Some good friends invited me to attend a conference in Orlando, Florida in September. I agreed and went. I’m glad I did.
The conference was a meeting of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Many if not most of the attendees at the conference were licensed professionals with advanced degrees and real-life experience in helping people.
These counselors believe the science of psychology and psychiatry can be useful in guiding people to healing. They have taken the time and made the effort to acquire advanced skills so they can be effective in assisting those who have experienced traumas in life or who struggle with other personal battles.
But there is more. Note the name of this group: American Association of Christian Counselors. They believe that God’s word is the ultimate measure of truth; and they believe that God’s grace in Christ Jesus is the ultimate healing for humanity. While they value scientific understanding and insights, they measure all conclusions by God’s revealed truth in the Bible.
At the conference, the leaders of these Christian Counselors sounded a note of warning. Hostile forces in the academic and professional world of counseling are threatening to silence the voice of Christianity in psychology, psychiatry, mental health, and related disciplines. How? They are threatening to deny accreditation and certification to anyone with biblical convictions, especially about marriage and human sexuality.
Years ago, I noticed that academic institutions were coercing Christians into renouncing the truth revealed in God’s word. In some instances, they were told to change their beliefs or change their profession. They were denied the opportunity to follow their calling, to counsel people in need. Their degrees and certifications were being held hostage.
Unfortunately, attempts to silence Christianity in counseling are only part of the story. Our culture is changing its mind about religious freedom and freedom of speech in general. Any dissent from the dominant political doctrine is now being painted as hateful, violent, and worthy of being cancelled, that is, silenced.
Jude was a Christian. He was also a half-brother of Jesus. He wrote the short letter in our New Testament which bears his name. His message to his original readers was short and simple: Contend for the faith that was once-for-all entrusted to the saints!
Notice he writes the faith. He is calling on God’s people to do more than defend their personal beliefs, more than a generic ‘faith.’ The Christian faith is revealed in the Old and New Testaments. It is God’s revelation that the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ is his Son and our Savior. For this truth, we contend.
Why must we contend for the faith? Because the faith is under fire. False teachers from inside the church, hostile unbelievers from outside the church, forces that are committed to erasing God from public policy and discourse are active on all sides.
How do we contend for the faith? First, we must learn the faith. How can we contend for the faith if we don’t know what it is? The faith is not a matter of personal opinion, general consensus, or clever fabrication. The faith is a revelation from God recorded in the Bible.
Second, we must live the faith. Christianity is not merely a mindset; it is a lifestyle. Knowing about Jesus is insufficient. The faith tells us that we can know Jesus personally and walk with him daily through the presence of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts.
Third, we must proclaim the faith. Jesus has given us a mandate to make disciples of all peoples. Living the faith means sharing the faith. Someone told us about Jesus. Now we must tell others.
Once we know the faith, apply the faith, and share the faith, we will be faced with hostility from the enemies of the faith. These encounters require us to defend the faith. Defense of Christianity must not be surly or harsh, but it must be confident and unwavering. We speak the truth in love.
Jude calls this defense of the faith contending for the faith. Those of us who recoil at conflict may think we can simply remain silent. But each of us will eventually be forced to choose. Christianity is personal but it is not private.
Will we retreat or will we contend for the faith?
May God’s Holy Spirit give us the inspiration and the victory,