Building a Healthy Skepticism
Picture by Pixabay. Title: Upset, Mad, Skepical
"O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called." (I Timothy 1:20 KJV)
"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."
(II Timothy 2:16 KJV)
3. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (II Timothy 4:3,4 KJV)
Paul's Message to Timothy
How would Timothy know how to identify "vain babblings" and "fables"? I was given a clue myself some years ago when I worked in the banking industry. The question arose more than once how to identify a counterfeit bill? The answer I was given more than once, was "learn everything about a genuine bill. If you do that, you'll always be able to spot a fake". Could this kind of reasoning work for Timothy? This was Paul's beloved son in the faith that he was warning. With great apprehension, Paul warned this 'son' to be skeptical about some things. He was told very clearly that he should NOT believe everything he heard. It seems very clear from the verses above, that we must DISCERN the so-called 'truths' being thrown at us everyday and question their validity. Since for the believer, the spiritual impacts everything, so we must go to a spiritual source for the answers--The Bible. With my Bible firmly in hand, for me, this present day journey toward skepticism has been a challenging journey.
My Journey to Skepticism
During those same banking years, an explosion of information had already begun. It seemed that no matter what the subject, information could be found explaining both sides of any controversy. It was during this time, that I gained a not-so-healthy skepticism of doubting virtually everything I heard. I fear that in the United States today, and possibly much of the world, there are many who have embraced that same negative type of skepticism, including many in our churches. But, this edition is to encourage a 'Healthy Skepticism'. So, how can one do that without becoming skeptical about everything?
Skepticism Correctly Defined
One definition for skepticism given in Webster's New Student Dictionary is: "the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics." Another definition given is: "the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain". It is indeed difficult, to say the least, to go through life with uncertainty about virtually everything! This is true skepticism taken to its logical end. However, the Bible believer has, ". . . a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place." (II Peter 1:19a) KJV. So even though we must avoid the "vain babblings" and the many "fables", we can have confidence that there is absolute truth available. Sadly however, it seems that few believers are going to this source!
Coming Back into the Light
There is little doubt, both by observation and biblical revelation, that we are in a dark place. However, I would ask brothers and sisters that we resist the urge to be skeptical of everything! This is seen by the world as just being grouchy or negative about everything. I'm convinced that this is not what Paul was encouraging Timothy to do. Jesus said He came that we ". . . might have life, and that (we) they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10b) KJV. Is there any doubt that negative doubting, grumpiness and irritability hinder the sharing of the good news of the gospel? We see the very fulfillment of what we've been expecting for many years around us every day. This should be a cause of rejoicing, as our redemption draweth nigh. Yes, it is true that it saddens us to see the demise of our own beloved country--we certainly cannot say that we are surprised. So, with that in mind, how do we develop a 'healthy skepticism'?
To attain and keep a 'healthy skepticism', we must do 2 things:
STAY IN THE BOOK! Yes, that's right--The Bible. It is the believers source of truth, and it is the only clear light to help us see through the fog of voluminous information being thrown at us every day.
With each new piece of information, we need to ask ourselves, "Is this in direct contradiction with what I know to be true from the Creator?" We also need to ask, "What is the source of this information and might they have an agenda that they are supporting?" If that agenda is not God honoring, or it is something that you could not support, then, in the words of Paul through the Holy Spirit, we should be "avoiding" this or we should "shun" it.
I appeal to each of you to resist the temptation to become grumpy, or just become convinced that everything this generation has to offer is worthless. That is simply NOT the truth. There are grains of truth being thrown at us every day. Our job now is to identify these grains of truth, and to rejoice that we know the One who predicted all of this and who is coming again. This is a plea to once again become the salt and light that Jesus said we should be. "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. . . " (Matthew 5:13, 14a) KJV. Let's get back to where we belong!