Contending for the Faith

April 17, 2006

Jude 3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

Skepticism permeates our culture. Cynicism toward government, corporations, the news media and even established religion is evident in many ways. Much of that skepticism and cynicism has been well earned. As a result, our society is quite ready to believe contradictory accounts that paint the establishment in a bad light.

Two notable examples of this are currently making headlines. First, the DaVinci Code is reportedly one of the most widely read books of all time, and will soon be released as a major motion picture. The book claims to be based on extensive research, and contradicts the biblical acounts of Jesus in shocking ways. Secondly, a supposed “Lost Gospel of Judas” has been recently made public, presenting a contradictary account of the betrayal of Jesus. Both of these sources directly challenge the faith that was “once for all entrusted to the saints.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury attacked both of these sources in his Easter message yesterday. Quoting from the linked article:

…there is a tendency to treat Biblical texts “as if they were unconvincing press releases from some official source, whose intention is to conceal the real story”.

According to the article, even the Pope addressed these issues in his Easter address.

How should Christians respond to something like The DaVinci Code or The Lost Gospel of Judas? Certainly we should stand ready to “contend for the faith” in some manner when unbelievers attack the foundations of our beliefs. But what form should that contending take?

First, we should know what we believe, and why. We should “always be prepared” to explain the reasons for our convictions (1 Pet 3:15). Individual Christians should invest the effort of preparation that is necessary to make that defense. We should study it out in our Bibles for ourselves!

Second, we should be teaching not only the convictions, but the reasons for those convictions, to our congregations. We need to prepare people so that they will not be tossed to and fro by every wind of teaching (Eph 4:14).

Third, we need to proclaim the truth publicly so that honest outsiders can decide for themselves whether the latest bit of scandalous news is more credible than the Bible that Christians have followed for nearly 2000 years.

There are some things we should not do. We should not quarrel with our opponents (2 Tim 2:23-26). We should not engage in ad hominem attacks and slander. And we certainly should not engage in acts of destruction or violence.

It may seem strange that I would bring up the subject of destruction and violence in this context. But in some religious circles, there is an idea that believers must defend God, his prophets, and their beliefs, even to the extent of violence and destruction of property. Anyone who has paid attention to the news over the past few months must be aware of the violence that was prompted by the offensive (to some) cartoons about Mohammed. But taking matters into our own hands only discredits the beliefs we are defending. The true God does not need for us to defend him. He is quite capable of taking care of himself. (Judges 6:30-31, 1 Sam 5). The anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God (James 1:20).

Let’s contend for the faith in a godly manner, even when the opponents are unbelievers. Let’s not give outsiders yet more reasons to be cynical about the gospel.


  1. Douglas Jacoby has just released a two cd set in which he addresses these subjects. From his email announcement of the new material:With the release of The Da Vinci Code, millions of people are presented with a distorted view of Jesus and the formation of the Bible. (Amazingly, the film is marketed with the phrase “Seek the truth”!) In this audio series, Dr. Jacoby confronts these distortions with the real truth. He not only addresses The Da Vinci Code, but also the spurious claims of the missing books of the Bible, such as the Gospel of Thomas and the recently published Gospel of Judas.

  2. We should not quarrel with our opponentsI spent an abnormal amount of time at an atheist’s blog last year just debating the anti-religion postings he was making. I will admit that I learned many things about science, and even changed my position on a few things when I was proven wrong. But after a year and not feeling like it was fruitful any longer, I pretty much stopped the “Point-Counter Point” debates. The most valuable lesson I learned during this time was that atheiests cannot argue your life. They may argue biblical text. They may argue history. They may argue science. But when you disciple tells them about the changes you are making to grow in your love for others…they are left with no arguement. And sometimes they are even faced with the realization that they are not doing any such thing. Let us contend for the faith…ABSOLUTELY! Great post.

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