NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The best defense of the Gospel is not a good offense, Voddie Baucham says, but instead a good attitude.
Baucham, featured speaker for Campus Youth Day at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Feb. 25, preached from 1 Peter 3:13-17. He reminded seminarians, faculty, staff, and local youth ministers and teens that being prepared to give a defense for their faith does not mean that they must be defensive.
Each year on the Wednesday after Mardi Gras, New Orleans Seminary hosts a top speaker to share with the many teenagers living on campus. Most of the grade schools and high schools in New Orleans are closed throughout the week of Mardi Gras due to the number of people who descend on the city.
While Baucham emphasized the need for believers to be prepared to give a defense of their faith, he said it is important for individuals not to lose sight of the goal: it is all about Jesus, and it is Him that they represent.
He recounted a story about how two Jehovah’s Witnesses visited him when he was a new believer. He had researched the things they had told him about their religion on their first visit, and upon their return, he destroyed their arguments. He later learned from those discipling him that while he did win the argument, he lost the relationship with the people.
“I was wrong. My attitude wasn’t right,” he said. “Playing defense from this perspective isn’t about winning an argument. Let them say anything they want about my argument, but give them absolutely nothing to say about my attitude,” he said. “My attitude is as important as my information in this process.”
Baucham, who has been called an “evangelist for intellectuals,” speaks to youth, college students and adults across the country.
“In case you’ve been wondering, people are asking more and more all the time why it is that we choose to believe what we believe,” Baucham said. “Playing defense always occurs in the face of aggressive opposition.”
As an illustration, Baucham referenced the recent Diane Sawyer interview with Mel Gibson prior to the release of “The Passion of The Christ.” He seemed disturbed by Sawyer’s implication that thinking people do not believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, Baucham said.
“What you saw was the definition of hostility against people of faith,” Baucham said. “When someone who claims to be an objective journalist looks at a man who made a movie about the Gospel, looks at him and says, ‘Yes, but historians don’t believe that this was really the truth.’ … what that means in TV land is ‘You know, people who are intelligent don’t actually believe this happened.'”
Baucham went on to say that in addition to the cultural hostility against the Gospel, there is opposition based on the mindset of relativism and tolerance. He said this mindset excludes any Christian who makes exclusive claims about Christianity from the table of discussion.
“Those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ make up one of the only groups in our society today against whom it is acceptable to be intolerant,” he said. “Defending what we believe and why we believe it is an act of submitting to the lordship of our God.
“Enough already with this idea that apologetics, defending the faith, is for people with certain kinds of degrees from certain institutions,” Baucham said. “It is the responsibility of every believer to be able to defend, to give an answer for what you believe and why you believe it.”
The importance of having a good attitude was hard for Baucham to embrace until he remembered that the defense he is called to give is not about him, but about the Savior he represents.
“I have to remind myself that I don’t just represent me. I represent something beyond me,” he said. “As a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, you represent something more than yourself. Don’t you ever, ever, ever forget that.”
Baucham also examined the criticism and persecution that comes to believers when they give the reason for their faith.
“If God allows them to touch you, He will do it for His own purposes and His own glory and for His own namesake,” he said. “If my Father allows you to do it to me, it is for His honor, for His glory, for His namesake … I will give you an answer for the hope that lies within me … He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. Unless the one who is greater says so, you can’t touch this!”
Baucham earned a master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has participated in post-graduate study at the University of Oxford, England. His new book, “The Ever-Loving Truth: Can Faith Thrive in a Post-Christian Culture?” is scheduled for release in May.