This is a guest post by my friend Joshua Denton. Joshua is the founder of www.familiesforreformation.org, and a fellow apologist for the faith. Go check out his website!
In today’s society there are many individuals with differing opinions and ideas. Many of the concepts being taught in schools, advocated in literature, and even set forth from some pulpits are contrary to the doctrines contained in the Bible. As Christians, it is our duty to defend the Word of God against all attacks. In order to do this in an effective manner It is important to recognize that anything which takes away from or undermines the Bible is harmful, and thus worthy of our refutation. This is because all attacks against the Word of God originate from Satan; his first method of deceiving mankind was to question the authority of God’s Word. Satan’s goal is to deceive and ensnare as many souls as possible. Christ’s goal is to save as many souls as will receive His gift. If we are members of Christ’s body, then His goals become ours. Therefore, our primary purpose in conversing with or debating skeptics should be evangelism – winning souls to Christ Jesus. In order to be more successful with such an aim, it is hepful to know that very basically, there are four kinds of skepticism.
Skepticism is “the philosophical doctrine that the truth of all knowledge must always be in question, especially [concerning] religious doctrines.” Thus, in the context of our discusion, a skeptic would be anyone who questioned the authority, relevance, and truth of Christianity or the Bible. As aforementioned, there are four main types of skepticism, or four “root ideas” that all types of Biblical criticisms can be traced back to. These four roots are (1) spiritual, (2) moral, (3) scientific, and (4) Biblical. Of these four, the first three are the main ones that you will encounter when engaging a skeptic. It is important that you be able to differentiate between the different types of objections raised in order to trace a skeptic’s reasoning (or lack thereof) back to the root from which it first emerged.
Spiritual objections are raised by individuals trying to reach heaven by their own acts of goodness, or by those seeking spiritually fulfilling experiences apart from God. Within their hearts, these individuals know there is a God they must face when they die. Many spiritual objections are raised because of the fear of the “unknown.” If skeptics with these types of objections would simply believe the Bible, they would not have to live with the uncertainty of what happens after death. However, if they accepted the fact that they will face the judgment of God, it logically follows that they will have to repent of their sins and obey His commands. They want the rewards of following Christ but are unwilling to reconcile their wishes to Him. So, they temporarily pacify the roaring of their conscience by convincing themselves that God will accept them as long as the bad outweighs the good.
Moral objections originate from skeptics who reject facts such as: being accountable for their actions, the existence of moral absolutes, and that God is just to punish those who for their hardness of heart and unbelief reject the free gift of His Son . Skeptics that reject the idea of any moral law are in essence proclaiming their desire to be the lord of their own life. If a skeptic says in a roundabout way that he does not believe in absolutes, he has unwittingly informed you that, in reality, he most certainly does! After all, has he not just expected you to believe an absolute statement that there are no absolutes? Moral objections attack the very foundation of any system of justice or moral law. Those who advocate that every man should decide what is right for himself do so because they do not want to accept that they are a lawbreaker, or sinner. In other words, (like those who deny the existence of God) they do not want to be responsible for any of their actions.
Scientific objections are sometimes the hardest to refute because they are often raised by very educated men, scientists, or those with prestigious jobs and impressive university degrees. It must be remembered, however, that learning cannot take the place of the infallible Word of God, and that all men – no matter how wise in worldy wisdom – are still members of fallen mankind, living in a world that is cursed from the effects of sin. Some of the types of arguments advocated by these skeptics are created to discredit, or try to prove the absence of a Creator. Again, this is because man does not want to be responsible for his actions. Those who have researched thoroughly, and still believe these arguments, are simply deceiving themselves. It is absolutely impossible to deny the existence of incontrovertible facts, therefore proponents of evolution and the “big-bang” theory in reality, require more faith to believe in their “religion” than do those whom they argue against.
Biblical objections are not so subtle as the other categories of skepticisms, simply because they strike at the very foundational root of Christianity – the Bible. These attacks are more bold and thus more startling than other types, since they assault the core of why many Christians believe the way they do. Biblical skeptics attack the authority and reliability of the Bible by claiming it is irrelevant, that it was not Divinely inspired, and that even if it were once reliable or relevant, it’s accuracy has gradually been lost over the years.
Notice that all of these skepticisms (spiritual, moral, and scientific objections) are excuses for leaving God “out of the picture.” Also, they all can ultimately be traced back to some type of Biblical objection. It is very necessary to be able to recognize the different types of criticisms offered by individuals in order to effectively address the key issues. Instead of simply endeavoring to refute their argument statement by statement, knowing the four main kinds of skepticisms will enable you to strike at the foundation of their reasoning. Put them on the offensive. Offer them hard, penetrating questions. Jesus used this method when debating the Pharisees and doctors of the law. He analyzed their words, understood their heart condition, and then answered their questions by asking His own penetrating question. In this way, he left them speechless with amazement! So, when conversing with skeptics, follow the example of Jesus. Destroy their root, and then show how the absence of a root signifies the absence of an argument. Then, after disproving his argument, follow up your advantage by showing him proofs of the authority and innerancy of the Scriptures.
When conversing with those who disagree with you on major issues it is important to keep in mind your goals as a Christian in communicating with them. In the excitement of trying to prove your point, do not forget that your main purpose is to share the Gospel in such a manner that lends dignity to the Lord. Your goals in convincing others that your viewpoint is correct should be to glorify God, not yourself. Be respectful, but never compromise what Scripture teaches. Remember, that your ambition is to win them to Christ, not to win the argument or debate. Most importantly, never, ever agree to lay aside your main tool – the Bible – without it, you have no basis for any argument.
Though there are many opinions and many ways of interpreting evidence, God’s Word is still, and will forever remain the ultimate authority by which men must set their standards and govern their lifestyle. If they fail to act in accordance with it, they must still face the consequences of their actions and will be judged for their negligence of it. Men will work harder at fighting something because of their pride and obstinancy, when it would be much easier to submit to the will of God. Therefore, do not fail to take heed to the exhortation found in 1 Peter 3:15 “to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh . . . a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Use the four “root ideas” of scepticism as tools to bring light to this dark world, to win souls for Christ, and impact future generations for the glory of Christ!