Editorial – The Weight of Evidence

Some Christians believe that everything should be absolutely proved, or they will not have anything to do with it. One Christian stated that it would not be fair if God had not given us a perfect Bible!

People had similar troubles in Ellen White’s time. Look at her response to a physician: “In your letter you speak of your early training to have implicit faith in the testimonies and say, ‘I was led to conclude and most firmly believe that every word that you ever spoke in public or private, that every letter you wrote under any and all circumstances, was as inspired as the Ten Commandments.’

“My brother, you have studied my writings diligently, and you have never found that I have made any such claims, neither will you find that the pioneers in our cause ever made such claims.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 24.

“We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed.” The Review and Herald, July 26, 1892.

She is not claiming infallibility for herself, nor claiming infallibility for the words in the Bible either.

“The Lord speaks to human beings in imperfect speech, in order that the degenerate senses, the dull, earthly perception of earthly beings may comprehend His words. Thus is shown God’s condescension. He meets fallen human beings where they are. The Bible, perfect as it is in its simplicity, does not answer to the great ideas of God; for infinite ideas cannot be perfectly embodied in finite vehicles of thought. Instead of the expressions of the Bible being exaggerated, as many people suppose, the strong expressions break down before the magnificence of the thought, though the penman selected the most expressive language through which to convey the truths of higher education. [Notice the strong expressions are not exaggerations, but actually understatements because we do not have speech sufficient to express the thought.] It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man’s words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 21.

Somebody may ask, how am I to believe if there is not something perfect upon which to place my faith?

Jesus is perfect and you can place your faith in Him, but everything in this world, including human language, is imperfect. God expects us to make our decisions, not on perfect knowledge, which we will never have in this world, but rather on the weight of evidence. If you are waiting for perfect knowledge you will never be saved: The unbelief that demands perfect knowledge will never yield to the evidence that God is pleased to give. He requires of His people faith that rests upon the weight of evidence, not upon perfect knowledge.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 258.

“Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence. God gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but he who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things which he cannot make plain to his finite understanding will be left in the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and questioning doubts, and will make shipwreck of faith.” Ibid., vol. 5, 675, 676.

“‘But there are some things that are not explained.’ Well, what if everything is not explained? Where is the weight of evidence? God will balance the mind if it is susceptible to the influence of the Spirit of God; if it is not, then it will decide on the other side. They will come just exactly where Judas came; they will sell their Lord for thirty pieces of silver or something else. They will sacrifice everything to unbelief.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 145.