We Must Think in Order to Love
by Ken Mann
The more time I spend learning about and trying to practice Christian apologetics, the more I am overwhelmed by the following observation: the strongest opponents to Christian apologetics are sometimes Christians. This is not a new observation. Many Christian leaders have lamented this problem for a few decades now. The importance of loving God with your mind, and the need to rekindle the same within the Church, has motivated my thinking for a long time. If that need is real, it is because the life of the Christian mind has been neglected in the Church. While the reasons may vary, the bottom line is that there are Christians who believe the life of the mind should not be an emphasis of the Church. Overcoming that very attitude is one of the tasks faced by every apologist within their Church community.
The reality of this problem was made vibrantly real to me recently. This spring, I had the pleasure of attending an apologetics class twice a month. At the last meeting prior to breaking for the summer, we discussed the issue of same-sex marriage. With the DOMA/Proposition 8 decision due from the Supreme Court in the near future, this issue was on the minds of many Christians. Not surprisingly, one church in my area received a lot of criticism for supporting the traditional view of marriage.
This post, however, is not about same sex-marriage. Rather, the discussion of same-sex marriage in a Christian apologetics class was a catalyst. The passionate and animated discussion that evening exposed seemingly conflicting ideas about how Christians should relate to the culture and what role apologetics should play in the discussion. What I would like to do is suggest how Christians can engage the culture around them, especially with regard to difficult issues like same-sex marriage.
We have to start with ideas. The goal of apologetics is learning to think clearly about the Christian faith and using that knowledge to be an ambassador for Christ. I have written about Stand To Reason’s ambassador model here, here and here. When learning about any topic, especially one that is emotionally charged, one must keep the facts and logic separate from the rhetoric and emotions. We must learn the facts and logic that support various sides of the issue. If you remain uninformed you will simply be overwhelmed by the strongest sociological winds. To be truly obedient to Christ, we must be able to think through any controversial topic.
Knowledge must precede action. Knowledge is necessary but it is not sufficient. We cannot witness for Christ or defend the Christian worldview without knowledge. We cannot simply go to our neighbors who oppose Christian morality (on any topic) and share our testimony of how Jesus has changed our lives. They will say, “I am glad Jesus works for you,” and proceed to sue your church or business for not being involved with a same-sex wedding ceremony…
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