Negative Stereotype: Non-Christians believe we have a Superficial or Blind Faith.
This essentially means they believe we don’t know what we believe (or don’t really believe what we believe because of our actions) and are uncomfortable and unprepared to discuss our beliefs with others who might disagree. They believe our beliefs are “skin deep”, and don’t go much beyond the Sunday school stories of “Jonah and the whale” or “Daniel and the lion’s den”. They dispute the Bible’s truth; claiming it is full of myth, inaccuracies, and contradictions.
• What’s your definition of having a superficial faith?
A Story to Make It Real:
• “Bible ‘study’ is an exercise in affirming/reinforcing their beliefs, instead of critical inquiry.”
• “Blind faith: willful ignorance, maintaining ignorance even when presented with the evidence.”
Examples: (Do you have any stories to share? What’s the impact of having a superficial faith?)
1. We have faith, but we don’t live as if we truly believe. E.g. it’s fake and superficial. Read Titus 1:16, James 2:14-24
2. Atheist Penn Jillette (Penn & Teller comedy duo) challenges Christians saying “IF you really believe God exists and I’m going to hell, then you SHOULD come talk to me. I admire those that do. If you really believe and DON’T talk to me, then you must really hate me!”
• If we are unwilling to talk to other people about God, what does this say about our faith or what does it say about our love for other people? Read Philemon 1:6
• People are rarely “reasoned” into believing. However, I DO believe having a confident and reasoned defense can propel someone into a self-discovery of God through the Holy Spirit. How well could you defend the Bible or God, which is the object of our faith?
• Jesus says that if we truly love Him, we will obey His commands (John 14:15). How would you respond if you were challenged about selectively picking and choosing which commands from the Bible to obey, or picking and choosing which practices to follow or ignore? Read Exodus 20:9-10, Exodus 21:17, Matthew 15:3-9, Galatians 3:25
• Is it appropriate to continue with a Child-Like understanding after accepting Christ with a Child-Like faith? Read Mark 10:15
What God Say About It (The Bible):
• 1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
• 2 Timothy 3:14-17 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
• Jude 1:3 “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”
• 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?”
• Hebrews 5:12-14 “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
• Hebrews 4:2 “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.”
Closing Thoughts on Christian superficial faith: (Being Prepared With An Answer)
• Essential vs non-essential beliefs: review the early church statements of belief (creeds)
o Nicene Creed, Confession of Chalcedon, Athanasian Creed, Apostles Creed, Westminster Confession and Westminster Catechisms
o Creeds focus on doctrine of the Trinity (God the father, Son of God-Jesus, Holy Spirit), Jesus being eternal with God, not made or a creation of God, Jesus taking on flesh and becoming human, suffering, dying, and resurrecting after 3 days.
• Understand the history of the church and its splits over theological differences (Eastern Orthodox/Western Orthodox, Protestant Reformation). Some denominations place more emphasis on the Bible, while some emphasizes prophesy or tradition. Is there a perfect denomination or does it really matter, assuming they agree on the essentials?
• Accuracy of the Bible, compilation “canonization” process, and how books were included/excluded over time, rejection of Gnostic gospels, and the translation process
• Defense of the Resurrected Christ – Lee Strobel’s “Case for Christ” focuses on this
• Understand why man needs salvation (original sin, nature of man), that salvation is available for everyone, and how Jesus’ sacrifice made salvation possible (substitution).
• Understanding the transformed life: before and after acceptance of Jesus Christ
• Is action more important than understanding? You don’t have to become a Bible scholar, theologian, or apologist, but you should understand the essential beliefs, decide whether you believe them, praise and worship God according to those beliefs, and be able to offer a reasonable explanation as to why you believe them to be true.