Becoming A Christian “Case Maker”
Is There Any Other Kind?
When asked what it means to be a Christian, few of us would respond that being a Christian means becoming a ‘defender of the faith’. Most of us shy away from challengers and those who hold opposing beliefs; many of us are uncomfortable with the potential confrontation. But being a Christian demands that we become proficient “case makers”. Think about it for a minute. We would all agree that our salvation does not depend on our ability to defend what we believe. After all, we are saved when we trust Jesus for our salvation and recognize that we are fallen, sinful creatures in need of a Savior. When we recognize that Jesus is God incarnate and paid the penalty that we deserve, we begin to embrace the promise of God to rescue us from ourselves! This trust in Christ as Lord and Savior is what saves us.
But we need to recognize that our Christian life is more than one of trust. It is also a life of knowledge and expression. God has called us to think about what we believe and defend it to those who might challenge us or simply ask questions (more on that HERE). Christian “case makers” who have accepted this challenge are often called “apologists”. The word “apologist” comes from the Greek word “apologia” which simply means “speaking a defense”. The term does have some liability, however, for a couple of reasons. First, the related term, “apology” leaves many with the impression that Christians think they have something to apologize for when they engage in “apologetics”. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Secondly, our present culture has a tendency to view apologists as professional speakers of one kind or another. Even Christians tend to think of apologetics as something to be done by professionals, rather than an important responsibility to be embraced by each and every Christian. It’s time to recognize the fact that all Christians are called to be a Christian “case makers”; the situation couldn’t be more urgent.
There Certainly Is a Need!
Christianity is increasingly under attack in our culture. Young people are walking away from Christianity in record numbers. Like it or not, the numbers don’t lie. In survey after survey, most college aged Christians appear to be abandoning their faith before they become seniors in college and only about a third of them ever return to the faith:
88% leave the faith according to the 2002 SBC Family Life Council Study
70% leave the faith according to the 2007 LifeWay Research Study
66% leave the faith according to a recent Assembly of God Study
61% leave the faith according to the 2006 Barna Group Study
Part of the problem is simply that the Christian Worldview is under attack in universities all across America. According to a 2006 study conducted by Neil Gross and Solon Simmons:
25% of college professors are professing atheists or agnostics (compared to 5-7% in the general population).
Only 6% of college professors describe the Bible as the "actual word of God"
51% of college professors describe the Bible as "an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts"
75% of college professors believe that religion does not belong in public schools
Many students are walking away from Christianity because they no longer believe it is true. In a survey conducted by sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Denton and recorded in their book, “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers” (Oxford University Press, 2005), 32% of former believers said they left because of intellectual skepticism:
"It didn’t make sense anymore"
"Some stuff is too far fetched for me to believe"
"I think scientifically and there is no real proof"
"Too many questions can’t be answered"
But there’s another growing problem. Many of those who remain in the faith simply have no idea what the faith affirms or teaches! Smith and Denton made two important observations. First, they found that young Christians have little idea what it is that Christianity teaches and they were sadly unable to talk about their spiritual beliefs:
“In our in-depth interviews with U.S. teenagers, we also found the vast majority of them to be incredibly inarticulate about their faith, their religious beliefs and practices, and its meaning or place in their lives.”
To make matters worse, many of the young people who COULD articulate what they believe articulated a distortion of the Christian Worldview. Smith and Denton called this distortion “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”. The young Christians who were surveyed said that they believed in the existence of a God who created and ordered the world and watches over human life here on earth. They also believe that this God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, (as they claimed the Bible teaches, and as most other world religions also teach). They said that the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. They did not believe that God needed to be involved in one’s life except when He is required to solve a problem, and they said that good people go to heaven when they die. Not much of this version of “Christianity” resonates with the classic, orthodox truth of the Christian Worldview, does it?
The problem is two-fold: many young people are walking away from the truth, and those who remain are incredibly inarticulate and unable to defend the truth. Don’t think that adults are much better prepared; recent Barna Group surveys confirm that adults are equally inarticulate!
“Case Making” Christians
There’s a reason why God calls us to worship Him with our minds, understand the value of evidence, examine our beliefs until we are convinced, and then become Christian “case makers” (more on that HERE)! While it is our faith and trust in Christ that saves us, it is our ability to make the case for Christ that protects us and transforms our world. We need to become “case makers” just as Paul was a “tent maker”. “Case making” needs to be a part of our Christian identity, and all of us need to be apologists for the Christian Worldview. We cannot continue to delegate this responsibility to well known apologists and Christian authors. We don’t need one ‘million dollar apologist’; we need a million ‘one dollar apologists’. All of us can be equipped to defend our faith; it doesn’t require a master’s degree in apologetics; it doesn’t require a library full of books, or a radio show, or a podcast. It simply requires the personal commitment to learn the truth and defen
d it to others…
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