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The Christian’s Defense

January 29, 2017

“Martyrdom of St. Stephen” by Bernardo Cavallino (c. 1645), Prado Museum (Accession No. P07466), Source Web Gallery of Art (PD)

There is a popular series on the History Channel called “Vikings”.  Historical fiction, the series attempts to re-create the Viking worldview, as it existed before the adoption of Christianity.

The series treats the pagan beliefs of the Vikings with respect.  It goes to great lengths to portray pagan rituals (including human sacrifice) accurately, and in a positive light.   By contrast, scripts tend to portray Christian characters as weak, hypocritical and/or corrupt.

Interestingly, Ragnar, a central character, privately describes himself as an atheist toward the end of his life.  This is far outside the Norse sagas from which the series claims to derive.

It should come as no surprise that Christian beliefs are often attacked by non-believers.  On the scale of offense, “Vikings” barely registers.  We are routinely labeled as ignorant, backward, foolish, and deluded; our beliefs as derivative, misleading, even cruel [1].

Our Existence an Offense

Why should it matter to atheists what Christians believe?  What would it matter, if we believed in “little green men” [2]?  Yet our very existence is offensive to atheists.

For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:  To the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life” (2 Cor. 2: 15-16).

The answer, of course, is simple.  Satan attacks the truth.  He does not bother to attack the lies he, himself, has fostered and spread.

The Reason for Our Hope

Many of those responding to such public attacks on Christianity are knowledgeable; their arguments, intelligent and well-reasoned.  All this is to the good.

We should be ready to defend our faith, when needed:

Always be prepared to articulate a defense to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But respond with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who slander you will be put to shame by your good behavior in Christ” (1 Peter 3: 15-16).

A Superior Attitude

Unfortunately, a superior attitude often creeps in.  This may feel justified, in human terms.  There may be Christian readers cheering on the sidelines.  But that is not how it should be.

We are to be examples of humility to the world.  Our defense of the faith can be vigorous without being snide.  Our stance should be pity and unfailing love.  Our goal is not to trounce our opponents.  It is rather to save lost souls – souls as lost as we once were.

Love Over Oratory

Scripture is a powerful tool for evangelizing:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4: 12).

Love must, however, take priority over oratory:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal…and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13: 1 – 2).

Stephen, the first Christian martyr, is described as “full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6: 5).  Stephen preached what is recognized as one of the greatest sermons in Scripture to an audience so hostile they killed him for it.

Yet Stephen genuinely loved his listeners.  With his dying breath, he – like Christ – prayed that his persecutors would be forgiven.  When we defend our faith, we must remember that this is our example.

[1]  This statement does not take into account the outright persecution of Christians outside the United States, or the Christian lives deliberately taken by terrorists here and abroad.  In such cases, Christians are generally accused of blasphemy and idol worship.

[2]  Some atheists actually seem to be taking this route, crediting an unknown alien civilization with the origin of life on earth.


  1. I can’t imagine what it would be like to literally die for Christ–I hope my faith would remain strong as the deathblow falls.

    • God would have to uphold me. I fear I would betray Him the way Peter did.

      • I really truly completely Believe that God would indeed uphold us, Anna–I believe He wants us to be assured of that, and not worry that we would fail in that regard. He has not brought us this far, through all we’ve endured, to leave us weak and wanting at such a crucial moment. That’s the Hope I’m standing firm on today! ❤

      • You are a real prayer warrior, Stella! I am so glad to know you. 🙂

      • Oh, how you’ve blessed my heart today, Anna! I’m so very glad to know you too!! ❤ 🙂

  2. great…our inspiration..Stephen a martyr for faith..

  3. Your statement that Stephen genuinely loved his listeners struck me. I think if I keep “loving” in mind, I will be gentle and caring in my words. I need to remember that my goal is that they see Jesus not that I win a debate.

    (Thank you for your comments about my blog 🙂

    • We are defending something (and Someone) infinitely precious, against hateful and groundless claims. It is only natural to respond with anger. We need His grace to go beyond the natural.

  4. An excellent article.

  5. Anna, you wrote:

    “Why should it matter to atheists what Christians believe? What would it matter, if we believed in “little green men”? Yet our very existence is offensive to atheists… The answer, of course, is simple. Satan attacks the truth. He does not bother to attack the lies he, himself, has fostered and spread.”

    This is exactly why they care for they are unwittingly dupes in the hands of Satan as is ALL the world (kosmos – “the ‘present condition of human affairs,’ in alienation from and opposition to God” – W. E Vines Dictionary of New Testament Words).

    We know that we are from God, and the whole world (kosmos) lies in the power of the evil one. (1John 5:19, ESV2011)

    Contrast this verse with what Jesus said about the kosmos,

    Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world (kosmos). If my kingdom were of this world (kosmos), my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world (kosmos).” (John 18:35-36, ESV2011)

    After watching all the aligning of Christian against one another over this last election I have to ask, “What kingdom are they of?”

    Great post, dear sister,

  6. Great post!

  7. Yup! Satan spins some incredibly unbelievable lies 😦 And yet,
    unbelieving ears are increasingly inclined to believe them :-/
    Even our unsaved neighbour has mentioned she’s noticed how
    obviously one-sided the attacks against Christians are becoming!
    But she is stuck on the big, fat lie about going to heaven because
    you were a good person… sigh… Well, it was a wee opportunity to
    witness and hopefully plant a seed! 🙂 💜 Jackie@KWH

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