10 August 2013

"How Skepticism Masquerading as Christianity Almost Cost Me My Soul"

Every Friday, to commemorate the stellar contributions to internet apologetics and punditry made by our founder and benefactor, Phil Johnson, the unpaid and overworked staff at TeamPyro presents a "Best of Phil" post to give your weekend that necessary kick.

This excerpt is from the blog back in July 2011. Phil gives his personal testimony about how God saved him out of theological liberalism.

As usual, the comments are closed.

I came to Christ after being steeped for several years in the rankest brand of liberal Methodism. In the church I attended as an adolescent, the pastor and nearly all of my Sunday school teachers treated the Bible as a collection of legends, concocted by fallible human authors. They taught me that the Bible is scientifically and historically unreliable—but, they said, it contains moral principles that are good and helpful. Moreover, they said, it is great literature.

They clearly did not believe the Bible is true or trustworthy. In fact, they were convinced the Bible could be dangerous if you took it at face value, wihout demythologizing it. In effect, they denied that the Bible was either reliable or authoritative—and yet they claimed to hold it in high esteem.

Once while I was in high school, I pressed one of my Sunday-school teachers with questions when she said that the stories about Jesus' miracles were merely fables with moral lessons—not to be taken as literal truth. I asked how she could be so sure of that, when she seemed skeptical of what the Bible actually said about itself. I petulantly suggested that if all the tales in the Bible about Jesus were fictional, perhaps we were wasting our time talking about them in Sunday-school. I wondered out loud whether it might be a better use of my time to stay home and watch the NFL pregame shows on TV.

So the pastor summoned me to his office and cautioned me that it sounded like I was flirting with fundamentalism. I had never heard that word before. But I could tell by the way he said it that it wasn't a good thing. He spent about an hour explaining to me why the Bible is important even though it isn't true. Yet he flatly denied that there is anything supernatural about the Bible. Its stories aren't to be believed, and its teachings are not to be applied without carefully sifting the good principles it teaches from the "supernatural nonsense." He said things to me I knew he would never admit in a sermon, and by the time he had finished, he had persuaded me that the Bible was not to be taken seriously. (I was never able to take that pastor's preaching seriously again, either.)

That was about 1967 or 1968. By 1970, I had quit going to church altogether. I did, in fact, spend my Sunday mornings watching television. I would have become a convinced and devoted pagan if God had not reached out and sovereignly drawn me to Christ.

There was a meaninglessness to my life that I could not endure. I tried getting involved in politics and music and other things to feed my mind and keep me interested in life. I figured that whatever the truth was about God, He would accept me if I strove to be wise and good. But my heart was empty.

Then one night, almost on a whim, I picked up my Bible and began reading it. It was the first time I ever remember seriously reading more than a verse or two of Scripture to see what the Bible taught. And on that night, the Lord opened my eyes to the truth of Christ.


From that night to this day, I have never entertained one moment's doubt or uncertainty about the power and authority of God's Word. The whole course of my life was radically changed by the Word of God alone, and there is only one explanation for it: Because "the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).