The Need to Cross-Check

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How do we know things? How do we confirm things? With regard to any claim that matters enough that we need to check it, the Bible teaches that we look for external corroboration, internal consistency, and a clear willingness for the claim to be falsified.

“In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1).

“But neither so did their witness agree together” (Mark 14:59).  

“He that is first in his own cause seemeth just;
But his neighbour cometh and searcheth him” (Prov. 18:17).

Consequently, the big concern that I have about many believers going in big for foodie concerns, or those with treatments for designer allergies, or exotic treatments for various ailments, is not the proposed treatment itself. The issue is the nature of knowledge, not the nature of the stuff in the world. If oils made from pine needles were able to do marvelous things, there would be no one happier than I. But if no one is allowed to ask any judicious questions, then you may depend upon it — a scam is being run. We live in a world full of lies, and we are servants of the truth. Our approach should match that fundamental reality, and sadly, it often does not.

For any claim that is weighty, how can that claim be verified, and how can it be falsified?

So if I move to a different city, and am looking for a church, and I find out that the pastor of a church I am considering is big into some of this stuff (in the way that people are usually big into it), I wouldn’t join that church. This is not because I care what he eats, or how he treats his joint pain. It would be because it is manifest to me that he does not know how the truth of an important matter is to be established. If, when it comes to his joint pain, he believes one witness, even though that witness contradicts himself, and he will not allow that witness to be cross-examined, then I know how it will go with me if a controversy ever arose. One incoherent witness testifying in the back room would be sufficient.

And also, by the way, it bears mentioning here, that whenever I strike at allergenic fads, I am not being harsh toward those with real allergies. To be critical of hypochrondria is not the same thing as mocking the sick and infirm. Just the opposite, actually. The hypochondriac is the one who is mocking the sick.

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12).

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Alice C. Linsley
10 years ago

“…they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” – Bingo!

In my Eastern Orthodox tradition verification requires looking at Scripture, the Fathers, the order of creation (Roms. 1:20) and Holy Tradition. It is difficult to pull a scam when all these must be weighed.