Why won’t Christians defend their faith in public?

I would like to describe a situation that arises frequently that concerns me. The situation I describe below brings out a flaw I see in the way that rank-and-file Christians respond to criticisms of Christianity in the public square.

Here is the situation

Eve is busy programming away at her desk, rushing to check in her unit tests so she can spend her lunch hour reading the latest Stephenie Meyer novel, or check on the schedule for her local sports team, “the Vicariouses” (she has tickets for Thursday). Suddenly Eve hears Alice talking to Bob on the other side of her cubicle. She stops typing to listen to the following unencrypted conversation.

Alice: I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel last night that said that the universe has always existed, so there is no God!

Bob: I was watching a documentary on PBS last night showing simulations of how the first life started on Earth! God didn’t do it!

Alice: I saw “Inherit the Spin” on the weekend! The only reason people oppose evolution is because of the Bible! Not because of science!

Bob: I’m going to see “The Va Dinci Code” this weekend! It says that the Gospels are unreliable and that Jesus didn’t even die on the cross!

Alice: I just bought the latest Dichard Rawkins book “Christians Should Be Fed to Lions and the Bible Should Be Burned”!

Bob: I will read that as soon as I finish Histopher Chritchens’ book “Why God is the Evilest, Stupidest Person in the World”!

Eve double-majored in business and computer science at the Indian Institute of Technology, and has an MBA from the London School of Economics. She has spent a ton of time, effort and money studying very difficult subjects for her job, and she even publishes research papers. She works full-time and runs her own business part-time, and teaches night classes for a well-known university. She earns about 200K per year. She lives in a huge house, drives an expensive car, and goes on vacation abroad to all the best vacation spots.

Eve thinks she is a Christian. She has attended church since childhood, her husband is a church elder and she sings in the church choir. She reads the Bible and prays every night, because it helps her to get sleepy before bed. She gives lots of money to the poor. She teaches Sunday school to very small children.  She has even read all of the Narnia novels five times! She even has a calendar filled with nature scenes and itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny Bible verses posted on her office wall at work! Judging from all of these facts, you might expect Eve to get in on that conversation with Alice and Bob, and set them straight.

But she won’t. Why not?

Why won’t Eve stand?

I am wondering if anyone can explain to me why it is that most church Christians are not able or not willing to make a public defense when God’s reputation is called into question. It seems to me that there are two bad effects that follow from Eve’s unwillingness to stand up and invite Alice and Bob to lunch so that she can address their questions and concerns.

  1. God’s reputation is being trashed by Alice and Bob on the basis of lies they’ve swallowed from pop culture. These lies about God’s existence and character could be easily corrected with a minimal amount of study, which Eve is capable of – she is a genius and has amazing entrepreneurial skills.  If someone said similar lies about her husband or children, she would speak up, but she won’t speak up for God.
  2. Alice and Bob are bound for Hell unless someone cares enough to correct their mistaken beliefs, which, along with their sinfulness, is what is keeping them from a relationship with God that would go on in Heaven. If Eve’s husband or children were mistakenly about to drink poison thinking it was Aspirin, then Eve would speak up. But to save her co-workers from Hell, she won’t speak up.

Eve is capable of studying to defend the faith, because of her great success in other areas where so much time and effort were required to master difficult material. So why has she not applied herself to answering public challenges to her Christian faith from her professors, teachers, actors, the media, politicians, scientists, historians, etc.? She’s heard these questions about God’s existence and character all through high school and into university and then now in her career. Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to prepare a defense? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to acknowledge God before men? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says that all authentic believers in Jesus will suffer a little for their faith?

It seems to me that if she did spend some time studying, and then made her defense to her co-workers, then two good things would follow:

  1. Eve would be demonstrating her love for God and her friendship with God by protecting his reputation when it is called into question by unbelievers in public settings. That’s what friends do – if Eve wanted to be God’s friend, she would care that no one believed lies about him and told lies about him in public settings.
  2. Eve would be demonstrating her love for her neighbor if she was able to correct some of these false beliefs, such as that the universe is eternal, or that a historical case cannot be made for the resurrection, or that evil is not compatible with theism. It’s important for Alice and Bob to know that Christianity is not stupid.

So why is it that Eve is able to go to church for 20 years, sing in the choir, read the Bible, read the Narnia stories, pray on her knees, and yet still be unwilling to do the best thing for God and the best thing for her neighbor?

Questions for my readers

Can anyone help me to understand why Christians are willing to accept this? Why is this not being addressed by churches?

Do you have an experience where a Christian group stifled apologetics? Tell me about that, and why do you think they would do that, in view of the situation I outlined above? My experience is that atheists (as much as I tease them) are FAR more interested in apologetics than church Christians – they are the ones who borrow books and debates, and try to get their atheist wives to go to church after they becomes interested in going to church. Why is that?

I’m not saying we all have to be geniuses. I am just saying that we should put as much effort into learning apologetics as we put into learning school stuff and work stuff.

Note: I picked these names because there is a running gag in computer network security where these names are used to describe the actors. Eve is the eavesdropping hacker, get it?


14 thoughts on “Why won’t Christians defend their faith in public?”

  1. I was a “cultural Christian” when I had a corporate job. I wasn’t Christian then, but I had no problem with people who were. During a discussion like above once at work, I made the comment of: What if you’re wrong? What if what you have been taught is wrong? I don’t have a problem with anything Jesus said.

    I was called into the HR office the next morning for “inflicting” my value system on co-workers, and I had evidently deeply offended them. I was given a warning to keep my faith, and religion out of the workplace.

    I argued with the HR representative (which always at my company was an attractive woman for some reason, which as a single-man made me feel even more emasculated) stating that I wasn’t even a Christian, but I just brought up a comment. A “devil’s advocate” thing if you will.

    She wouldn’t hear it. Told me that religious, Christian talk and politics was forbidden at the workplace (except when Unions told the workers how you would be ‘selling out’ if you didn’t vote EXACTLY as they told you). I made the point that there were empty rooms for followers of Islam to “pray” in at my workplace, and that “non” religion has become a religion in itself. Sikhs were allowed to wear turbans.

    I was shutdown and talked down to. Again…I wasn’t even a “Christian” at that time. This is why people cannot defend their faith at work in the office, or at the factory, or flipping burgers at the local grill…unless you are Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan or whatever else.

    This is an attack on “Christianity” the rest of the faiths get to cloak themselves under “hate speech” protection, and “diversity”

    I took me years later to be in the presence of the Savior, and really understand what is going on. The best that Christians can do is work as a model employee, and when people ask about your values, or why you are so good at what you do…..THEN openly say that I want to live like the Savior of us all: “Jesus Christ”

    Otherwise, I really don’t know what else to say, or how we in Christ can be open about it.

    1. I have heard a lot about these little talks that HR people (most of them women) give to Christians who dare to stick up for their religion in public. HR is an area that is dominated by secular left-wing ideologies like postmodernism, relativism, universalism and political correctness. It’s a kind of private sector secular left fascism.

      I think that this impulse to stamp out anything that offends anyone is deeply related to female nature. They don’t want anyone to feel bad, so they try to stamp out differing opinions and conflict. In the home, compassion and peace-making is an asset. But when women push compassion and peace-making into public policy and the workplace, that’s where there is a problem.

      By the way, I think that the size of the company has a lot to do with the problem. Smaller companies are much safer, whereas larger companies have all kinds of diversity training and HR bureaucracies.

      This is another reason for men to be very careful about whether they marry or who they marry. If you have a wife and children, then you are less free to say what you believe at work, because you can be fired by these HR people and their offended supplicants. If you save your money and stay single, then you can say what you really think. Also, I recommend that men never marry career women and never marry a woman who expects to work full-time when there are young children. It will undermine marital stability and quality. If you’re going to marry at all, marry for love, intimacy, companionship and support. Marry a WOMAN.

      1. WK, I think its not much of a woman issue. I think Jason’s point of the anti-Christian bias is on the money. Christians in America are being told in many ways that it is improper to speak in positive terms about their “religion”. Bashing Christians is not only ok, but encouraged. Anti-religion talk about any other faith is forbidden. Accommodation for other religions is required. But to be positive about Christianity, to show any affiliation with it, is “unconstitutional.” That is one of the reasons “Eve” in your scenario would be hesitant.

        The second thought I have is that even without that restraint, most people like Eve would not engage because they simply don’t know how to respond. They might have a basic understanding of doctrine, but certainly don’t have education on good responses to those challenges. In addition, they don’t have training in tactics – how to navigate a conversation like that Greg Koukl). They have never been tested for that kind of engagement, and therefore have no confidence in how they should go about it (J Warner Wallace.) Eve has had years of training in programing. Probably started with a class in C++ in high school or something. Has she EVER done something at a beginning level of apologetics or case-making in a role play let alone against a true opponent? No manager would throw a person with a high school education in programing into a high level position. We need to be training Christians on a regular basis on how to engage in a interesting, non-accusatory way in conversations like this. Then having them practice in role-plays and in real life situations, giving them feed back on what worked well and what needs improvement. Just as any good programing manager or team with help each programer improve. I work with high school students to do this. We went to a conference a couple years ago in which Sean McDowell did an atheist role play. There were somewhere around 100 students and maybe 10-15 adult leaders. Sean throw out some softballs but the students had a very hard time responding (the adults didn’t fair much better) even though they knew he would be literally changing hats and help them in a few minutes. I knew some of the good responses but kept quiet to let the role play work.

        And that brings me to my third point: way to many Christians, Eve possibly included, want the “American Dream” of Christianity (David Platt – “Radical, which I just taught to my high schollers) The life of easy, nice house, car, watch some TV, get along with everyone, live a good life, die and go to heaven. They are not interested in “difficult” Christianity, one that demands we carry a cross – give up our lives, and concentrate on using everything we have to advance the Kingdom. Just think of the difference the body of Christ in America could make in the world if all those people on a Sunday morning, in a Bible believing Church actually did something every week.

  2. I tihnk there are too many instances in which people do not know how to defend their faith; thy may go to church regularly, pray daily and read the Bible daily, but often times they do not understand what they have learned.

    I think the other problem is that too many people don’t want to tell anyone they’re wrong; whatever you believe is good for you and whatever i believe is good for me. we ceertainly don’t want to tell anyone they are wrong; that would be insensitive and politically incorrect….

  3. It could also be apathy and/or afraid of conflict. I’ve always been one to rock the boat.
    Out of curiosity I’ve asked a Mormon friend questions and I was referred to someone higher up, the same with a Lutheran friend.
    I have another friend who is a pastor’s wife whom will talk with you about the Bible and answer any questions, but she will not debate with someone about it. She’s been a Christian her whole life.

  4. Let’s be honest, the problem you are talking about began over a generation ago within the confines of our churches, first when pastors who didn’t know how to answer the attacks of the enlightenment decided that it was easier to bolt the doors against it, rather than learn how to defend against it themselves.

    Over time this they stopped answering the questions of their flocks and stopped teaching doctrine and Christian history, and shifted to preaching that spent all its time telling people how to have a happier and more fulfilling life with 3 bullet points and an application, usually touched only slightly by any scriptural reference at best, and generally out of context that let people continue walking through life unchanged and unchanging, leading a life of personal fulfillment just as they always wanted – something of a “Jesus is okay with me just as I am” mindset.

    As this trend went on, the people who really cared about what God said over what they desired to hear, who wanted to understand as much as they could, and to do their best to live a life sold out to Jesus and His desires…left or were driven from congregations.

    Bible Studies were replaced with groups who maybe picked a verse to define their reason for getting together once a week and focusing on themselves and not on Jesus.

    Prayer nights were replaced with family movie nights and popcorn.

    Evangelizing by going out, knocking on doors, and talking about Jesus was replaced by letting the unsaved watch us play softball on Saturdays.

    Over the decades this created churches that were soft and pliant and comfortable…but half or nearly empty, and at this point, churches and pastors began chasing “customers” by completely removing ALL references to hell, satan, or sin. By making replacing pews which were just a place to sit and listen with cushy chairs that were easier to doze off in. Coffee and cookies after the services were replaced with 4 kinds of Starpukes and crullers. Worship music shifted from focusing on God, to focusing on us (that doesn’t just mean ‘modern’ either, as their are also plenty of hymns written towards us rather than Him – it ain’t about instruments or volume, it’s about spirit). And all of the clean walls and rich wood in our churches were replaced with muted “earth” tones.

    This…falling away (if you will) has continued right up until today, when churches who claim to be traditional and evangelical have no problem with running Nooma videos, in place of sermons. No problems with promoting and selling self-help baloney books by the likes of Osteen, Dollar, and Meyer to their flocks. No problem with separating/segrating families into adult groups, youth groups, and children’s church where each can do its own thing without the influence or interference of the other: adults can rent a bus and go casino crawling for charity, while teens and pre-teens can go to “Christian Death Metal” concerts (yeah, there is actually a genre named that), and the little tykes can entertained with short readings from the Pokemon Bible.

    American Christianity has grown so soft, so weak, so utterly vapid that one can safely assume that in a hip, trendy, stadium-sized congregation of 50K, there is likely to be a heartwrenchingly low number (say…0.5% maybe) of truly converted people of the Book.

    How can we expect these people to stand up and fight for something they don’t know, don’t care to know, and have been taught they don’t need to worry about when it comes up in a public forum? How can we expect that 20-something year old data entry lady who has been floundering along since the Holy Spirit grabbed her heart, vainly looking and aching for anyone to mentor her in the faith to have the courage to stand up and fight when no one has ever showed her how to use our weapons?

    And America has taught her children that they are entitled to everything, but need not struggle or fight for anything – sue to get what is yours and be done with it. But then…we look to Asia and other continents and we find people with nothing, losing their freedom, their families, homes, even their lives for the faith – WILLINGLY!

    The persecution that is going to come to the Christian church in America (what we’ve seen so far is NOTHING like having your feet lopped off because you owned a page of a Bible) is actually going to be the best thing that has happened to it in generations! The forever false will flee, the marginal not yet real will be drawn in or shoved away, the tares and false prophets will be revealed and empires of man-centered church will crumble, dwindle, and fall. And that tiny few, who truly belong to Jesus, or come to belong to Him during the strife, will go gladly even to the gallows praising His name and his glory.

    The skies grow wonderfully dark brothers and sisters, come soon Lord Jesus, come soon! :-)

  5. Hudson Taylor went to China a long, long time ago, financially dependent only on God to meet his financial needs. George Mueller built several orphanages trusting in God alone to pay the bills. Americans don’t have faith that God keeps His promises, or worse, we’re biblically illiterate so don’t even know what His promises are. We’ve built idols of government, our employers, health care coverage, bank balances, insurance, possessions, children, pets, ad nauseum. In Revelation, Jesus describes the church of Laodecia as believing it’s rich, when in truth it’s poverty-stricken. That’s us ~ lukewarm, in bed with the world and Jesus, a stranger, knocking at the door. If we REALLY believed that the unsaved will spend eternity in a lake of burning fire, we’d be telling everyone we meet about the one Person that can save them. Then we’d be truly rich. The human resource person would be just another sinner in need of a Savior.

    1. “That’s us ~ lukewarm, in bed with the world and Jesus, a stranger, knocking at the door. If we REALLY believed that the unsaved will spend eternity in a lake of burning fire, we’d be telling everyone we meet about the one Person that can save them.”

      Amen and amen!

      If this is our belief, and we believe also that He is returning soon – how can we possibly keep our mouths shut? By our unbelief. It’s that simple, harsh though it sounds.

  6. My concern is if Eve decided to talk to them about the lies they swallowed when they were all done working for the weekend.
    Would she still get in trouble?

    As for the Discovery Channel, technically, they are right that the universe always existed, even though it had a beginning! The beginning of the universe coincides with the beginning of time, so that the universe has existed “for all time”. But anybody who believes that “always existed” means “eternal”, should take up a different field of study, far far away from cosmology, and philosophy of time!

    I figure that since you asked questions for the readers, I’ll give my perspective on those.

    Can anyone help me to understand why Christians are willing to accept this? Why is this not being addressed by churches?

    The church I go to right now certainly wants to take back the right to public defense of the faith. The other members accept it, but very reluctantly. We’ve recognized the inconsistency in the other group’s logic, and we want to make it public! They are against Christians because we are the only group who can defeat them, and they want to stay in their sin. Otherwise, the Sikhs and Hindus would be in the boat with us!

    Do you have an experience where a Christian group stifled apologetics? Tell me about that, and why do you think they would do that, in view of the situation I outlined above?

    I was in a “Christian” group that wouldn’t allow me to argue against Mormonism, just because some of the members were Mormons; “Let them alone,” they would tell me, the whole group treated Christianity as a Cacophonous yet Rapturous, Awe-inducing Philosophy (complete the acronym). Such a way of thinking entails they believe that Christianity is just to feel good, so would not care of external attacks.

    My experience is that atheists (as much as I tease them) are FAR more interested in apologetics than church Christians – they are the ones who borrow books and debates, and try to get their atheist wives to go to church after they becomes interested in going to church. Why is that?

    One of Satan’s biggest lies, I’d suppose, is that Christianity is about the heart, leave your head out of it. Most people swallow it, so the see no reason to touch Christian ideas. Your atheist friends, as far as I can tell, might be closer to honest “soft-agnostics”, so would be more open that “hard-atheists”.

    Involving the political nature of this chaos, I decided to write THIS:

    By Their Own Logic, Atheists Should Shut Up:
    Atheist Proposition#1) “SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE” means “Religion and state are enemies.”
    Atheist Proposition#2) Because state and religion are enemies, anything which is religious is forbidden to be part of the social world-at-large.
    Premise 1) Atheism is a religion (the court ruled it so in 2005).
    Premise 2) ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation, etc. are part of the social world-at-large, and for the purpose of atheism (religion).
    Conclusion 1) Atheistic ideas (religious ideas) are forbidden from being part of the social world-at-large.
    Conclusion 2) Therefore, ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation, etc. must be abolished, for violating the Separation of Church and State, QED.

    Hey, they’re the ones who want to shut down churches and charities…. Their loss.

    1. I agree with the comment that many people think being a Christian is all about “the heart;” that it is a feeling and there is no room for facts and evidence. This may result from a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word faith, which means a “confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of an idea, person, or thing.” Without SOME facts and evidence the person or people that are most charismatic then tend to carry the most weight in what one beleives, which can be very dangerous…

    2. “They are against Christians because we are the only group who can defeat them, and they want to stay in their sin. ”

      Absolutely! We all know at heart that the God of the Bible is real, that Jesus is God (Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1-6), and we all want to deny it and serve ourselves. Knowing that He is true means knowing that ALL other “gods” and faiths are false, so we choose them because they serve us.

  7. Christians have a high percentage of Bible illiteracy according to credible research and their own admission. If I don’t understand why I believe in the truth I will not have the confidence to defend it in the culture. There is plenty of evidence that our church pulpits have drifted into mysticism or some form of “faith based” philosophy and there are many of them. I don’t know what the answer is but I do know that Christians who are spiritually gifted with teaching the Word of God should guard their calling and continue to teach verse by verse to the people. The most overlooked ministry of the Holy Spirit is that of illuminating and renewing the heart and mind of a believer and that should start at the church pulpit.

    1. “The most overlooked ministry of the Holy Spirit is that of illuminating and renewing the heart and mind of a believer and that should start at the church pulpit.”

      Amen brother! Believers need to hear the gospel continually just as much as unbelievers do, and we need to chew long and hard on every word of the Bible, because (to paraphrase Michael Horton) we need to know what we believe and why we believe it.

  8. I started a group on the university campus in my city to address these exact same issues. How students should stand up for their faith in classes and even eventually in their workplaces. In South Africa, the problem you described above is becoming more and more prevalent, and many Christians go into this “lukewarm” mode after they leave varsity.
    I must say however it’s nowhere near as prevalent as what I read is happening in USA or Europe, but its headed in that direction..

    The group has been largely successful as I taught them at length how their faith relates to what is socially accepted or not.. What their responses should be to questions like “if God is good, why does evil exist?”, or even “does God exist?” I use WLC’s website a lot, this blog and others, read books that challenge me beyond my Charismatic background (I’m still in a charismatic church, so you can imagine they think I’m just ‘too much’ half the time when it’s my turn to preach).. I’ve really pushed myself and those I lead to know more of the Bible, why it’s relevant to them as Christians, and how they can even PROVE their positions using logic without sounding religious…

    All this sounds fair and fine until you meet my biggest barrier: MY OWN CHURCH!!!!

    They want to turn it into something that is “more relevant”, teach things like how to study, or relationship issues. They want to bring in other leaders who are unfortunately full of the same preaching that has made them biblically vacuous and unable to answer even some of the most basic challenges to the Christian faith without saying stuff like “just pray about”..

    The university has ALLOWED me to use their lecture rooms to hold these classes, the university is interested in the things the students are being taught; we have masters and doctorate students attending here and there because the ones in the class are speaking out..
    BUT MY OWN CHURCH is going to make it into some little club…

    WK, I’m not surprised Eve wouldn’t speak… she was never taught to apply all that intelligence to her faith!

    Eve won’t speak out because her husband himself probably never taught her anything to speak out with..

    Eve won’t speak because her church has not invested in her while she kept investing in it!

    Eve won’t speak because her trust is in her paycheck and not the Bible..

    Eve won’t speak because she NEVER KNEW SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO!

    *venting complete*

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