The Trouble With Defense: How Much is Too Much?

by Lisa Robinson

I will confess that this post will probably raise more questions than provide answers.  And it is specifically to raise the question of how much time and energy  do we need to spend refuting troubled ideas or erroneous teaching or what we perceive to be troubled or erroneous.   So, I don’t necessarily mean defending Christianity but defending certain positions within Christianity.

What I am talking about are web-sites, ministries and individual activity that devotes a significant amount of resources in articulating error of a certain position or platform of particular teachers.  The thrust of the activity to point out what is wrong.  Some are referred to as discernment ministries.  In some cases, it is to highlight error against particular teaching.  Or it may be that individuals are engaged in a line of defense or sermons delivered from the pulpit.  But I am increasingly questioning the fruitfulness of such activity, especially when it consumes a significant amount of resources.

Now, you may be objecting by now with 1 Peter 3:15 and the charge to give a defense of the hope of the Christian.  Yes, that is true.  But is this verse commending a proactive engagement of defense or having the ability to defend the Christian faith when confronted with questions?  It seems that Peter refers to the latter because the entirety of his letter commends living out our Christian faith in the presence of persecution.  It seems like the focus should be living out the Christian faith rather than defending it but I’ll get to that in a minute.

I do believe there are legitimate concerns with teaching and ideas that are contradictory and counter-productive to the historic and biblical witness of the Christian faith and particularly when they seep into the fabric of evangelical churches.   I do believe in the legitimacy of confronting such error.  But I also think it has to be examined according to relevance of essentials to the Christian faith…

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