Think Biblically But Speak Secularly to Unbelievers?

Think Biblically But Speak Secularly to Unbelievers?

Posted in Tough Questions

When conversing with unbelievers, be it sharing the Gospel or explaining why we home school, shouldn’t  we endeavour to think Biblically but to speak secularly?

There is a strong current of thought among Christians that we need to modify the way we present the Gospel (or any other Biblically based principle by which we live) to the unbelieving and mostly unchurched people around us. If the public is to comprehend what we are saying as Christians we need to use language free from Christian jargon. We all probably agree with this sentiment.

But this is not the issue in the “think Biblically/speak secularly” debate. We told that our presentation of Biblical truths must not be too overtly Christian or else 1) we will get branded as Bible bashers and fundamentalists, 2) our unbelieving friends and family will switch off when we try to share with them, and 3) we will lose credibility and influence. Instead we must present Biblical principles in a way that does not immediately give away where we are coming from , is simple and appeals to the typical non-Christian NZer’s sense of righteousness, justice, fair-play, reasonableness and innate conservative sense of traditional family values. This is the way to win friends and influence people.

There are, however, many things terribly wrong with this mode of thinking. It denies the Lordship of Christ. It actually offers nothing at all distinctively Christian. It fails to grasp the work involved in thinking Biblically. The motivation behind this approach is to gain popularity, influence and mana in the eyes of men rather than to bring glory and increased faithfulness to God. It assumes that unbelievers have virtues which they do not possess. It causes us to abandon our Biblical stance and to argue from the unbeliever’s point of view. It also works against one of the main reasons many of us have for home schooling in the first place: surrounding our children with consistent standards.

First let us ask, ”Who’s in charge here, anyway?” Is it the risen glorified awesome and majestic Lord Jesus Christ to Whom has been granted all authority in heaven and on earth, or is it the intimidation of our friends and family that controls the way we think, speak and act in their presence? Is Jesus Lord of all or only Lord of some? What is it we Christians are called to do while here on earth? If it is simply to add an inoffensive Christian flavour to society so that some people will think, “Well, that’s so nice I’d like to join them,” then I think we have missed the point.

We are to be the lamp set on a lamp stand, not to be seen by others so much as TO DISPEL THE DARKNESS.

NZ is crying out for ANSWERS, not possibilities or good ideas. As Christians so often we know we have the answers in the Bible, but we take it so much for granted. Unless we are prepared to offer Christ, that is the Word of God, as the only hope for this nation, our friends and families and their families, then we really have nothing more than any of the secular counselling agencies or Social Welfare Officers of the state are offering.

Our children listen to the way we converse with our non-Christian friends and neighbours. They listen to what we say. Now granted we must use diplomacy, tact and sensitivity in sharing the Gospel, and there is truth in the idea that we must first earn the right to share the Gospel with our friends and workmates. But too often we think of sharing anything Christian with non-Christians as “witnessing”, and therefore as a separate activity. THIS IS A FALSE VIEW OF LIFE, and a view we DO NOT want to impart to our children. The Gospel and various aspects of it can and should be on our hearts and minds all the time, as they determine whether our speech and actions are distinctively Christian or basically the same as the pagan next door. Actually the truths of Scripture should not just be on our hearts and minds: they should be the frame of reference through which all incoming data and all outgoing messages are filtered. Only in this way can we think God’s thoughts after Him, acting and reacting in ways pleasing to Him. .And we want to be building this consistently Biblical frame of reference into our children’s hearts and minds as an integral part of our homeschooling programme. It is pretty tough to do when we do not have this consistently Biblical frame of reference in ourselves as yet. Many Christians, calling us to think Biblically yet speak secularly, themselves only know how to think secularly.

OK, so how do we go about building a consistently Biblical frame of reference? Work at it. We are talking about our minds here, our intellect, and the Lord Himself said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, soul, MIND and strength. So use our minds to study the Scriptures on a continuing and regular basis. This is not the same as listening to sermons or tapes or someone else’s prepared mid-week study when you may or may not have actually read the chapter under study. This means pursuing a topic through the Scriptures and other study helps as if you were doing the sermon. I personally enjoy studying up an issue I may find , say, in the letters to the editor column. To focus my study I make it my aim to write a reply letter as a result of what I have learned , and most of the time they are published. And sometimes it starts a real debate through the papers, giving me even more issues to study up (and incidentall y , more opportunities to share the Word of God with the population at large). Listening to tapes is of course an excellent way to imbibe spiritual truths, as long as you use plenty of discretion in who you listen to.

One thing the saints have done all through the ages, something which is a lot of work but which repays in vast dividends, is to memorize Scripture. Do not just think in terms of a verse here and a verse there. Go for whole chapters, and memorize entire books. The wisdom gained, the experiences of God bringing a verse to mind for just the right occasion, the insights while reviewing and meditating on passages memorized to keep them sharp, the time with the children as they listen to see that you memorized it correctly and when you listen to see that they memorized it correctly, the blessing to others by bringing a quote rather than a paraphrase to bear on an issue at hand are all well worth the work. And as home schoolers, we can as a family memorize a verse around the breakfast table and review it together at the lunch break and review it again at tea time. We took a whole year to memorize James chapter one, and found that our 5-year-old had memorized it along with us even though we left her out of the process thinking she was too young! And again, those precious times around the mea1 table or while studying together are great for discussing the meaning of a verse or the blessings of a recent time in study or meditation over a passage of God’s Word … these things all build in a Biblical frame of reference into our children.

In addition, these methods of loving the Lord with our minds will cause us to think Biblically. Then we may act and speak Biblically as well. This idea of thinking Biblically yet speaking secularly seems a bit inconsistent, and we do not want to introduce these inconsistencies into our children’s education. To be consistent, let us first ensure that we think Biblically so that we are then ABLE to properly speak Biblically. OK, we may need to watch our vocabulary and stay away from certain Christian jargon, but we must use ideas and concepts that come straight from the only source of pure truth we have : the Bible. As the Lord says in Jeremiah 23:28-29, “And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. ‘What is the chaff to the wheat?’ says the LORD. ‘Is not My word like a fire?’ says the LORD, ‘And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?’ “

From Keystone Magazine
November 1995 , Vol. 1 No. 5
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig