1 Peter 3:15 commands every believer to be ready to give a reasoned defense of the faith to anyone who asks of us the reason of the hope that is within us with meekness and fear. Sadly, the approach of many professing believers today is to begin with a premise that is mutually agreed upon with an unbeliever and then move to neutral ground. Once on neutral ground, the believer will then attempt to move the unbeliever from the circle of their beliefs to the circle of his own …convictions. Is this the correct way to defend the faith?
When the Apostle Paul disputed with the Philosophers in the Book of Acts Chapter 17, there was NO neutral ground for agreement between them at any level. As a matter of fact, they held Paul in total disdain. Christ was Lord over every part of Paul’s life, including the realm of his knowledge. Therefore he would NOT try to find neutral ground with them, for in doing so he would be consenting to worldly wisdom in his own defense of the faith, and the cross of Christ would become of none effect. He knew that the cross of Christ was foolishness to them, and in their pseudo-knowledge they knew not God.
When they heard Paul speak, these Philosophers knew they had NOTHING in common with this man. There was none of this, “Let’s find neutral ground and start from there.” What Paul was saying was so foreign to them that they accused him of bringing “strange things” to their ears. Those who heard him surely didn’t recognize that they had anything in common with Paul’s reasoning. Paul rejected the assumptions of these Philosophers in order to teach them the truth of God.
The approach of the Apostle Paul was not to find neutral ground, but to challenge them to turn from their idolatry to serve the living God, whose Son had risen from the dead and would judge the world. Paul didn’t concern himself with neutral ground, but rather he determined to know nothing among them save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
-my reflections on “Always Ready” by Greg Bahnsen (particularly the appendix)
Love in Christ,