Grace + Truth + Humility
Once we study and discover truth, it is not arrogant to state that truth. If we know that the New Testament documents are historically reliable, it’s not a bad thing to say so, just like it’s not bad to say that gravity is a universal force at work in our world or that objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by some outside force. Saying these things doesn’t make us arrogant. But arrogance can cause us to say these things in ways that are impossible to hear. The solution is not to deny the truths we have learned. The solution is humility. The solution is to remember that we are all saved by a radical grace; it is ridiculous to believe that any of us get saved by being smarter than other people. We all received truth from a transcendent source. Not one of us was smart enough to figure out the truth of God on our own.
Helmut Thielicke makes an interesting point in his book, Little Exercises for Young Theologians. He says that it’s easy for young theologians to become arrogant because they know more about the Bible, theology or ethics than others. He suggests that pride may be almost inevitable initially. But the antidote to this is not to stop learning. Rather, the antidote is to learn more. When it comes to learning about God, the more you know, the more you realize how little you really know. Good theology teaches humility, not arrogance, because good theology starts with grace, and then adds truth.
Maybe that’s what our apologetics need, too: a good, healthy dose of humility.
If you’re not willing to add some humility into the equation, do everyone a favor and take the WWJD bracelet off and stop calling yourself a follower of Christ.