Phil Johnson: How Skepticism Masquerading as Christianity Almost Cost Me My Soul

JP: I read this today and thought it aptly illustrates Illumination.

How Skepticism Masquerading as Christianity Almost Cost Me My Soul


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.

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 lieral 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 about Jesus were fictional, perhaps we were wasting our time talking about them in Sunday-school. I wondered out loud whether it migh 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. It’s stories arent 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.)

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.

I set out to read the entire book of 1 Corinthians, and the early chapters just totally crushed all the confidence I had in my own wisdom and left me utterly without hope. I felt like Corinthians 3:18-19 was a hard gut-punch: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.” By the time I got to the end of chapter 3, I understood that I was utterly without hope before God.

But I kept reading. And when I got to chapter 12, I read this in verse 3: “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.”

I don’t think I had a clue what that meant in the context of 1 Corinthians. I could not have given you even an elementary explanation of the problems Paul was dealing with in the Corinthian church. But I somehow knew from that verse that Jesus is Lord, He demands surrender to Him as Lord, and no one can truly own Him as Lord without the Holy Spirit’s work in that person’s life. I embraced Christ as Lord and Savior then and there.

Image source. Comment. I like the image but I do not agree with the website article!

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