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Being a better skeptic, one cup at a time

By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW

I love coffee and the modern version of the morning paper. You just push this little button on a screen and you see the candidates talking, their speeches compressed to a few sound bites. Then all the red, white and blue balloons at the conventions start filling the screen. Very cool.

“Truth is the cement of society.” — Matthew Henry

I think the problem with politics is that it caters to our collective blind spots as a culture. Long ago, someone could have discussed slavery and said, “The slave owner doesn’t own the slave, but he does own his labor,” and many heads would nod in agreement.

Some of the issues today leave me aghast that they are being discussed in the same way. We kid ourselves when we dump old, awful beliefs and assume that the new ones can’t be just as bad.

Solomon said this:

Proverbs 14:15: “The simple man has faith in every word, but the man of good sense gives thought to his footsteps. “

He seems to think that I should be a believer and a skeptic at the same time. The Queen of Sheba tested Solomon with “hard questions” (1Kings 10:1). Paul said, “Prove all things” (1Thess. 5:21). I can listen to what is said, but before I commit one step of my life in any direction based on those ideas, they better be good ones.

Proverbs 13:5: “The upright man is a hater of false words: the evil-doer gets a bad name and is put to shame.”

So, how do I keep from getting a bad name and being shamed by those around me? One way is to hate all forms of lying, even the lies that serve me well. Lies can save me time, boost my pride, make life easy, save me money, shield me from blame, punish my foes, enhance my image, promote my beliefs, make me sound like an expert, and when mixed with the truth, are hard to spot. Lies protect me from having to change. However, all of them can lead me to shame.

Proverbs 14:5: “A true witness does not say what is false, but a false witness is breathing out deceit.”

This “true witness” in the Hebrew is one who has been tested, found to be true and must now speak, in a legal sense.  By contrast, liars “breathe” out their deceit as easy as taking their next breath or as if blowing on a fire. So, when the issues are great, and the lies come often, trying to inflame as well as deceive, the answer is in those rare, tested, faithful witnesses that speak the truth. Boy, do we need a few of those!

Being a good skeptic is hard work. Scripture is meant to help in that process. One reason why I like having Jesus as my savior is that I know what a real savior looks like.

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This story was posted on January 10, 2013.