It is written:
Isaiah 1:18-Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
One of the first things about the “Ill Mind 7” lyrics that stands out to me is the relationship that Mr. Hopson expresses between the Bible and proof. It seems clear that he believes that the Bible does not invite honest and open investigation and consideration.
“Now I’m avoiding questions like a scared dog with his tail down
Feeling so d___________ humiliated because they looking at me like I’m hellbound
What story should I tell now? I’ll just expose the truth
I’m so close to the f________g edge, I should be close to you
But who the f_____ are You? You never showed the proof.”
“You gave me a Bible and expect me not to analyze it?
I’m frustrated and you provoked it
I’m not reading that m_________________g book because a human wrote it
I have a f____________g brain, you should know it.”
All through the song, Mr. Hopson gives the impression that the Bible discourages rational thought and consideration.
Yet is this insinuation true?
No, it is not.
Throughout the Bible, there are many exhortations for people to honestly investigate the teachings and events of Scripture. A gentleman who truly came to understand and appreciate this is J. Warner Wallace.
Wallace (a former atheist) is an expert in what is known as “cold-case” homicides. Having been carefully and extensively trained in the forensic sciences, Wallace turned his expertise to the Bible with a belief that Christianity was a better-felt-then-told religion (as I interpret his writings).
Indeed, his view of the Bible were in many ways similar to Mr. Hopson’s views expressed in the “Ill Mind 7” lyrics!
What did he discover?
“My wife, Susie, asked me to go to church with her, and I was willing to go, even though most of the Christians I knew didn’t seem all that thoughtful. A few of my coworkers were outspoken Christians, and two of them had talked to me on occasion about how much Jesus meant to them. I was an obnoxious and obstinate atheist at the time, and I pushed back with a variety of direct questions designed to test what they believed. I continually asked them for evidence to support their claims: “Why do you think the Bible is true?” “Why do you guys believe Jesus actually rose from the dead?” “Why doesn’t an all-powerful God stop all the evil we have to deal with every day as police officers?” Their answers weren’t very good. In fact, I was astonished to find they held a relatively unexamined faith. These seasoned investigators would never claim someone was a suspect in a crime without good evidence, yet they claimed Jesus was God on the basis of little more than subjective, personal experience. They seemed to be walking contradictions—inconsistent in their evidential approach to the truth claims of the Bible, even though they, of all people, should have understood the role evidence plays in determining what (if anything) is true. If that’s what Christianity was all about, I wanted nothing to do with it. But as I read the New Testament for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised. Christian belief was never intended to be “blind,” even if some of my Christian friends seemed to be unaware of the evidence supporting their beliefs. In fact, Christianity encourages rational exploration and reasonable examination. Believers are encouraged repeatedly to examine what they believe carefully so they can be fully convinced their beliefs are true. Take a look at the following admonitions in the New Testament: 1 Thessalonians 5: 19–21 Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good. 1 John 4: 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Romans 14: 5 Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 2 Timothy 3: 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them. Christianity is reasonable, and it’s our Christian duty to examine and test what we believe so we can be fully convinced. As a detective, it was often my duty to test the statements of the suspects I arrested. Some of these suspects provided me with alibis in efforts to fool me. But none of them really wanted me to investigate their alibis deeply. None invited me to do so. Why? Because they knew they were lying; they were hoping I wouldn’t follow up on their claims. But that’s not the approach of the gospel authors. Unlike my dishonest suspects, the writers of Scripture encourage us to reason through the evidence in order to investigate their claims. Listen to what Jude, the brother of Jesus, said about the value of reason: Jude 4, 10 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ … But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. Jude uses this word for “unreasoning” in a pejorative manner; to be unreasoning is to act like a brute animal. God clearly wants more from beings created in His image. When I first read these words, I wondered if my Christian coworkers were familiar with them. As professional investigators, they were committed evidentialists, but as Christians, they seemed to be unaware of the teaching of their own Scripture. The Bible calls us to be reasonable. The biblical authors confidently challenged us to investigate their claims. The writers of Scripture had nothing to hide. As a result, Christians are encouraged to be reasonable, evidential investigators.” (J. Warner Wallace, Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith, 45-48 (Kindle Edition); Colorado Springs, CO; David C. Cook)
Mr. Hopson, the Bible-from beginning to end-encourages mankind to use his intellect.
For example, throughout the Old Testament, God continually called on His people to adhere to logical standards of evidence.
Notice what God told the people through Moses:
Deuteronomy 18:21-22-And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
The Lord told the people to exercise their reasoning abilities and discern whether or not a prophet had truly been sent by God. We see this same theme throughout the Old Testament. God called on the people of Israel to carefully examine the credentials of pagan gods. Then, they should investigate God’s own track record. They would soon realize that God had provided more than adequate evidence of His claims!
Isaiah 41:21-24-21 “Present your case,” says the LORD. “Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob. 22 “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; Let them show the former things, what they were, That we may consider them, And know the latter end of them; Or declare to us things to come. 23 Show the things that are to come hereafter, That we may know that you are gods; Yes, do good or do evil, That we may be dismayed and see it together. 24 Indeed you are nothing, And your work is nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination.
Isaiah 42:9-Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
Isaiah 44:6-7-6 “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God. 7 And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, Since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, Let them show these to them.
Isaiah 45:21-Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me.
God often provided miracles to authenticate His claims. Indeed, the whole point of “miracles” was to provide proof of Divine claims in order that faith may be produced:
“In at least eighteen of Jesus’ miracles, faith is not present explicitly or implicitly. In some cases the faith is a result of the miracle, not a condition of it. When Jesus turned water to wine, “He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him” (John 2:11). Jesus’ disciples did not believe he could feed the 5000 by multiplying loaves and fishes (Luke 9:13–14; cf. Matt. 14:17). Even after they had seen Jesus feed 5000, they disbelieved he could do it again for 4000 (Matt. 15:33). In the case of the paralytic, Jesus healed him when he saw the faith of the four who carried him to Jesus, not the faith of the man himself (Mark 2:5). In seven miracles Jesus could not have required faith. This is certainly true of the three he raised from the dead. Yet Jesus raised Lazarus (John 11), the widow’s son (Luke 7), and Jairus’s daughter (Matthew 9). The same is true of the cursed fig tree (Matt. 21), the miracle of the tax money in the fish (Matt. 17:24–27), the two times Jesus multiplied loaves (Matt. 14:15), and his calming of the sea (Matt. 8:18–27). Neither can it be shown that faith of the disciples was required. In most cases the disciples lacked faith. In the miracle of raising Lazarus, Jesus prayed that those present might believe that God has sent him (John 11:42). Just before Jesus rebuked the waves, he said to the disciples, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). After he calmed the waters he asked, “Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Sometimes Jesus performed miracles in spite of unbelief. The disciples lacked faith to cast the demon out of the boy (Matt. 17:14–21). Even the passage most often used to show that faith is necessary for miracles proves just the opposite. Matthew 13:58 tells us that “Jesus did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” However, in spite of the unbelief present, Jesus laid “his hands on a few sick people and healed them” (Mark 6:5).” (Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Baker Reference Library), 301-302 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books
The Apostle Paul describes the Christian religion in this way:
Acts 26;25-But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.
Please notice that phrase “truth and reason.”
“Paul has not lost his mind but speaks “true and prudent words” ( ἀληθείας καὶ σωφροσύνης ῥήματα , alētheias kai sōphrosynēs rhēmata ), or “the sober truth.” The combination of “true” and “prudent” is common in Greek, as is a contrast between “prudent” and “mad” (Lucian, Timon 55; Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.1.16; P.Oxy. 1.33; Plato, Phaedrus 244D; Barrett 1998: 1168). In this context, where Paul has been accused of being crazy, his reply is that his words are truth. He has not lost control of his thoughts; they are quite sober and thought through.” (Darrell L. Bock, Acts (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), 17600-17606 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic)
Notice again what the Apostle Peter wrote:
1 Peter 3:15-But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
Mr. Hopson, please consider that word “defense.” It comes from an interesting Greek term.
“This term is used of a formal defense in court against specific charges (as, e.g., Paul in Acts 22: 1; 25: 16; 2 Tim 4: 16; cf. ἀπολογεῖσθαι in Acts 24: 10; 25: 8; 26: 1, 2, 24). In a more general sense, ἀπολογία refers to an argument made in one’s own behalf in the face of misunderstanding or criticism (1 Cor 9: 3; 2 Cor 7: 11). Perhaps closest in meaning to the present passage is Paul’s use of the term in Phil 1: 7, 16 where he views his own formal “defense” at his impending trial as an occasion for the “defense of the gospel” on a wider front. Here in 1 Peter, the language of the courtroom is being applied to informal exchanges that can occur between Christian and non-Christian at any time (ἀεί) and under varied circumstances.” (J. Ramsey Michaels, 1 Peter, Volume 49 (Word Biblical Commentary), 188 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Another researcher has noted of this word:
“The word was often used of the argument for the defense in a court of law, and though the word may have the idea of a judicial interrogation in which one is called to answer for the manner in which he has exercised his responsibility (Beare), the word can also mean an informal explanation or defense of one’s position. The word would aptly describe giving an answer to the skeptical, abusive, or derisive inquiries of ill-disposed neighbors (Kelly) (Cleon Rogers II and III, The New Linguistic And Exegetical Key To The Greek New Testament, 575; Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan Publishing House).
Your insinuations, Mr. Hopson, that the Bible discourages logical and rational investigation are incorrect.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.