I always find it quite humorous and frustrating, when using verses from the Bible in my discussions with Christians, the frequency in which I’m accused of taking a verse “out of context”. This happens often and it usually comes from those that haven’t spent 1/10th of the time I have studying the Bible and earnestly seeking to understand its context, the accusation of my faulty context is often one made in blind faith about my understanding.
I like to discuss religion and ask difficult questions about faith. I like to ask people questions that I found myself asking not too long ago, not to make people uncomfortable, but to normalize the processes of doubt and skepticism and to challenge concepts too easily assumed to be true. Sad few understand this, most believe that my goal is to simply debate and argue but this has never been the case. I’d like to make the case that not only am I doing the Christian faith a great service, I’m holding the believer to the standards and expectations set forth in the New Testament.
“I don’t have to defend my faith to you,” or “this is what I believe because the Bible says so, take it or leave it” are common objections I hear – occasionally someone with a high regard for his or her intellect will point out that by discussing religion with me they are “casting pearls before swine“, believe me when I say that I know what that feels like and discussing matters of faith with unbelievers isn’t what is being objected to here.
On the contrary, dear believer, it is indeed your duty and call to answer the objections that people like myself have to your faith – as Peter commanded:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer [apologia] to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope [or faith] that is in you with meekness and fear ~ 1 Peter 3:15 [mine]
Strong’s Concordance lists the word for “to give an answer” as the greek term “apologia” and it is defined as, “properly, a well-reasoned reply; a thought-out response to adequately address the issue(s) that is raised.” and the related term “apologéomai” as, “properly, to reason from solid proof (sound logic); to make a compelling defense with sound logic (argumentation)”
I think Peter is pretty clear here, that the believer should be well versed enough in his faith that he can give a defense for it when objections arise and that when asked for empirical evidence and sound logic it should be something the believer can provide. This charge was given to the believers in Galatia and East Asia by one of the apostles of the faith but very few today are willing to engage in such a way.
I’m intentionally giving people the opportunity to share their faith and their reasons for it. Furthermore I’m giving people reason to question some of it’s foundations so that they might better understand it and question it. This is a service that more should be willing to accept and enjoy but unfortunate few do.
I’m just telling the Christians what the Bible says though. No one has to like it.