The definition of skepticism is “an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object.” (I find it interesting that dictionary.com defines skepticism specifically in terms of religion, singling out Christianity: “doubt or unbelief with regard to a religion, especially Christianity.”) The first school founded upon skepticism started in ancient Greece around 5th century B.C. The school of thought essentially taught that truth is very hard (nearly impossible) to ascertain. Truth was “an idea which did not yet exist in a pure form.” The skeptics of today can find their roots in a school of thought first founded 500 years before the birth of Christ.
In the play at church Sunday night, one of the characters refused to accept a Christmas gift because he did not believe it was real. He was skeptical. For him it was that the deal was too good to be true. However, when it comes to Christ that is usually not the form that skepticism takes.
Many people today do not believe in Christ because they are skeptical. Some skepticism is based upon pride. Some do not believe because they want to rebel against authority. They take the attitude of “I’m not going to believe it just because you say it, or because it is written in some book. I have to see it.” Some try to “justify” their skepticism. We have all been disappointed by someone who does not keep their word. They break a promise, or don’t fulfill an obligation. We become wary about trusting the person again. Along the same lines, a skeptic might say “The Bible says Christ will return, but he has not yet returned. Maybe He isn’t coming back. Maybe He’s not real.” Both forms of skepticism are wrong. The first is rooted in the sinful pride of the skeptic; the second makes the mistake of seeing God on the same level as sinful mankind. Yet, both forms of skepticism cause the skeptic to reject the gift of Christ.
While on this earth, Jesus dealt with people who were skeptical. In John 3 we see a religious leader, Nicodemus, come to talk with Christ. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again. Nicodemus responds skeptically with “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:3-4) Jesus then addresses the central ailment all skeptics have, a lack of faith. Jesus explains to Nicodemus that he is not having problems with the facts. No, Nicodemus is having problems with faith. Seven times in this discussion with Nicodemus, Christ uses a form of the word “believe.” You see, the issue with the skeptic is an issue of the heart, as it is will all of us. At some point in our lives, we all suffer from a lack of faith; what the Bible calls a “heart of unbelief.” Those of us who are saved have overcome our skepticism and have taken the step of faith to believe in Christ. This is the same step Jesus is urging Nicodemus to make in John 3. We must pray the same would happen for the skeptics we know. As Nicodemus shows us, a skeptic is not moved by logic or fact. (“How can a man be born when he is old?”) The root issue must be addressed, the issue of the heart.