“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” 1 Peter 3:15
The Myth of Neutrality
I was in a discussion with an atheist and we both realized that the conversation seemed to be going nowhere. I had my beliefs and he had his.
To further the conversation, he suggested that we should both become neutral to our respective beliefs as our starting point for finding the truth.
That certainly sounded reasonable and fair, but let’s consider whether neutrality is an attitude a Christian should take.
We are Christian. This means that God has a claim on us, not only because He is our Creator and we have been created in His image, but also because we are new creations in Him (Ephesians 4:22). As children of God, we desire to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).
So a truly biblical apologetic will not “sanctify” (set apart) Christ from our hearts, but will rather set Him apart in our hearts(1 Peter 3:15).
Can it then make any sense to set aside God’s authority as I attempt to defend Him? The answer is a resounding “No”!
While the believer is obligated to rely on God and His Word in all things, can the non-Christian be objective, neutral, and fair to God’s Word? The apostle Paul said that unbelievers “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18), “they are without excuse” (v. 20), with the result that “they became futile in their speculations” (v. 21), because “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (v. 25).
Because the fool does not believe in God (Psalm 14:1), his speculations will become useless. This does not mean that the unbeliever cannot reason—in fact, sometimes he can reason better than the believer and in very sophisticated ways. Yet it should be no surprise that the unbelieving mind will always lead the person away from God.
The non-Christian may claim that he will be neutral, even if the Christian cannot be, but that position is self-refuting. If a non-Christian opponent claims to be neutral, he has taken the position that the Bible’s claims—for example, that neutrality is impossible—are wrong… which is hardly a neutral position!
Unfortunately, some Christian apologists believe that neutrality is an acceptable starting point. They start with reason and logic, working from there to prove that Christianity is correct.
Such an approach is like trying to defend God’s Word by throwing it away. Dr. Martin Luther put it like this:
No reason is so firm that it cannot be overthrown by reason. There is no counsel, no matter how wise, no thing, no edifice, no matter how magnificent or strong, which cannot be destroyed by human counsel, wisdom, and strength. And this can be seen in all things. Only the Word of God remains to all eternity. (Becker, The Foolishness of God, NPH, Milwaukee, WI, 2009, p.37)
But do not think that there is no room for reason and logic in the Christian apologetic. It was also Martin Luther who mentioned (in his explanation to the First Article) that our mind has been given to us by God.
Yet it is a mind that is encouraged to “hold fast to the faithful Word” (Titus 1:9). God’s authoritative Word is the beginning of our defense; we have no reason to hide this fact.
How reason and logic can be used in apologetics will be the subject of a future article. But for now there are two important truths to remember about Christians, non-Christians, and neutrality:
1) They’re not neutral.
2) Neither should you be.