There is a Place for Healthy Scepticism
In 1955, A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), classic work The Root of the Righteous was published. The 46 brief chapters therein are all well worth reading and meditating upon. But I want to refer you to chapter 34, “In Praise of Disbelief”. Yes, you read that right. Let me quote much of this great piece here. He begins with these words: In our constant struggle to believe we are likely to overlook the simple fact that a bit of healthy disbelief is sometimes as needful as faith to the welfare of our souls. I would go further and say that we would do well to cultivate a reverent skepticism. It will keep us out of a thousand bogs and quagmires where others who lack it sometimes find themselves. It is no sin to doubt some things, but it may be fatal to believe everything.
Some of you might be wondering if I am starting to lose it. ‘Praising disbelief? I thought you were a champion of belief and faith!’ Well, I certainly do stress the vital importance of a strong faith and solid belief. But that does not mean belief in anything. That does not mean brainless gullibility.
There are plenty of things we should not believe, and that we should question, doubt and even call out. Having a healthy scepticism is always an important element of the Christian life. The past few years have certainly made this clear even in secular areas.
Our elites and media bombarded us for several years with the blatantly false idea that we should simply ‘trust the science’ and do what we were told. That of course is and was a recipe for disaster. The hysterical fear-mongering and panic over Covid and the completely destructive government overreactions caused untold harm – and we are still reeling from the negative impact of all that today.
We all should ask hard questions about what we hear and what we are told. We should not only question our leaders and politicians, but those who claim to be coming to us in the name of science. As any real scientist knows, questioning things IS how the scientific method works. It does NOT work by forcing compliance and unquestioning subservience.
But all this is true in the Christian life as well. Every day – especially with social media – we read and hear things that are patently false and unbiblical. Yet far too many believers never question anything and are far too gullible and lacking in basic discernment.
The Apostle Paul told us to “test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). And John exhorted us with these words: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1-2). Believers really ought to start obeying these sorts of commands.
With all this in mind, let me draw your attention to someone we all associate with strong faith and robust belief. We do not normally think of him as someone who would advocate disbelief. But he most certainly did. I refer to the great A. W. Tozer (1897-1963).
In 1955 his classic work The Root of the Righteous was published. The 46 brief chapters therein are all well worth reading and meditating upon. But I want to refer you to chapter 34, “In Praise of Disbelief”. Yes, you read that right. Let me quote much of this great piece here. He begins with these words.