My father-in-law is a Buddhist. Well, at least one on paper. I’m not sure how closely he follows the teachings of the Buddha.
I love visiting him and his wife in their home in the woods of North Carolina. We have some really good discussions and often meet some incredibly interesting people from around the world.
But there is one thing you had better be prepared to do when you get into a conversation with him: be able to defend your belief.
I used to think the worst kind of preachers were the TV evangelists. You know..the ones with enough gold hanging off thier necks to pay off the national debt. I often rant as to how they are destroying the image of Christianity and discipleship. Yes, they are.
But I think there is a more dangerous type of evangelist.
People such as my father in law can see through the phoney TV preacher. In fact, what I find very interesting is that he and many like him, don’t equate that with real Christianity. Instead, they like to pick apart the philosophy many preachers use to defend the faith.
And frankly, I find his arguments quite interesting and fascinating.
Many people, such as my relative, are not so much turned off on being a Christian by the cheesy TV preacher-con man as they are from the preachers who can’t successfully defend their reasons for believing.
In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter writes:
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect….”
It’s the part on “being prepared to give an answer” that I want to focus on.
Recently, in our Sunday morning bible class, we discussed why so many people are turned off from Christianity. Many reasons (some very good ones) were given. However, nobody ever mentioned that perhaps the biggest reason is that we do not really know how to defend the philosophy of Christianity. We can debate about tithes, communion, and only the Lord himself knows what else. Yet, when defending our faith, we start stammering like Porky Pig.
There are many reasons for this. However, I believe it is because we do not know how to even begin defending our faith using reason and logic.
And I blame the preachers and leaders for not preparing the members. Yes, I know that is a harsh statement. But it is true.
The church needs preachers and pastors who are interested in how to bring that hope to a culture looking for answers. We don’t need any more preachers/church marketers who are more in tune with the latest church growth trends.
Our family prays every night that my father in law and his wife will become Christians. That’s why I like visiting with him. We have great discussions. And maybe one day, he will look at Christ in a more sane and reasonable way.
In the meantime, my fear isn’t that he won’t become a follower because of the flashy con-man TV preacher. My fear is that he will run across yet another “regular” preacher who can’t defend his belief.
And that is the worst kind of preacher.