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Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Believer as a Skeptic


Skepticism is usually discouraged within the Christian community.  Believers are encouraged to be… well, believers.  Questions are often discouraged. Questioning authority is verboten.  Just have faith and believe.

But I am convinced that skepticism is a good thing, a healthy thing.  And I think that Jesus would agree.

In the lectionary reading for today (John 1: 43 – 51) Nathanael is skeptical; he does not accept Philip’s report about Jesus (Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?).  And yet, when Jesus meets Nathanael, Jesus describes him as “a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false,” even with (or maybe, because of) his skepticism.

Had American Christians been a bit more skeptical, they wouldn’t have been surprised by the announcement that Alex “the boy who came back from heaven” Malarkey lied.

Had Christians been skeptical they might not have followed William Miller out to the Great Disappointment in 1844.

If Christians used some more skepticism, they wouldn’t fall prey to pious sounding huckster, scam-vangelists, and television preachers promising wonder-working miracle prayer cloths.

Doubt is a good thing. Believers should be skeptics. 

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