I received an e-newsletter this week from Stand to Reason that I thought would be good to send to you all as this week’s e-devotion, as it relates very well to the evening series we’ve begun in the Westminster Larger Catechism related to the fifth commandment (started before my vacation with the sermon, “Show Respect”). As we noticed then, the Larger Catechism gives far more attention to the fifth commandment than to any other of the Ten Commandments (striking as it is not the longest commandment). It also was noted from Chuck Baynard’s commentary that if family, church, and state do not understand and apply the fifth commandment, we’ll be more likely to break the last five of the Ten Commandments. This message from Greg Koukl gives us wise words to consider as we reconvene studying the fifth commandment together and all that the Larger Catechism helps us see is there:
Sometimes you will encounter a daunting foe who is, in some way, your superior—a feared professor, a respected elder family member, an articulate supervisor or executive at work.
When this happens there is a temptation—especially if you’ve had some training or done some study in apologetics—to “show what you know,” to step into the fray armed with all your facts and take your superior down a peg or two.
In situations like that, it’s a good idea to consider Solomon’s counsel from Proverbs 25:6-7: [Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.]
Years ago, I witnessed a powerful example of this wisdom at a conference called “Design and Its Critics.” I’d wrangled a seat in the audience of a professional gathering where Intelligent Design proponents had invited their strongest detractors—secular scientists and philosophers—to engage them through a point/counterpoint format of aggressive, academic peer review.
During the Q & A after a presentation by ID leader Stephen Meyer, Dr. Clifford Matthews, a senior member of the evolutionary scientific establishment, laid into him, vigorously and (in my view) uncharitably attacking his ideas.
I was stunned. Glancing around me I wondered what would happen next.
Dr. Meyer never missed a beat. Completely unperturbed, he addressed Dr. Matthews by name, expressed genuine respect for his work, thanked the professor for what Meyer had himself learned from the scholar’s research over the years, and confessed being flattered that such an accomplished academic would attend his own presentation and offer a critique.
Stephen Meyer wisely positioned himself as the lesser before the greater. Though Meyer was an accomplished academic in his own right, he engaged Dr. Matthews with his hat in his hand, as it were, not as the professor’s equal, but as his student.
Meyer then systematically, graciously, and decisively answered the criticism.
Notice the pattern. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten. In fact, I’ve had my own opportunities to put it into play when I debated well-known New Age guru Deepak Chopra. A DVD of this debate is our thank you gift when you make a donation to STR this month.
With confidence in Christ,
May we all endeavor to be so wise.
During the Men’s Tuesday Night Study this Spring, we have found Mr. Koukl’s Tactis of Apologetics very helpful along with our studies on cults, especially his “Columbo Tactic”. While I would give the disclaimer that we are presuppositional apologists (see: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=168 and http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=274 and http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=276), Mr. Koukl’s ministry provides myriad tactical resources that are truly terrific here: www.str.org. I encourage you to study at STR among other places and keep your tools sharp to always be ready to give a witness (1 Pet. 3:15) and show yourself approved (2 Tim. 2:15).