googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: November 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is the Holy Spirit an “It”?

English follows what is called “natural gender.” Practically speaking, English nouns are genderless. However, there are a very few English nouns that change according to gender: “Duke” refers only to males while “Duchess” refers only to females. Ordinarily, though the use of gender applies almost exclusively to singular, 3rd person pronouns. Men are referred to as “he/him” and women are “she/her.” Everything else is an “it.” Because English uses natural gender, the appearance of a pronoun clearly identifies the sex or "person-ness" of the antecedent.

In many other languages, the use of gender is more of a grammatical designation. In Spanish, for example, all nouns are either masculine or feminine. Whether a Spanish noun is masculine or feminine is not as intuitive as it is in English. The word for dress (el vestido) is masculine while the word for necktie (la corbata) is feminine. Therefore, the pronoun for “dress” would be masculine and the pronoun for “necktie” would be feminine.

Greek is similar to Spanish in that all nouns have a gender. Greek, however, uses three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Since English uses these three genders among its pronouns, we are prone to project our understanding of gender onto the Greek usage. Because of this confusion, problems sometimes arise when people try to use the gender of a Greek noun to make a doctrinal point. This has been especially true concerning the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for Spirit (pneuma) is neuter. Since English uses the neuter pronoun "it" for inanimate objects, some people mistakenly argue that the Holy Spirit isn't really a Person but rather is a thing. Look at the following quote (source):
But "Holy Spirit" in the original Greek is neuter and therefore the neuter pronouns "it," "itself" are used with it in the original NT Greek! Any strictly literal Bible translation would have to use "it" for the holy spirit (since it is really not a person, but God's active force, a literal translation would be helpful in this case).
This is an extremely amateurish argument. It demonstrates how a little knowledge can be dangerous. Most people who use this argument really can't read Greek. Instead, they have heard once that the Greek word for “Spirit” is neuter so, because of their understanding of English, they buy into the argument that the Spirit is an “it.” Of course, there are some people who indeed understand Greek's grammatical use of gender but still repeat the argument with the intention of preying on the audience's ignorance of the subject.

This is also a blatant example of special pleading because the same people who raise this argument, don't apply this same standard everywhere. In Matthew 2:11, the Bible says the wise men, “saw the young child with Mary his mother.” The Greek word for child here (paidion) is neuter so, to be consistent, they should translate this verse as “they saw the young child with Mary its mother.” Of course they don't do that. Neither do they refer to “church” as “her” or “word” as “he” or correctly render the hundred other instances where Greek gender does not agree with English gender.

There's another subtle flaw in the above quote that might escape notice. The author seems unaware of the flaw and cites a source that commits the same mistake. See if you can spot it in this quote:
The Greek word for 'spirit' is neuter, and while we use personal pronouns in English ('he,' 'his,' 'him'), most Greek manuscripts employ 'it.' [bold in original]
Did you catch it? If not, don't feel bad because it's sort of a technicality and some might accuse me of splitting hairs. However, I feel it's an important consideration. This quote says, “most Greek manuscripts employ 'it.'” The reality is that NO Greek manuscript contains the word, “it!” The word “it” is an English word which conveys a certain meaning in English. It is more precise to say that the Greek manuscripts use the neuter pronoun (auton) whenever the antecedent is a neuter noun. The original authors were not thinking “it” whenever they wrote "auton."

A language is more than its vocabulary; each language also has its own grammar as well as its own idioms. The goal of any translation is to express the same meaning in the target language that is conveyed in the original language. A good translation should obey the rules of the target language – not slavishly render a hyper-literal, word for word exchange of the original language. The pronouns used in our translations should follow the rules of English not the Greek! If the antecedent is an object, the English pronoun should be “it.” If the antecedent is a person, the English pronoun should be “he” or “she.”
If anyone wants to deny the Personhood of the Holy Spirit, he must make his case using Scripture. A weak appeal to the gender of a Greek word – especially an appeal made by someone who can't even read Greek – isn't even close.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How Much Thanksgiving Was Going On This Year?

Did you see a lot of “Give thanks” commercials this year? Neither did I. Mostly I saw black Friday shopping deals. Now, I'll admit that I watched a little less TV over this Thanksgiving weekend than I have in previous years but I still don't recall seeing any real “Thanksgiving” wishes. It was mostly ads about Thanksgiving sales. It seems Thanksgiving is becoming a bit like Christmas where it's more about the stores than about God. How sad.

I've noticed too that there's also a lot less giving thanks to God. Instead, it's more an attitude of “being thankful” rather than being thankful to God in particular. This was especially obvious in President Obama's Thanksgiving Proclamation. Written in typical, liberal fashion, his proclamation was so obviously secular, it could easily pass as a parody of itself. You can read the entire proclamation here but let me hit a few highlights for you.

It begins by saying, Thanksgiving Day brings us closer to our loved ones and invites us to reflect on the blessings that enrich our lives.” OK. I could almost agree with that except that absent from this statement is any acknowledgment of Who has bestowed those blessings on us. As a Christian, I give thanks to God for His blessings. I don't think that's what President Obama had in mind. He immediately goes on to say, “The observance recalls the celebration of an autumn harvest centuries ago, when the Wampanoag tribe joined the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony to share in the fruits of a bountiful season. The feast honored the Wampanoag for generously extending their knowledge of local game and agriculture to the Pilgrims, and today we renew our gratitude to all American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

Do you see what I mean? Obama seems to say that the Pilgrims held a feast to give thanks to the Indians (er... Native Americans). And did he really say, “thank you” to Indian and Alaskan Natives? This is why I say this proclamation could pass for a parody without changing a word. It's so politically correct that it's like a cliché.

The first paragraph ends with still another vague, “As we come together with friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate, let us set aside our daily concerns and give thanks for the providence bestowed upon us.” Again I ask, “Give thanks to Who?” The entire proclamation is filled with platitudes of “being thankful” but is a bit scant on specifics.

The next paragraph is equally humorous. It reads, “Though our traditions have evolved, the spirit of grace and humility at the heart of Thanksgiving has persisted through every chapter of our story. When President George Washington proclaimed our country's first Thanksgiving, he praised a generous and knowing God for shepherding our young Republic through its uncertain beginnings. Decades later, President Abraham Lincoln looked to the divine to protect those who had known the worst of civil war....” In the midst of these references to God, it almost would escape notice that the President isn't actually calling on anyone to acknowledge God. Instead, he's merely recalling how previous Presidents acknowledged God. But this is only after he reminds us that our “traditions have evolved” - that is, “we don't do this now but people used to thank God at Thanksgiving.”

Next, Obama says, “let us offer gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their many sacrifices, and keep in our thoughts the families who save an empty seat at the table for a loved one stationed in harm's way.” Well, I certainly have the highest respect for our military. They are the protectors of my God given rights as I recently discussed this past Veterans Day. However, is Thanksgiving really supposed to be about thanking our military? I don't think so.

Finally, Obama gets to the part about God. You will immediately see that it's almost an afterthought. It's an insertion that Obama included more from a sense of obligation than sincerity (an obligation to Christian voters – not to God). He says, “As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives.”

So, let's get this straight. According to Obama, Thanksgiving is the time when we thank American Indians, Alaskan Natives, the Pilgrims, our military, friends and neighbors, each other, and – oh yeah – we thank God too. Well, no thanks. This year, as always, I celebrated the old fashioned way: I thanked God! I thanked Him first and foremost. Thank God for our forefathers. Thank God for our country. Thank God for our military. Thank God for our neighbors. Thank God for our friends and family. Thank God for everything!!

Praise Him from Whom all blessings flow!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Presidential Proclamation

I have long believed that John Adams (the father of John Q. Adams) was the most pious of the American Presidents. While George Washington, another contender for this title, had issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation, on at least two occasions, John Adams issued ad hoc calls for prayer, fasting, and repentance. Since Adams' proclamations weren't true Thanksgiving Day proclamations, I don't believe they get much press at this time of year. However, I believe the sentiments they display capture the spirit of Thanksgiving as well as any. On this Thanksgiving Eve, I thought I'd share John Adams' 1798 proclamation:

As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty or of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow-citizens while engaged in their lawful business on the seas – under these considerations it has appeared to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country demands at this time a special attention from its inhabitants.

I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation, beseeching Him at the same time, of His infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all our offenses, and to incline us by His Holy Spirit to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly benediction; that it be made the subject of particular and earnest supplication that our country may be protected from all the dangers which threaten it; that our civil and religious privileges may be preserved inviolate and perpetuated to the latest generations; that our public councils and magistrates may be especially enlightened and directed at this critical period; that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they have in times past been so highly distinguished and by which they have obtained such invaluable advantages; that the health of the inhabitants of our land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts, and manufactures be blessed and prospered; that the principles of genuine piety and sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every description of our citizens and that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion may be speedily extended to all the nations of the earth.

And finally, I recommend that on the said day the duties of humiliation and prayer be accompanied by fervent thanksgiving to the Bestower of Every Good Gift, not only for His having hitherto protected and preserved the people of these United States in the independent enjoyment of their religious and civil freedom, but also for having prospered them in a wonderful progress of population, and for conferring on them many and great favors conducive to the happiness and prosperity of a nation.

Given under my hand the seal of the United States of America, at Philadelphia, this 23d day of March, A.D. 1798, and of the Independence of the said States the twenty-second.

By the President: John Adams

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

They Don't Care Because It's Not Theirs

In responding to my last post, “Why do they Occupy in Tents?”, an anonymous visitor said, “[E]ven if we want equality in a lot of ways is it really okay with us for people to invade and take over our personal belongings? If I bought a Park and told every body they could come use it as a park, I wouldn't expect them to use it as a free camp ground. I didn't say it was a camp ground.” This visitor has struck upon the very reason why liberalism never works. These people don't care about the park because it's not theirs.

It has always been the case that people tend to take better care of things that they own. Landlords will certainly attest to this fact once they've had renter after renter trash their house. People who own the home and pay for its maintenance would never treat the home as poorly as many renters would. And neighborhoods with lots of federally subsidized housing are usually the worst.

We often see this attitude in teenagers. Parents work hard to buy nice things for their kids. Sometimes the kids don't even care as much about their own stuff as the parents do. Have you ever heard your kid say something like, “Oh, mom, I spilled nail polish on those new jeans so I'll need another pair before Friday”? It's not until they work, earn their own money, and pay for their own things that they begin to appreciate the fact that money is a limited resource.

This disregard for the property of others permeates throughout the entire Occupy movement. For example, one thing I've heard them demand is student loan forgiveness. Never mind that the lenders who made the loans and the tax payers who subsidized them will be out millions of dollars. The protestors don't think it's fair that they have to pay back tens of thousands when all they got out of it was a college education! So you see, they don't care that other people will lose money as long as they get to keep their money.

We see this attitude the most in the movement's “class warfare” rhetoric. The “tax the rich” mantra is simply a demand to take something away from other people so the protestors can have it. They want free college, free health care, free housing, and even free banking but they certainly don't want to pay more taxes to get any of it. Just let the rich people pay for it.

Newt Gingrich had it right when he said:

All the Occupy movement starts with the premise that we owe them everything. They take over a public park they didn't pay for, to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn't pay for, to beg for food from places they don't want to pay for, to obstruct those who are going to work to pay the taxes to sustain the bathrooms and to sustain the park, so they can self-righteously explain they are the paragons of virtue to which we owe everything.”

What more can I say? Amen!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Do They Occupy in Tents?

Just a quick post today.

I heard on the news today that the Occupy protesters were evicted from Zuccotti Park in New York where they basically have lived since mid-September. After a short legal battle, the protesters were allowed to return – but without the tents. Several of the protesters I heard were very vocal about their dissatisfaction with the ruling. You would think the courts had taken Linus' blanket away from him.

Many pundits are saying that, without being allowed to have tents, the protest movement will begin to wane. That was inevitable. It's mid-November and soon there will be snow on the ground. When you're living in a tent, I'm sure it's easier to be principled on a crisp, fall evening rather than on a freezing night under a foot of snow.

What exactly is it about the tents? I ask in earnest because I really don't see why they can't protest like everyone else. Many people have tried to compare the Occupy protests with the Tea Party protests. There's nothing to compare. The Tea Party was all about less government spending and regulation and Occupy wants more government regulation and spending. And the Tea Party was able to make their statement without pitching tents.

I think the difference might lie in the demographic of who was protesting. The Tea Party protestors were primarily hard working, middle class, TAX PAYERS! They couldn't sleep in the parks because they had jobs to be at in the morning. On the other hand, the Occupy protestors, while claiming to represent the “99%,” seem to be largely made up of college students and other “non-working” folks. How else would anyone be able to sleep in a park for two months? Obviously, the Occupy protestors can't represent the 99%. Most working folks have responsibilities which require bathing, shaving, and having laundered clothes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We All Have Our Priorities

At the end of the service at my Church today, all of the veterans were called to the front and received a standing ovation from the congregation along with a handshake and personal “thank you” to each one from the Pastor. Since I attend a fairly large Church, there were a few dozen veterans and the ovation and handshaking took a few minutes. It was very touching.

So how did other people celebrate Veterans Day? Well, one mayor in California is receiving grief because she chose to skip a Veterans Day salute (read the story here). She didn't stay home, though, and reflect on the wonderful service all veterans have done for our country. Instead, she chose to attend an Occupy rally. Well, we all have our priorities.

One Marine veteran pointedly asked, She could pick any day she wanted to attend these protests. Why choose Veterans Day?” I'm sure this man asked rhetorically because we all know why. She's a flaming liberal who hates the military and loves the utopic ideas of the socialist left. Am I wrong?

As I wrote on my blog on Veterans Day, our rights come from God but they are protected by our veterans. It's been said that we are able to sleep peaceably at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf. Neither this mayor nor these protestors seems to fathom that it's only because of our veterans that they even have the right to protest (even though half of them cannot even enunciate what they are protesting).

I say, let them be idiots. Far be it from me to deny people their right to be stupid – just don't expect it to go unnoticed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day

Famous American philosopher and statesman, Ben Franklin, once said, “Force shites on reason's back.” I know it's rather crude sounding but it's true notwithstanding. We like to think that brilliant men with noble ideas make nations but ultimately it's the men with guns that seal the deal.

Some have said the pen is mightier than the sword. Ha! Perhaps people with pens can change minds but nothing gets done until someone takes up arms. Here on my blog, I exercise my God-given right to voice my opinions. I know, though, that I'm only able to do this because someone with a gun protects my right to do so.

Here's a big THANK YOU to all our veterans. God bless!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Are Myths Born?

After my last post about unicorns, I began to wonder how the legend of the western unicorn arose. As I discussed already, there have been true one horned animals throughout history but how did the idea of a horned horse become popular? I did a cursory search on Google and found there are many opinions. Interestingly, all of the various theories had one thing in common – they all involved elaboration on real animals. Even if we never know which animal it might have been, the mere fact that everyone thinks it was based on a real animal intrigued me. Is that how myths are born?

What other legendary animals might have been born out of encounters with real animals. Many creation apologists have long speculated that dragon legends were depictions of man's encounters with dinosaurs. I've thought about writing on that in the past but there's been so much said on the subject that I decided not to unless I come up with some original angle. However, there are many other creatures of legend. Could they too be elaborated upon depictions of real animals? Let's look at a few.

In the movie, Jurassic Park, velociraptors were very dinosaur-looking. Since then, a few new fossil finds and much artistic license have made more recent renderings much more bird-like. I've always said that dino-to-bird evolution has been occurring in the minds of scientists. Anyway, if a Renaissance-era person were to describe a modern depiction of a velociraptor, he might say it looks like a cross between a bird and a reptile. Are there any bird-reptile creatures of myth? Certainly there is. According to Wikipedia, "the cockatrice is a legendary creature, essentially a two-legged dragon with a rooster's head." If the modern renderings of velociraptors are accurate, I would say it very much looks like a cockatrice. So perhaps the velociraptor gave birth to the cockatrice legend.

The lindworm is described by Wikipedia as “a wingless, bipedal dragon.” That's interesting. If there is any truth to the claim that “dragons” is a reference to “dinosaurs”, then the lindworm is basically a wingless, bipedal dinosaur. The lindworm shown here was used in British heraldry. Tell me the truth, doesn't it resemble a bipedal dinosaur?

The wyvern is basically a winged reptile with two legs (sometimes depicted with no legs) and a barbed tail. Here, I have placed a drawing of a wyvern next to a depiction of a rhamphorhynchus. Again, isn't there an uncanny resemblance?

If modern scholars look to real animals as the inspiration for mythical animals (as they have done with the unicorn), then we would have to admit that these “prehistoric” creatures could serve as candidates for these various creatures of myth – assuming they were contemporaries of men. Now, I can't claim with absolute certainty that these are the very animals that gave rise to legends. However, I do know with certainty that men lived together with dinosaurs. It wouldn't surprise me, then, to find depictions and descriptions of various types of dinosaurs. If some dinosaurs were feathered, what better animal would serve as a candidate for the legend of the cockatrice? If a lindworm is a bipedal “dragon,” wouldn't a bipedal dinosaur be the most likely source of that legend?

In this post you've seen the legendary creatures side by side with real creatures. No one can credibly deny there are similarities. The only reason they would not be considered by some as the inspiration of legends is because evolutionists believe dinosaurs to be separated from man by millions of years. If that is the case, then they aren't going where the evidence leads but they are using their theory to shape the evidence. I say the fantastic depictions of dinosaur-looking animals are evidence of man's eye witness to these animals.

Further reading

How to Answer “The Bible says that Bats are Birds” and Similar Criticisms

Does The Bible Say There Are Unicorns?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Does The Bible Say There Are Unicorns?

He hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. (Numbers 23:22 KJV)

The King James Bible mentions unicorns in six verses. It doesn't give much detail about the creature except to say that it noted for having great strength. To the western mind, unicorns are mythical creatures that now only exist in fantasy novels and Dungeons & Dragons but the Bible talks about them as though they are real creatures. Many people pounce on this fact as an opportunity to label the Bible as a work of fiction. Even liberal Christians use the mention of unicorns as an excuse to say the Bible shouldn't be taken literally.

In response to such criticisms, we must first acknowledge them for what they are – straw man criticisms that don't accurately represent what the Bible says. Many critics aren't intentionally making a straw man. Instead, they are committing the exegetical fallacy of reverse etymology. That is, they are forcing the modern meaning of a word onto its original meaning. When the Bible was written in Hebrew, the Medieval concepts of unicorns did not even exist. The writers of the Bible certainly did not have the western image of unicorns in mind when the original text was penned.

My understanding of Hebrew is next to nothing but, according to Brown-Driver-Brigg's Hebrew Definitions the word translated as “unicorn” in Numbers 23:22 above is the Hebrew word “rêm” (ראם). BDB defines it as “wild bulls which are now extinct.” There's nothing about that definition that suggests the Hebrew writers specifically understood this beast to have a single horn. It could be a description of an animal using terminology similar to our name for the modern breed of cattle, the “long horn.”

Since I'm more comfortable reading Greek, I looked up the verse in the Septuagint where I found it is rendered as monokerōtos (μονοκέρωτος) which literally means “only horn” or “one horn.” So, even long before the KJV translation, it seems the idea of a one-horned animal was already understood. What we have then, is the Bible mentions a one-horned animal renowned for having great strength. Do such animals exist? Of course they do!

Even today there exists a species of rhinoceros with one horn. Interestingly, the Latin name for the animal is Rhinoceros unicornis. Did you see that, “unicornis”? It's the word unicorn! So even according to modern taxonomy, there are true unicorns alive today. Rhinos also possess great strength so a one-horned rhino would definitely fit the bill of the biblical unicorn.

Now, there are many other horned animals that have lived throughout history. For example, there is a group of horned animals called, ceratopsians. The most famous critter belonging to this group is the triceratops. The triceratops, of course, has three horns but another member of this club is monoclonius. Would you care to guess how many horns the monoclonius had? I don't know exactly how strong the monoclonius was but given the fact it about the size of a car, I would suspect it was likely impressive.

I'm sure there are still other candidates that would fit the description of the biblical unicorns. It's not my objective to prove exactly what species of creature it was. My objective is demonstrate what it was not – it was not the horned horse of European folklore.

Further reading

How to Answer “The Bible says that Bats are Birds” and Similar Criticisms

How Are Myths Born?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Bible Study in Discernment

Recently, my Sunday School class has been studying the book of Job. Much of the book details the conversations Job had with his three friends who had come to “comfort” him but actually spend more time accusing him. As you read through the conversations, though, in many places we find that the friends weren't too far off from sound doctrine. In many cases, their only error was attributing Job's tragedy to some unconfessed sin of Job. Much of what they said was correct but a little bit was garbage.
As we live our lives day to day, there is no shortage of opinions we hear about God and the Bible. Some of what we hear is correct but some of it is garbage. As Christians, it is our responsibility to identify what is right and what is wrong. The Bible refers to this as “discernment.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

For some people, discernment is a spiritual gift. When discussing gifts of the Spirit, Paul said, “to some [are given] the discerning of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10). For others, it must be learned. Job says that wisdom and understanding comes with age (Job 12:12). Even so, I believe there are six steps we can follow to help us gain discernment.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalms 19:7)
We don't have to be geniuses or scholars. Psalms tells us that with the Bible, even the simple become wise. If we base our thinking on the Bible, we can never be very wrong on any subject.


Even if you sincerely trust the Bible, what good does it do if you don't know what the Bible says? What if someone said, “I believe the Bible when it says, 'The Lord helps those that help themselves'”? Do you say, “Amen!”? Nothing resembling that verse appears in the Bible but you can't know that if you don't study the Bible.

I worked in a bank for many years. Before the Federal Reserve issued any new currency, we would get detailed descriptions of what the new bills would look like. The best way to spot a fake bill is to know what the real bill looks like. Likewise, we can easily spot false doctrine if we know what correct doctrine is.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Let's look at this passage in reverse: This passage says we need to study to show ourselves approved. So what does it mean if we don't study? Obviously it must mean we aren't approved. Furthermore, if we don't study, we should be ashamed. Finally, if we don't study, we will not be able rightly divide the word of truth.


Most people have heard the expression, “Two heads are better than one.” This is based on a sound, biblical doctrine.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)
There are abundant resources available today that Christians can turn to to find answers to tough questions. Also, a Christian can seek the advice of godly men or women.


Though we should seek the advice of others, we must never mistake their opinions for Scriptures. In your study Bible, the notes written in the margin are not part of the text. You need to compare whatever advice you receive to the Scriptures to make sure it is sound.
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11
Paul is normally someone whose opinion I would trust. Yet the Bereans were even skeptical of him. As he preached the gospel, they compared his words to the Scriptures to confirm what he was saying was true. We should do the same.


There's a difference between being skeptical and refusing to believe. Sometimes, we are wrong in something we believe and we need to be available to the truth. The Bible uses the term “stiff-necked” to describe certain, stubborn people who won't listen to the truth.
But they hearkened not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, and might not receive instruction. (Jeremiah 17:23)

Finally, we should always remember to seek understanding from God.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)