Most of the people I hang out with love the Bible. They read it every day and promote it whenever they can.  But lately I’ve been thinking about those who don’t like the Bible.  How should the Christian community respond to them?

In a recent interview in TIME Magazine, Ian McKellen, the actor who masterfully plays Gandalf in the new movie The Hobbit (as well as in the Lord of the Rings movies), said that as a long-time gay rights advocate he regularly rips Leviticus 18 out of hotel Bibles. A self-admitted atheist, McKellan has sometimes attacked the credibility of the Bible in his public interviews. So how should those who love God’s Word respond to such high-profile opposition?

It’s a tricky issue, but I believe if we respond in a Christlike way, Christians may be able to turn public criticism of the Bible into effective promotion of it.  So let me offer three simple ways we can do this.

  • First, we need to be regular Bible readers ourselves. It does no good to tell the world to do something the church is failing to do. And to honest, recent studies of Bible reading among church-goers show that we have a lot of work to do here.
  • Second, we need to make sure the tone of our response is loving. I disagree with Mr. McKellen on his views of the Bible, but if I respond as an “angry Bible reader,” then I’ve missed the point; I’m only a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
  • Third, we need to pray for those who reject the Bible. In spite of how it appears, Ian McKellen may be spiritually searching. I’m no psychologist, but I know that sometimes external resistance can mask an internal question. I also know that if we ever hope to see “Bible reading revival,” then Bible groupies like me need to become more effective at reaching out to Bible bashers like McKellen. 

In an odd way, Mr. McKellen’s interview may have promoted Bible reading. Thousands of TIME readers are likely to dust off their Bibles to find out what Leviticus 18 says. I admit, it’s not the easiest place to begin, but it’s a start.

So if you decide to watch The Hobbit over the next few weeks, use it as a reminder to pray for Ian McKellen and anyone else you know who’s skeptical about the Bible.  Ask God to reveal his love and truth to them, perhaps through you, in a fresh new way.

Reaching Out to Bible Skeptics

10 thoughts on “Reaching Out to Bible Skeptics

  • December 28, 2012 at 11:59 am
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    look at the miraculous conversion of Paul, maybe this will happen to McKellen. i'll pray for it.

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  • January 1, 2013 at 7:30 am
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    what are your thoughts on Leviticus 18?

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  • January 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm
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    Whoa, I never knew he was an Atheist. I also wonder if he had read any of the lost/forgotten books of the bible.

    What do you know about the Forgotten Books of the Bible? My friend showed me his app he created. Many of my friends don't know much about it, until one friend showed me an app he created. Check it out and let me know what you think?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  • January 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm
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    Bible reading is so very important without a question. Finding time to spend in the Word of God is probable the best use of your time. Problem is that people really don't seem to have time to read the Bible as much as they should because of today's hectic pace.

    I got introduced to the Audio Bible some years ago when I started working for scourby.com and I have to tell you that being able to multitask while I am doing other things is a real blessing.

    Now with the all new audio Bible study app, I can now read and listen at the same time and that has opened up a whole new experience for my Bible Study time. It seems that when I am able to listen as I read, it just makes a better impression on my mind. Don't know if you ever heard about Alexander Scourby, but the Chicago Tribune wrote he has the greatest voice ever recorded.
    However, no matter how you access the Bible, the important thing is that you do. It contains words of Life and words that can change your life forever.

    Michael Morgan
    Editor of audio Bible
    for Litchfield Associates

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  • January 16, 2013 at 6:31 am
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    The bible-god-jesus = fairy tales-guilt-super natural leaving an agonistic or AKA a well-adjusted person. People without self-worth, without self-confidence need a reason to behave in society. Religion is that reason. Good behavior is dictated by religion not self-worth. Why are people so dependent on magical, unseen, invalidated and anonymous writings to validate behavior? Why are we so weak and decrepit that we cannot form our own dichotomy independent of priests, books of lore and stained glass? Has not the decline of human behavior demonstrated self-reliance and selflessness is not attained through mythical prayer and tidings? Has not religion demonstrated that it is a vehicle of sodomy and greed? Has not the belief in an almighty power, greater than self, created wars and limitations on artistic growth? Why are people who claim to have visions of god labeled psychotic? Were visions of god only apparent two thousand years ago and not now? Is god in hibernation?
    Why does this country depend so heavily on “Born Again” – why wasn’t the first time good enough? What did these people do that cannot be forgiven by themselves? Why do people say god will guide me? Guide you where? To heaven – that over-the-rainbow celestial cloud in the sky? Maybe Santa will be there too. We are morphing into a weak dependent nation while other people (there are other people besides Iowa ,you know) are realizing that god, jesus, angels, heaven, hell and the Easter bunny are soothing, fun and words of wisdom linking your consciousness to your intelligence without actualization.

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  • February 4, 2013 at 2:46 am
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    John,
    I'm not sure I follow everything you say but I appreciate the fact that you took time to write a comment. What does seem clear is that you have a lot of concerns about faith issues. My suggestion/challenge to you would be to read the Gospel of John in the New Testament. No guilt trip from me. Just read it and ask yourself, “What kind of person does Jesus seem to be?” Not what others say he is. What does he seem like to you from what you read in the Gospel of John?

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  • February 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm
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    John,

    God will answer every single question or concern you have in various ways through various ppl; pls be-aware of your encounters within and with ppl…

    thanks for the post…

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  • March 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm
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    Whitney, I appreciate your attitude. It's hard to want to join in on any conversation about religion (whether you agree or not) when there are so many angry Bible readers trying to beat everyone else over the head with their beliefs.

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  • October 4, 2013 at 2:05 pm
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    Whitney, I totally agree with your response to John back in Feb. The time I went across the street to my agnostic neighbor sent me back home in tears…..her response was “are you gonna preach to me? I don't want to hear it!” All I wanted to do was show her the little book about believing why God sent His Son to the world. She came over to see me five minutes later and apologized for her rudeness, and she accepted the little book., It took many years as my neighbor before she could ask us to tell her about what the Bible said concerning birth control pills for her daughter whose behavior was out of control at fourteen years of age. To make a long story short, this neighbor became a believer on her deathbed, and I am sure she will be in heaven to greet me!! The moral of the story: take advantage of every opportunity the Holy Spirit gives us to present the gospel, and leave the rest to God. In John's case, I believe he was searching and I pray that he will find Jesus.

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  • March 4, 2014 at 4:29 am
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    I'm sorry but there nothing you can do to change a person. Only when he himself finds the conviction with a humble heart will he then understand. But Whitney was right! Plant a seed but it's up to him to water it in order to gain understanding.

    Reply

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