How to Unmask a Hardened Skeptic

By Robin Schumacher

It’s important to understand that the Bible advises against continually evangelizing certain people.
Jesus Himself warned about giving pearls to persons who not only destroy them, but then actually attack the giver with violence (Matt. 7:6). Christ also told His disciples to stop arguing with some of the Pharisees who were not interested in hearing the truth (Luke 15:14).
A Biblical term given to these people is one not used much today — scoffer. The Hebrew word means to scorn and mock, and an unwillingness to receive reproof. [1] In the New Testament, the Greek meaning is the same as the Hebrew, with the idea of despising the one giving advice also thrown in. [2]
The warning about consistently engaging scoffers is seen throughout both the Old and New Testaments. A few examples include:

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you. Proverbs 9:8
A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise. Proverbs 15:12
And when they opposed and reviled him, he [Paul] shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Acts 18:6
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers [scoffers] will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts. 2 Peter 3:3

While the warning about such people is easy to understand, what’s oftentimes difficult for the Christian is recognizing the scoffer and heeding the Bible’s advice on dealing with them. To help with this, I’d like to pass along one method that’s worked fairly well for me.

Lifting the Veil of the Scoffer
Let me first say I don’t have any beef with a person who is an honest skeptic, agnostic, or atheist. In fact, I find people who are thinking through matters of faith and non-faith very refreshing and some of my best and most thoughtful conversations have been with those who don’t believe as I do.
Further, in his book Not the Religious Type — Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist, Dave Schmelzer discusses how those who have rationally wrestled through questions about God and see-sawed back and forth between skepticism and faith can eventually turn out to be the strongest Christians. [3]
But make no mistake: there is a marked difference between an agnostic or even professing atheist and a hatetheist; between an intellectually honest skeptic and what Scripture terms a scoffer. So how do you distinguish between the two?

Eric Metaxes gives us an excellent example of how it’s done…

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