Most people think of skepticism as being negative, but there’s a positive side too. I’m not going to list the negatives, because I don’t want to insult your intelligence. So on to the positives –
First off, we’re not talking about being cynical or condemning. Cynics can be skeptics, sure, but cynics are always negative and pessimistic. And as I said, there’s a positive side to skepticism. So now I’ll get to the point.
Skepticism is related to doubt, and the positive about being doubtful is that those who doubt are in many cases just looking for more information. They want to believe, but need more light. Doubters aren’t lemmings; they want reasons to believe.
Did Jesus Christ ever condemn people for having doubts? I look to the Bible as my yardstick, so recently I went to the New Testament to learn about how Jesus related to doubters. Here’s what I found:
Those who persecuted Jesus were in complete denial about His claims. Jesus had no time for the cynics, or those who refused to believe. But He comforted those who doubted, because He knew that the desire for confirmation was root of their doubts .
A couple of cases to consider –
The first: Jesus once said of John the Baptizer that he was the greatest of all those born of women. Yet after John was cast into prison for standing up to King Herod, he suffered doubts. Earlier John had pointed to Jesus as the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29). But now languishing in a filthy prison he wondered if it had all been in vain. Had he really done the right thing? Was Jesus really the Messiah?
So John sent some of his people to Jesus with the question, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). So how did Jesus respond to John’s faltering faith? He reassured him – basically told John that his efforts were not in vain:
“Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” (Luke 7:22). John later lost his head (literally) but I’d bet he did so with a smile.
The second: After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a follower named Thomas had doubts about the resurrection business. He said, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25).
Thomas’ comments have earned him the label “doubting Thomas.” But the question is, how did Jesus respond to Thomas’ doubts? The answer is found in John 20:26-27 – “A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'”
Sometimes it’s okay to have doubts – it just depends on your reasons for doubting. Go ahead – be a skeptic.
But wait, there’s more! (I’m being facetious of course, but there really is more). I’m interested in your thoughts. You can reply, send me an email, and/or help design the new monthly newsletter –