A Faith That Cannot Be Defended

picture-019There is such a thing as a Christian faith worth defending (in some sense). However, it seems like those who enjoy attacking the Christian faith find its least worthy representatives for the marshalling of their meager intellectual forces. This often means that atheists attack a faith nobody (virtually) believes, and that defenders sometimes defend something less than Christianity.

 I have seen several recent articles (most notably in the New Statesman) that have offered characterizations of Christianity that even the 9th grade education of my first Baptist pastor could have refuted. The caricature of Christianity, some of which has been made possible by Christian fundamentalism (itself a caricature of Christianity), is generally too incorrect to be addressed by a serious Christian. If people think that Christianity is the amalgam of ancient peasant superstitions – how can you answer them? Such ignorance of history is itself a modernist peasant superstition.

 Recently a parishioner sent me a small critique from a web-site that considered itself wise for having used weak philosophical reasoning to undermine Christianity by proving that God’s omnipresence proved that “God is in hell.” Of course, Orthodox Christianity, believing the Scripture and theological testimony would immediately agree: “God is in hell.” Why do they think we get so excited at Pascha? The God-Who-Is loves us so much that He entered Hell to redeem us. It is a doctrine taught in Scripture, upheld in Tradition and celebrated in the feasts of the Church.

 The great tragedy, of course, is that contemporary Christianity has been so “gutted” by those who claim to be its reformers, that a central doctrine of the faith can now be used by non-believers in an effort to undermine a modernized Christianity that was only invented a few years ago.

 There are many reasons to be an Orthodox Christian: the greatest of which I have any knowledge, is the simple fact that Orthodox Christianity alone is true, and the fullness of the Christian faith. Defending anything else is not only a waste of time but beside the point.

The tragedy is that much time and energy will be wasted attacking something that is not the Christian faith, while what is the Christian faith remains unknown. But perhaps in God’s good pleasure this is how things should be.

 To readers who entertain criticisms of the Christian faith: be sure to attack the real Christian faith and not recent inventions that have no right to the name.

 To readers who seek to defend the faith: don’t waste your time defending something less than the complete faith. Nothing else deserves the time or trouble.


  1. says

    There are many Christians who work in secular environments, where unbelievers express criticism of a false version of the faith. This is all they know, and to leave them thinking this way damages the cause of Christ.

    It is a very wearisome experience to have to defend the true faith, and explain that what they believe is false, but sometimes if you don’t, the criticism will affect the Christian working there. It is also damaging to personal testimony that our faith has false elements. This just encourages more unbelief.

    After 5 years in one environment, I was told I was not a typical Christian, because I actually behaved appropriately. They approved of me, but not my faith in general. I was wondering if that meant I had made any progress at all, or I was just viewed as someone who did not practice the false faith that unbelievers are familiar with.

  2. Sean says

    I may be wrong in this, but I have never felt like defending my faith. I (and many others) have been ridiculed for their faith on certain occasions, or at least criticized. Nevertheless I do not think I need or that I am fit to defend a faith delivered by God Himself and proclaimed from men and women much more holy and worthy than me. I just think that, as Christ promised “the gates of hell shall not prevail against her” meaning the Church and in it, the Faith. If we, the faithful, who are sinners, who are unworthy and who with our frequently ungodly lives give reason to people to criticize and fight Christianity for two millenia have not yet managed to destroy it, then I am confident that no outsider really stands a chance. Besides that, the Seed will always exist as long as it is planted in a single loving heart.

    And, eventually, is there a better defence of Christianity other than being a live example oh christian ethos and spirituality ourselves. Arguments will never cease to exist, but the most convincing argument of all is evidence. And what evidence is more disarming than Love, Faith and Hope?

  3. David N says

    Don’t defend the Faith if you don’t know it either. There in lies the problem. Does anybody truly know the Faith their entire lives?