Dealing With Bible Skeptics
KATHLEEN BROWNELL: Bible Instructor, Potomac Conference
There are two main classes of skeptics. First, there are those who have no desire to consider evidence in favor of the Bible, who wish only to cast contempt upon it and to quibble and argue regarding it. This class can rarely be helped to any great extent, because they do not wish to be helped. They must be dealt with kindly but firmly. They must not be permitted to take a large part of the Bible study hour in presenting their doubts and in holding the Bible up to ridicule. One method I have found rather effective is to in quire quietly whether they have ever read the Bible through. Usually they will answer no. I then ask whether they consider it fair and consistent to criticize a book they have never read. They will usually see the point.
The other class of skeptics are those who, though honest and sincere in their skepticism, are yet willing to give a fair consideration to evidence in favor of the Bible. In dealing with this class we need to try to understand the underlying causes of their skepticism. A little time spent in becoming acquainted with them in order to find out something of their personal background is time well spent. Some of the factors contributing to their skepticism are the following:
1. Having been reared in a non-Christian home or even in a godless one. This one fact should make us sympathetic toward them, for we can realize what a powerful influence the atmosphere of their home has been away from God.
2. The teachings of advanced education. Evolution and its so-called evidences against the Bible.
3. The confusion of teachings in the popular churches.
4. The inconsistencies in the lives of pro fessed Christians.
When we understand all these contributing causes to the skeptic's attitude, we shall feel pity for him and realize his great need of help. This will lead us to manifest great kindness and patience in dealing with him. Usually we shall find that skepticism is particularly applied to certain rather definite fundamental points, some of which are doubts concerning the authenticity of the manuscripts and translations of the Bible, doubts regarding the inspiration of the Bible writers, belief in the existence of contradictions in the Bible, and unwillingness to subscribe to the requirements of the Bible.
Meeting Doubts and Objections
In meeting these definite objections we must produce all the evidence and proof we can possibly give to counteract their doubts. We must, for instance, give information regarding the manuscripts and translations, producing dates, facts, and so forth, which will often show that the skeptic has been misinformed regarding this important phase. Clearing up this misapprehension will go a long way toward establishing faith in the genuineness of the Bible.
In meeting doubts regarding the inspiration of Bible writers, I have found that the prophecies are one of our strongest proofs of Bible inspiration. This would include many of the prophecies relating to nations, and their fulfillment: prophecies regarding Christ and His work, and their fulfillment; and of course the important symbolic prophecies. Along with the prophecies it will often be necessary to produce both historical facts and evidence from archaeology, and we shall have to give enough from these sources to show the Bible prophecies and record to be correct. We may even have to bring in enough of astronomy to establish the chronology of the Bible. It is especially necessary to settle the date on which a prophecy was given in order to prove that the prophecy was given many years before its fulfillment, and thus show the inspiration of the Bible.
It is desirable to explain thoroughly the fundamental plan of Bible study that we follow. Letting one text explain another and getting complete information on a subject by gathering the Bible texts together are procedures very familiar to us but usually difficult for the skep tic to understand. But if he can be led to accept this plan of Bible study, we shall have gone a long way toward helping him learn the truth. This will enable us to show him the wonderful harmony of Bible teaching through the whole Book on any one subject. It will also enable us to teach from the positive instead of the negative side of the question. (This is very essential, for most of the skeptic's information has been of the negative type.)
Establishing the Bible study plan will give us the advantage of putting the whole discussion on the basis of what the Bible says, and off the basis of personal opinion. In fact, the whole aim of presenting all the evidence should be to use it as the authority. This is, of course, the only correct foundation, but with a skeptic it may take some time to establish this fact. Therefore, do not be discouraged if it seems to be slow work, and do not expect to accomplish too much at one time. Perhaps all that can be done is to start a train of thought along right lines in the skeptic's mind during the first study or two. Accept that much cheerfully, and continue working. It may take time and work to lay a foundation upon which we can later build, but it will be well worth the effort if it results in a soul saved.
It is important to adopt a calm, courteous, helpful attitude and to maintain it steadfastly. If we can once convince the skeptic that we are his friend, and that we are sincere in our desire to help him, we have laid another sure foundation stone in our work of turning him to the truth. If, later, we can lead him to read certain selected texts from the Bible for himself; and most of all, if we can lead him to the Lord Jesus Christ and show him something of God's love for him, we have reached the fulfillment of a carefully and prayerfully planned program of winning another soul, and this soul, it seems to me, will be one over whom the angels of heaven will especially rejoice.
Bible Work Satisfactions
By: Louise C. Kleuser
The Ministerial Association receives mail J- from the world field. Frequently we share letters telling about the joyous experiences of Bible instructors in their daily contacts with honest hearts groping for light. These are the days when the worker's cup of joy seems to be running over and there is a desire to share the experiences with an understanding soul. But again there are other days when the Bible instructor must meet deep disappointment. What sorrow is more acute than when one for whom she has long labored fails to recognize the importance of making the right decision for the message? Perhaps no other group of workers in our cause must meet the conflicts and pressure of sin as does the Bible instructor. The Bible work is a constant adventure, however, and the strain of disappointment is well offset by victories for truth.
Recently one of our Bible instructors in the West penned some paragraphs that we wish to share with the sisterhood of instructors. Not long ago she had to make some very definite decisions to remain with the Bible work. When this matter was settled between her and God, her decision for the Bible work resulted in some thrilling experiences with her readers. We quote from her recent letter:
"Miss KLEUSER, do you suppose you have time to listen to just one day's experiences the high spots?
"Wednesday morning I called on a correspondence school name. I found a young woman of exceptional talent and personality, very well-to-do, at the point of a complete surrender to the Lord. The Holy Spirit has done a remarkable work in her life, and if she takes her stand, she will be a valuable worker. Speaking of her material possessions, she said, 'I could walk out of here tomorrow with just what I have on and be perfectly happy.'
"Then in the afternoon I visited a woman with whom I have studied for more than a year, but who has been a difficult one to bring to a decision. She had been away for some time. I had hardly arrived when she brought up the subject of church membership and informed me she had decided she did not want to join the church, at least not for a long time. It was very definite and final. I won't go into detail, for the conversation was two hours long. But it developed that she was under very deep conviction. Before I left she decided to come into the church on September 29. That is our next baptism, and we are hoping for a good number. Incidentally, the Lord has given me fourteen souls so far this year. But oh, it should be so many more!
"Next I visited a former Adventist who has been desperately ill and is considering becoming a Catholic, because Adventists did not visit her and a Catholic priest came day after day. If only we had known she was ill!
"After stopping to do a little favor for a shut-in I decided to try one more call before supper (I got away at nine, however). I found a lovely young couple who think that all Seventh-day Adventists are almost angels. The husband had observed that they all had cairn, quiet voices, among other things. And when I described our pastor as a man who lived what 'he preached, he said, 'Well, when a persons says, "I am a Seventh-day Adventist," that means that he lives his belief.' What a challenge!
"These things are all an old story to you, I know, but I just wanted to share my feelings with someone. I am so happy that God has called me into this work though He could not have chosen anyone more unworthy."
The burden of this letter is typical of our successful Bible instructors. They are usually women who are making great sacrifices in strength and time, but how they love their work! Many of these humble workers may not often be heard from, but the recording angels will reveal their noble deeds.
Although the cause needs thousands of Bible instructors, it is cheering to observe how God lays the burden on the hearts of those who have a deep concern for soul winning. During recent months many efficient women have entered the Bible work. They have recognized the call of God and are already greatly blessed in their ministry. Many conferences continue to call for women of consecration and personality as well as Bible knowledge. Because of an overemphasis of other professions or an underemphasis of the Bible work by those who direct our work at our centers of training, some delayed their entering this field of gospel service. We now see God taking a hand, and there is much inquiry regarding the Bible work. Some conferences have made this a matter of prayer, and God has marvelously answered. We rejoice in His selection of workers and take new courage for the future of the Bible work.
The New Commandments Christ Gave
H. T. ANDERSON: Minister, Georgia-Cumberland Conference
I. TEXT: John 13:34, 35.
1. This was not a new. commandment in the sense of time, but because Israel had lost its significance.
2. Love to God is stressed in the Old Testament. Deut. 6:5.
3. Love to man is there also. Lev. 19:18.
4. These principles existed with the Ten Commandments.
II. CHRIST CAME TO MAGNIFY THE LAW. Isa. 42:21.
1. He revealed that the two great principles of the law are love to God and love to man.
2. These two principles support the entire law. Matt. 19:16-19.
3. All the law is fulfilled in love. Rom. 13:10.
III. ALL THE LAW Is SUMMED UP IN THIS COMMAND. Rom. 13:9.
1. To love our fellow man is to keep God's commandments. 1 John 5:2.
2. To love God means the keeping of His commandments. 1 John 5:3.
IV. LOVE Is THE SECRET OF OBEDIENCE.
1. But our love alone is not sufficient. Isa. 64:6.
2. We must love with His love. John 13:34.
3. Our love is made perfect in His love. 1 John 4:16, 17.
4. We receive His love by receiving Him. Col. 1:27.
NOTE. -----Fully receiving Christ into our hearts means that we live His life as He lived it. He de lighted in doing His Father's will and obeying His commandments. The Ten Commandments are not done away with; they still call for our obedience. The commandment to love was new in Christ's day because it had been forgotten by the Jews and needed a demonstration in the life of Christ. We must not here confuse the issue, but we should teach men to think clearly on what Christ meant to convey in oar text.
The Joy of the Christian
KATHLEEN MAHON: Bible Instructor, Sudbury, Middlesex
[EDITORIAL NOTE. Too often the Christian life is recognized by its trials and hardships. Though the Christian has his appointment for the realms beyond, the present existence is to many a round of disappointment. Bible instructors must meet this problem all too often, and before the reader can focus his attention on doctrine he must be helped to relax in the joy o£ Christ. Unless this experience comes to the inquirer the prohibitions in our message will add to the confusion in the life of the reader, making him even more unhappy. We may be teaching the bliss of the new earth while the Bible student is finding it difficult" to concentrate because of his turmoils within. Helping people to come to Christ and leave their anxieties at His feet, is a long step toward their acceptance of the message we would teach. Kathleen Mahon, of England, here supplies us with a simple outline for teaching this experience. We thank her for making us all more conscious of the joy of the Christian. L. c. K.]
Rom. 14:17. Joy one of the hallmarks of kingdom of God.
I. CONDITIONS OF RECEIVING JOY.
1. Comes to believer by simply taking God at His word. Rom. 15:13.
2. Is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Gal. 5:22.
3. As we obey, His joy to remain with us in its fullness. John 15:10, 11.
4. As we abide in His presence. (Prayer, meditation, Bible study.) Ps. 16:8, 11.
II. REASONS FOR REJOICING.
1. Reason for rejoicing: utter satisfaction found in His salvation. Isa. 12:3; 61:10.
2. Rises to highest heights in diligent service. Ps. 126:5.
3. Joyous even in temptation, a preparation for the greater joy. James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 4:13.
A. Christ, our example, looked beyond life's sufferings to the 'joy set before Him. Heb. 12:2.
5. New earth and its salvation to provide everlasting joy. Isa. 65:18; 35:2, 10.
6. Joy of the Lord our inheritance. Matt.25:21, 23.
III. JOY Now AND JOY FOREVER.
Christ not only gives His full and satisfying joy now but prepares us to enter into His eternal joy. Jude 24.