Chapter 3

V Biblical instructions on answering questions

    Many people think that religion is just a matter of feeling and preference, as was discussed in I, B, and in IV. This is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible has a lot to say about how to think and how to share the truth with others.

    James 1:19 “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry.”

    This very important principle has several benefits.

    1 Wait until you find out what is the real problem which is keeping this person from believing. The first thing he or she mentions is probably not what is really basic and important to him, so don’t spend a lot of time on it. Listen, ask for more, until he has really finished all he has to say. Then you know what is most important to answer. This is also the point at which to ask the question mentioned in IV, A, “If I could answer all your questions, would you believe?”

    2 Express confidence and security about your faith. Don’t be afraid of questions. Hasty answers to every little question appear to indicate insecurity.

    3 Establish friendship and respect, a genuine concern to help the person, not just win an argument. Try to avoid debate.

    4 Probably no one before ever let him fully explain his thoughts. If we believe that the Bible is the only truth, then we believe that all else is untrue, so the more he says the more errors there will be. As he continues talking and thinking, he himself may discover there are flaws and contradictions which he never noticed before. This is much better than you pointing them out.

    5 Earn the right to have your turn to speak when he is finished. Wait until he is ready to listen, and is curious why you can be so secure in the face of so many doubts and questions. Be confident there are answers, but wait until he really wants to know what they are. If you interrupt before he is finished talking and ready to listen, he won’t hear you anyway, so it is no use talking. And if he is unwilling to give you a turn, it is no use trying.

Philippians 1:27, 28 “…stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved.”

    This was written in a time of physical persecution, but the principle applies also to intellectual opposition. Be calm, confident that the truth can withstand scrutiny, even when you do not immediately have an answer for a particular question. Go look for it.

Proverbs 18:13, 17 “He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame. The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”

    Once again, listen carefully until you understand the real problem. Try to understand both sides of a question, and deal with it fairly.

Proverbs 26:4, 5 “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”
    This humorous pair of proverbs seems contradictory. The first line means we should not try to make the truth acceptable to people on the terms of their own proud, independent assumptions. If we accept their assumptions, we have no answer. Rather than answering the question, point out the flaws in it.

    The second line means we should answer questions with similar questions, and not always give a direct answer to insincere questions. Christians are usually too polite and defensive; we always let others ask questions and we try to answer, and they feel smart when we can’t answer. Everyone has a philosophy of life, which in fact is his religion, his faith. Require him to defend this faith, and discover that he can’t answer all the questions either. Jesus is a good example; He often answered a question with another question, especially to the religious leaders who opposed His teaching and tried to trap Him with trick questions. He turned the trap around and left them speechless. It is a valuable skill to develop.

John 9:25 “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
    Read this entire chapter to see who said this and why. It was a blind man whom Jesus had healed. The man did not know much about Jesus or the Bible, but he told what he knew. We can do the same. We need not worry about what we do not know. Very few who are reading this book have formal theological training, and I don’t either, so there is no reason why we should be experts. It is no loss of face if we cannot answer every question. In fact, most (fortunately not all) theologians I have seen have lost the ability to give a simple answer to a simple question so that the ordinary person can understand it! If we wait until we can answer every question before we start talking, how long will that be? We will never start, of course. And that is what Satan, not God, wants us to do.
I Peter 3:15 “Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that youhave. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
    The above verses are of course not an excuse for remaining ignorant. We must be willing to learn, and work hard to do so. Peter tells us that we should have a reason, a hope, and a life that makes people ask. We should prepare, which means studying and thinking. The Bible does not require us to have blind faith, in fact it forbids it. And our life is to be consistent with our belief, so that people come to us to ask why we are different. We are not to argue in hostility, but calmly and kindly share and explain.
John 10:38 “Even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
    Even Jesus did not expect people to blindly believe what He said; that was why He did miracles, to prove who He was. God gives evidence.
Luke 16:31 “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
    If you are not familiar with this story, read it. After Jesus told this story, He Himself rose from the dead, and still most people did not believe. So do not let people use the excuse that they need to see a miracle and then they will believe. If people don’t accept all that God has already done, don’t be surprised that you cannot convince them.
II Timothy 2:8 “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel.”
    Don’t get so busy with facts and logic that you end the discussion and still have not mentioned Jesus Christ, His resurrection, His deity, and His humanity.
Proverbs 1:7, 29 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord,...”
    People’s basic problem is their choice not to fear the Lord.
Isaiah 6:10 “Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
    When God first called Isaiah to be a prophet, He warned him that the people would be unresponsive. This verse sarcastically describes those who are unwilling to believe; they are unable to see because their heart is hardened. Unbelief begins with the heart. But for those whose hearts are willing, belief begins with the eyes. God does not request or recommend blind faith.
Psalm 10:4 “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”

Psalm 14:1; 53:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

Romans 1:18-22 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities ? his eternal power and divine nature ? have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…”

    We must not presume to pass judgment on any particular individual’s motives, but in general unbelief is often a choice, a refusal to face what is actually seen and known. If a person will not accept a few basics about the existence of God and His nature, then it is no use trying to explain anything more about spiritual truth and life. He will only reject and ridicule it.

    But this does not mean every doubter is a dog and a pig! It is not always easy to identify dogs and pigs; pray for wisdom. It is sometimes difficult to tell what a person’s real attitude is. One who seems polite may be totally cold and closed-minded, and one who seems hostile and unreasonable may turn out to be desperately searching and hoping you have an answer. We can only assume the best until the person himself directly proves otherwise.

    John 8:42-47 is Jesus’ scathing diagnosis of the Pharisees’ heart condition. Because they did not believe God, they could not even hear what He was saying.

I Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

I Corinthians 2:14 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

II Corinthians 4:3, 4 “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

    It is not our job to make people understand the truth, or convince them to accept it. We cannot do that; only the Holy Spirit can. So we need not burden ourselves with that responsibility, and should not feel it must be our fault that they do not understand. We can only do our best to explain, and keep learning to do better, but remember that our job is just to tell them; the result is between them and God.

    If they are unwilling, they are not even able to grasp simple facts about the Bible. It is a strange experience to talk to extremely intelligent people who suddenly become very dull when dealing with simple facts related to the Bible.

    Mt. 16:17 is encouraging on this point. Peter has just made his “great confession” of faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and Jesus replies that he is blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this truth to him, but the Father who is in heaven did. Jesus Himself did not take credit for having caused Peter to comprehend this truth through His effective instruction and explanation. If Jesus’ teaching alone was not enough to produce comprehension, then it is no use hoping that ours will be.

    The gospels are full of accounts of Jesus answering questions, usually hostile ones. It is important to study His answers. He often answered a question with a question, as already mentioned. All His answers emphasized logic, and rebuked the logical flaws in others’ thinking which did not make sense. This means that theology should make sense. Theology transcends logic, but does not violate it. As stated above in IV, D, logical considerations should enable us to identify false teaching.

    The entire passage of I Cor. 1:18 - 2:16 is valuable in this regard, but it is sometimes misunderstood. 1:21-23 says “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

    Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified,…” 2:1 says “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.” In 2:5 Paul concludes, “so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom but on God’spower.” Some people use this as a basis for opposing the use of any arguments, logic, or evidence in presenting the gospel. These are the ones discussed in the previous section, who say we should just “pray and preach the gospel.” It is true that we must not base our faith on some Christian expert’s intelligence alone, because there will always be a smarter non-Christian somewhere, probably quite nearby. While logic and facts alone will not produce saving faith (which is what 1:21 means), a lack of them can be a genuine barrier to faith. Paul proceeds to say, in 2:5, “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age.” We are supposed to comprehend and trust the wisdom of God, as communicated through human teachers. The God of the Bible does not require blind faith and ignorance. Biblical faith is not a mere subjective feeling devoid of mental content.

VI The Bible’s explanation of other religions and philosophies

    Judaism is based only on the Old Testament. Christianity is based on the whole Bible, including the New Testament. Christianity includes both Catholic and Protestant faith. This is the Judeo-Christian religion, so “other” means outside of this closely-related group. (See ch. 4, sec. I.) What does the Bible say about all other religions?

    Each point is followed by some of the key Bible passages containing this teaching. Space is left for the reader to fill in the essential statement made in that passage.

A Their power

    There is a spiritual, supernatural power in other religions, but it is not God. There are deceiving spirits. These spirits are not just a product of our imagination and superstition, although that is a major factor in many ghost stories, traditions, taboos, etc. There is a real world of Satan, demons, and angels. Demons and their powers are real, but they are not truthful. Because they are rebelling against God, they oppose His plan for the world and for us. These spirits were originally created as angels, but they rebelled and became evil spirits or demons. The greatest one was named Lucifer, and when he rebelled he became Satan. Angels and demons are a separate type of being from human beings. Good people’s spirits do not become angels after they die, and bad people’s spirits do not become demons. (see sec. C) This is explained in these verses:

Isaiah 14:12-15
Ezekiel 28:11-19
II Peter 2:4
Jude 6

    Satan and other evil spirits can only do what God permits them to do.

Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6
    Christians do not need to fear these spirits. They are at present in some ways more powerful than we are, but God is more powerful than they are, and He protects those of us who have become His children. The spirits are not between us and God. They have no authority except what they win from us by deception. They are not above us in any way, and do not deserve any respect or worship from us. In fact God has given believers authority over them now. They are impostors, pretending to be gods. God will finally punish these spirits, sending them to hell forever. This is found in the following Bible passages:
Matthew 25:41
II Peter 2:4
Revelation 20:10.

    God commands us to avoid contact with any spirits besides Himself, and resist them. This teaching is found in many places, including:

Exodus 22:18
Leviticus 19:26b, 31
20:6, 27
II Chronicles 33:6
Proverbs 3:34
James 4:6-8
I Peter 5:5-9
I John 4:1-6
Revelation 12:11
God especially forbids us to worship idols.
Exodus 20:1-6
Psalm 135:15-18
Jeremiah 7:16-20
Isaiah 40:19, 20
41:7, 22-24
48:5, 14
Romans 1:18-23
I Corinthians 8:4-6

    Because the spirits have made themselves God’s enemies, they try to prevent people believing in God and Jesus Christ, and finding forgiveness for sin, relationship with God, and a sense of security. Most people who submit to their deception do not notice or care that the spirits will never acknowledge that Jesus is the one Son of the only true God, that He is God, and that the blood He shed on the Cross defeated them and can cleanse away all our sins. These spirits can give us a high ethical standard, a good feeling, and beautiful visions. They can heal diseases, exorcise frightening spirits, pretend to be the spirits of dead people, and sometimes they even dare pretend to be Jesus! They want us to think they are providing all our needs. They will not tell us that they want to make sure that after death we will go to hell with them, not to heaven with God. These spirits are happy to give us benefits in this life, in order to cause us to lose benefits in eternity. They dare not promise us any certainty about what awaits us after death. They can only give some uncertain hope, or try to distract us from thinking about it.

    The spirits use any method that accomplishes their goal: terror, deception, substitution, etc. In some religions, they act very visibly, using both enticements and terror, posing as both “good” and “evil” spirits or gods, although they are in fact all evil. In other religions, and so-called non-religious philosophies, they do not make themselves directly apparent, and even lead people to deny the existence of such spirits. The evil spirits use different lies to deceive different people. One person may be very moral, hard-working, religious, kind, and proud, confident that the spirits who help him now will be able to take care of him after death. Another person may be “non-religious,” with his philosophy of life serving as his religion. He may not believe there is any existence after death, or he may believe he will be all right after death. Or he may just live one busy day at a time, thinking that the future doesn’t matter now, but he will think about it when he is old. Another person may be an alcoholic or a drug addict, thinking he can escape thinking about all problems, responsibilities, and consequences. Still another may be a dishonest businessman, a criminal, or a corrupt politician, thinking he is rich, powerful, and secure.

    Not only do spirits deceive us, we may deceive ourselves. Sec. V discussed the factor of choice involved in producing unbelief. People who refuse the truth from God thus make themselves especially vulnerable to deception by spirits teaching false ideas, and there are some puzzling but dire warnings that God lets us choose deception, and even helps us find it when we so choose.

Romans 1:24-32
II Corinthians 4:4
II Thessalonians 2:9-12
I Timothy 4:1
John 4:1-6
Revelation 12:10
    The spirits are comparable to a person who raises pigs, ducks, chickens, or fish. Each of the animals may think that it is in heaven, and that the owner is a powerful benevolent provider of all its needs. The owner does not tell it what his purpose is. It does not wonder why several of its friends disappear every day, until one day it is suddenly taken and killed, and cannot return to tell the remaining animals that they too are being prepared to be eaten.

    Another comparison is cockroaches and ants in a garbage bin. They happily think they have found an inexhaustible source of all they will ever need, but they do not know that in a few hours both they and the garbage will be buried in the garbage dump, or burned in the incinerator. People without faith in God’s truth are all doomed, the same as ducks, pigs, and chickens in a farm, fish in a pond, or cockroaches and ants in a garbage bin.

B Fortune telling

    God wants to protect us, so He forbids us asking other spirits for more information than He has given us. Other spirits are not reliable, anyway. Only God knows the future. The Bible places great emphasis on this teaching, partly because the Israelites so stubbornly disregarded it.

Leviticus 19:31; 20:6,27
Deuteronomy 4:19
18:9-15, 20-22
I Samuel 15:23
II Kings 17:16; 23:5
Isaiah 8:19
Jeremiah 8:2
Zephaniah 1:5
Acts 7:42
    We are commanded not to worship the stars. So much for horoscopes.
II Kings 17:16
Jeremiah 8:2
Zephaniah 1:5
Acts 7:42
    If we trust God, we do not need to know more about the future; it is enough that He knows and is caring for us. If He is the almighty God and loves us, we do not need advice or protection from any other “gods” (see sec. II, B and C) or dead ancestors (next point, below).
Romans 8:28-39
    Logically, it is contradictory to hope to know the future so that we can change it. If it is changeable, it is not really knowable. This is a fascinating subject of much philosophy and science fiction!

    Actually, we are better off not to know the future. We would be impatient waiting for good things, and constantly worried about bad things. For example, Jesus told Peter he would die by crucifixion (John 21:18, 19). It would be terrible for me, and for most of us, to know something like that about our future!

    I don’t want to know my future. If I knew something wonderful is going to happen 20 years from now, I would be impatient from now to then, counting the days, and missing most of the pleasures along the way. Also, if I knew something terrible is going to happen 20 years from now, I also would count the days, dreading the passage of every day that brings the coming event closer, and thus also missing most of the pleasures along the way. It is best just to live one day at a time, as Jesus taught, Mt. 6:34.

C Dead people’s spirits

    The Bible says that dead people’s spirits are not in this world. They cannot communicate with us, help us, or hurt us. We cannot help them. Deceiving spirits pretend to be the spirits of dead people. Some people quote I Samuel 28:5-19 and claim that the Bible teaches the dead can communicate with us. In fact it teaches the opposite. In this story, Israel’s King Saul asked the witch at Endor to call the prophet Samuel back from the dead to talk to him. The witch herself was frightened when she saw that it was really Samuel, not just the spirit with which she usually worked. This shows that this case is an exception, especially allowed by God; it is not what usually happens.

II Samuel 12:23
Job 14:18-22
Psalm 115:17
Isaiah 38:18
Luke 16:19-31
    This is why Christians cannot worship the “spirits of the ancestors.” Those really are not the ancestors’ spirits, but are evil spirits. We must respect our ancestors, remember them, and thank them for their contributions to us, but this must be separated from worship. See section I, B, 2 above, about Christians’ relationship to family and culture.

D Reincarnation

    All the things listed above mean that reincarnation is impossible. The Bible says people are born only once, die once, and are judged once. This is stated in

Hebrews 9:27
    The concept of reincarnation comes from Hinduism, which is totally different from the Bible’s teaching. Hinduism denies that we were created by God, but says we are God, or have God within us. It does not offer eternal life, but instead considers existence to be a curse and offers the hope that we may escape it someday. It bases our future on our merit, not on God’s grace. So reincarnation is a part of an entire system which the Bible says is false.

    When some people seem to be able to “remember previous lives,” including correct historical details they could not possibly have known by ordinary means, what they are actually seeing is visions given them by evil spirits who know about past events. This is one more of the spirits’ deceiving tricks.

E Near-death experiences, etc.

    There have been many books about people who very nearly died and then recovered, reporting that during that period of time they observed another realm. The details vary tremendously, literally from heaven to hell, and different accounts are very different. A related phenomenon is the reported experience of people who remain conscious and communicative during their final moments, and describe to those near them what they see and hear as they near the end. With modern medical procedures, it is less common than it used to be for people to be conscious and surrounded by others right up to death, so this is not as frequent as it once was. Again the details vary widely, from frightened accounts of torment to delighted descriptions of heaven and angels and even Jesus Himself. What does all of this prove? Does it confirm or refute the Bible? How does the Bible account for it?

    Once again, a major caution is that there are many physical and psychological factors which can produce hallucinations, and also supernatural powers capable of producing visions and sensations which do not necessarily represent reality. I am especially inclined to question most near-death experiences, which by definition did not actually result in the death of the individual. On the other hand, it cannot be totally disregarded as psychological effect or demonic deception. A strong consistent correlation with their religious beliefs would be very significant. I have no hard data to support such a correlation, only anecdotal impressions. I have heard of many Christians who had a peaceful death reporting their approach to heaven, but no such non-Christians (ch. 6, IV), although based on my views as discussed in ch. 4, II, A, I would not consider this impossible, especially among those who never heard the Biblical message. They are of course beyond the circles with which I have had much contact.

    Another subject is out-of-body experiences, reports of the spirit (or soul?) consciously floating free from the physical body, viewing it and events occurring near it, and traveling elsewhere up to considerable distances. Some of these are in connection with a near-death situation, but many others are perfectly healthy people in a sort of trance. Again, there are various possible factorsinvolved. I cannot reject the possibility of such experiences; the Bible refers to a soul in distinction from the body, especially in reference to our existence after death. However, I have seen little reason to associate such experiences with Biblical teachings; almost all instances are clearly associated with spiritual powers and concepts in conflict with the Bible. Therefore I cannot attribute those instances to God, but to other spirits, which places it under the Bible’s prohibition against contact with them.

F The truth

    This is the most important matter, as explained in sec. II, C.

    Other religions have much truth about good behavior, much deep and interesting philosophy, much help in feeling peaceful and satisfied in life. The Bible does not say other religions are bad or totally untrue. If they were, they would not attract people. Satan wants to attract people away from the truth about God, so he will give them much truth, the more truth the better. But this is mixed with errors, and it lacks the most important truths, the things people need to know about God. It leaves them living in fear and uncertainty.

    Other religions do not tell us these important truths: (see also ch. 6, III, B and C) There is one true God and Creator (Islam does teach this). He created us to be His children, to know and love Him and share His glory forever. But the first couple, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God, and thus became sinners, with a sinful nature. Because we are their children, we all are sinners, unable to know God and please Him at all. But God still loves us, and He can and will care for us. He has a good plan for us. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He came to earth, died for our sins in our place, rose from the dead, and thus defeated Satan. We can know God, love Him, and be sure He forgives our sins if we believe Jesus. We can have a new life now, and become able to change and please God. We can be sure now that we will spend eternity with God.

    All other religions are the opposite of the Bible. They tell us to do good in order to be accepted, or reach heaven, or whatever goal they believe in. The Bible tells us God accepts us now, as we are, with no other requirement than that we want Him to and ask Him to. We are accepted first, and then because we are accepted we desire to do good, and He gives us the ability to do good.

    The Bible has many laws, e.g. the Ten Commandments. These express God’s requirements. But God does not expect anyone to be able to obey them all, and on this basis become acceptable to Him. The purpose of the law is to show us God’s standard, and how far we fall short, and how much we need a different way if we want to have any hope of establishing a relationship with Him. Then, after we have that relationship, and because we have it, we naturally wish to conform to His laws, and are increasingly able to do so. But we will never be perfect in this life. See further discussion of this subject in ch. 6, III, C and N.

Romans 7:7-11
Galatians 2:15, 16
3:10-12, 24

No other religion has such a simple teaching about human nature and salvation. Because other religions’ bad news is not this bad, their good news is not this good. They do not tell us we are totally lost and dead, and so they do not tell us how we can be totally saved and certain of new life. They tell us we are partly good and partly bad, so we must develop the good and suppress the bad. No matter how hard we work to do this, we are never sure how well we are doing, or whether we are good enough to be accepted. In fact, if we are honest, we are sure we are never good enough.

    Most people like other religions’ teaching anyway, because that leaves them some room for pride, for a feeling that they are not totally bad and can do something for themselves. People do not like the Bible’s simple way because it requires humility, admitting we must depend on God to be saved from our sinful nature. This is simple, but it is not easy. It is easier for children to understand and accept than it is for adults.

G How to tell true teaching from false teaching

    Any good thing will be imitated by many counterfeits, and some counterfeits are very skillfully done. It requires careful discernment to distinguish what is the real thing and what is not. The primary criterion for teaching is of course conformity to the Bible’s teaching.

1 Study carefully their meaning, not just their words
    It is easy to use good-sounding words, but to mean something different than you think from the first impression. They talk about God, but what kind of God? If they talk about Jesus, what kind of Jesus? What do they mean by “do good”? What kind of heaven do they believe in, and how can we get there? And so on. Also watch out for self-contradictions. God does not promise to protect us from delusion that should be obvious. In fact the Bible has some dire warnings that He will abandon us to willful folly and even aid us in our self-deception if we so choose.

    Many groups quote the Bible, but only to seek validation for concepts that are actually derived from other authorities and assumptions. Watch whether the Bible is really the only authority, or they have other authorities and assumptions that in practice take precedence. Do they only use parts of the Bible and avoid others? Do they study whole passages and books of the Bible, or just lift a few words out of context? See ch. 4, I, the comments on “cults.”

I Corinthians 12:3
II Corinthians 11:13-15
Colossians 2:18
II Thess. 2:9-12
James 2:19
I John 4:1-3
2 Look at the teacher’s behavior.
    Does he practice what he preaches? This requires a long time period to become apparent. Anyone can look good for a little while.
Mt. 7:15-23
Galatians 5:22, 23
James 3:13-18
3 Look at the long-term effect the teaching has on you and others
    Does it produce improvement and peace, or increasing degeneration and fear?

    Many teachings and teachers can of course produce some good behavior and effects, some of the time. We must spend time to discern their basic spirit, purpose, and result. I believe that no religion or philosophy outside the Bible passes this kind of inspection. Many teachers and teachings that claim to be Christian and Biblical do not pass it either. There are cult groups, and there are false people in good churches. There are well-intentioned people who have slipped into serious error. Of course we cannot demand too much of others; no one is perfect yet. This is discussed in ch. 4, I. But there should be definite progress and humble willingness to admit and correct shortcomings.

I Corinthians 14:22-33
II Corinthians 7:9, 10
    Besides these Bible passages, much of II Thessalonians, II Timothy, II Peter, II John, III John, and Jude is about false teachers, especially inside the church. Obviously this was a large problem very early in the history of the church.

    The above is the Bible’s viewpoint on other religions. In some respects it is a criticism of them. Other religions of course disagree with this explanation of their existence and content, and in response they have their own explanation of the Bible’s existence and content, and criticisms of it. Many of these are discussed in ch. 4. This leaves us in a difficult position. We hear many different voices all claiming to be from God and offering us benefits, and warning us against choosing alternatives. How can we make our decision? We must believe something, but can we know which one or ones to believe? How can we know whether the Bible is really from the one true God? This is discussed in ch. 6, III.