Should Christians Stay Silent? No!

Rarely a day goes by (and sometimes an hour) that I don’t receive personal criticism through Twitter, email, Facebook, or some other medium. I have chosen to speak publicly on controversial topics like religion and sexuality, and so I have come to expect it. But to be honest, it still wears on me.

As a result, there’s a temptation to stop speaking out. These kinds of questions sometimes go through my mind: Why not let someone else do it? Do you really have the time? Will it negatively affect my relationships?  Staying silent would be much easier.

And yet there are a few reasons I simply cannot stay silent:

1. The Apostles Spoke with Boldness: Even though they were threatened, beaten, and thrown in prison, the apostles refused to stop speaking about the name of Jesus. In Acts 5, the apostles were freed from prison and strictly told to stop teaching in the name of Jesus. But Peter replies, “We must obey God rather than men” (v. 29). In other words, Peter feared God more than he feared the disapproval of people.

2. Truth Sets People Free: Even though many people reject it, the Christian worldview is what brings spiritual freedom. And this is not merely a spiritual freedom divorced from the material realm. Following the Christian worldview in all areas of life—work, relationships, finances, etc.—is what brings real freedom in this life in spite of the individualistic and feelings-based mantra our culture proclaims. This is why, in his excellent book We Cannot Be Silent, Albert Mohler argues that speaking truth is often the compassionate thing to do.

3. Speaking Out Helps Us Discover Truth: I do my homework before speaking out publicly. But nevertheless, I have discovered helpful pushback from friends and critics alike that has caused me to change my mind on a number of issues. If I hadn’t spoken out publicly, I may would not have gained a greater understanding of the truth. It’s tempting to avoid speaking out for fear of public correction. But shouldn’t we have a greater desire to discover truth than to preserve our ignorance? Do your homework and make your case. If you discover that you were wrong, then change!

4. Truth Helps Drown Out Lies: There is so much nonsense today being discussed on social media and being passed off as true and important. There is endless “fake news.” Part of the reason I post is to try and help drown out the “noise” with discussion about what matters. I don’t claim to have a corner on truth. As I said above, I am happy to change my mind if I am mistaken. But drowning out unimportant stories (often motivated for clicks) is part of what motives me to speak out.

5. You Can Make a Difference: It is easy to get discouraged today and to stop speaking up. After all, so many things are outside our control. Along with the critical comments, I also receive many comments from people who appreciate my speaking and writing ministry. My point is not to bring attention to myself, but simply to emphasize that it’s possible to make a positive contribution today. Don’t believe the lie: You can make a difference in someone’s life. But it won’t happen unless you speak up.

It is easy to fall prey to the “voices” encouraging Christians to stay silent. After all, speaking up is a risk, and it takes time to do it well. Nevertheless, if you are willing to do your homework, if you are genuinely motivated by love, and if you are willing to follow truth wherever it leads, then please speak up. If you won’t, who will?

Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a biblical worldview. Sean is an associate professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. He is the Resident Scholar for Summit California. Sean still teaches one high school Bible class, which helps him have exceptional insight into the prevailing culture so he can impart his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors and parents alike. In 2008, he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The Association of Christian Schools International awarded Exemplary Status to his apologetics training. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot School of Theology with a master’s degree in theology and another in philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies in 2014 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Backyard Skeptics, Cru, Youth Specialties, Hume Lake Christian Camps, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as Family Life Today, Point of View, Stand to Reason, Common Sense Atheism and the Hugh Hewitt Show. Sean has been quoted in many publications, including the New York Times. Sean is the author, co-author or editor of over 18 books including The Fate of the Apostles (Routledge, 2015); A New Kind of Apologist (Harvest House, 2016); The Beauty of Intolerance (Barbour, 2016); Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, with John Stonestreet (Baker, 2014); Is God Just a Human Invention? with Jonathan Morrow; and Understanding Intelligent Design, with William A. Dembski. Sean has also written multiple books with his father, Josh McDowell, including The Unshakable Truth, More Than A Carpenter and an update for Evidence that Demands a Verdict (2017). Sean is the general editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He has also written for YouthWorker Journal, Decision Magazine and the Christian Research Journal. Follow the dialogue with Sean as he blogs regularly at seanmcdowell.org. In April 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano. Sean played college basketball at Biola and was captain his senior year on a team that went 30-7.

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