Three Principles for Defending the Faith
In 1 Peter 3:13-16, Peter exhorts Christians to prepare themselves to make a defense of the faith. Similar to Jude 1:3, which says "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints," Peter urges us to faithfully proclaim the gospel as wise apologists. As opportunities arise, we are wisely give an account of the hope that is in us. Here are three principles for defending the faith. 1. The truth, as revealed by God in Creation, in Jesus Christ (His Person and Work), and in Scripture, is perfect and total Truth. Outside of the Christian worldview there is no other comprehensive reasonable and consistent explanation for all things in the world...and this corpus of truth is what we defend. There is not even a remotely plausible explanation for all things in the world. The Christian worldview is the only true truth.
2. Because the Christian Worldview is total truth, it is impossible for any contrary principle or view to be true. We do not defend Christianity as a probable truth, but as a certainty. In fact, because Christian truth is necessary and perfect Christians ought not to consider their faith in Christ as the best of all possible options. Rather we must stand firm in the assurance that the Christian worldview is true, not probable.
3. A wise defense of the faith will aim to show how and why the unbelieving view is impossible, by declaring from Scripture the truth Christ and His gospel. As a result of principles 1 and 2, Christians have the privilege and responsibility to reason with all people in an effort to show the impossibility of contrary principles, beliefs, and conclusions. Christians are to use Scriptural evidences and reasons for refusing all worldviews except the Christian worldview, and to do this with gentleness and respect.
An Exercise for Growing in this Area As you have conversations about the gospel with people who hold views contrary to the Christian worldview, pay close attention to what the person says. Perhaps you might even write down some notes so you can remember more clearly. Then ask yourself two questions as an exercise in preparing to defend the faith.
Question 1: What is the most important belief this person holds? When all is said and done, to what belief (and maybe there is more than one) is this person ultimately committed? Question 2: How does God's revealed truth - truth revealed in Creation, in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, and in Scripture - show this person's ultimate commitment to be an impossibility?
This is by no means and exhaustive discussion of or exercise for defending the faith. But these three principles and two questions, when taken seriously, will help us grow in our preparedness to answer the world.