Saturday, July 29, 2006

Debates About the Faith

I think it is important that Christians not be intimidated by the errors of unbelievers, at least in the sense of feeling like they have to answer every error put forth by someone.

We are commanded (I Peter 3.15: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear") to be able to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ.

But giving a reason for our hope is a far different thing than having to be able to debate the nuances of whatever is the error-of-the-day currently put forth.

Not to mention that many of the errors will scarcely be remembered even 10 years from now. (Who much remembers the "death of God" movement of the late 1960s?) It's important that theologians be able to answer error. But most Christians do not need to be that familiar with error. (It's often dangerous to be too familiar with error: the error can start to look attractive). For 99% of Christians, it's sufficent to be able to tell a false teacher, "I can't exactly give the reasons, but I know you're wrong." If we know the Creed well, most errors will not pass the smell test.

St. Augustine (cited in Martin Chemnitz' The Two Natures in Christ (p. 304) said it well: "It helps the faithful heart to know what we must not believe, even if a person cannot refute error in a debate."

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