by Cowboy Bob Sorensen
No, I'm not the one seeking challenges for my beliefs. Someone was asking what people read that challenge their "deeply held beliefs". The inquirer (who shall remain unidentified as well as my source) does not want to be pigeonholed as someone who believes because he or she was told to believe, and commenced to reading books by atheists. Other folks chimed in and said it was a good idea.
|Image credit: Freeimages / Stephen J. Sullivan|
Why seek out challenges to your faith? A Bible-believing Christian gets those on a regular basis from temptations, media, social media, friend, family, atheists, evolutionists, compromisers, cultists, and so on. Keeping on a good spiritual walk is challenging, and we need to seek out God on a daily (even hourly) basis.
"But the only way you'll learn is by reading stuff by people you don't agree with, Cowboy Bob!"
That may be true in philosophy, politics, peripheral matters of Christian doctrine, and so forth, but not when it comes to salvation and the development of faith. Our source for life and thinking is the Bible, and there's nothing in there that tells us to seek out enemies of God to build ourselves up. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV tells us that Scripture is God-breathed to equip us for every good work. Further, we are indwelt and guided by the Holy Spirit (John 14:17, Acts 1:8, 1 John 4:15, Romans 8:15-17, Ephesians 5:25), and are to dwell on good things (Jude 1:20-21, Philippians 4:8). Paul did not rely on clever arguments and lofty words, but on the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
We have no need of their philosophies, which are harmful (Colossians 2:8), and they are enemies of God (Romans 3:10-12 and Romans 5:10, John 8:44). Further, Scripture calls them fools נָבָל (Psalm 14:1), which denotes moral deficiency. Don't disunderstand, that doesn't mean that they are necessarily stupid people (although I can point out some amazingly stupid atheopaths), and some unbelievers are brilliant in their own realms. However, their pursuits and affections are in opposition to God's ways (Psalm 10:4, Romans 8:7, Colossians 1:21).
Is this "I don't want people to think I'm a Christian just because I was told to be one" attitude based on pride? There's no reason to be remotely interested in what unbelievers say or think about why we became Christians. More importantly, I wonder this individual wants to say that he or she reasoned into the Kingdom by weighing the evidence and making a decision for Christ. Doesn't happen that way, old son. We are not saved by human reason, but by faith, and we are regenerated (Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 5:12). It is spiritual, which is something atheists deny. Faith is by the grace of God. A reader who does not understand this may not actually be saved (see "How to Become a Christian").
Someone who is not grounded in the Word and spends time reading worldly philosophy, especially by those who actively hate God, can become confused and abandon the faith — if there was a commitment to Christ in the first place (1 John 2:19). All Christians need to spend time in the Word, prayer, and receive solid biblical teaching. There are people who are built up in the faith and have the support of other believers who research false teachings, evolution, atheism, and so on in order to refute them. Those are called to apologetics ministries, and are not doing it to impress others.
Let's take the approach that someone is reading this and has a problem with both pride and is actually unsaved. I implore you to carefully consider what I have written, and especially the Word of God. Are you truly born from above, or playing at Christianity? If the latter, please repent and make Jesus Christ the lord of your life today. Otherwise, we all need to exercise caution on what we put into our minds, and spend time on the things of God, not the haughty scribblings and vain philosophies of those who are opposed to God.