Critically Examine Everything? 


But I thought this was all 'Blind Faith' kinda stuff...

(or at least the politically correct 'intellectually challenged' kinda stuff...)


Au Contraire--


The Judeo-Christian faith is surprisingly ruthless in its insistence on proof (broadly considered), evidence, truth, examination, 'cordial skepticism'...and correspondingly disdainful of those who believe nonsense.
 

Consider briefly the following passages in the Bible:

Gen 15 - When Abraham asked God "how will I KNOW that this future will happen?", God did not rebuke him, but made a legal covenant with him.
 

Exodus 33 - Moses argued with God that God should not destroy Israel, so that there would be evidence of His work in history
 

Number 16 - Moses argued with the Israelites over the leadership issue, and appealed to evidence.
 

Deut 18 - God is VERY explicit-if a prophet EVER misses a prediction, this proves he is not a prophet of YHWH. The test was evidential--pure and simple.
 

Deut 29 - Moses appeals to their MEMORIES as a basis for decision...historical events .
 

Joshua 3 - Joshua sets up, in advance, a criterion for knowing that YHWH was among them--a future, visible, abnormal event in Israel's history.
 

2 Sam 1 - David wanted factual support for the report that Saul was dead.
 

Lam 3 - We are to EXAMINE our lifestyles - looking for evidence that reveals our true character and orientation to ultimate issues
 

I Cor 11 - We are to examine our hearts and conduct--testing them against standards
 

2 Cor 13 - We are to examine our life vis-a-vis the content of the worldview
 

Judges 6 - Gideon and the 'fleece test' - and yet God 'humored' his weakness and provided the evidence he needed
 

Isaiah 7 - King AHAZ was rebuked by the prophet for NOT asking God for evidence!
 

Dan 1 - Daniel in a foreign situation, didn't appeal with a simple 'trust us'--he said 'test us'...and depended upon God for concrete, visible results.
 

Mal 3 - God challenges Israel to test His faithfulness, He invites them to test His commitment to His promises...and in the area of finances!
 

Rom 12 - Paul challenges his readers to continually expand their thinking--SO THAT they can examine and prove what God's will for their direction is...an active searching and examination of all the data.
 

2 Cor 8 - Paul wanted to TEST the sincerity of their love -- he was looking for concrete evidence that would reveal their inner selves.
 

Gal. 6:4 "Each one should TEST his own actions. Then he can take appropriate pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else"
 

Is 43 - The prophet draws a picture of a courtroom scene. The prophets are to bring forth their evidence that they are indeed speakers of truth. The only admissible evidence is a proven track-record of future prediction!
 

Ezek. 13:2 "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: 'Hear the word of the LORD!'" --Accuracy and legitimacy is of critical moment!
 

John 2 - the Jews of the day where always demanding proof. Jesus appealed to his coming resurrection as the capstone proof of his deity.
 

Act 17 - Paul referred to the historical resurrection as "God's proof" that people will have to answer for their innermost attitudes toward God.
 

2 Cor 13 - The Corinthians demanded proof of Paul's authority. He submitted historical evidence and lifestyle as data.
 

Luke 1 - Luke investigated the sources and wrote the account for his royal reader, SO THAT he could know for CERTAIN.
 
 
 

Or consider the following actions on the part of Jesus...

He is constantly doing overt miracles and "out-loud" prayers, for His followers' benefit--so they might see the evidence, understand what's going on, and believe.
 

He doesn't scorn the 'doubting Thomas' but provides his nail-scarred hands and open side-wound as evidence for him (Jn 20)
 

He constantly refers people back to the data of the OT--as a means to judge His claims and teachings.
 
 
 

Or consider the NT leaders, with their emphasis on the factuality of the Christian events (and their preference for the 'critical thinkers')...

Luke who praised the careful and thorough Bereans in Acts 17:11 "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
 

Paul, who challenges us in I Thess 5.21: " Test everything. Hold on to the good."
 

And appeals to the 'openness' of the historical facts of early Christianity in his public trial: "The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner." (Act 26:26)
 

And appeals to natural phenomena as evidence of a good God (Acts 14, 17).
 

Peter, who tries to 'force his readers back into the bedrock of data' in 2Pet. 1:16: We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.


Hold it a Minute! 


I thought 'Testing the Lord' was VERY bad, even Fatal! (as in I Cor 10)...
 

...Good question (shows you're thinking, eh?)

 

If you compare the "DON'T test" passages with the "DO test" passages, you can see the difference in the contexts. 


The "DON'T test" passages are those in which the people are NOT seeking evidence/proof IN ORDER TO learn truth, grow, or develop their worldview, but rather are trying to manipulate God into satisfying illicit desires, or into satisfying licit needs, in destructive ways. For example, in Exodus 17, the recepients of an earlier water-providing miracle are now DEMANDING water in a combative manner! (See Ps 78 and 106 for a later historical account of this.)
 

The 'DO test' passages are those in which the people are enjoined to take a small step of commitment, in EXPECTATION of success (sounds a little like giving someone the benefit of the doubt, doesn't it?). The negativism and close-mindedness of the former situation is not present in the latter. The latter applies to people who are OPEN to learning, not just trying to engineer the situation for their practical gain.

As a matter of fact, this 'openness to learning' and 'positive expectation of good' is rather basic to ALL types of personal discovery situations. We ourselves tend not to 'participate' in these kinds of situations, if we feel we are being 'interrogated' in an abusive manner.


So...keep an honest and respectful and patient and good-natured heart...and GO FOR IT! The God of Truth seems to delight in responding to such attitudes and approaches (don't we all?).
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