4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
v.4 We live in a world at war, a spiritual war, a war that has been fought since the fall of man. While we may be persecuted and physically oppressed because of our belief in Christ, our fight is nonetheless a spiritual one. We fight the good fight of the faith with divine power, power from God. In I Corinthians 1:18 we find that the message of the cross is the power of God “to us who are being saved.” This means that the strongholds are ideological strongholds, in which men entrench themselves through self-deception.
v.5 in the first half of this verse, there are two conflicting ideologies man’s opinion, which is not founded upon objective knowledge but man’s sinful desires, and the perfect and objective knowledge of God. Through the word of the cross, which is the power of God, we destroy every opinion that conflicts with God’s word. I think that is where most of us stop destroy, destroy, destroy. However, Paul takes it one-step further by saying that we must subjugate their thought life. There is a definite difference between destroying an individuals thoughts and subjugating them. The subjugation of an individual’s thoughts implies that their thoughts will be useful when brought into captive obedience to Christ. This phenomenon is largely due to the role of general revelation, although perverted by sin, upon the formation of man’s thoughts (see my previous post “The Sin of the Monoculture” for more information regarding this).
In Acts 17 Paul is brought before the Areopagus so they might understand his strange new teachings. Paul both destroys their ideological stronghold and subjugates their thoughts.
Paul destroys their ideological strongholds by informing them that:
- God rules both heaven and Earth.
- God created the world.
- God does not dwell in temples nor is He served by man.
- God is the source of all life.
Paul subjugates their thoughts by informing them that:
- There is a god whom they do not know.
- He even goes on to point out that; their own poets have made correct statements about God. Paul probably knew this because he spent everyday in the marketplace proclaiming Christ.
Too often we are so caught up in refuting an argument that we forget to listen to the individual we are sharing with. Like Paul, we should know their poetry, favorite band, or simply their thoughts on life. This allows us to understand and destroy their stronghold with God’s Word and it aids us in subjugating their correct thoughts to Christ. Presuppositional apologetics does not work in a postmodern age; after all the only thing you can presuppose about postmoderns is that, there are no presuppositions. We must form relationships and allow individuals to construct their worldview before us so that we can destroy the fallacies that support it and use what truth may exist in it to construct a Christian worldview.
I will close with a modern example that really hit me this week while reading. Immanuel Kant was a Newtonian Determinist, he believed that the universe was like a machine entirely determined by the laws of nature; this encompassed everything from the orbits of the planets to the synapses firing in your brain. At the same time, he maintained a paradoxical view that man was an autonomous free moral agent, or at least there is the illusion of such. After reading that I could only sit and think about what would have happened if an individual, like Paul, said to Kant; “you are right the actions of the universe are entirely determined by the laws of nature. Laws created and sustained by an absolute Sovereign God, and in Him, all things hold together, from the microscopic double helix DNA carrying the code of your genetic makeup to the rotation of the Milky Way Galaxy. Un-paradoxically your moral accountability is not an illusion it is real and one day the absolute Sovereign God who holds the planets in orbit will hold you accountable.”
In short, our job as apologists is not only to show corrupt ideology for what it is but also to confirm what man has gleaned from general revelation as true, once that thought has been freed from the false ideology, which suppresses the Truth. All of which must happen within the framework of a relationship.