...and one more

Persuaders and Dissuaders

No one will be surprised to hear that people are persuaded and dissuaded by what they hear from others. There is seemingly an endless amount of effort that goes into both persuading people to believe or do a certain thing, and, conversely, dissuading people to believe or do a certain thing. When it comes to the Bible, the arguments to persuade and dissuade are no different. Let’s briefly look at the two sides as it pertains to persuading and dissuading people to believe or reject the Bible.

The goal of persuaders

Persuaders can be said to be those who work to persuade people to consider the Scriptures as truth. Persuaders do so for several reasons. First and foremost, because the Bible presents itself as the truth of God, written to mankind, for its benefit. The primary information to be announced to others is that God created all things, and is, therefore, the rightful proclaimer of truth. And secondly, persuaders attempt to convince others to hear and consider the announcement concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such examples of biblical instructions to persuade others include (italics added),

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men (2 Corinthians 5:10-11 KJV).

Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations (Luke 24:46-47 ESV).

The goal of dissuaders

Dissuaders, on the other hand, do the opposite. Dissuaders can be said to be those who exert effort to dissuade people from believing the Scriptures. The Oxford Languages dictionary provides a suitable definition for dissuasion: “The action or process of trying to persuade someone not to take a particular course of action.” The goal of persuaders is ultimately to turn people away from God (dissuade) by turning people away from the Bible. Madalyn Murray O’Hair provides possibly the best summary and mantra of those whose purpose is to dissuade others about the Bible and God, saying, “The atheist realizes that there must not only be an acceptance of his right to hold his opinion, but that ultimately his is the job to turn his culture from religion, to eliminate those irrational ideas which have held the human race in intellectual slavery.”

And there you have it—the two sides of the argument: those who attempt to persuade people to believe the Scriptures, God, and Jesus Christ; and those who attempt to dissuade people from believing the Scriptures, God, and Jesus Christ.

Dissuader’s tactics
Persuaders and dissuaders use certain methods in their efforts to influence people. The argument from dissuaders is that the Bible is to be rejected on the grounds that is foolishness, pernicious, egregious, slavish, or a burden that people should not bare. In fact, the whole of their argument against the Scriptures can be summed through their tactics of misleading statements, blatantly false statements, shallow critical remarks, and the twisting of Scripture. These tactics are utilized with an end goal of discrediting the Bible. Why? Because the importance of the Bible stems from the fact that everything we know about God, all we know about the origins of humanity, of good and evil, of the close of the age, the final judgment of all persons, and of eternity, hinges directly on the biblical record. Therefore, discrediting the Scriptures is a primary goal of those who seek to turn the public’s opinion away from God by attempting to question the Bible's veracity.

Here are just a few of these tactics used by dissuaders in their efforts to dissuade.

a. Misleading statements
Dissuaders often use misleading statements to direct people’s thinking about the Bible. These statements are partially true and partially not true while conveying meaning that leads to a false conclusion. Let me give you a good illustration about misleading statements. Sometimes to be humorous I tell people, “I never started losing my hair until after I got married.” Just to be clear, my wife agrees, 30 years ago I had no hair loss. Nevertheless, this is an altogether true statement—I really did not start losing my hair until I was married. At the same time it is an altogether incorrect and misleading statement. I suggest that dissuaders use such statements in the same way to bring discredit on the Bible.

A very good example of this can be found in an article written by Newsweek Magazine, titled, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin.” The article is a politically based article that attempts to point out the inappropriate use of the Bible by politicians, educators, and “cafeteria Christians” who use the Bible to make their political and cultural point of views. In many respects the author is correct in his assessment. Where the author makes his misleading statement (there are more than one) is found in his far more damning point when he says,

No television preacher has ever read the Bible. Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the Pope. Neither have I. And neither have you. At best, we've all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times. (taken from https://www.newsweek.com/2015/01/02/thats-not-what-bible-says-294018.html)

The writer makes a significant attempt to mislead his readers when he questions the veracity of Scripture by strongly insinuating the text is not trustworthy because of the different translations and copying of the original texts. This is simply a misleading statement but unrecognized by the vast number of his readers.

The Bible is in fact the most studied book in human history by theologians, historians, anthropologists, and many other academic disciplines. These scholars and researchers, both who believe the Bible is attributable to God and those who say it is not, recognize the historical care and effort made to preserve the original texts. Biblical scholars almost without failure recognize the Bible available to readers today is over 99% accurate with the original texts. The reason for this is due to the large number of exigent texts in the hands of historians. These texts exceed any other ancient documents and remains the most anciently documented book in the hands of humanity. Of course, this authenticity view is restated any time someone wants to attempt to discredit the Bible as an authoritative source of information.

You see, the question about the Bible is not whether the Bible is authentic in its original form, the question is, what do you believe about the Bible says and the claims it makes about itself. Nevertheless, dissuaders will continue to use the tactic of misleading statements.

b. Blatantly false statements
Dissuaders also use blatantly false statements. Whether the remarks are accurate or not accurate, whether or not correct in its accusations, or whether the remarks present a completely false impression and lead to foolish conjecture, this is not a concern to dissuaders. The point of dissuaders is simply to paint a verbal picture of the Bible as unreliable, pernicious, and a book filled with ridiculous content. Here is but one example.

“It’s almost as if The Bible was written by racist, sexist, homophobic, violent, sexually frustrated men, instead of a loving God. Weird.”-- Ricky Gervai

c. Shallow critical remarks
Dissuaders also use shallow critical remarks. Whether the remarks are inappropriate, bad mannered, or down right foolish, dissuaders are not hesitant to use shallow remarks. Take this quote for example.

“When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, ‘Why god? Why me?’ and the thundering voice of God answered, ‘There's just something about you that pisses me off.’”--Stephen King

What a ridiculous statement! Of course it was intended to be ridiculous in order to ridicule and paint a picture in the minds of others. Something dissuaders do repeatedly.

d. Twisting the words of Scripture
Dissuaders also use a tactic referred to in the New Testament as twisting the Scriptures. Please read what Peter had to say on the matter (emphasis added):

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability” (2 Peter 3:15-17 ESV).

Dissuaders will continue to twist the Scriptures. They will continue to take portions of Scripture and twist it into saying something it does not say when attempting to dissuade others. Peter issues a warning about dissuader’s tactics and succinctly says,

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who secretly will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their pernicious ways, and because of them the way of truth will be evil spoken of. And through covetousness they will use you for gain with well-turned words; for whom judgment from of old does not linger, and their destruction does not sleep.

Let's now move on for a short study on how a dissuader dissuades readers when using the above mentioned tactics.

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