G.k. Chesterton, in his seminal book Orthodoxy, wrote:
What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled on the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert — himself. The part he doubts is the part he ought not to doubt — the Divine Reason
What Chesterton saw in 1908 has not changed in 2005, but instead, at least in my opinion, has gotten much worse. Today ambition is unbridled and conviction is considered prejudice and few are there who show any.
Conviction [the state of being convinced or a fixed or strong belief] has become a dirty word. We are to be open minded and humble about our beliefs, seeing the value in other’s positions, ready for dialogue, understanding that while our convictions may be true for us, they are not true for everyone else, so we cannot assert the rightness or correctness of our position.
Poppycock. Paul tells Timothy what is the duty of all those in leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ:
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2
Yes, be humble when it comes to ambition and arrogance, but not when it comes to standing for the truth of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Jesus is not “a way, a truth, and a life” but “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved except his. Demonstrate conviction Christian and stand and contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3b).
In the movie Chariots of Fire, Eric Lidel is asked to be muscular Christian, to combine his Christian witness with his athletic prowess. Eric did not lack conviction, but today that kind of firmness and taking a stand on your beliefs is seen as extremism and is condemned. Barry Goldwater, the former Senator from Arizona and Presidential candidate in 1964, once said
Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
To my Christian brothers and sisters I would paraphrase Mr. Goldwater’s famous statement with
Extremism in the defense of the faith of Christ is no vice. Modesty in the pursuit of saving souls is no virtue.
It is time for us to abandon our wrongheaded humility and to stand up for the truth of the Gospel, in season and out of season, in all times and in all places, whether unpopular to others or embarrissing to us. Remember, we should always be humble about ourselves, but never about the truth of Jesus Christ.
Onward Christian, onward.