By Luis Dizon
As those who share their faith on a regular basis would know, most non-Christians (especially in a post-Christian society such as ours) will not simply go along with you when you tell them the Gospel. Chances are, you’re going to encounter some objections to the Christian message. In fact, in this day and age, an open reception to the Gospel would be the exception rather than the rule. This could be attributed primarily to the shift in worldview and values that has occurred in the past century or so. A couple of hundred years back, the majority of the people living in Canada professed some form of Christian background. Even if they were not personally Christian, their values and thought patterns would have been shaped by a predominantly Christian atmosphere. Thus, when presenting Christian truths to individuals back then, we would have been able to work on common ground that was informed by the Christian worldview.
Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Secularism has crept into every facet of our culture (even our churches), and all manner of religions have taken root in Canadian society, with the result that we now have to work in the context of a pluralistic culture that no longer shares our values. Granted, that innate depravity that causes humanity to stray away from God’s truth has always been there, but He has seen fit to restrain that evil in our society up until recent times. Now that the restrains have been taken off, we see the society around us ever descending into deeper levels of unbelief, thus fulfilling the scriptural word regarding God giving unbelievers up to their own desires (cf. Romans 1:24ff). Truths that were taken for granted in the past now seem alien to many in society. For the evangelist, this means that the message he preaches now seems outdated and irrelevant. Worse yet, it seems irrational, superstitious, repressive, and sometimes even dictatorial.
What this means is that as the years go by, we are finding ourselves in the same position that the Christians of the Early Church were in. They were not in the majority. They had no influence on society. In fact, to the larger Greco-Roman world, their beliefs and message seemed absolutely bizarre, and hence incompatible with their civilisation. Yet despite this, the disciples did not attempt to modify their message to make it “culturally relevant” to the unbelievers. We see rather the opposite. For example, we read the apostle Jude telling the churches that they are to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). In the same vein, the apostle Peter wrote to the Christians of his day that they were to hold fast to the faith, explaining and commending it to the mocking world around them. He writes this to them:
But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame (1 Peter 3:15-16).
The instructions that the apostles gave to the early church to contend for the faith in the midst of false religions and competing philosophical systems are as true now as it has ever been. It is important for all Christians to take these words to heart, but especially those who are engaged in evangelism to the lost. I will be devoting the next few articles to doing effective apologetics in a post-Christian Canadian context. I pray that these articles will be helpful to everyone who reads them.
All scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.