“A mighty fortress is our God // a bulwark never failing.”
— Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress is Our God
I think there has never been a stronger or a more effective first line in any hymn than the one penned by Martin Luther in A Mighty Fortress is Our God. With just ten words, Luther was able to communicate absolute invincibility, perpetuity, and immutability. I also love the fact that Luther is able to communicate the idea that God needs no defense, for He is His own defense. It is not God who needs any might or strength, but it is man who needs the protection of God against all foes and all who stand against the Church. Yes indeed: it is God who provides the defense.
I think this is necessary to understand before I bring up the issue of a current problem today. It is a forgotten principle of apologetics that God defends Himself, and that is why the best way to defend God and to give an account of Christian doctrine is through His word and through the knowledge of Him. God is most certainly the beginning of knowledge and of faith. Which is what begs the questions: why are there so many Christians who are unable to defend God?
Keep in mind that I have stated earlier the principle that God needs no defense. He just doesn’t! He is perfectly able to defend Himself, but as Christians, we are to answer to people about our faith and effectively communicate the message of the Gospel, and I say that because that is what the Bible teaches. So then, I say again: why are there people who claim to have had an encounter with the most High God, and who claim to have partaken in the accepting of God’s gift of grace, who are unable to defend God?
John Calvin once famously said, “Even a dog barks when his own master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” Is the problem then cowardice? I don’t think so. These same people who would be so timid about Christianity would be so bold about their political views and how great their favorite sports team, movie or restaurant is.
Could it be the lack of education or the lack of resources that are readily available for believers? Perhaps there are pastors who are not equipping their congregations enough? A strong no to the first, and a partial yes to the second. There are plenty of resources out there for apologetics as well as theology. As for the pastor argument, you can always change churches or supplement that which you are not getting from podcasts or online sermons.
I think the problem is very clear. The reason why people are unable to give a proper defense for their faith in God is because they never came to know God in the first place. You cannot defend what you do not know! If someone asked me to give a good defense for a particular judicial case, I would have quite a few problems wouldn’t I? The first would be that I’m not a lawyer, and the second would be that I have no prior knowledge on the case, no prior examination of evidence against or for the defendant, and I would have no framework upon which to make my argument; I would possibly lead an innocent man all the way to death row.
Now here we are with Christianity, and we expect our modern Christians to give a defense of a faith they never accepted… you see the problem here? We’re attempting to make a construction worker do the work of an architect, a waiter to cook a dish like a chef, a reality TV star and businessman to be a president, etc. (The last one was a joke.) My point is this: have we ever considered whether many modern Christians have even accepted the Gospel?
If you were to ask any of these so-called Christians a simple question like “what is the Gospel?” or “how do you know the Bible is true?”, they would stutter and not be able to able to provide a clear and true answer. If you were to ask them to provide a defense of how Christianity is the correct religion, they would most likely not be able to. Why? Because they never read the Scriptures or thought deeply about their faith and what being a Christian actually means.
In 1 John 5:4 (ESV) it says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” When the disciples complained about how hard it was to face the storms, Jesus didn’t tell them they lacked education, the right resources or the proper training. He told them they were of “little faith.” Jesus is not fooled by fake Christians; He knows exactly who they are and why they are unable to defend God.
The only way to defend God before men is God Himself. It is one thing to argue with a policeman about whether or not his gun exists, and it’s another thing to be shot by it. Perhaps a bit of a vulgar example, but it’s true. Why would you argue about the details of God, when you can expose the individual to God Himself. After all, God is the bulwark that is never failing. Science, despite what many people say, can fail. Fact, contrary to what Ben Shapiro says, can actually change. But God will never change, and the only way to provide a solid defense is through the knowledge of God and His word. Those who can’t defend God simply don’t know Him, for anyone who knows God and is asked to provide a reason for their faith would look no further than the Scriptures and His divine nature.
As easy as it would be to say that the reason people defend God is because they aren’t given enough materials, the truth of the matter is that the problem is very much a spiritual one. We need to examine the hearts of those who aren’t capable of being able to articulate their faith, and it is important to encourage everyone from the youth to the elderly in churches to engage in apologetics and practical theology. At the end of the day, it is not what a person says about God that will save Him, but what God says about that person; if one cannot defend God on earth, there is little chance that God will defend him or her on that final day.
Soli Deo Gloria.