Should Christians Accept Secular Critique?

by Luke Nix

As humans we tend to prefer to listen to those who agree with us and avoid the discomfort of having our views challenged.We find this in all sorts of people who hold all sorts of different views- be they religious, philosophical, political, or whatever. As a child my most common exposure to this attitude was from those in the church. I remember one person pointing to scripture to affirm such an attitude:

Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual…The spiritual person can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone.” 1 Corinthians 2:12-15 (HCSB)

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It was offered that the wisdom of unsaved people is useless to me, and the wisdom that I offer them is foolish to them. I was led to believe that anytime an unbeliever challenged my view, that scripture encouraged me to completely disregard it and anything else the person had to say. After all, even a challenge that seemed genuine or logical was really to trick me into rejecting God: that is the agenda of the Enemy- the “Father of all lies.” Even the consideration that something I believed might be wrong was a cause for alarm.

This leads to an attitude that we are above unbelievers in our knowledge- that we may dismiss what they say in virtue of them being unbelievers. If someone is a humanist, we don’t have to listen to them. If someone is an evolutionist, we should disregard their evidence against our model. If someone is an atheist, run for dear life.

Unfortunately, I still see this quite often today. Some people believe that their views are not subject to critique by naturalists simply because “they can’t understand God’s wisdom.” They shut off dialog before it even begins by marginalizing their critics by underscoring their lack of belief in God. They fear that being wrong about a nonessential of Christianity undermines the entire worldview (see Is Your View Falsifiable?), and they project that fear to those who will listen to them uncritically.

But is that what Paul was saying? Are Christians supposed to ignore critique of their views?

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Faithful Thinkers: Should Christians Accept Secular Critique?