The CARM discussion boards exist for several reasons. First, they are to promote conversation among people with different viewpoints. Second, they are to help train Christians on how to deal with false religious systems. Third, they are to help Christians become better equipped to defend the Christian faith against non-theological systems.
Because of the nature of discussion and facing false doctrines, this means that Christians will be exposed to anti-Christian arguments from such groups as the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the atheists, the evolutionists,1 etc. Some Christians think that this is a bad idea. They say that it is better to have only a discussion board where Christians can talk to Christians without the intrusion and challenge of the unbelievers. If this is how you feel, then these boards are not for you. These discussion boards are an extension of the CARM website which is dedicated to establishing Christian truth, exposing false teachings, and training Christians. Therefore, it is necessary that the Christian, who wants to be trained and wants to experience a deeper understanding of Christian theology, become exposed to those things that contradict his beliefs. Hopefully, he will then dig deeper into the word of God and become more solid in understanding its truth, so he might better speak of God's provision for us in His Son Jesus. Remember, one of the best ways to learn what you believe is to have it challenged. If we want to challenge unbelievers, then we should also expect to be challenged as well.
The boards are also for reaching the lost. In order to bridge the gap between the believer and unbeliever in our dialogues, there has to be a place to do it. We cannot reach unbelievers if we don't encounter them. This is why the CARM discussion boards have nonreligious topics (food, computers, etc.,) to bring in the unchurched as well as boards dedicated to groups that are anti-Christian, i.e., Islam, atheism, Mormonism, Christadelphianism, etc.
If the Christian religion is indeed true, then it should be able to stand up under scrutiny, and the Christian should learn how to defend it. If Christians are unable to do that, then they need to study and get their facts straight. This is what God calls us to do: "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet. 3:15). You cannot obey this command if you don't know what you need to be prepared for, and you certainly will not be able to fulfill the command if you do not have your faith challenged; otherwise, how do we "make a defense"?
How do you witness?
If you are a Christian and you have witnessing opportunities with those who oppose Christianity, I strongly recommend that you seek to be loving and patient. The Bible says that the unregenerate cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Therefore, you must pray patiently as you work to reveal the light of God's truth to the lost--that those false things hidden in the darkness of their souls might be exposed and that God might grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 2:25). The Christian's instruction in this endeavor is found in the Scriptures:
- "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." (1 Tim. 1:5).
- "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person." (Col. 4:5-6).
- "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear." (Eph. 4:29).
None of us can live up to the graciousness required in the Scriptures. But, that does not excuse us from trying to be as the above Scriptures teach: pure in heart, having a good conscience, a sincere faith, being wise, gracious, wholesome, and speaking words of edification. So, remember that we are in a spiritual battle and that we must be trained, prepared, determined, and faithful. Truth is nothing to be afraid of.
However . . .
Witnessing on these boards can be very difficult and tiresome. There are those who come here for the purpose of destroying the faith of Christians. Some have gathered in groups outside the CARM boards and strategized on how to bring them down and destroy the faith of some. Therefore, for many, you can share your heart only to have it stepped on. You can continue to be nice--only to be mocked. So, what do you do when those to whom you are trying to witness refuse to listen; and after many attempts to reach them, they attack you, continue to misrepresent Christianity, and clearly refuse to learn from what you say and instead use mockery, disdain, and ridicule (Prov. 9:7; 23:9). What do you do when they return kindness with lies and truth with denial and then accuse you falsely when you ask them why? Does there come a time when you must give up on them? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Jesus said in Matt. 7:6, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." If those to whom you are sharing the faith demonstrate a refusal to receive the truth and instead turn on you, seeking to trample you underfoot, then it is time to reject them. Why? Because "to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled." (Titus 1:15).
We do not seek to leave people to their own sins, but sometimes we must shake the dust from our shoes and move on (Matt. 10:14-15). Paul said in Phil. 3:2, "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; . . ." Jesus told us to be wary of "the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Matt. 7:15). In 2 Timothy, Paul warned to "be on guard against" a particular false teacher. The Psalmist said, "Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God." (Psalm 119:115). We are told to "Reject a factious man after a first and second warning," (Titus 3:10).
So, after you have exhausted the avenue of gentleness and patience and you are convinced they will not repent and will only continue to rebel against God and attack you, then it is time to obey the rest of scripture which warns us to not give pearls to swine (Matt. 7:6). They who exhibit the defilement of mind and conscience (Titus 1:15), who are evil workers (Phil. 3:2), ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15), are to be rejected (Titus 3:10).
Such is the case when Scripture refers to the Pharisees as a brood of vipers (Matt. 3:7) and serpents (Matt. 23:33). Jesus called false prophets ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15). He called the doubters a perverse generation (Matt. 17:17). Paul called people evil workers (Phil. 3:2) and said that some had foolish hearts (Rom. 1:21). We must remember the words of God through Paul concerning unbelievers who think lightly of God's kindness and patience when he says that because of their stubbornness and unrepentant heart, they are storing up wrath for themselves on the Day of Judgment of God (Rom. 2:5).
So first be patient, be loving, be kind. Suffer wrongs as much as you can; and if and when you realize that those who oppose the gospel will continue to do so, will continue to lie, will continue to seek to destroy the faith of Christians, then consider telling them that they are defiled, wolves, false teachers, etc., and that you will not continue to waste your pearls. (Please be aware of the CARM Discussion Forum Rules and any personal comments to a specific poster should be in private or email.)
It may not be easy, but it may be necessary.
1. Some people think that God used evolution to get us here. This is not biblical. God created us. He did not evolve us.