How should we respond to atheistic tirades?

Monday Musings for January 10, 2022

Good morning, Musers,

When I was a young man, as young men often do, I participated in my share of pushing and shoving. Men are never very far away from fighting with each other. This is a blend of how we were made and the longitudinal effects of sin. When we put alcohol in the mix, it was not unusual for the continual needling and pushing to break into a fight. At that point, the noncombatants had a choice: get involved or watch.

Breaking up a fight between two large drunken people is a thankless and dangerous task. Neither of them wants you to do it — and you risk getting punched by two people instead of just one! This is the perfect place for a risk/reward evaluation: what do you expect to gain? What do you expect to spend? Is the very real risk worth the potential reward?

As to the first, you are not going to achieve peace on earth by pulling apart two drunks. As to the second, you risk personal physical harm. In my opinion, unless they or the surrounding public is in imminent and above-average danger, breaking up a hot fight is not worth the risk. Besides, you were not invited into the fray. Let them sort out their differences among themselves.

Many of you will jump right in anyway... I mean... you’re no cowards. But then you spend the next day trying to convince people that you are not a thug … while explaining your black eye. I get it. You are not a thug. But you will look like one... and that is a bad look for a Christian. It’s a bad look on the internet too.

Internet atheists come in different flavors. Some are thoughtful and engaging people. But the internet is optimized for polemics... and many atheists just sit there taking potshots at the Christian world. If that’s the fight, back away. There is no “winning.” There is only getting soiled.

Now, we should defend Jesus Christ against his enemies — foreign and domestic — every day and all day! But I will remind you that he did not defend himself. Remember when Peter drew a sword in the garden and cut off the servant’s ear? (John 18:10). Jesus rebuked him. That was not the time to fight. That was the time for Jesus to lay down his life. Go ye and do likewise.

Consider the apostle Paul’s teaching about lawsuits, too. He taught that a Christian should absorb the wrong done to him rather than participate in public spectacles like lawsuits (1 Corinthians 6:1). Suing was not in itself wrong. Suing instead of reconciling brother the brother was wrong... because it advertised to the world that we were just like everyone else. “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord.” That’s a repeating theme for God’s people throughout all time.

An internet forum is very much like a barroom or a courtroom. It is an opportunity to look like the world — to impugn the cause of Jesus Christ through your tone and lack of knowledge. The apostle Paul did the risk/reward analysis for us. He concluded that there is no reward worth the damage you will do to the name of Jesus Christ when you act like everybody else.


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