Are Religious Discussions Important?

By Brian G. Chilton

An old adage claims that the two worst conversations to have with a person involve religion and politics. Since people hold deep emotional feelings pertaining to these two issues, the logic of the clichĂ© claims that the two topics must be avoided. However, these two topics are arguably the most important topics that one could discuss. I will leave the issue of politics with the pundits. Nevertheless, political policy affects everyone in the nation to which it is given. On a larger scale, religion is an issue that deals with life’s most important questions. Does God exist? Is there an afterlife? How does one get to heaven? Did Jesus of Nazareth exist? Did Jesus rise from the dead on Easter Sunday?

Religious Discussions

I have heard people make the claim that religious conversations should be avoided because they are worthless. Statements such as “All people want to do when talking religion is to force their opinions on others” indicate a disdain for the topic. For some, it could include a disregard for religion itself. So, is the discussion of religion important? Let’s consider three aspects that religion covers.

  1. Religious conversations are important as they discusscritical shapers of a worldview.

Why does it matter what a person believes, that is, accepts as truth? It actually matters a great deal. Everyone has a religion of some sort. The person’s religion may or may not be part of an organized religious system of thought. But, the person still has a religion because the term religion is understood as a systematized, personal belief. How one views God, the world, and humanity becomes part of that person’s religious belief. These beliefs are actually shapers of the person’s worldview.

Individuals have been moved to do great good by their religious beliefs. Countless individuals have given of themselves, sometimes even their lives, to serve other people because of their belief that God loves all people and wants to love all people. Consider missionary Jim Elliot who gave his life to share the gospel with the Huaorani people of Ecuador. Why did he share gifts and his beliefs with the Huaorani? Because he believed that God loves everyone. Elliot’s worldview was shaped by the religious shapers of his belief system.

In stark contrast, others such as Adolf Hitler[1]—who was influenced by a bizarre conflation of New Age ideology, mixed with the beliefs of atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche[2], and the biology of Charles Darwin—and Joseph Stalin—who was influenced Karl Marx and his atheism—were led to do great harm because of their worldview. Hitler and Stalin’s worldview were shaped by their religious beliefs. Ideas truly matter!

  1. Religious conversations are important as they diagnose claims of truth.

Everyone has an opinion, but is every opinion based on truth? Do we take seriously the claims of the Flat Earthers in that the world is flat, and that the population’s acceptance of a round earth is part of a greater conspiracy? It seems that there are conspiracy theories for everything nowadays. While it is important to respect each person, it is not wise to accept all opinions as truth.

Some people reject the idea of a spiritual existence beyond the scope of the body that awaits the return of Christ. However, if a person accepts the authority of the Bible and Jesus’s teachings, then it is difficult to accept his teachings to Martha after Lazarus’s death, saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26a).[3] How could this be true if there is no survival of the soul after death? Or, what of Jesus’s promise to the criminal on the cross where he says, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (John 11:43). If Jesus is true, then ideas of soul death or soul sleep cannot. Intellectual discussions of religious belief, when done properly, can diagnose truth claims according to theological, philosophical, historical, and biblical evidences.

  1. Religious conversations are important as they dissect conversational spiritual status.

Not all religious conversations will end with good results. Nevertheless, a person can gauge one’s spiritual status during conversations of religion. I heard the story of a pastor who spoke with a young man who took a lax view of sin and theology. The pastor asked the young man if he and his girlfriend were engaged in premarital sexual relations. The young man admitted that they were. The young man’s rejection of ethical and theological standards said more about his spiritual state than the veracity of the ethical and theological truths being discussed. Religious conversations may lead to deep discussions, or it may lead to revealing spiritual conditions. If a person is found to be in a lost or spiritually weak state, one knows how to pray for the person in question.

Conclusion

If God exists, Jesus is risen, the Bible is God’s revelation to humanity, and if salvation is found in Christ’s work on the cross; then religious discussions are the most important conversations that we can have. In the end, I really don’t think that people who accuse religion as being unimportant truly mean what they say. I feel that the people making this claim do not desire to be obtrusive or combative. However, it has been my experience that with proper training and in-depth contemplation, religious conversations do not need to be hostile or combative. Hot-button issues only become hostile if we allow it. Emotional outbursts do more to show the shallowness of a person’s worldview than to dismiss logical and evidential claims. Sometimes, all one needs to do is, as Greg Koukl suggests, leave a stone in someone’s shoe.

Notes

[1] See an interesting expose on Hitler’s anti-Christian sentiments at Ray Comfort, “Was Adolf Hitler a Christian?,” CBN.com, http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/

[2] See “Michael Kalish, “Friedrich Nietzsche’s Influence on Hitler’s Mein Kampf,” UCSB.edu (2004),  http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/classes/133p/133p04papers/MKalishNietzNazi046.htm.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).


Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian is full member of the International Society of Christian Apologetics and the Christian Apologetics Alliance. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the pastor of Huntsville Baptist Church in Yadkinville, North Carolina.

Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2DWEg4T

Free CrossExamined.org Resource

Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.

Powered by ConvertKit
4 replies
  1. Daryn Stockwell says:

    An old adage claims that the two worst conversations to have with a person involve religion and politics. Since people hold deep emotional feelings pertaining to these two issues, the logic of the clichĂ© claims that the two topics must be avoided. However, these two topics are arguably the most important topics that one could discuss. I will leave the issue of politics with the pundits. Nevertheless, political policy affects everyone in the nation to which it is given. On a larger scale, religion is an issue that deals with life’s most important questions. Does God exist? Is there an afterlife? How does one get to heaven? Did Jesus of Nazareth exist? Did Jesus rise from the dead on Easter Sunday?

    He didn’t rise on Easter Sunday he rose 3 days later. Easter Sunday is not scriptual and is a man made coonstruct.

    I have heard people make the claim that religious conversations should be avoided because they are worthless. Statements such as “All people want to do when talking religion is to force their opinions on others” indicate a disdain for the topic. For some, it could include a disregard for religion itself. So, is the discussion of religion important? Let’s consider three aspects that religion covers.
    1. Religious conversations are important as they discuss critical shapers of a worldview.
    Why does it matter what a person believes, that is, accepts as truth? It actually matters a great deal. Everyone has a religion of some sort. The person’s religion may or may not be part of an organized religious system of thought. But, the person still has a religion because the term religion is understood as a systematized, personal belief. How one views God, the world, and humanity becomes part of that person’s religious belief. These beliefs are actually shapers of the person’s worldview. That doesn’t allow for the person who has no belief in God or the world or humanity of which there are many. This is a huge generalization and totally in accurate.
    Individuals have been moved to do great good by their religious beliefs.

    And evil also.

    Countless individuals have given of themselves, sometimes even their lives, to serve other people because of their belief that God loves all people and wants to love all people. Consider missionary Jim Elliot who gave his life to share the gospel with the Huaorani people of Ecuador. Why did he share gifts and his beliefs with the Huaorani? Because he believed that God loves everyone. Elliot’s worldview was shaped by the religious shapers of his belief system.
    In stark contrast, others such as Adolf Hitler[1]—who was influenced by a bizarre conflation of New Age ideology, mixed with the beliefs of atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche[2], and the biology of Charles Darwin—and Joseph Stalin—who was influenced Karl Marx and his atheism—were led to do great harm because of their worldview. Hitler and Stalin’s worldview were shaped by their religious beliefs. Ideas truly matter! Hitler was raised a Catholic and you should read some of his quotes some as follows: Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord. – Adolf Hitler

    My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter.
    – Adolf Hitler

    As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people. – Adolf Hitler

    The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God’s will, and actually fulfill God’s will, and not let God’s word be desecrated. For God’s will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord’s creation, the divine will. – Adolf Hitler

    Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith …we need believing people. – Adolf Hitler

    We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations; we have stamped it out. – Adolf Hitler

    2. Religious conversations are important as they diagnose claims of truth.
    Everyone has an opinion, but is every opinion based on truth? Do we take seriously the claims of the Flat Earthers in that the world is flat, and that the population’s acceptance of a round earth is part of a greater conspiracy? It seems that there are conspiracy theories for everything nowadays. While it is important to respect each person, it is not wise to accept all opinions as truth.

    Hence my response to this article

    Some people reject the idea of a spiritual existence beyond the scope of the body that awaits the return of Christ. However, if a person accepts the authority of the Bible and Jesus’s teachings, then it is difficult to accept his teachings to Martha after Lazarus’s death, saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26a).[3] How could this be true if there is no survival of the soul after death? Or, what of Jesus’s promise to the criminal on the cross where he says, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (John 11:43). If Jesus is true, then ideas of soul death or soul sleep cannot. Intellectual discussions of religious belief, when done properly, can diagnose truth claims according to theological, philosophical, historical, and biblical evidences.
    3. Religious conversations are important as they dissect conversational spiritual status.
    Not all religious conversations will end with good results. Nevertheless, a person can gauge one’s spiritual status during conversations of religion. I heard the story of a pastor who spoke with a young man who took a lax view of sin and theology. The pastor asked the young man if he and his girlfriend were engaged in premarital sexual relations. The young man admitted that they were. The young man’s rejection of ethical and theological standards said more about his spiritual state than the veracity of the ethical and theological truths being discussed. Religious conversations may lead to deep discussions, or it may lead to revealing spiritual conditions. If a person is found to be in a lost or spiritually weak state, one knows how to pray for the person in question.
    Conclusion

    If God exists, Jesus is risen, the Bible is God’s revelation to humanity, and if salvation is found in Christ’s work on the cross; then religious discussions are the most important conversations that we can have. In the end, I really don’t think that people who accuse religion as being unimportant truly mean what they say. I feel that the people making this claim do not desire to be obtrusive or combative. However, it has been my experience that with proper training and in-depth contemplation, religious conversations do not need to be hostile or combative. Hot-button issues only become hostile if we allow it. Emotional outbursts do more to show the shallowness of a person’s worldview than to dismiss logical and evidential claims. Sometimes, all one needs to do is, as Greg Koukl suggests, leave a stone in someone’s shoe.

    Reply
  2. Susan says:

    I wish people would focus on spiritual education more and arguments less.

    Arguments only appeal to certain personality types and don’t do much to enhance spiritual growth.

    Reply
  3. Susan says:

    John 1:12 King James Version (KJV)

    12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

    Christians are the sons of God in training. The training is all in the scriptures. Our tutor is the Holy Spirit. That kind of training is worth a lot more than an argument or even winning an argument.

    I don’t know why no one teaches atheists to pursue the right kind of education but argue with them instead but atheism could be a learning disability.

    Why would I argue with someone at a disadvantage? Just to win an argument that can have eternal repercussions for the disadvantaged?

    So seek God atheists while there is still time and repent so He can gift you with faith and a tutor to get you the right spiritual education.

    RIght now you are floundering in spiritual confusion.

    You think your questions are insightful?

    They are not. They indicate a lack of direction and perception about spiritual things so you need to seek God’s enablement while you still
    have time.

    Thanks for reading and God Bless!

    Learn to meditate on the scriptures like it tells people to do in Psalm 1.

    Reply
  4. Susan says:

    If Jesus can say this to believers then how much more true is it of unbelievers?

    From the Book of Revelation:
    Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

    What is spiritual blindness?

    Give yourself an education on it and read “Blindness in Part” on the God’s Kingdom Ministries site.

    Some people are a lot clearer on the scriptures which is God’s perspective than other people are.

    Shame on anyone who dared to attack the scriptures without mastering the scriptures which are God’s perspective first.

    All Christ’s apostles were disciples that means they were personally taught by a master of the spiritual.

    Are you really going to assault God from a spiritually uneducated position? If so
    that is deliberate willful negligence and ignorance on your part.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *