While I rarely watch or read anything that seeks to tackle the topics of God, Christ, and Scripture outside of trusted Christian resources, I am aware of their prominence. Their success indicates the world’s deep fascination with such topics, even from the most unreligious of people. Magazines, tv shows, and movies cater to this fascination by providing ‘new developments’ and ‘alluring perspectives’ to draw people in. The issue here is that the fascination comes with a desire for something scandalous that demystifies the unfamiliar. Most of these supposed ‘truth’ stories then, come with an agenda that is generated by their bias that has dire consequences.
Why bring up such a topic now? First, because I have had long and continuing discussions with people over this very issue. As new shows are presented they are prone to accept theories and opinions as facts. Second, I have noticed an increase in these stories, particularly from one source, this past week (1). One prominent magazine and website has promoted stories about Christ that are meant to bring doubts to the authenticity of Scripture. To do this, they convey the gospels of Luke and Matthew as being in contradiction to one another, have suggested that Judas betrayed Christ in order to spark a rebellion, and even suggested that the wise men came to Herod because astrology and astronomy was important they figured that a certain star must be a sign (rather than recognize the importance of the Old Testament scriptures and prophecies, and the role those played in their understanding). These stories are presented by ‘experts’ without consideration of the Biblical account (except when it is convenient or they are able to suggest contradictions).
It should be frustrating to us that there are so many opinions about topics without any real knowledge about that topic. People are quick to share their opinions about politics, economics, religion, cultures, or whatever else it may be although they have no knowledge about what they are commenting on. Instead, the opinions are based upon what they have been told by others. And yes, we all are in danger of doing this; it’s not definitive of a specific group. Living in another country has caused me to see how prominent this is as people from my home country comment about my current country and vice versa. Without a true grasp, judgements are made and decisions are reached. That’s what we see taking place with the presentation of alternative theories about God, Christ, and Scripture. The ‘experts’ may have a knowledge of the things of Scripture, but lack the biblical orientation to rightly interpret that knowledge. The result is a misdirection of people away from truth.
Not surprisingly, many without a Christian connection will latch upon these presentations because it supports their position that religion is unnecessary and allows them to be comfortable in who they are. Thus reaching these people is more difficult. However, the misdirection can occur with those who profess belief as well, either because they were not committed or not grounded in the things of Scripture. As a result, people are prone to:
- Turn from history (specifically, Christian history and it’s evidence of faith).
- Turn from truth.
- Turn from God.
Turning from something means they are likely turning towards something else. Here, we can expect that they are turning more towards the world. In other words, it leads people towards a disregard of God and apostasy, which seems to be the agenda of these prominent stories.
The fascination and admission of these speculations suggests something important about the Christian life (and I would even say for the secular life to). There exists a great need for discernment. With little questioning, we have been trained to simply accept the suggestions, teachings, and instructions of those perceived to be in authority. Yet, even Scripture warns of the need for us to test what is truth. John wrote his first epistle in response to false teaching that was taking place, suggesting that they needed to test proposed truth against what they knew to be true. I would dare say that if someone says you need not test their information, a flag of concern should go up causing our hearts to be stirred towards examining what is being said.
So how is discernment cultivated? First through a personal devotion. There must be a commitment to be constantly engaged with the Bibles, reading, studying, and applying it. Without a constant regard for the Word one will never learn what is contained within and thus they have nothing with which to test any teachings (whether true or false). Second is through personal discipleship. Sometimes we need help in our understanding. Discipleship with others allows for discussion and teaching to take place in regard to the Scriptures themselves. However, that personal discipleship also allows for interaction about circumstances taking place in the lives of those involved in discipleship. Such interaction leads towards discussions about specific applications of Scripture when handling those circumstances as well. Thus, between devotion and discipleship, believers are more able to discern and test the ‘truth’ of the world against the truth of Scripture.
Failing to factor in that God is omni, humans think they are God with complete knowledge. Therefore when things are beyond human comprehension the response is to deny its truth and accept a basic explanation instead. There are great issues today when the world seeks to explain the supernatural with the natural. Therefore, there is a need to stand against the constant agenda for apostasy and instead, embrace an agenda of discernment in our lives.
(1) The citation of sources is important and so while I would generally link in the stories I am discussing here from this website, I also recognize it is important not to promote untruth. Because these stories are direct contradictions to Scripture, I think it is more profitable to not share them knowing that the prominence of such discussions proves my point of their existence without having to share with you the specific sources.
Photo “Discernment” courtesy of user Kenneth Moyle and Flickr.