International Society of Women in Apologetics, Apologetics315 will be featuring a series of essays from women in apologetics. This following essay has been contributed by Tricia Scribner, entitled: Women Called to the Front Lines of the Faith.
I was a 20-year-old newly married woman when a Jehovah’s Witness boldly informed me that the word “Trinity” was nowhere in the Bible. Though I had been a believer in Jesus Christ since childhood, I stood mute with no response. This would not be the last time I would be caught off guard by those with other worldviews who seemed much better equipped than I to discuss the evidence for their faith.
Within my profession of nursing I learned that my Christian beliefs were at odds with the prevailing psychology that humans were essentially good and that I needed to be tolerant (accepting as also true) of other people’s beliefs. In anatomy and physiology classes the evolutionary model of the origin and development of complex life forms dominated, and the biblical account was criticized as immature and backward.
I’ve learned that my experience was not unusual. We as women are on the front lines spiritually in every facet of our lives. We weep to hear our college-aged children whom we raised to love the Lord spouting the views of professors who think Christians are weak-minded people who use faith as a crutch because they cannot bear the truth that this life is all there is. As Christian wives we experience divorce at about the same rate as non-Christians. At work we have shut down and shut up about our faith to avoid judgment. We save our faith for Sundays, compartmentalizing our thinking into the sacred and secular, and living spiritually schizophrenic lives.
How the Christian Community Has Not Helped
Churches often provide women’s conferences with sound biblical teaching, fellowship, and worship, but we sometimes fail to equip women to re-enter the battle zones they encounter the moment they return home. Imagine that Wanda returns home from a church conference to an agnostic husband who mocks her for wasting a day worshiping a God no one can be sure even exists. Zoe returns to the college dorm where her roommate Aja, a Muslim, shows where the Bible prophesies the prophet Muhammad is coming. Gina returns home to her 18 year-old who is headed to college where his professor of religion teaches the New Testament is a myth developed by second to third century church leaders. Will the memories of warm fellowship and a spiritually affirming worship experience be enough to strengthen them spiritually so they can stand and arm them with the truth they so desperately need?
What God Says About Women Doing Apologetics
God has commanded us as women not only to share that we believe in Jesus Christ but also the reasons why. Here are some evidences in scripture that God has called women to think, study, and share the reasons for believing in Christianity:
1. We as women are rational beings who are called to love the Lord our God with hearts, souls, and minds, according to Matthew 22:37. Yet, most often we are appealed to on the basis of emotion. Just as the assurance of our salvation is not based upon how we feel but upon truth, so is our loving God not merely comprised of deep feelings but also deep thinking.
2. Women are relational beings who are called to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Our neighbors include people in our spheres of influence, starting with immediate family members. For instance, women are to love their husbands according to Titus 2:3-5. When we learn the evidence for our faith, we won’t use it as a weapon against unbelieving husbands. Instead, our knowledge will keep our own faith from being shaken. We then are freed to practice 1 Peter 3:1-4, seeking to live out before our husbands the life transformed by Christ so that he “may be won by [her] conduct.” Former atheist and author of The Case for Christ Lee Strobel said his wife became a believer, and the change in the way she treated him and the children was so appealing that he embarked on his own search and eventually trusted Christ.
Women are also “keepers” at home who teach their children. Titus 2:5 speaks of watching over, keeping, or guarding. We need to learn how to watch over our children’s worldviews and respond wisely when our children come home from playing with neighbor children, asking why their Hindu friends’ homes have shrines with little statues.
Further, women are called to mentor younger women. Titus 3:2-5 says we as mature women are to be “teachers of good things” (NKJV). We can’t opt out of this call. Younger women who often live far from extended family members desperately need us to take them under our wing and teach them the truths of God.
Finally, women are uniquely equipped to engage certain groups of unbelievers such as Muslim women. Dr. Ergun Caner once reminded me that only Christian women can fulfill this task since Muslim women generally do not speak to men, and they need Christian women who will love and engage them in conversation.
Imagine in all these relational situations not feeling defensive but being willing and able to engage in dialogue comfortably about the reasons Christianity makes sense. That’s what studying apologetics will do for us.
3. We as women are responsible to bear witness of what we have seen and heard regarding Christ’s identity and resurrection. According to Mark 16:1-11, women first witnessed the empty tomb and were instructed to go tell others. If Jesus held women accountable for knowing and speaking the truth regarding the single most pivotal event in human history, then we, too, bear that same responsibility.
4. Women are also to be ready to give cogent reasons for their belief, even if they must suffer to do so. 1 Peter 3:15 is often used as the banner verse for doing apologetics. Notice that in verse eight Peter specifically included women in the instruction he went on to give: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:15-17 NKJV). So, we are to prepare ourselves to give reasons for our faith and perhaps to suffer when carrying out that call.
5. Finally, we as Christian women are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, according to Ephesians 4:11-24. Many believing women are still babies in Christ, not understanding the basics of their faith, and are easily swayed. A friend of mine once told me after reading The DaVinci Code that she wished she had never read it because it caused her to doubt. When we fail to renew the spirit of our minds, we will be tossed about with every new doctrine that arrives on the scene.
What We Can Do
We can begin facing the hard questions head on and seeking answers with the same fervor we cheer on our kids at their games. Let’s understand exactly what we need to study. Apologetics is a field of study that researches and offers rational evidence showing Christianity’s claims are true and expresses those evidences in a coherent, systematic way. Evidence is drawn from a variety of sources such as philosophy, logic, science, and history, as well as the Bible itself. The content of apologetics can be viewed as three progressive steps in terms of what we need to know and share with questioners. First, we need to answer questions about truth: Is truth subjective (an internal feeling) and relative (depends on person), or is it objective (real and out there, not just in our minds)? Second, we can address questions about God, including questions about different worldviews and what they say about God, humans, and the universe, and whether God has revealed Himself in world history through miracles. Third, we can answer questions about the Bible and Jesus. We need to show that the Bible is trustworthy as an ancient document, and on that basis show that in this reliable document Jesus did claim and prove Himself to be God, and therefore is the rightful Savior and Ruler of our lives.
We have numerous resources available to us. Reading a good book that answers many of the basic questions is a great start. We can also plan women’s conferences, retreats, and studies that address the topic of loving God with our minds. Remember that numerous women are struggling with the same questions you and I have. Talk with them. Meet with them. Covenant together to seek answers and to pray for each other. Then take what you’ve learned and engage someone in conversation, sharing the evidence that truth can be known; the personal, Creator God is real; and Jesus Christ is all He claimed to be.
Tricia Scribner MSN, MAA is a Christian apologist, author, and teacher who loves to write and share about evidences for the Christian Faith. Tricia teaches high school Apologetics, Marriage and Family, and Old and New Testament Survey. She and her husband of 35 years, Randy, have 3 adult daughters, 3 grandchildren, and live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Reach Tricia at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site triciascribner.com for resources.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
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