A conviction is not something you hold, but something that holds you. It is something outside of which one cannot operate safely or consistently. In the present time, however, conviction is not seen so much as a virtue but a vice. “Arrogant,” and “Narrow-minded,” are some of the labels given to people moved by such convictions. But nothing could be further from the truth.
It is true people of conviction speak with boldness, directness, candor and clarity. However, this bravery must not be confused with arrogance. It is not pretentiousness that moves these people but an absolute certainty that what they believe is true and that what is popularly believed is a lie.
It may appear to some that such people are unjustified in their certainty. Nevertheless, it is doubtful that anyone can escape the need for convictions. For even those who claim that people of conviction are backwards and narrow-minded passionately promote causes like saving the environment, protecting the right to choose and sexual liberation. It does not cross their mind that these opinions are their convictions.
The most important thing to understand when examining our culture, though, is that it is not debating in general we are against, only debating when it comes to religion is off limits. Certainly we expect a certain amount of political debating to be done by politicians and journalists. But debating religion is simply nonsensical. After all, none of its claims can be tested- or so it is popularly believed.
Nevertheless, the Bible claims that the truth is knowable and clear. Only if we assume religious truth claims are unknowable do we make the mistake of dismissing all such arguments as unnecessary. But the Bible never requires one to suspend all reason to understand its claims. Instead the scriptures claims are very comprehensible. The truth is available for everyone to see and indeed every person operates on the assumption of their truth whether they realize it or not.
Romans 1:20 says, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood (emphasis mine) from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” This means that everyone has sufficient evidence that God exists right in front of them whether they acknowledge it or not. Many would deny that it is in fact clear, but this is exactly what we would expect given what Paul said immediately before, “they suppress the truth in their unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).”
The same writer, Paul, says in Acts 17:31, “[God] has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man (Jesus) he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone (emphasis mine) by raising him from the dead.” While many dispute the validity of the case for the resurrection (including many Christians) Paul certainly believed that God raised Christ miraculously at least in part to prove to the world that judgment is coming. Paul believed that the resurrection was sufficient proof of the truth of Christianity. It was this conviction that led him to charge his hearers to repent in vs. 30.
We can be sure God has truly spoken to us in the Bible because He has given us warranted certainty that it is true. When He revealed Himself He did so definitively and unambiguously. Far from narrow-minded, Christians are the most honest with themselves and with the world around them. They humbly take God at His word at great cost to themselves. They would cling to this truth even if it cost them everything. It is not narrow-mindedness or arrogance but faithfulness to God that moves Christians. But only if we assume that God is truly there and has spoken truly and clearly is this faith sensible. The truth of Christianity is not hidden, esoteric or “just so.” It is evident to all. As Paul says,