What I’ve Seen
I have had great opportunities to travel in my life. My family took a lot of road trips growing up and as a result I’ve been to 21 of our country’s 50 great states. I’ve spent time in New Zealand and Mexico as well and have observed some significant differences between cultures abroad and at home. While I feel like I have seen a lot in my 27 years, my experience pales in comparison with many. I know people that have been to over a dozen different countries and nearly all of the US states. Still, when you consider their massive amounts of travel experience they have not come close to seeing everything.
By its very nature anecdotal evidence is not a reliable standard to ascertain truth. My personal experience is too small, clouded by my own biases, and impacted by my emotions. Whenever evidence is presented based only on personal experience the argument is weak and easily defeated. We must look for a more sure standard, and the surest of all is the word of God (II Peter 1:19).
Atheism argues that God cannot exist because He cannot be seen or touched today. Consider the flaws in that argument! Has the atheist seen everything that is or has ever been? What about the entire atheism movement collectively? We could also ask when the modern day atheist has ever seen or touched Napoleon Bonaparte. Of course history has verified his existence, but could we not say the same for God with the countless historical verifications of the historical Jesus or the events recorded in the Bible? The intra-biblical and extra-biblical evidence is astounding once compiled. The Christian understands that God has revealed Himself through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2), through creation (Psalms 19:1), and through His word (I Timothy 3:16-17). The atheist might also talk about his experience with Christianity. Many will claim Christianity to be divisive and the reason for the conflict of war. But this evidence is easily matched and superseded by the great good that biblical Christianity offers. Anecdotal evidence is just not sufficient to overthrow belief in the existence of God or the benefits afforded by Christianity.
Some try to argue for false doctrines with anecdotal evidence. You might be familiar with some who have become pessimistic about the usefulness of church discipline via the withdrawal of fellowship (Matthew 18:17; I Corinthians 5:4-5; II Thessalonians 3:6). They could talk about their experiences where these methods “were not successful.” Understand that whenever we follow a command of scripture as prescribed that endeavor is successful, whether the sinner repents or not! Others talk about the insistence of obeying God’s law regarding marriage, divorce, and remarriage as doing more harm than good. They will talk about the families that are broken if we teach that one should leave an adulterous marriage (Matthew 19:9). In their experience it’s harmful to follow God’s law and so they prefer situation ethics in these cases.
These arguments are not logically sound and are motivated by extreme bias. When a brother walking disorderly is allowed to remain within the body of Christ with no withdrawal of fellowship the local and universal church suffers and is in danger of division. In the case of an adulterous marriage the sin is what breaks up these families, not the law of God. Short sighted leadership that relies on what they have seen instead of what the Lord has said will destroy the church and have to answer for souls they lead astray (Hebrews 13:17).
We must choose to speak as God has revealed (I Peter 4:11; II Peter 1:20-21). The heart’s emotions can be deceptive and if followed will lead to destruction (Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 28:26; Matthew 7:13). If we follow God’s will we will stand on the firm foundation of the Rock that is Christ (Matthew 7:24).