Challenging the Authority of the Unbeliever’s Worldview

134ee-strongholdIn 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, the Apostle Paul explains that the battles that we fight are not physical, but spiritual battles. As a result, the weapons we use are not swords or guns, but rather truth and ideas. In the ancient world cities were surrounded by high, thick walls. The walls were the first line of defense. Inside the walls, however was a stronghold where the city stored supplies to outlast a siege. The stronghold was also a place to which the city leaders could retreat if the walls were breached until help would arrive. If the stronghold was brought down or breached, all was lost and those inside had to surrender to survive.

This is the word picture Paul uses to describe the tactic Christians should use when interacting with unbelievers. We should try to discern the authority on which the unbeliever relies. For some people, the authority is human reason; for others, science is their authority. Other authorities on which people rely include religion, a particular philosopher, parents, or their own experience. On whatever authority the unbeliever bases his ideas and values, that is the stronghold in his life.

Once the stronghold is identified we can begin to challenge that authority. By undermining the authority in which he trusts, we take away from him the grounds of his objections to the gospel. This approach echoes the wisdom saying in Proverbs 21:22, which says, “A wise man scales the city of the mighty, and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.” Even though an intellectual stronghold can be difficult to bring down, Paul reminds us that Christians have been given divine power to do so. This power is not a magical power, but is found in the arguments themselves. As he says in verse 4, we “destroy arguments.” That is, the arguments we use to defeat the objections raised against the Christian faith are powerful by virtue of being true. Truth is always more powerful than falsehood.

In our conversations with unbelievers we are seeking to show the weakness of the unbeliever’s worldview. We do this with the confidence that even though we can’t always see weakness in his arguments at first, they are there. Only the Christian faith can coherently answer the deep questions of meaning in life. The more we interact with unbelievers and seek to identify their strongholds, the better we become at identifying them accurately. When we identify them accurately we can show how the stronghold cannot stand the scrutiny of truth. But how do we do this?

In the next post we look at how to ask questions that reveal the true authority in the unbeliever’s worldview. The intent is to help him see that what he trusts epistemologically is self-contradictory, and cannot stand up to scrutiny.

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