“Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care.”
— Donald Miller, in Blue Like Jazz
I love this comment because I have felt this way many times. When someone presents an opposing view on God and reality, we quickly become defensive and move quickly to get our point across, sometimes with a lot of anger (or more likely, fear).
Instead of moving in for the argumentative kill, we can defuse a combative discussion if we ask questions to understand what a person is saying and to discover what life experiences led them to their beliefs. We would be more closely imitating Jesus if we sought to know a person’s story instead of seeking only to disassemble their argument.
“But doesn’t the Bible say to always be prepared to give a defense?”
Actually, the verse in 1 Peter 3:15 says that we must be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (ESV). This is from the disciple who was known for his “defense” of Jesus in an olive grove where he cut off a man’s ear with his sword. Like Peter, our efforts to defend Jesus sometimes end up leaving someone wounded, in need of the touch of Jesus to heal them.
Peter’s letters show that his approach to defending the faith had radically changed since that day in the olive grove. There are no complicated arguments about proving God’s existence to someone and no martial arts training to learn how to cleanly cut off an opponent’s ear. Peter’s school of faith-defense requires the answer for only one question: “Why do you have hope?”
What would your answer be?