————— April 26, 2015 —————

Healthy Skepticism

(posted at Torah Bytes, April 21, 2007)

It has been said that if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

Well, thankfully that is not always the case. From time to time things do happen that are truly wonderful. When we first hear about things like this, they may seem literally unbelievable, but sometimes we just have to believe the unbelievable.

This is what happened during a most difficult time in the days of Elisha, the successor to Elijah. The capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel was under siege resulting in severe famine. Elisha predicted by the word of God that prosperity would return to the city within one day – something that in the natural seemed completely impossible.

There were four men afflicted with leprosy who used to hang out by the city gate. They decided that since death was inevitable, they may as well surrender to the enemy in the slight hope that their lives would be spared. But when they arrived at the enemy camp, they discovered it completely deserted and all the enemy’s belongings still there, including food, drink, animals, clothes, gold, and silver. At first the four men began to take things for themselves alone without telling anyone else, but we read,

Then they said to each other, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” (2 Melachim / 2 Kings 7:9)

So they went back to the city and announced their great discovery. When the news got to the king, he didn’t believe it right away. He thought it was a trap. So one of his officers suggested that he send some men to go to check out the situation, which they did. Their investigation confirmed what the four men had said. As a result the city instantly went from disaster to prosperity.

I don’t blame the king for his skepticism. His reaction was reasonable. The city had been completely crippled to the point of starvation by the enemy army. What responsible leader would immediately accept the report of four outcasts? Even if he fully respected Elisha’s prediction from the day before, there had been no indication that this is how Elisha’s words would be fulfilled. It is right and good for leaders to be cautious when confronted by fantastic reports such as the one he heard.

That’s not the end of the story, however. The king was willing to check out the report even though it was unbelievable. Once the facts were in, the king didn’t continue in his skepticism. The city was then able to enter into the miraculous turn of events.

I get the impression that some people think that true faith never includes intelligent skepticism. By intelligent skepticism, I mean a good and healthy understanding of life that prevents us from being drawn into foolishness and falsehood. The king understood the strategies of armies. He knew that just because their enemies seemed to be nowhere in sight, they may have been hiding in order to stage an attack.

But there is another kind of skepticism, which we might call philosophical skepticism. This is when we keep committed to our skepticism even when the evidence shows otherwise. Though the king had prejudged the situation at first, once the investigation had been made, he was willing to change his opinion.

We should never be scared to question the unbelievable. When we hear of something that goes against everything we understand to be true and right, there is nothing wrong about being hesitant to accept it. But it takes humility and honesty to adjust our opinion once the evidence is in.

aNNa’S NoTe:  That last paragraph is SO poignant… because it is EXACTLY what is wrong with Christianity, today.  When faced with statements from the pulpit, instead of exercising a healthy skepticism and testing the teachings against the word, they eat up every wrong thing without thought.  And worse!  They read my site for YEARS, say, ‘Wow, there’s so much MEAT, here’ and then turn around and walk right back into the friendly neighborhood church, adamantly REFUSING to make the changes needed.  I can count on ONE hand the number of people who have shown humility and enough honesty with THEMSELVES to adjust their opinion after seeing the failings of Christianity.  You will find that chrischuns will fight tooth an NAIL to remain plugged into the Matrix.  It grieves my heart.  Because I was there, once.  I know what it’s like to fight myself.  To look at everything I believe my entire life, and have to erase it all from my programming.  It was horrible.  Painful, difficult beyond words… but I still wish it for everyone else. 

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