Of all the questions that I encounter from both Christians and non-Christians alike, perhaps the most difficult one for me to answer is why the person should care about whatever it is I’m talking about. Hopefully, I can give you some grounds for motivation for both apologetics, and evangelism as elements of Christian living.
First, I would like to point out a very important point. Ultimately, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to renew the heart, and actually save people. All our arguments and persuasion, our preaching and evangelizing doesn’t actually save people. However, that is not an excuse to engage in these activities.
Modern Americans have inherited a form of pragmatism from a number of sources in our past, but it doesn’t necessarily look like what it used to. Essentially, if we don’t see how something will effect our everyday life, we see no need for it. This can take the form of non-Christians not seeing their need for religion, God, Christianity, Jesus, etc. (If someone is entirely fine with their life, how would you convince them to look into the claims of Jesus?) but sadly, this attitude is not limited to non-Christians, as it has infiltrated the church as well. For example, why should a Christian care about theology or apologetics or learning about other worldviews? Isn’t it enough to have it just be you and Jesus? Why make things so complicated?
Well, it may seem strange when I say this, but the motivation for all of these things come from loving God, and loving your neighbor. Francis Schaeffer wrote that “Christianity demands that we have enough compassion to learn the questions of our generation.” and I find this to be very true. Also, notice that he says nothing about whether we have the same questions, or whether these questions have any relevance to our daily lives. I think one of the reasons that we don’t bother with things unless they directly effect us, is that it stretches us to do so, and we don’t like leaving our comfort zones. Let’s take a look at a passage from the Bible to illustrate what I’m talking about.
Do you best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Yes, Paul is specifically writing to Timothy in this passage (2 Tim. 2:15), but I think it’s fairly obvious to see the application to all believers. So how do I connect this? Well, ask yourself whether or not you can rightly handle the word of truth. All of us, I think, have room for improvement. When a pair of Mormon missionaries come knocking on your door, you should “have no need to be ashamed”, and try to pretend to not be home. You should be able to answer their questions about how the Trinity is one in purpose, but not one in being, or that Jesus never claims to be God (Yahweh). Or what about the Jehovah’s Witness, who will say that Jesus was actually Michael the Archangel? An Atheist might tell you that the whole idea of the Trinity is a logical contradiction, and actually the word “Trinity” isn’t even in the Bible, so where did it come from? These are all questions from different worldviews that only require that we know how to handle the word of truth rightly.
What about things which require even more work? Well, the principle of loving our neighbors applies here, as well as the classic apologetics text (1 Pet. 3:15b-16a).
always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet doing it with gentleness and respect,
In short, why do you believe what you believe? And lest we are content to just sit back and wait for questions, the great commission tells us to go out to all people and share the gospel. It would be foolish of us to think that we won’t get questions about what we’re saying. So why should I study Islam? Because I love God, and love my neighbors, and I’m called to share the gospel with Muslims. The same can be said about any other worldview you substitute there. Obviously, it will be most beneficial to spend the most time on the worldviews which are prominent in your area (which may require work to figure out).
An important note of clarification is something that took me a while to learn. While learning about worldviews is important and helpful, it is crucial to not take that knowledge and import it onto someone who claims to be an adherent to a particular worldview. For example, when I talk to Mormon missionaries, I always add things like “I’ve heard that Mormons believe ___ , is this true?” because while you might know what the historic/orthodox position is, that individual person might not hold to it, and your goal isn’t to point them to the truth of the gospel, not essentially make them more un-Christian (though pointing out inconsistencies might help!). What I’m trying to say is that there is no cookie-cutter formula, because we’re all rather different, and each person requires their own approach. This can be a rather daunting task, especially if you’re not used to doing it. Two fairly new books that are very helpful with making the task more doable are these:
Hopefully these blogs have been helpful to you, and while I didn’t answer all the questions you’ll run into, I hope that this can be a decent source of information to help you be bold for Christ. Thank you all for your encouragement in this. SDG.
Yours in Christ,