There’s No Need to Panic (If What We Believe Is True)
by J Warner Wallace
Sometimes it’s hard to stay calm. But composure is typically an external expression of internal confidence. I’ve worked with SWAT officers who were the epitome of calmness in even the most harrowing situations. They never flinched; they never panicked. They knew we were well trained and prepared to address whatever challenge we could face. I think of these officers often as I navigate conversations with people who don’t share my Christian worldview; even people who aggressively oppose something I’ve written or recorded. Those of us who make a public defense of Christianity are likely to encounter strong disagreement on occasion. Sometimes this opposition is pointed, personal, venomous or shrill. I’ve seen some Christian case makers respond in a similar manner, quickly escalating the toxicity of the interaction until both sides are engaged in a frightful slugfest. If our beliefs about Jesus and the worldview He espoused are true, however, there’s really no need for such a panicky response.
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Most of us are familiar with the “fight or flight” syndrome we observe in nature. When animals are in a weakened position and facing an eminent danger, they typically fight or run away. They remain calm and unmoved, however, when they are in a superior position and feel unthreatened. When we, as Christians, respond to a challenge with inappropriate aggression or hostility, we expose our own concerns about the strength of our position. This sometimes happens because we haven’t done the important work of examining the evidence to know the truth of Christianity with justifiable certainty. We happen to believe something that’s true without really knowing why it’s true. As a result, minor challenges sometimes seem daunting. Doubt and fear become a factor in our interaction. Panic emerges, and with it, the kind of behavior we sometimes see in the comment sections of popular blogs.
If you’ve ever caught yourself responding in a harsh, angry or toxic manner, step back and take a deep breath. Ask a few simple questions…