At the start of one of his "Does God Exist?" debates, Dr. William Lane Craig stated [roughly quoted], "First off, I want to say that we need not spend all our time and energy arguing for (or about) God, but rather enjoying our relationship with him."
My purpose for beginning with Dr. Craig's words is to remind the apologist to prioritize his personal relationship with Christ first and foremost. Yet I do understand that this is a way in which many theistic philosophers continue to experience God - one discourses on virtue in order to stimulate the minds of individuals of all ideologies and not only that of the highly insurgent skeptic. It is not to convince or to persuade, but instead it is to encourage men to search willfully and extensively under the law of God. However, a number of activist non-believers radically censure supernatural-related doctrines; one can merely approach him with such and he builds reason for a more intense disdain. In what ways should this be conversed, with civility, in order to effectively reach out to the self-proclaimed intellectuals of the new age (e.g. radically anti-theistic iconoclasts, skeptic philosophers, humanistic scientists, etc.)? I must note that this question by no means implies compromising the nature or the law of God in order to "persuade" skeptics - the theist should understand the great distinction between "compromising the truth" and "tonality and the truth". Moreover, consistently does one expound under both logically and scientifically strong convictions for skeptic ideologies, hence those constantly active among these fields must remember that even the sun shines into cesspools and is not polluted [Diogenes].
Secondly, it must be noted that one's stressing over such is futile. A message of encouragement regarding patience and the steady effort of diligence can be found in Proverbs 25:15, which says, "Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone." Patience is a commonly forgotten gift, often replaced by recklessness and ungodliness, and the reason for this is because God is patient.
Controversies regarding the vitalities of non-essential doctrine, cultural immoralities, and taboos, and their precedences to salvation, are ongoing within the theistic community. While these should never cease acknowledgment, are they not held, in negligence, as diversions from one's active realization of the authority of Christ? Intellectuals of modern skepticism begin with disfigured premises regarding God's cause due to the case that so many of his earthly representatives misrepresent his great cause. Truly, reason is a large cut of what directs one to a reasonable God apart from the uncultivated mentality - one in which is driven by fear of philosophies and scientific data. Ironically, would not the creator be both the paramount definition of knowledge and the source of logic? Lasting is the irrational conflict between men of science and men of faith, yet there is an analogy by Robert Jastrow that nails the primary difference between the two: Men of science hike the mountain 'round and 'round in search of truth. This will inevitably lead back to the Author of truth. Eventually, upon nearing the top, they will realize that men of faith have been standing there for centuries.
Yet it is axiomatic that there are different callings for Christians in correspondence with personal strengths and weaknesses, just as a military has different tasks for soldiers. A number of individuals will appear to be devil's advocates as interpreted by the self-governed conscience of man. Constructive accountability of the philosophical and social areas of Christianity and its truth wholly for the glorification of God has lamentably become a repulsive role to a number of modern fundamentalists. Beware: open-mindedness will often say, "Everything is permissible except a sharp opinion." Would it not be of great exigency to support faithful men who productively challenge the ethos of modern Christianity for the manifestation of its true, essential values? Personally, I like finding problems because I like solving problems. Nothing is more depressing to me than cheerfully sweeping things under the rug. It reminds me of passive individualism. I would rather have strong enemies than a world of passive individualists. In a world of passive individualists nothing seems worth anything simply because nobody stands for anything. That world has no convictions, no victories, no unions, no heroism, no absolutes, no heartbeat. That world has rigor mortis. This is not to justify the instigation of unnecessary conflicts, but rather to defend truth from future turmoil. Needless to say, one should avoid passivity when negative extremists represent hatred or falsehoods as regularities within the body of Christ (e.g. the infamous Westboro Baptist Church). The motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Those who care criticize where necessary. Those who envy criticize the moment they think that they have found a weak spot. In Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin effectively explained the Church's interaction with the state of the times (or cultures); firstly, love should be one's guide before tradition. As previously mentioned, determining the tone of one's beliefs does not necessarily entail altering and/or compromising one's beliefs:
"I mean that the Lord has in his sacred oracles faithfully embraced and clearly expressed both the whole sum of true righteousness, and all aspects of the worship of his majesty, and whatever was necessary to salvation; therefore, in these the Master alone is to be heard. But because he did not will in outward discipline and ceremonies to prescribe in detail what we ought to do (because he foresaw that this depended upon the state of the times, and he did not deem one form suitable for all ages), here we must take refuge in those general rules which he has given, that whatever the necessity of the church will require for order and decorum should be tested against these. Lastly, because he has taught nothing specifically, and because these things are not necessary to salvation, and for the upbuilding of the church ought to be variously accommodated to the customs of each nation and age, it will be fitting (as the advantage of the church will require) to change and abrogate traditional practices and to establish new ones. Indeed, I admit that we ought not to charge into innovation rashly, suddenly, for insufficient cause. But love will best judge what may hurt or edify; and if we let love be our guide, all will be safe."
There is a certain role for a number of theists, and surprisingly enough, one in which is not to condemn in the name of doctrinal principles. Instead, it is to provide reasonable direction for one to ruminate on Christ, love, and virtue as manifested through scriptures, but first, let me explain: I feel that some individuals, forgotten individuals, more confidently relate to this approach. There is a presupposition that says, "Oh, it's from the Bible, whatever," and then there is the alternative, "I've never thought of this that way. It's starting to make more sense." Scripture in its purest interpretation is the one and only reliable foundation of all teachings worth teaching, yet every individual requires an amount of deconstruction in his grand search for truth. I want to make it clear that this does not imply something as contemptuous as provoking the loss of one's conscious state of mind. Veracity is within all people, however the challenge is sorting through one's own nonsense. Those who speak of progression but are afraid of change are self-repressed and therefore unable to reach any further than their eyes can already see. In Job's hardships, he shaved his head and tore his robe saying, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I must return (Job 1:21)."
I think it is healthy to, every once in awhile, combat everyday inclinations in order to inspire evaluation of one's own potentially biased ideologies, whether it is for the theist or the atheist. It is like a reflection that rearranges the pieces in the mirror; surely the questioning of faith, rationality, opinion, and ideology is an effective self-evaluation. In result, if it was ever true faith in the beginning (more than mere opinion or belief), the right questions can only make that faith stronger under the discovery of more refined answers. When one serves as a planter of seeds for the glorification of God, the remainder of the vision is placed in his sovereign hands. With this an endeavor cannot be any more valuable whether the results are comprehended by man or not.