In our post-Christian culture, fairness, equality, tolerance and the inalienable right not to be offended are the chief marks of our day. That is, unless you are a Christian. There is a double standard regarding free speech, tolerance and general equity toward others. As Christians, we receive the hatred of the world and are not afforded the benefits of our culture’s chief “virtues.” That’s OK, Jesus and the Apostles told us it would be this way.
At the same time, if you enter into a debate with a non-Christian about the Gospel, Jesus Christ, the Bible, truth, ethics, absolutes, or any other topic that points to the God of the Bible, it is Christians who are asked to lay down our Bibles as a token of good will. We are asked to concede our Bibles to “level the playing field.” If we refuse, we are called ignorant, biased fundamentalists and our arguments are dismissed because we did not start from a neutral position. We did not grant our to opponents “all things being equal.”
The problem is that the unbeliever doesn’t grant a level playing field, so why should the Christian? They inherently know God and by extension they know His Word is a powerful weapon regardless of how many times they accuse it of being a book of ancient myth (Romans 1:18-32). Sadly, some well-meaning believers are so desperate for someone to take them seriously that any hint that the heathen might listen is gobbled up with an eagerness that throws good judgment out the window. That well-meaning but over-eager believer surrenders, and grants the idea of neutrality. He excludes his Bible from the conversation as a good-will concession to the heathen.
Myth of Neutrality
Neutrality with regard to God is biblically impossible. It is a myth envisioned by the mind that desires to be apart from God. Jesus says in Matthew 12:30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” There is no position granted by God where men find neutrality. There are only saved or lost, Christians or heathen, sheep or goats, slaves to righteousness or slaves to sin, those with Him or those against Him.
Neutrality is a concept that God does not allow His people to use (Colossians 2:8). It is the unbeliever who asks for a level playing field. We must reject the idea. After all, God is not to be lowered to the same status as just some competing concept or philosophy. God is not just one of many ideas to be bantered about at he water cooler for men to judge over.
Neutrality of ideas is a tactic deployed to disarm you. The unbeliever wants YOU to give up YOUR position, your evidence, your bias, and most of all, YOUR Bible. But he doesn’t start from neutrality, he has already rejected God and begins from that presupposition. He comes bearing his presuppositions, and so should you. He wants you handicapped and on the defensive. “All ideas being equal” is a deceptive double standard.
Christians must stop being pushovers. We must cease being easily manipulated. We need to cease the spineless apologetic where we naively lay down our chief weapon – the Bible – as some act of good will to the enemy. Satan is laughing every time some well meaning but scared Christian waves the white flag, puts down the divine Word which is powerful to tear down strongholds, and instead enters ‘peace talks’ with the enemy using his own feeble words and wisdom (2 Corinthians 10:5).
What to Do?
So what is the best course of action when encountering the unbeliever? Use God’s Word as the basic assumption in your argument, even if the unbeliever hates it. Speak the Word of God to the unbeliever throughout your conversation. Form your arguments upon the presupposed truth of Gods Word. Use the Word of God to show the unbeliever his plight and do not relent. If he rejects it, he rejects it.
But here’s what can happen if the unbeliever you are speaking to objects to bringing a biased source of argumentation. He is rejecting God’s Word rather than your words. That can keep the Christian from becoming defeated. If all you rely upon is your own skill at argumentation and your own words of persuasion, losing the engagement is a reflection on you. But presuppose and use the Word of God and you are not on the hook for persuading men. Instead, men are on the hook for rejecting God’s Word.
The miracle that can happen, however, is that God may be working in the heart of the unbeliever, transforming him, making him a new creature. If so, then that lost person with whom you are talking is a lost sheep, not a goat. And you can’t tell the difference. You just do not know. But the Shepherd does, and His sheep hear HIS voice.
Speak the Bible to the unbeliever, do not give it over as a concession, no matter how well meaning. Your concession grants the un-biblical idea of reality and removes the only powerful Word that can save the perishing.
No Radical Swing
Finally, let us be clear that we are not advocating an extreme position, but a well-balanced, biblically-modeled position (Acts 17:2, etc.). Argumentation and apologetic debate skills are always appropriate. We do not advocate for a method that uses just the Bible’s words alone (though that is better than using man’s words alone!), but we DO advocate for always presupposing the Bible to be true, valid, and relevant. It is always appropriate to use and must always form the basis of all of our interactions with unbelievers. The Bible encourages reasoning together from the scriptures, not just reasoning together. This is the position that the unbeliever hates and rejects. Let us bring our arguments to the unbeliever from the Bible, presupposing the truth and authority of God’s Word.
May we never surrender our most powerful weapon.