Thursday, May 15, 2008

Don't Concede the High Ground

Monday as I was mowing the lawn I had a Burning Heart Moment. It all started as I began to think how the favorite argument against Christianity for some people has become the argument of why a good God allows evil. The question of evil is one that the Christian has to answer.

As I thought about this ongoing debate I realized that far too often the Christian is placed in a defensive position as we try to respond to the skeptics questions rather than trying to turn the tables of the skeptic and force them to answer questions as well.

This is something Jesus did rather than to allow Himself to be dragged into pointless debates. (What makes the debate pointless is not the question be raised, but the unwillingness of the questioner to change their position. They are only interested in stirring up controversy.) During the last week of His life a group of religious leaders came to Jesus and wanted to know by what authority did ride in to Jerusalem like a king, cleanse the Temple, and teach the people. Before He answered their question Jesus wanted them to answer a question:
29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and then I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 Was John's authority to baptize from heaven or from humans? Answer me.”
31 They began discussing this among themselves. “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Then why didn't you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘From humans’…?” For they were afraid of the crowd, because everyone really thought John was a prophet.
33 So they answered Jesus, “We don't know.”
Then Jesus told them, “Then I won't tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (Mark 11:29-33; ISV)

These guys weren’t interested in hearing Jesus’ answer, they were interested in starting a controversy and finding some reason to condemn Him because of His popularity. Jesus had been down this road before, and rather than covering the same ground He asks them a question to put Himself in control of the situation. Because of their refusal to answer Jesus declared that He didn’t have to answer.

As I thought about this I realized that we don’t ask enough questions of the skeptics who want nothing more than to stir up debate and controversy in order to paint a picture that Christianity doesn’t possess the answers to their questions.

Perhaps we should start asking questions of our own. Question like: In world that is consumed by evil why is there good? Why is suffering and tragedy evil? How could people create a good God of love when they experienced the reality of pain, suffering, and evil?

The truth that God allowed me to understand while mowing the lawn isn’t some irrefutable proof that will answer the question of evil, but that we allow skeptics too much freedom. This war of ideas, philosophies, and world views we concede to them the high ground while we try to defend the valley. We need to come up with our own questions for them to answer as a prerequisite of participating in debate. Rather than constantly waiting for our beliefs to be challenged we should be challenging the beliefs of others as well.

1 comment:

Paul said...

This post is my first attempt to write out my pondering on this issue. Hopeful at some future time I can revise this and make it more understandable.

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