The task of the Christian apologist (defender of the faith) is to uphold the authority of the Word of God giving a defense robustly built upon it (https://thechristianmanifesto.org/363/the-basic-thrust-of-presuppositional-apologetics/). We must understand that unbelievers oppose Christianity not simply with arguments differing on one or two points, but instead from a separate foundation other than the Word of God. Therefore, the Christian worldview will be unique from the unbelieving one because the two are grounded in different roots ultimately yielding very distinct fruits across the board. This is not to say that an unbeliever will not agree with a Christian on some points. Of course, unbelievers recognize the reality the sun comes up every morning and goes back down in the evening. Yet, they do not have the foundational worldview commitment to the account of the Creator who made the sun or His power in the world sustaining all things, including the sun by His might. That divergence at the foundational level will then lead to dramatic divergences that must be pushed by the believer. Note well Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s keen insight here:
“Consequently the apologist needs to recognize that the debate between believer and unbeliever is fundamentally a dispute or clash between two complete worldviews—between ultimate commitments and assumptions which are contrary to each other. An unbeliever is not simply an unbeliever at separate points; his antagonism is rooted in an overall philosophy (Col. 2:8) which is according to the world’s tradition; thus he is an enemy of God in his mind (Col. 1:21; James 4:4) and uses his mind to nullify or obviate God’s word (Mark 7:8-13). Because he cannot receive or know the things of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14), the unbeliever suppresses the truth (Rom. 1:18) and exalts his reasoning against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5).”1
Unbelievers may very well get certain bits of their belief system right here and there. They see the light of the sun but do not know the origin of that light being the Creator God who made all things in six days resting on the seventh. Which brings us to this pivotal point, there is an inevitable collision between Christianity and the unbelieving worldview. A point which all too many seem to miss.
Francis Schaeffer also picked up on this vital point regarding the inevitable conflict. Writing about secular humanism vs Christianity he said:
“These two world views stand as totals in complete antithesis to each other in content and also in their natural results – including sociological and governmental results, and specifically including law. It is not that these two worldviews are different only in how they understand the nature of reality and existence. They also inevitably produce totally different results. The operative word here is inevitably. It is not just that they happen to bring forth different results, but it is absolutely inevitable that they will bring forth different results.”2
Whenever many think about the work of defending the faith they relegate this activity to specific doctrines like the resurrection, the virgin birth, or perhaps the inerrancy of Scripture. No doubt, we must defend these points passionately as cornerstones of the faith. However, we must also realize the point that Bahnsen, Schaeffer, and countless others have addressed. Christianity is a completely different way of viewing the world that collides with every other view. Take secular humanism as an example. Right now, in America, you are watching the results of a society that has rejected the living God in favor of the notion man is the ultimate end and measure of all things. The secular worldview says we evolved by chance, while Christianity asserts we were created by God. Secularism believes it is up to us to define what is moral and ethical, Christians understand that we must submit to what God has revealed. Please notice, Schaeffer distinctly pointed out the fact that these two different belief systems lead to different results in the realms of government and law as well. Biblically speaking, there are spheres of authority with the individual, the family, the church, and the civil government being given unique responsibilities.
The civil authorities have the right to punish a murderer with the sword, but an individual does not possess any right to go out and hang a murderer executing “justice” by their own hand as a vigilante. Secularism also leads to the expansion of the civil government with more authority. In the Christian view, the state is the servant of God administering justice which means if it contradicts the standard of God (His Word) then it must be disobeyed. There is an authority above the government, namely God revealing Himself through His Law/Word. In the secular viewpoint, there is no ultimate moral authority or standard above the government. Schaeffer writes:
“We live in a secularized society and in secularized, sociological law. By sociological law we mean law that has no fixed base but law in which a group of people decides what is sociologically good for society at the given moment; and what they authoritatively decide becomes law.”3
Christianity asserts the full crown rights of Jesus as the King of kings before whom even rulers are obligated to bow. The civil government in the secular worldview has no God or unchanging moral standard to which it is obligated. Again, the different systems will inevitably produce two different results being built on distinct foundations. What about their eschatologies, or their views of the future? Secular humanism believes the goal of man is to continue evolving and progressing. Some believe that we will eventually burn up spiraling into nothing. Perhaps the transhumanist movement takes secularism to its most intriguing conclusion believing in our future we shall become something posthuman (https://thechristianmanifesto.org/729/the-looming-danger-of-transhumanism/). Christianity comprehends Christ Jesus triumphs and that the redeemed shall reign with Him forever while the damned suffer His judgment in hell. Again, different foundations produce different results across the board.
Our task as those defending the faith is to not merely uphold one or two isolated truths about the faith, but to assert the full foundation of Christianity. That foundation is Christ revealing Himself through our ultimate authority which is His Holy Word. We must go to Colossians chapter 2:
“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.”
Since all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ we must think in a distinctly Christian way about everything. Our objective is to defend the faith meaning a Christian world and life view of all reality. This fact means we must defend a biblical understanding of the resurrection, crucifixion, and salvation. It also necessitates we defend the biblical view of the civil government, the family, gender, humanity, creation, culture, education, and whatever else may arise. There is an inevitable collision between Christianity and the system of unbelief at all of these points. Our goal is to defend the authority of the Word of God at each and every level!
It is a great failure to minimize the action of defending the faith to merely a few doctrines. Rather, we must see the inevitable collision between Christianity and the unbelieving system of thought at each point. That is the open door through which we must proclaim the Gospel and the entire counsel of God’s Word. There is no neutrality, we must serve Christ in all areas of our life seeking to live in submission to Him every day. The same is true when defending the faith.
1 Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 68.
2 Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, p. 18.
3 Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, p. 41.