My interest was piqued and so I began to engage him in a theological discussion (not that I was tempted to have him “teach” our church the truth). To make a long story short, he rejected much of the N.T. as being spurious. The only parts of the N.T. that he accepted were the gospels, Acts, Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, and the Revelation. I challenged him and he told me that it was clear from grammar and word usage that the other so-called Pauline epistles were not written by the same author. He quoted higher criticism and then told me that I took everything by tradition just like most every other person who calls themselves a Christian. Our conversation didn’t get very far because anytime I would quote a verse of Scripture to him, he would dismiss it as being fraudulent. I came to the conclusion that he was more like Hymenaeus and Philetus who “overthrow the faith of some” based on false teaching (2nd Timothy 2:18).
The conversation was at least 45 minutes long and he wanted to debate further, but I declined as it was unprofitable and without edification, and by this time my family was in the van ready to go home. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve thought of several things that relate to the conversation.
Every person is a person of faith. This man claimed to be a Christian, though I doubt it. The reality is that he trusts critics and skeptics. I know that he did not know Greek well enough (if at all) to be able to tell from the grammar and language if Colossians was counterfeit. So, he had chosen to believe those who question the Bible, I choose to believe the Bible. Either way, we both are people of faith; I trust God, he trusts men.
The same truth is evident in things such as creation/evolution and Theism/atheism. A creationist believes that God created the world as recorded in Genesis 1-2. An evolutionist believes that the origins of geology, biology, and cosmology are explained by scientists. However, as much as men want to claim that evolution is a scientific fact, it was not observed and can’t be reproduced – so it is still a theory. I choose to believe God, evolutionists believe men.
I believe that God is revealed through the Bible. Atheists believe that there is verifiable proof that God does not exist. Agnostics believe that there is not enough evidence to declare that God does exist or does not exist. The reality is that all three positions require faith. I believe God. The Atheist believes his human logic and experience (though fallible and limited). The Agnostic believes there is not sufficient evidence to draw a conclusion.
We are all people of faith because of the next point:
Man’s knowledge is finite. The Agnostic is at least right in this, only his conclusion leads him to distrust while mine leads me to greater trust. My knowledge is finite and so I choose to believe the Bible.
There is no way that any man can know, academically or experientially, all that there is to know in or beyond his lifetime. I was not at the origin of the universe and so I have to take someone else’s word for it. When there is something that I cannot know, I will take the Word of God over the word of men. I know this is faith, but taking the word of men is also faith. I believe that God is a greater foundation for faith than fallible and finite men.
I have absolute trust in God and an absolute distrust of men. I admit that I have faith. But honesty demands that every man admits that he has to have faith in something because it is absolutely impossible for every man to infinitely know everything. So, I take God’s Word for everything.
What a man chooses to believe determines how he lives. Those who choose to believe that there is no God or choose to believe in evolution, live in accordance with what they have chosen to believe (or chosen not to believe). Evolution presents the possibility of the origin of the universe apart from God and so there is no need to be concerned with a God. Life without God makes the mind of man the measure of knowledge and so the supreme authority. Life without God means that there is no eternity and so one lives only for today.
Since I believe in God and the Bible as being His revelation to mankind, it affects the way I live. I believe what the Bible says about life on this earth and about eternity. Consequently, those beliefs dictate my actions. Whatever the Bible says about humanity, about government, about society, about eternity, about science, about morals, about history, or any subject – is my authority and I live accordingly.
Conclusion. The man that I talked to a couple of weeks ago rejected much of the N.T. because he chose to take the word of men. He was living with the impossible hope that he could discern everything logically and academically. Therefore, he had no certainty.
I know it’s faith, but I take God at His Word on every subject because I know that I – and all men – are finite and fallible, so for me faith in God and His Word is the only valid option. That faith guides my whole life.