Question:I've been looking at material from skeptics recently and I've noticed that I have a big problem with approaching their material. I find my getting really anxious and worked up in my mind. For example, if I find myself reading an article claiming that Jesus was a myth, I find myself in a state of confusion and I have a hard time feeling a deep conviction for the existence of Jesus in that moment in time from what I have been witnessed to from the Bible and other sources. I start to wonder about "what if's". When I stop looking at the articles for a few days, my feelings go away and I get back to feeling comfortable with my convictions. For some reason I find myself trying to convince myself of the evidence for Jesus rather than already knowing and having conviction. I do not know how to fix this problem and it really bugs me anywhere where there is skepticism of Christianity, whether it be in articles on the web or in classrooms at school.
I am wondering if you can offer my some advice on how to deal with my issue and how to approach skeptics in general. Thanks
I hope you understand that skeptics write for the purpose of causing doubts. You won't find a skeptic interested in solving a problem. Their interest is in stirring up controversy and discord. If you look at the definition of a skeptic, you will find "Skeptics view the world with doubt," "An individual who holds that true knowledge, or knowledge in a particular area, is uncertain," and "an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity."
In the Bible such people are referred to as scoffers.
"Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water" (II Peter 3:3-6).
Peter gives us some insight into their motivations. Scoffers want to do things their own way; they want to follow their lusts; they don't want restraint or rules. So, to free themselves from the rules they cast doubt around since they feel no obligation to heed what they doubt. To keep others at bay they seek to seed doubt in other people's minds. Secondly, Peter tells us that it isn't a matter that the evidence isn't there. Scoffers willfully overlook evidence that gives credence to what they don't want to accept. In other words, scoffer aren't honest with the available evidence. They don't mention evidence that disproves their doubts.
Because a scoffer willfully ignores contrary information, it is difficult to convince a scoffer to leave his doubts. "A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke" (Proverbs 13:1). "A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise" (Proverbs 15:12). It is important to understand that a scoffer isn't interested in learning or solving a problem. They are focused on promoting doubt. A solved problem leaves no room for doubt.
How do you handle a scoffer? "Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease" (Proverbs 22:10). If you are interested in the reality of Jesus, then study the historical evidence. But reading papers by people who wouldn't believe Jesus existed if he was in front of them is just not productive use of your time. When a scoffer throws his disbelief in your face, then I have found it easiest to through them a tidbit and walk away.
"Jesus is just a myth!"
"Strange. There is more evidence that Jesus existed than the Greek poet Virgil, but you accept Virgil as historical and claim Jesus is a myth."
If you run across a claim that you don't know how to address, then look for the evidence, knowing that it must exist since this person is so anxious to cast doubt on it. If you find yourself wondering if Jesus is a myth, then define for yourself what constitutes a myth. Then look to see what historical evidence exists for Jesus. Only then decide if the person is justified in claiming that Jesus is a myth. I'm confident that it won't take you long to realize that there is far too many historical references to Jesus to support the claim that he is just a myth. And once you see that, toss the doubts and doubters out. They aren't worth your time.