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The Scriptorium

Scoffers Abounding

2 Peter 3.3, 4

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 werefrom the beginning of creation.”

The Story: Peter knows that we are living “in the last days” (cf. Acts 2.16, 17); therefore, he expects his readers to be accosted by false teachers (chapter 2) who will try to dislodge their faith. He describes them as “scoffers.” This word carries a good deal of nuance. False teachers don’t just disagree with believers; they scoff at them and mock their beliefs, seeking to belittle and humiliate them for believing. The rants and screeds of some of today’s passionate atheists seem a bit like Hamlet’s mother saying to the prince, “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” Such people don’t just politely disagree and wish us well. They want to destroy faith in God. They say to their audiences, in effect, “Just look around. Everything is as it’s always been. Science alone can unlock the truths of the world. The promises of a non-existent god are of no value.” Are they so vehement in their opposition because they’re afraid a reasoned conversation might shake their firm – but false – convictions? We must not respond to such scoffing in kind, but always be ready to give a reason for what we believe, with gentleness and respect (1 Pet. 3.15).

The Structure: Peter suggests that we need to try to understand the arguments of those who scoff at our worldview. We can’t ignore them; nor can we respond to them with the same vitriol with which they attack us. We want to be able to give them a reasoned explanation, but not on their terms of how reason must work – within out any interference from revelation, for example. That would be to fall into their trap and become like them (Prov. 26.4). If we give up that ground, we’ve lost the hill for sure. We don’t come pounding our Bibles, but reasoning with our opponents, gently and with respect, to try to help them, through reason, to see the folly of their views (Prov. 26.5). One example: How can anyone today know, except as a matter of belief, that “all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation”? We’ll want them to explain that to us as anything other than a tenet of faith. They won’t be able to do so.

Do you consider yourself to be “ready” to give a reasoned explanation of the faith to the people around you? How might you improve your ability to do that?

Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Blind to the Truth: 2 Peter 3.1-10,” simply click here.

T. M. Moore

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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