Written by Cowboy Bob Sorensen
Things for Bible-believing Christians are going haywire in many areas. We are seeing respected leaders compromising on important doctrines, sometimes to the point of apostasy. Some “seeker friendly” churches are doing downright weird things to build up attendance. Prideful Christians are locked into pet doctrines and will seemingly fight to the death over nonessentials, defaming those who do not agree under the guise that they do not have a “correct understanding of Scripture”. There are cults pretending to be Christian organizations but are using issues such as creation science as hooks to draw in the unsuspecting. Worse, there are people who claim to be Christians and creationists, but repel biblical Christians and offend unbelievers with their recalcitrant behavior and self-aggrandizement.
Fundamentalist atheists are on the attack, putting anti-Christian propaganda in public schools, often resorting to fallacious pragmatism, calling God a “moral monster”, and more. Atheopaths are getting bolder and more strident, and the persecution of Christians in the West is only going to worsen, especially when government gets involved.
How should Christians be responding to atheists on the Web?
People are big and brave behind keyboards, typing things that they are highly unlikely to say to someone face to face. What is submitted here for your consideration is primarily directed toward Internet activities.
Attacks from Atheists and Evolutionists
So-called “freethinkers” patrol the Web for biblical creation sites and social media sections. They make claims that they are rational, but go on the offensive. Some of us believe that they are simply trying to justify their rejection of God and are building up their own egos. (In fact, many are narcissistic sociopaths, so there is no room for the real God in their lives.) A Christian can state his or her views and then be subjected to a swarm of troll attacks from vituperative atheists and evolutionists.
How is a Christian supposed to respond?
Any Christian who has bothered to read the New Testament should be aware of passages like Col. 4.5-6, 1 Thess. 4.12, 1 Peter 3.15-16 and so on. Admittedly, it becomes difficult at times when under relentless attacks to not respond in kind, but we must strive to remember who we represent (2 Cor. 5.20), and that we are to be seeking glory for Christ and not ourselves (2 Peter 3.18). We are human, and we will fail at times. Then we must try again in the power of God (2 Cor. 12.9-10).
This does not mean that we are supposed to be walked on. Some people have the mistaken idea that gentleness and grace have nothing to do with strength. Unfortunately, both uninformed Christians and atheists will claim that a Christian who stands up to attackers is violating biblical standards. That is the opposite of the truth. When someone points out flaws in evolution, poor reasoning on the part of an atheist or even points out atheist or evolutionist dishonesty, quite often, many of them will say simply react and resort to other attacks, including calling the Christian a liar. (This seems to be the “logic” for some of them: I have judged you by my standards to be a poor Christian, therefore the Bible is false, therefore there is no God.) They detest having people tell the truth about them, since both evolutionists and atheists compromise on or outright reject the authority of God’s Word, and are very proud of their “wisdom”.
Attacks from “Believers”
There are religious people who major on minors, bringing up side issues and elevating them in importance, equivalent to the essentials of salvation. They will be very harsh in presenting their views and going after those who disagree with them, and they do it in an extremely unbiblical manner. (I saw someone who defended his obnoxious, unbiblical behavior by comparing himself to Old Testament prophets and elevating himself above Scripture! John 13.35 and Gal. 6.10 may not be in his Bible.)
There are Calvinists that act like cultists, trying to convert Christians to their One True Faith™ and fighting with Arminians. Conversely, there are Arminians that attack the Calvinists as heretics that must be refuted in their view. Don’t get me started on the extremely divisive King James Onlyism’s cult mentality…
There are groups and forums for debate about various views of eschatology. Some are very contentious in their “discussions”, putting down the opposing viewpoint and claiming they are “refuting” it — without a spirit of Christian love.
Brethren, these things ought not to be so!
Discussing theological differences can be useful, but should be done “in house” and with the proper spirit. Personal attacks, ridicule, claiming to be a “prophet” and rejecting biblical admonitions — when people act this way, I tend to wonder if they are indeed Christians.
What is the Balance?
How Christians respond to attackers is very important. There is no call for extreme harshness. However, I agree with Matt Slick of CARM that both atheists and Muslims view kindness as a sign of weakness. We can stand up to them by not allowing them to blaspheme, misrepresent Scripture, indulge in manipulative tactics (including logical fallacies in their efforts to “prove” that God and Christians are evil), blatant dishonesty and more. Indeed, many Christian sites and organizations have needed to implement a judicious application of censorship to deal with attacks; some people are so obstreperous, they are blocked outright, their messages are filtered and deleted.
In some ways, dealing with prideful and carnal Christians is more difficult to manage. We should be growing in the Word and using Scripture appropriately. Depending on the nature of the offense (a disagreement over nonessentials, outright heresy or unchristian conduct), we may need to simply move on and ignore them. Other times, we need to “call them out”. The latter needs to be done carefully and with prayer, and seeking a pastor’s input on such action can be very important.
Matt Slick of CARM is a Calvinist, and I admire his attitude. While he believes that Calvinism explains biblical principles more completely than other views, he will not call someone else a false or incomplete Christian. In fact, he attends Calvary Chapel. The most important thing is Jesus, not specific doctrines that are not essential to salvation. He said that the three groups that give him the worst time are the Satanists, Universalists and then the anti-Calvinists (atheists have been bumped down the list to the fourth position, I think.) The proprietor of Answers for Hope is Jason Petersen, as you probably know. He is a strong Calvinist. I am not a Calvinist (nor do I wear the label of Arminian). We do not fight over those things. In fact, I can make a joke like, “Calvinism cannot be cured, but with proper treatment, it can be controlled” and he can see the humor in it. We both take presuppositional approaches in our theology, too. That is ironic for me, because it has its origins in Reformed theology. Sure, we disagree on things. Thinking people do that. But there are no disagreements on doctrines that are worth drawing sabers over.
Christians need to respond to attacks in a biblical manner, and should develop a habit of being prayerful before responding. There is no cut-and-dried procedure, since not only are the attackers individuals, we are as well. God works in us and through us in different ways. Some attacks can be dealt with swiftly by deleting and banning because of their egregious nature or perhaps because of past experience with the attacker. Lashing out with a quick response can do more harm than good, however. They hate God in us (2 Cor. 2.14-16) and blinded to the truth (2 Cor. 4.4).
There are times when people ask sincere questions because of an intellectual stumbling block that is hindering them from coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Except for things like, “Prove to me that God exists!”, most questions should be answered or given a resource for the answer. (Note that, “I don’t know the answer to that one” is a valid response, too.) The experienced Christian will learn to recognize when he or she is “being played” and time is being wasted by someone who is not sincere.
Walk in the Spirit
The above graphic for John 16.2-3 has some application here. I am probably taking some liberties with it to make this next point.
People believe they’re doing a service when they attack others. Real, carnal, and false Christians believe they are doing God a service by “putting you out of the synagogue” or killing you. Atheists who are their own gods, and evolutionists whose god is pagan evolutionism, also believe they are serving some higher purpose (including protecting “science”, where science is equivocated with “evolution”). In my use of this passage, that is mostly figurative, these people want you neutralized so that you either have no voice, or it is. I must add, though, that militant atheists are becoming more antagonistic, and I believe the time is coming when they believe they are doing the world a service by killing Christians.
Indeed, this has happened in the past, and is happening now, in Eastern communist countries. It is coming to the West. Persecution and personal attacks will not decrease. Get ready for the smackdown.
Again, it is not easy, nor is there a formula for dealing with situations. Be prayerful, rely on the strength and wisdom of the Lord, walk in the Spirit so you do not indulge in the desires of the flesh, and do not give Satan room to operate in your life. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, be strong in his Word and seek God’s glory — including how we respond to attackers.[divider] Was this article helpful? Please consider supporting this ministry.