This is part 3 of a term paper I wrote for a worldview class this summer. To read previous parts, click the sidebar on the left.
What can be done to change the state of our churches? What must happen in order to once again be salt and light in this world? We love God with our heart and soul; now we must learn to love Him with our minds. We can see that this is necessary for any relationship. For instance, if a husband were to love his wife only because she evokes great emotion in him we would say that it is a very shallow relationship. If someone were to ask that husband why he loves his wife, or what makes her unique, and he is able to give no answer, the wife is sure to be offended. Love without knowledge is a shallow love, not able to withstand testing. This is not to say emotion is useless. The wife would be equally offended if her husband never felt emotion toward her. However, emotion must be led by knowledge.
Our Christian walk is much the same way. When we begin to walk with Christ, it is often an emotional moment. That emotion however, must be first led by repentance for sin, recognition of Christ as Lord, and a choice of the will to worship Christ rather than our own flesh. It is a decision based on truth. Once we have made this decision we must not throw away the mind or compartmentalize it. God created us rational beings in His own image, and He has designed the world for us to be able to know the truth about it. He did not leave us to sit blindly in the dark. He has given us many things in the world to give us a solid reason for faith. While reason alone cannot bring us or another to Christ, He has given us these tools to further His Kingdom.
1 Peter 3:15 tells us, “ Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”(NASB) Many times we focus on sanctifying Christ in our hearts, and we ignore the command to be ready with a defense or an answer. We must cultivate our minds and our knowledge in order to do so. We cannot know how the Bible has been proved reliable through archaeology or that Jesus was a historical figure who walked on the earth without some study. Unless we search out the reason for our faith we are left with only blind faith. Exercise of the mind enables us to stand firm and not be ashamed of the faith that we have chosen based on that which we believe gives reasonable justification to our beliefs.
How can we prepare the next generation so that they will stand firm in their faith and be equipped to engage the world? First, we must teach them the truth on which their faith rests. Children need to know that God has given us evidence of Himself in the natural world and in history, not just in the Bible. They need to know that science and history support the Bible, not contradict it. Primarily, this must be done by parents. However, as churches we need to teach children apologetics hand in hand with Bible stories in Sunday School. Rather than asking them to blindly accept the faith we are passing on to them we need to teach them why this is a reasonable faith.
Secondly, we must teach them to defend their faith to others. Whether at school as a young child or in the world as a teenager or young adult they will encounter those that challenge their beliefs. Will they be able to communicate the reason they believe? Our education in church curriculums and in Christian education should prepare them to give an answer. They should understand the worldviews of other religions and be ready to encounter these worldviews with a clear and reasonable response. Children need to know that their faith is not illogical or only for idiots, as the world would have them believe. Rather, they should know that God has given us many clues to His existence and many external evidences which support what He has said in the Bible. We should prepare them to use these to defend their faith and not shrink in shame from those with opposing worldviews.
Finally, we must teach our children and young people to engage the world. Traditionally, walls have been built up to protect those within the church because they were not able to give an adequate defense for their faith. The safest course was to remain isolated, at least in terms of education and other areas dominated by a secular worldview. However, if we have given the next generation a solid foundation upon which to stand and prepared them for battle, we should be confident in sending them out. Rather than being suspicious of education as many in the past have been, we should encourage a spirit of learning and thinking. If this leads to college, university, or seminary for some young people, we should welcome the chance for them to engage the people on their campuses and in the professions where higher education leads them.
In Matthew 5:13, Jesus told us that we are the salt of the earth. As Steve Byler said, “Salt cannot change anything if it is left in the shaker.” If we are prepared, rather than fearing the moment when we are poured out of the shaker into the world, we can be confident of Christ and His truth in the world today. Consider how the conversation mentioned earlier could have been different if the storekeeper had been prepared. If the tourist had been given a logical and rational answer rather than a fearful one, his impression of Christianity may have been changed by his encounter. If Christians return to a thinking culture based on truth we will be prepared to engage the culture as salt and light.
The Holy Bible, New American Standard Bible. Bible Hub. 2013. Web. 5 December 2013. <http://biblehub.com/>.
Ham, Ken, Britt Beemr, and Todd Hillard. Already Gone. Arkansas: Master Books, 2009.
Pearcey, Nancy. Total Truth. Illinois: Crossway Books, 2004
Schaeffer, Francis A. The God Who is There. USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968.
Spencer, Greg.”Part Three: The Intellectual(!) Christian.” A Heart for Truth. Michigan: Baker Books, 1992
“Science Curriculum.” Christian Light Education. 2013. Web. 4 December 2013. <http://www.clp.org/christian_light_education>. Path: Browse Curriculum; By Subject; Science
“Rod and Staff Science.” Milestone Books. Web. 4 December 2013. <http://info.milestonebooks.com/> Path: Science
Fletcher, James. “Isaac Newton and the Bible.” All About Popular Issues. 2013. Web. 4 December 2013. <http://www.allaboutpopularissues.org/isaac-newton-and-the-bible-faq.htm>