Have you ever had those moments when a certain topic gets raised repeatedly, seemingly out of no where? My pastor brought up this topic during a recent sermon. I’m reading a book on productivity by Dave Perman that addressed the same thing. And then I was reading a biography of Athanasius (298AD – 373AD) by John Piper and he brought this topic directly to the apologetic task. Here is what Piper said in his introduction.
“The reason enjoying controversy is a sign of pride is that humility loves truth based unity more than truth based victory. Humility loves Christ-exalting exultation more than Christ-defending confrontation — even more than Christ-defending vindication. Humility delights to worship Christ in Spirit and truth. If it must fight for worship sustaining truth, it will, but that is not because the fight is pleasant. It’s not even because victory is pleasant. It’s because knowing and loving and proclaiming Christ for who he really is and what he really did is pleasant.” John Piper, Contending for our All.
This quote struck me because I tend to enjoy controversial topics. I can easily talk about why abortion is morally reprehensible. I can list arguments for the existence of God. I know how to ask hard questions about bad arguments. And I have to admit there is a thrill in knowing that you have a stronger argument.
However, if that is the only reason for doing apologetics (arguing just to argue and win), then this is prideful. Do not do it. Or, if you want to ignore this advice, at least do not call yourself a Christian apologist while you are at it. I can tell you that it is a trap to fall into long winded facebook conversations if your only goal is to win an argument.
“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.”
Peter prefaces his famous apologetics passage by saying “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.” Put Jesus on the pedestal over your argument. Ask yourself, “would this conversation honor Jesus?” “Is my attitude Christ-like?” “Am I dealing fairly with the topic as Jesus would?”
It is so easy to fall into the trap of merely wanting to win the argument. I have done it more times than I’d like to admit. So what can you do if pride is getting in the way?
Read your Bible
First, read your bible. Humbly submit your thinking to Scripture. Romans 12:2b says to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Open your mind to the whole counsel of Scripture, not just particular arguments.
Second, pray. Go to God with your pride. He understands your heart and motivations. He’s the one who commands you to have a reasoned defense of your faith, but he does not do it so that you can be puffed up with pride.
Third, continue to study. If pride is getting in the way, then stop arguing. But never stop preparing for the day when God could to use you with an argument. There is a lot to learn in apologetics and sometimes it is best to step back in order to just study.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Apologist
Question: How is your pride?