What would you do if I told you that there is a buried treasure on a remote island in the Pacific and if we go to get it then we will be rich? When you ask how I know that it is there, I reply there is no map but I know that it is there. You press me and ask how I can be so sure if there is no map. I respond that I know it is there and how I know is a mystery. Would you be inclined to believe me?
What if there were a very popular doctrine among evangelicals and there was no verse / passage to substantiate and how people knew it was a mystery, what would you conclude?
I have gone on a few Facebook groups and have asked people what they believe is the best verse/passage about a certain doctrine which is extremely popular in American churches. I was told point blank, “there is no verse,” and “it is a mystery” or “I just know.” Those kind of responses I would expect from Mormon missionaries, not Bible carrying born-again evangelicals. At one point several people asked me what I was getting at since there was no verse and they couldn’t give me a biblical reason why they believed it. I asked if there is no verse then how do we know that it is true.
However, there were two people who asserted that it is the “it is the most logical,” and proceeded to build a logical case why the doctrine had to be true but in the end could still not provide even one clear verse in support of the doctrine. The problem with a logical syllogism (a syllogism has two premises and a conclusion) is two premises, even if true, may lead to a faulty conclusion will necessarily be faulty. If the premises are faulty to begin with then the conclusion must necessarily be faulty, albeit logical. Hence it is always dangerous to base important doctrines on logical reasoning. We want to base our beliefs on what is stated and revealed, not what is deduced.
Consider one of my favorite faulty (though logical) syllogisms. Notice that each of the premises is true by itself but the whole package is absurdly false.
Now that we see that syllogisms (logical arguments) can lead to very faulty conclusions, let’s get back to our story. Just so you know, I never argued with anyone on the Facebook groups; I simply posed the question “what is the best verse for that certain doctrine.” I then followed it up by asking “if we don’t have a verse and the doctrine a mystery, then how do we know that the doctrine is true?” It is just like me saying that I know where there is buried treasure but I have no map and my knowledge of it is a mystery.
To my utter shock, I was removed from the group on the grounds that my question was disruptive (even though the question is in their group’s name!) No one was complaining about the thread, in fact after starting another thread (trying to figure out what happened) many said they enjoyed the conversation. The moderator finally told me that it was becoming pointless because I was asking for something (the verse) that doesn’t exist and even their best people had given reasons [think syllogisms] and I wasn’t willing to accept those. I was rather dumbfounded because for people who in other respects take the Bible fairly literally, this particular issue was completely out of sync. How could they believe in a doctrine for which there isn’t at least one clear verse?
Thinking that that FB group was just narrow minded, a week later I decided to pose the same basic question to a similar group with that doctrine in their FB name. Again I asked: “what is the best verse for the doctrine?” Once again, within an hour or two tops of posting the question, I was removed and in a private message from the moderator was told that I am a “deceived … [person who holds that doctrine].” I asked him if I wasn’t being polite and courteous and not argumentative. He said that I was being respectful, etc. but he has people to protect. The problem with such an attitude is that it suggests that the followers need to be shielded from people outside the group. That is simply not true. We leaders need to encourage people to be “Bereans” to see if these things be so. My job is not to shield people but to help them understand and to always be open to reproof because I am not impervious to error – just like everyone else. We must let “iron sharpen iron.” Above all, we need to put on the “belt of truth” because it is the truth, and only the truth, that will set us free. On several occasions I have had to reevaluate doctrines that I had been taught when I discovered that they are simply not biblical. Isn’t that what we demand of the cults? Shouldn’t we demand of ourselves?
So though I never accused anyone on Facebook nor did I call anyone names or use abusive language – shoot, I didn’t really get much of a chance to say anything – I just asked the simple question – perhaps the most important question of all “where is the verse” and I got removed twice from two groups.
The question then remains, if I said I knew where there was buried treasure and when you challenged me about how I knew it, I just asserted that you just have to have faith because there is no map and its location is a mystery, would you believe me? Should you believe me? Would you sell everything, bet your life on it, and go with me to find something that can in no way be corroborated? I can only hope the answer is “no”! Assuming you do answer “no,” I submit the question – why should we believe a doctrine (even when tons of people believe it) that has no supporting verse and is “a mystery”? When the cults want us to believe their doctrines are true we insist upon going to the Word to decide if the matter is true or false. If they cannot produce a verse or it can be shown that their rendering is false, then we conclude that it is not biblical. Shouldn’t we be courageous enough to believe the Bible over the (very popular) doctrines of men?
I know that giving up certain doctrines is no fun but I would rather live in pursuit of truth which is simply another way to say “reality.” Why live in a fantasy even if that is a very popular and so called “orthodox” doctrine when reality is what it is. If we can’t find favorite doctrines in the Bible then perhaps we are just on…