Defending the faith in light of high-profile failure

Another high-standing church member has been arrested and brought into nation-wide disrepute – a painfully public display that once again casts a shadow on the Christian church.

Of course, every group, whether religious or otherwise, contains members that are flawed and allow themselves to engage in the worst kind of activity against their fellow human, but when a member of the church is discovered to be such an offender, more derision is cast on them than for other groups. This, however, stands to reason, for not all groups claim to be bound by a moral standard – and even some that do, do not claim the standard is God-established, i.e. boy scouts (who also had a child-sexual-abuse scandal come to the public eye in recent months), and in the case of Christianity, the high claims of both are made. In fact to make matters worse for the Christian church, the claims are not only of having God’s laws, but of possessing God’s help in keeping the laws He has given us, and so in light of great failure, the world feels justified in refusing to believe. This situation is not new – it was even mentioned in scripture; Romans 2:23-24 says:  “You who boast in the law,do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’”.

In a recent NCAC round table meeting, this issue was discussed: do skeptics have basis to reject belief in Christian claims because of Christians’ failure to abide by the laws they enshrine? On one hand, this position displays poor reasoning, for it is rejecting an entire belief system on the faults of a few, who may or may not be a prime example of an adherent. Even if the person in question has been recognized as a prominent member (as it is in this latest case), it should be noted that the Christian belief set not only includes tenets about receiving God’s help to live correctly, but also tenets about how the flawed, sinful, patterns of humanity can and do make their way into any adherent’s life. However, as Romans 2 points out, these points don’t always matter, nor should they be relied upon by the Christian community as a defense, for it is only a neutral, technical truth, not a positive support of the faith. As Christians, it must always be our aim to pair a sound exposition of our faith with a correspondingly sound lifestyle of faithful living. For it is in this kind of living, steady and joyfully given, that God will make Himself visible to a skeptical world.

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