sadducees, who disbelieved almost all supernatural spiritual phenomena in principle, it probably involved a lot of rationalization. They would have tried to explain the miracles as natural events, all the while looking carefully for the 'trick', the way you might do at a David Copperfield show.

      For the Pharisees, though, it was much worse. They claimed to believe in the OT miracles. What was their excuse?