The Command to be Skeptical
"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;" (discernment) Philippians 1:9 KJV
This title may indeed seem unusual, to say the least. We are in a culture that speaks so often of "positive thinking", which admonishes us to not focus on the negative. However, I would like to propose the idea that the word 'skeptic', or a person 'being skeptical' has gotten a bad wrap. In a previous blog I spoke of this idea, but I would like to elaborate more on the commands that every believer should be aware of, and of our mindset, as we interact with our culture and the vast amount of information assaulting our senses.
Likely, one of the strongest biblical commands laying a strong foundation for this subject is found in II Tim. 2:15: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (emphasis mine) (KJV).
When the Bible student rightly divides something, he must have a standard to do the math! Six divided by 3 will ALWAYS equal 2. If we come across an article, program, blog, vlog, social media post, or whatever other means of visual/verbal assault insisting we are wrong, we must have a standard to confirm the answer. Someone may insist "it actually equals 3". We can rightly, and quite dogmatically say, "I'm very skeptical of this". We can further add, "This cannot be correct". If this would be your reaction, then congratulations, you have just joined the ranks of the correctly skeptical. Yes, skepticism is often seen in a negative light, but we have clear Bible evidence that the Bible-believing Christian not only CAN be skeptical but MUST be skeptical. We see this lived out beautifully in the life of Paul.
The apostle Paul had a loving and special relationship with Timothy whom he called "my own son in the faith . . ." in I Tim 1:2a. To begin another letter to him, which is called II Timothy, we read, "To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: . . ." II Tim 1:2a. This special relationship caused the apostle to admonish the younger Timothy regularly to warn him about possible roadblocks and hindrances that Timothy might face in his own ministry. Paul instructed Timothy "that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, . . ." I Tim 1: 3b,4a (KJV). Certain things must be assumed when reading this. First, Paul knew that Timothy was well aware of sound doctrine and that he could identify 'another' doctrine. Second, Timothy would have a means of identifying 'fables'. Third, that Timothy would be able to recognize 'endless genealogies'. The bottom line, which should come as no surprise, is that Timothy could always consult God's Word--which was the final word. Thus, a healthy skepticism toward fables (read the current evolutionary story), or endless genealogies, is a good thing to be practiced with regularity.
"If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou has attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness." I Tim 4:6,7 (KJV). Some things are to 'be refused'. This can only be done as one can see something as being 'refuse' worthy. The only sound and consistent way is through the Word of God.
"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."
II Tim 2:16 (KJV) This command is immediately after the 'study' command of II Tim 2:15.
Once again, there MUST be a standard--or something that can be 'studied'. That something is the Word of God, called "The Word of truth in vs 15".
"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes".
II Tim 2:23 (KJV) So, there is such a thing as a foolish, unlearned question.
Our attention is once again drawn to that source of knowledge with the answer.
In all of these examples, we are told to pay no heed, refuse, shun, and avoid certain things. These are words of action--verbs. Although I am not suggesting a different meaning from the original New Testament written in Greek, I am saying that BEFORE we do those 4 things, we must be skeptical of what we are hearing or seeing.
Today, we find ourselves living in an age of great uncertainty, where many feel there are no absolutes. But, God would have us know through His word, that sound doctrine is definite. It is real, and every believer is commanded to learn it and shun all else. Let us use this same model as we look at the house of cards known today as molecules-to-man evolution.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12, KJV