What does it mean to Defend the Faith?
Defend the Faith-What does it Mean?

In this first article under the heading of “Defending the Faith”, I want to explain what I mean by the phrase.

Defending from Attacks

Ever since the days of Jesus, attacks against the Christian faith could be separated into two kinds: attacks from the outside and attacks from the inside.

Attacks from the outside

Even before Jesus was crucified, there there were those called the Pharisees who were continually trying to discredit and even kill Jesus. After Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the Christian faith has never had a shortage of those who would want to attack it. There are some obvious attacks like persecution such as happened and are still happening in places like China, Russian, and Radical Muslim countries. Although persecution is vitally important, it is not necessarily the focus of my articles. There are much more subtle attacks on the truthfulness of the claims of Christianity by atheists, agnostics, and others who find the Christian faith unreasonable or undesirable. Defending the truth of Christianity is often called Apologetics. This word comes from Greek and means to give a defense. In future articles, I will help you defend the Christian faith from the outside attacks.

Attacks from the inside

Although attacks against the Christian faith from the outside are dangerous for our spiritual lives, I believe that attacks from the inside are even more dangerous. It is important that I explain what I mean by “attacks from the inside”.

From weeks and months after the resurrection of Jesus, there was a certain set of beliefs that came to characterize the true Christian faith. Very early Christians began summarizing their beliefs in short statements that were easy to memorize called “Creeds”. We can see an example of what most scholars think is the earliest Christian creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. Eventually, the Apostles Creed was created to specify the basic things that those calling themselves Christians should believe. There were other creeds that were very similar such as the Nicene Creed. I wanted to mention that to lay the foundation that there is a set of historic, generally agreed upon doctrines that make Christianity unique and specific. Yes, different Christian groups have other beliefs that they find important as well, but the basic doctrines are what determines whether we can call someone a brother in Christ.

As early as the New Testament, there were those who called themselves Christians but were teaching and preaching things that were not in agreement with what the Apostles who had been called and trained by Jesus Himself taught. Even Paul the Apostle had to deal with them in his day. Sections of the New Testament were written to address wrong teachings. If it was a problem in Paul’s day, you can be sure it is much more of a problem today.

Attacks from the inside are from those who would call themselves Christians but try to teach things that are against the historic Christian faith. Sometimes these individuals or groups were themselves mislead. However, there are some who the Bible calls Ravening Wolves who are trying to lead Christians astray.

However, the best defense against false teaching is knowing the true teachings of Christianity. I always use this analogy because I live it every day. My job is as a bank teller. My hands touch millions of bills of currency a week. I am trained to identify authentic currency in two or three different ways. However, I’ve handled the real thing so much that I can normally detect a counterfeit just by touching it. In the same way, when a person knows the true teachings of Christianity, it will be much easier to detect false teaching.

That means I will teach you the historic Christian doctrines in my first series of articles.  In later articles, we will look at specific errors in teachings called “heresies” of both yesterday and today. We will also look at cultic groups–groups that claim to be Christian groups but teach heresy instead of true historic Christianity.