News that Deserves to be Shared

by Marilyn Stewart

This is part three in a three-part series with Paul Copan, professor of philosophy and ethics, and the Pledger Family Chair at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and author of numerous books on the Christian Faith.

Part of the “ground clearing” tactics often required today before the Gospel can be presented may be defending the right to speak at all. Paul Copan answers some objections often raised by those outside the Christian faith:

Should Christians remain quiet about faith since it is personal? Is God a concept we cling to in order to make us feel better? Are evangelicals really no different from militant Islamists? wishes to thank Dr. Copan for his willingness to share here his responses to these important questions and for his contribution and guidance to this generation, and to apologists old and new.

Q: My neighbor says religion is personal and I have no right to talk to her about what I believe. How do I respond?

A: Religious faith is certainly personal, but does that mean it’s private?  Of course, if people don’t want to talk, we should be gracious in our response to them and not be pushy.  However, it might be worth noting a few things.

First, the biblical faith has been responsible for an amazing transformation of Western civilization, including contributing to the founding of human rights discourse, establishing modern science, shaping democracy, giving rise to free markets to bring millions out of poverty—not to mention achievements in art, architecture, music, philosophy, and literature. (See Alvin Schmidt’s How Christianity Changed the World and Rodney Stark’s The Triumph of Reason on this.) If Christians had kept their faith private, we simply would not have had these amazing, beneficial achievements that have enhanced human flourishing across history.

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Second, this “keeping it private” belief assumes that that all religion is something like a hobby that we keep to ourselves. This is certainly true for a variety of religions. However, the Christian faith is making a public truth-claim that invites public, historical investigation about the answer to our deepest longings and needs, and it offers a powerful, historically-anchored resolution to our miserable human condition—that in Jesus of Nazareth God has acted to bring us forgiveness, hope, and transformation. It is good news for everyone! This amazing news should be shared with others. Why keep to yourself what has so utterly transformed you—not to mention having brought great benefit to civilization. One former Muslim who became a Christian—and was martyred for his newfound faith—said, “The more I study the world’s religions, the more beautiful Jesus appears to me.”  Unlike other faiths, this is a message we shouldn’t keep to ourselves. What would you think of someone who had the cure to cancer but only kept it to himself? The Christian faith is a message about the cure to the world’s moral and spiritual cancer.

Third, I’ve hinted at this already, the Christian faith can be investigated historically, scrutinized philosophically, and supported scientifically.  Many exceptional philosophers and scientists are also dedicated Christians, and never before has there been such a wealth of resources supporting the intellectual integrity of the Christian faith. However private other faiths may be, the Christian faith was never intended to be so…

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