A man convinced against his will . . .

Saint Augustine“Always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7, ESV)

One of the things that cannot be ignored when making a case for the truth of Christianity is the role of the will in recognizing the truth. I am reminded of the phrase that I learned a long time ago, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”

In support of this idea, I ran across this passage from St. Augustine in The City of God:

For those who are either unable to understand our arguments, or are so hardened by the habit of contradiction, that though they understand they cannot yield to them, reply to us, and, as it is written, “speak hard things,” and are incorrigibly vain. Now, if we were to propose to confute their objections as often as they with brazen face chose to disregard our arguments, and as often as they could by any means contradict our statements, you see how endless, and fruitless, and painful a task we should be undertaking.

When we are dealing with people who have questions, we have to discern the motive behind the questions. Is the questioner merely using questions as a means of avoiding the truth?

Keep in mind that we all have blind spots. We all have parts of us that are resistant to the truth. We are all a work in progress. The Apostle Paul tells us that we are all in need of transformation as a result of having our minds renewed (Romans 12:2). We are all imperfect examples of living out the truth.

The point is that we cannot bring anyone along faster than they are willing to go. We may be able to argue them into a corner. But we have limited, if any, influence over the will of another. It is the will that

Patience and prayer are needed in dealing with those who have not yet come to believe in The Truth.