She’s dressed to the nines. Her wardrobe is attractive. Culturally she is popular, and her fashion never goes out of style. Turn through the pages of the Bible, starting in the beginning, and you will be warned of her deceitful expressions of beauty. Who is this one of whom we speak? She is skepticism.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, skepticism is “a doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind; dubiety.” And dubiety is “a feeling of doubt that often results in wavering.” Uncertainty is a synonym. Let’s consider three of skepticism’s changes of clothes that are especially attractive.
First, consider her clothing of scholarship. Skepticism – an attitude of doubt and uncertainty – sometimes comes clothed in scholarship. We can read Scripture that is easy to understand. But then it is explained away by the scholarship of the present day. For example, we all read the great plainness of language in Genesis 1 where it is written that God created the heavens and the earth in six days, each with its evening and morning. But current scholarship says it isn’t so nor could it be so: surely it must be six long eons or six days with long eons between. After all, isn’t there “scientific proof”? But faith in God exposes this skepticism, even in her show of scholarship, for what she is – plain ole’ doubt and disbelief in what God has said. Faith is the confident assurance and belief in God that responds in obedience. Faith is not blind but based on evidence and testimony. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). What’s the problem? We can get too smart for our britches that we can’t accept the plain teaching of the Bible.
Sometimes, skepticism in our culture expresses herself with the clothing of “open-mindedness.” In political circles her fashion is known as tolerance; in religious discussion, it may be subtly suggested as open-mindedness. She may not brazenly advertise her dress as open-mindedness, but she labels those who oppose her dress as “close-minded.” Her clothing speaks volumes, telling us we are close-minded when we oppose instrumental music and clapping in worship and the Lord’s Supper on Thursday. Her clothing ridicules the simple disciple of Christ who reads Acts 20:7, “now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” and thus believes that such apostolic example is part of the pattern for us today. But all along, her clothing has disguised her true character – skepticism – doubt and disbelief in the things plainly spoken in the Bible by the authority of Christ.
And skepticism dresses herself in false humility. This is yet another deceitful costume always in vogue. With this clothing she says she remains uncertain of truth because she is just human and thus could be wrong. She believes we are incapable of seeing some things because of our own bias. And so when she reads in Ephesians 4:4, “there is one body,” she makes it clear that we need to realize that we think we are that one body or church, but in the same manner, others think they are that one body or church too. And so who are we to be so arrogant as to think we are that one body? Shouldn’t we be more humble than that? But underneath her clothing of brand-name “humility” is really doubt and disbelief in what God has said. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). We can and we must know the truth if we will be saved! We can know we are part of the one true church by knowing and doing what the Bible plainly says about that one true church.
Back in the beginning, the devil used an air of skepticism on Eve when he asked, “Has God indeed said…?” (Genesis 3:1). God said what He meant, but Satan wanted her to doubt. And still today, Satan wants to instill doubt in you and me. Doubt is father to disbelief.
Don’t get me wrong. We are not to believe anything we hear. We must be noble-minded like the Bereans and “search the Scriptures daily” to find out whether the things taught are so. However, we must not approach the God-breathed words of the Bible with doubt. Let us recognize skepticism for what it is – disbelief of God. John wrote his gospel account “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Luke wrote his gospel account so that Theophilus (as well as we!) “may know the certainty of these things…” (Luke 1:4) There is not uncertainty in what God has revealed. Let us therefore approach God and His word with confident assurance.
- Larry Jones