‘SCHOLAR’? or ‘SKEPTIC’? CAN ONE BE BOTH?
A true ‘scholar’ is a learned person, with in depth knowledge of at least one special subject.
A ‘skeptic’ is a doubter, learned or unlearned, he/she will seek to discredit, prove false, cause doubt in others regarding a particular subject.
In our day, we see that some who challenge the authenticity of God’s Written Word (i.e. the Bible) to challenge and encourage doubt in its inspiration, its message of salvation. They are ‘skeptics’ but an increasing number will not call them ‘skeptics’, for then hearers would be anxious to test their ideas. Instead, they are called by some to be ‘scholars’, and usually are ‘unnamed’, but only quoted with the subscript that they are ‘scholars’.
These ‘skeptics’ who are falsely called ‘scholars’ seek to lower Christ Jesus, from the Divine Incarnation into mankind to redeem us from sin by dying on the cross, to some kind of holy man who just gives us one example of grace and truth. Jesus is far, far more than a guru of wisdom, He is the Divine Savior. Yet, the so-called ‘scholars’ are trying to lower Jesus, our Divine Savior to no more than a wise teacher.
One called Jesus to be merely ‘a master storyteller.’ Yet, true Christians know that Jesus is a Truth teller, a Divine Person Who became a human so he could atone for sins by His death on the cross. The gospels in the New Testament are not simply stories of miracles, they truly happened. The Bible though is not a fictional story book, it is for real and literal truth.
These ‘skeptics’ want to be considered ‘scholars’ and want us to give them the respect of a true scholar who condone attacks on Christianity, and allow the Biblical errors and totally fallible judgments they espouse.
Many so called skeptics, who try to steal the title ‘scholars’ are self plagued by errors, heresies, and Bible twisting.
They have abandoned historic Christian doctrines to become liberal heretics. They use Christian-ish rhetoric, deny the authority of the Bible, deny the inerrancy of the Scriptures.
Peter warned of so called ‘scholars’ who are actually ‘skeptics’.
2 Peter 2:14-19 (KJV):
14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
These ‘skeptics’ claim the gospels and many other books of the New Testament were written by liars, claiming to be one of the followers of Jesus, but actually living many decades after those people were dead. Actually, it is these present day skeptics who are actually self anointed heretic critics and authors of additions and corruptions of the Word of God.
These skeptics try to lower the respect that should be given the inspired Word of God. They claim the Word of God was written by men, based on stories, mythological and perhaps based on some minor truth.
Orthodox believers believe the Bible is the infallible, inspired by the Holy Spirit, message of God to mankind detailing His plan of saving us from sin through the atonement of Jesus.
Yet, the so called ‘scholars’ who really are ‘skeptics’ say that the Bible is fictional stories of God’s goodness, passed down by past generations, and recorded and assembled to form Christian Scriptures. This directly conflicts with the Bible being inspired by God, to just being myths passed along through the ages.
A cult from the fifth century, called Pelagianism has re-emerged in the skeptics of today. Their teachings and false claims are not new revelations, but they are old heresies.
Pelagius was a monk, theologian who lived from 355 A.D. to 425 A.D. He believed that Augustine was too pessimistic in his view that humanity is sinful by nature, and needs grace for salvation. Pelagius said that mankind has a natural ability to live right, and he objected to the idea of ‘original sin’ and of ‘total depravity’. Pelagius taught that children are born innocent of the sin of Adam, and by right living could go to heaven, even if their religious beliefs were pagan.
The skeptics of today claim that same old heresy and want to say it is new revelation of their own cunning.
The ‘semi-pelagians’ taught that grace was necessary for salvation, but that man could accept ‘grace’ outside of Christ’s substitutionary death, and by perseverance in doing good, be saved. Many ‘skeptics of today preach an ever changing, spoken in vague terms, heresies that were demonically authored to skeptics of every age.
Pelagius believed that the sin of Adam brought no curse, nor death, and likewise the resurrection of Jesus brings no life. He believed that living good is what we strive for, and some do live without sin, as did Jesus Christ.
The skeptics of today are difficult to pinpoint exactly what they believe, and it is ever changing and evolving, but not nearer to Orthodox, evangelical doctrine, but further and further from it. There are new and different changes regularly made to their doctrines. They are like the ‘wind’ that blows doctrines from afar, in and out of the Christian neighborhood.
Ephesians 4:14 (KJV)
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
New doctrines come, some go, newer ones replace the departed ones of these so called scholars, who truly are heretical skeptics. The Emergent Church argues in favor of continual reform of doctrine. The end result of their endeavors is a cult totally departed from true Biblical teaching.
These skeptics do not believe in original sin, but rather believe that sinners are not enemies of God, but are working in cooperation with God in a joint work to bring about a utopia on earth, a new kingdom of goodness.
The skeptics do not believe the Bible is instruction on how to find salvation from sin, from death, from hell’s judgments through the atonement grace of Jesus Who died for our sin. They believe the Bible is the compassion of God to make all of us parts of a kingdom that is ever improving, though never perfect. That is total corruption of the message of the Bible.
The religion of the skeptics is ‘universalist’. They accept all, except those who preach ‘repent and be saved’ through the blood of Jesus Who mercifully died for all who would accept Him. These universalist skeptics hate the ‘eternal conscience torment’ we call ‘Holy Spirit conviction’. They resist acknowledging or repenting of sins. Their guilt which they vehemently attack will cover them for eternity, unless they realize that atonement is found in the atonement and redemption found in only Jesus.
To believe that mankind can please God regardless of whether they accept Jesus Christ is a universalist concept. To think that God extends His grace to include and to empower the pagans, the ones worshipping demonic gods, and bring through them a perfect kingdom, is foolish to the max.
To we Christians, salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus’ atonement on the cross. Repentance, a change of mind toward sin, identifies those who are accepting the grace of the Lord Jesus. To the ‘skeptics’ all religions can exist in their concept of God’s will, and still be recipients of God’s grace. Correct belief, according to these false called ‘scholars’ is optional, and one must not be ‘right’, but only have someone’s measure of being ‘good’.
Skeptics claim the New Testament was written by persons pretending to be apostles, but actually were con artists lying in writing the gospels and epistles.
Why is it so vital that the New Testament be written by the authors it has claimed?
If the books were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, etc. then they were not written by eyewitnesses. If not written by people in the age when the events occurred, then no one would be around to confirm or deny their accuracy. The credibility of facts, historical records, and actual quotes could not be trusted. The real authors would be liars, fabricators, deceptive.
The papyri documents aid us in dating the New Testament. The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri contains the gospels, Acts, Paul’s epistles, and Revelation, and dates at 200 - 250 A.D. The Papyrus Bodmer II has 14 chapters of John, and the last part of the last seven chapters, and dates to 200 A.D. The Early Christian Papyri dates to 150 A.D. and was someone who had all four gospels.
John Rylands manuscript contains the gospel of John, and dates to 130 A.D.
The Epistles of Polycarp, (to the Philippians), written by a disciple of John, dates at 120 A.D. and contains quotes from the synoptic gospels, Acts, Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, II Thessalonians, I and II Timothy, Hebrews, I Peter and I John. The Letters of Ignatius, of 115 A.D., quotes Matthew, John, Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, I and II Timothy, and Titus. The Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians of 95 A.D. quotes Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, Hebrews, and I Peter. Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls show the gospels were in circulation and read by the Essenes before 68 A.D.
Therefore, either real eyewitnesses wrote these, or there would have been eyewitnesses around to contradict the accuracy, the authorship, etc. These books claim to be written by eyewitnesses, for the author of II Peter says he was present on the Mt. of Transfiguration. (II Peter 1:16-18) The author of Acts claims to have been present at certain events. (Acts 16:11-12)
THE SIGNS OF THE SKEPTIC’S FAULTY SCHOLARSHIP?
There are many indications of faulty scholarship in those who claim to be ‘scholars’ but truly are ignorant skeptics. These skeptics point to alleged discrepancies in the Bible, but do not research enough to see these are not truly discrepancies.
Many so called discrepancies in the Bible are due to differences in dates of the passages. How many horses did Solomon have? The Bible seems to have a discrepancy there, but the dates are not the same. How many he had likely changed daily, and if two different dates record different numbers, that would be normal, not a discrepancy. How many cars do you have? The number would vary on the date of which it is speaking.
“Who said it?” relinquishes many attempts to show discrepancies. ‘Thou shalt surely die’ was said by God. ‘Ye shall not surely die’ was said by satan. So, check who said it. Was it an inspired word of God, or a quote of a heretic? False prophet? Or sinner?
Many passages are part revelations, and need compared with other Scripture to get the full meaning. For instance, the Bible tells us man is ‘mortal’ and yet it also says man is ‘immortal’. Both are true, when the context of each Scripture is applied. Man has a mortal body, and yet an immortal soul.
Paul and James both speak of ‘faith’ and ‘works’. Some claim there is a discrepancy in their teaching. Yet, both were inspired of the Spirit, how can there be? When studied in depth, we find they agree. It is like the story of the blind men who were describing the elephant. One said the ‘elephant was like a tree trunk, for he was feeling the leg. Another felt the side of the elephant was like a wall. A third felt the tail, a fourth felt the trunk. Each had a different description. Was any wrong? Or, was the truth found in putting together the truth of each. The same is found in reading what Paul and James taught on faith.
Some alleged discrepancies are different methods of arrangements of events. Just as in today’s world, different eyewitnesses will vary in some details, and yet, both be telling the truth. When visitors to the tomb arrived, who arrived and when? Well, when one interviewed Mary Magdalene, details of that day will reflect what she saw, heard, and recalls. Another of the women, who arrived a bit later, may vary in some order, some things they saw that Mary did not, or vice versa.
Some writers write historical events minutely, and precisely. Others list the highlight. Some list total without regard to order. For instance, if you were asked ‘who did you talk to today?’ Would you give chronological order in your list, or just randomly list all those to whom you spoke. Some may leave out several, if the conversation were no more than a ‘hi’.
Some discrepancies are due to various authors’ different means of computations. As, if you asked scientists, ‘how many bones in the body?’
Gray says 204, Dunglison says 240, Wilson says 246, and some others would say 208. There is no real disagreement, but the different ways of counting the same bones.
In the Bible, there are different ways of counting years. Some count part of a year as a year. For instance, December 1945 to January 1947 is 14 months, but some in Bible days would count that 3 years. When two different computations seem to disagree, it is due to different ways of counting years. In the Bible, if a baby were born the last hour of the year, an hour after birth, he is called a ‘year’ old.
Oriental idioms peculiar to a people is another source of alleged discrepancies. Hebraisms were covered in depth in a previous chapter. People, in that culture, had modes of expression that were peculiar to them. The same thing happens here. On a sunny hot 100 degree day, you may have a person say ‘this is cool’. It is ‘cool’ but in what way, yes, but in temperature, no! We may say, ‘everyone was there’ and only truly mean that many were there. The culture has idioms of the day. The manners and folk culture needs to be understood. The Bible may say ‘thousands of thousands’ and simply mean ‘too many to count’. We are not to try to ascertain some specific number to be meant by that phrase.
Dogmas should not be established using figures of speech. For instance, when Isaiah said: ‘AS the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall God rejoice over thee.” Are we to take that literal in details to be enjoined? Of course not, we understand the phrase to refer to the joy of God over His people.
Some discrepancies are due to the plurality of names for one person, object, or city. We do the same: ‘Dad did it’ or ‘papa did it’. Do we mean different persons? “John” may be called ‘Johnny’, or ‘Junior’, and the same person is meant. ‘Massillon’ may be called ‘tiger town’. ‘Canton’ may be called ‘hall of fame city’.
In the Bible, Jacob and Israel are the same person. Edom is the same as Esau, Hosea is identical in person as Oshea, Jehoshua is Joshua, and Simon, Peter, Cephas, Simon Peter, Simon bar Jona, Simon son of Jonas are all the same person.
Sometimes, words in a language can have opposing translations. In English, this happens also. We speak of a ‘cool day’ and a ‘cool event’. We speak of a ‘hot topic’, and a ‘hot stove’. We speak of a ‘fiery personality’ and a ‘fiery stove.’ In Hebrew, the word ‘barak’ can mean ‘bless’ or ‘curse’. The word ‘yarash’ can mean ‘to possess’ or ‘to dispossess’. The word ‘sagal’ can mean ‘to pelt with stones’ or ‘to flee from stones’. ‘Shabar’ can mean ‘to buy grain’ or ‘to sell grain’. The word ‘sacer’ means ‘holy’ or ‘accursed’. Translating and ascertaining an interpretation, requires a deeper understanding of language and culture of the times.
We are told to ‘fear the Lord’, and to some that may mean ‘to be in terror’ and to others ‘to reverence’. Yet, God meant for us to understand it one way in each occurrence. The question we need to ascertain which meaning is appropriate in each occasion used.
Some discrepancies arise from errors in manuscripts. Some letters are so similar. Manuscripts were copied then by pen, now by a copy machine. The penmanship of one person varied from another’s. Errors can be made in copying. Hebrew and Greek letters were used for numbers also. But many letters look similar, so sometimes numbers are misread.
Some discrepancies are due to the imagination of the critic. There is an old maxim: ‘a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.’ Some critics therefore read of ‘similar’ events, and say it had to be only ‘one event’. But similar events are found throughout all of history. If one speaks words that inspire and bless, some critics will try to invent discrepancies, imagine contradictions, and assassinate character. They call it ‘higher criticism.’
In spite of the Bible being as plain as God could make it, and the normal, plain speech given, is still misinterpreted, misapplied, twisted, and convoluted. The Jews found Scriptural support to reject Jesus, and yet, they had to twist and misapply those passages. The holy inquisition found Scriptural support to go and kill and conquer. Slave owners found Scriptural support for slavery. Spiritualists find Scripture to back up their practice of speaking with the dead. Yet, all are twisting, and perverting true exegesis.
The attacks against truth is often by those who wish to poison opinion of the infallibility of the Bible. These nefarious attempts are virulent evil. They are ‘devices of the devil’. We, the evangelical, orthodox believers have failed to adequately defend the Word of God.
In Acts 14:6, Iconium, a city of Phyrigia, but Cicero had recorded the city was in Lyaconia. So sceptics jumped at this apparent inaccuracy. In 1910, Sir William Ramsay found a monument which showed that Iconium was a Phrygian city. Cicero had been wrong, the Bible was correct. (Go figure, LOL)
In Acts 17:6, ‘politarchs’ are mentioned. The terminology is not found in classical Greek literature. Sceptics decided Luke must be in error. Archaeology has recently uncovered 19 different inscriptions that use this title. Five of them also make mention of Thessalonica. So, the ‘politarchs’ truly existed, and the Bible proved correct, and the historical records showed need of improvement.
Nelson Glueck, said:
“It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.”
Sir William Ramsay was trained in a school that taught Acts was a mid second century A.D. book. Yet, his career as an archaeologist, seeking to verify that idea, came to the opposite conclusion. He said:
“Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense... in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians.”
Fulfilled prophecy shows amazing accuracy. Of the 333 details about the Messiah’s first coming that are detailed in the Old Testament, Jesus fulfilled all 333, the chances of such being fulfilled is one in 84 followed by 97 zeroes.
Daniel’s prophecy of 173,880 days (69 times 7 years).. till the Messiah be cut off, was accurate to the day.
God has revealed Himself through the Bible. In ‘parables’, Jesus taught that they would be understood by those who were wanting to understand, and not understood by those who did not.
“disciples.. Said... Why speakest Thou unto them in parables? He answered... because it is given unto you to know the mysteries... unto them it is not given... For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and to him that hath not, shall be taken away, even that he hath... they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand... For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes, they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they shall see, and your ears for they shall hear.”
So, we have a God Who looks at man’s will and if they are not willing to convert, He will conceal, hide, and confuse them. If they are willing to obey, they will have things revealed and things taught to them.
THE BIBLE DOES NOT CONTRADICT ITSELF.
The Bible says that man is a ‘worm of the dust’ and also that man is a ‘little lower than the angels.’ The Bible says to ‘love’ and yet says to ‘hate Father, mother, brother, sister’. And the Bible says every man should ‘bear his own burden’ and also to ‘bear one another’s burden’. When two passages seem hostile to each other, we must read the context, search the Word to understand. Seeming contradictions are there by God’s design, to make us search, question, study, to ascertain a complex truth.
Consider these passages, said in the same hour by Jesus:
“All things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you.”
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”
Did Jesus mean the word of 15:15, that He had told them ‘all things designed for them at the moment” and in 16:12, we see that ‘those designed for understanding after the resurrection would be taught by the Spirit then? Or had Jesus made the teaching known to them, but that they were still unable to comprehend some things now, and later when the Spirit came, and events have occurred, things would come back to them, that Jesus had formerly told them. Later, Jesus did say: the ‘Spirit will teach you all things’.
This answers the puzzlement of these passages.
“Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth.”
The word ‘guide’ is ‘hodegeo’ meaning ‘to lead, as in guiding the blind’. The disciples had been shown much by Jesus, and later, the Spirit would open their ‘blind’ spiritual eyes to understanding all that He had taught them.
‘He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you... all things that the Father hath are mine, therefore, said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you.”
The Spirit would ‘receive’ the things already told the disciples, and then ‘show’ and explain, reveal, and enlighten these things unto them. What the Lord had told them, needed more illumination, more enlightenment to be fully understood by the disciples.
‘These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs... but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.”
Jesus began at that moment, to take what He had spoken in proverbs, parables, and stories, and began to explain things more plainly. As they grew, and experienced more, the Spirit would complete the lessons.
“His disciples said unto Him: Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that Thou knowest all things and needest not that any man should ask Thee, by this we believe that Thou camest forth from God.”
False and twisted statements are often said to label someone else something they are not, or to make them look guilty of something they never even thought of doing. This is the kind of behavior one will find in a skeptic. It is like the old Perry Mason shows, where the guilty one always turned out to be the one that in the first half the show would look less guilty. Many other movies have been made with that theme, of make everyone else look so guilty, and act like the sweet innocent victim of their evil, and thereby hope to evade being identified as the culprit.
And so, if you gain evidence against a skeptic, of evil that they have obviously done, they will, as soon as they know you have their number, present themselves to you or the others, as someone sweet, previously abused so horribly, and thereby needing of understanding and compassion.
The seeking sympathy route is usually short, for the track record of most skeptics is so littered with victims that the idea that they are a victim themselves is hard to accept.
The ‘false information’, twisted words of others, twisting their own former words to have said and meant something not meant. This is to make you doubt your evidence, make you see the other person who informed you of the skeptic’s words, as being at fault and judgmental. It is easy to invalidate your evidence, and believe the sociopath. You may even doubt your own mind, remembering words that now are denied as ever being said.
The tendency then is to delay exposure of the skeptic, or to be confused over whether it actually happened as you and others recall, or to take the easy way out and reassure the sociopath that your concern was unfounded. Some skeptics go even farther, and begin to accuse you then of falsely accusing them, and use the correct charge against them, as evidence of your desire to spread false lies about them. The skeptic has the ability to think quickly, having trained their mind to come up with excuses and reasons for all their behaviors. If the situation is critical, they will stall for time with distraction, or simply change the subject.
Then the comparison with others is a tactic that works well. The serial killer of ten people looks far better when the discussion is on Adolph Hitler who killed millions upon millions. Yet, if the subject is redirected back to their own wrongs, they will then ask you to ‘remember when’, and bring up something totally irrelevant, but needing discussion.
If that fails, then they lie further, to protect the first lie. Lie upon lie leads to confusion, and the sociopath has never admitted the first lie, and soon so many lies encumber the walk, that you may have well had stayed home.
The pattern of lie, deflect, lie more, deny, falsely accuse others, make themselves look to wonderful to have ever really been guilty, etc. continues and continues. Finally, at worst for the skeptic, there is another chance given, for the attempt to get them to repent of their deeds and lies, and be forgiven is frustrated by the many denials of being anything less than a saint.
You may know of a certainty that the person is lying. You may have evidence to show that it is unquestionable guilt. The twisting of the words, the rewriting of history, the shaming the objector with evil and malign motives, leaves a frustration that only the victims of the skeptic will understand.
Other people watch your confrontation with the skeptic, and ask, ‘why did you stay or talk so long?’ They may say, ‘why did you not use this evidence or that evidence?’. The skeptic is clever, manipulative, and will attempt to dissuade all from ever making them answer for their wrongs.
You and others can still feel suspicious, or even still know that you have been manipulated, but the skeptic is so adept at their con, that you simply feel foolish, stupid, and give up.
A skeptic is a master of manipulation and control. The skeptic will never admit the lie, for if he did, he would lose control of the victims. The longer they can con someone, the longer they can use them. Skeptics usually have an exit plan. They have some other potential victim if they lose you. They have someone who is totally deceived already, that whatever story they make up for making the switch on who to con, is believed and trusted. When totally caught, and the con no longer works, the control is lost, and the victim, at least, is so wary of the skeptic’s behavior, that they are on their way out the door, the skeptic will rush to get out first, and loudly proclaim to all that they are glad to have escaped you.
This is a trick of mirrors, trying to make the whole situation look like you were the skeptic, and they were blessed to have escaped your vile plans. Many will fall for this con. This the illusion with mirrors that the skeptic will use to deflect, distract, and lie to the new intended victim.