After a showing of The Last Temptation of Christ, I engaged in a vigorous debate with a protester at the theater, a member of the Campus Crusade For Christ. The memory of that discussion makes me cringe even today -- for starts, because it is now obvious to my older, wiser self that I was speaking completely ex recto. But I also cringe when I remember the lame arguments on behalf of the Christian faith he offered skeptical me. I'm sure he meant well, but I came away from that encounter with my prejudices against Christians intact. Now that I'm on the other side of the fence, it's this memory that makes me withdraw into myself whenever it looks like I'm about to be drawn into a debate with a non-Christian. I don't want to be that guy.

About a year ago I came across this document at www.christian-thinktank.com. Given the natural tendency to stumble badly when sharing our faith with the secular world, I sometimes feel that we should all staple this to our foreheads before we walk outside.

Ethical Vectors for Christians

  1. The God of Truth is NOT afraid of our questions.
  2. Our God is God of the whole person: will, emotions, body, even our intellect.
  3. God is seriously committed to truth--whatever the cost...as His children, so should we be.
  4. Taking a person's questions seriously is an act of respect and love, even when they don't really take them seriously.
  5. Distortion, misrepresentation, or deception through omission are unethical.
  6. When we don't know the answer, we must say 'I do not know'.
  7. If a sincere question (as a felt need) comes our way, we should attempt to meet that need through answers, resources, or encouragement to patience.
  8. We are not allowed to be contentious or to argue for argument's sake.
  9. We should be changing the shape of eternity, one conversation at a time.
  10. Sometimes the best answer is silence.
  11. Prov. 18:13: "He who answers before listening -- that is his folly and his shame."
  12. "Slander" includes misrepresentation.
  13. Chronic ignorance can become irresponsibility, and chronic irresponsibly can become a moral failure.
  14. It is not a sin to have unanswered questions and agonizing doubts--you can raise more questions in 5 minutes than you can answer in 50 years!
  15. It is generally dishonest to reject a belief which you have N+1 arguments for, on the basis of only N arguments against (all argument weights being equal)...it is also somewhat foolish.
  16. Unanswered questions CAN be a source of emotional pain.
  17. This is NOT A GAME we're in.

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