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Basics and Obstacles to a Biblical Worldview

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Chapter 4

The Relevance of Saving Faith - II

The following areas are selected to show how faith, as it is subjectively conditioned (that is conditioned within a personís mind and soul), affects those areas. The arguments are brief, but they are adequate for our study here. For those who want to study further, the references cited give longer discussions.

Faith and History

History is taught as though it were unbiased and factually presented. By now, however, you realize that such an "objective" approach is not possible. So, let us see how one's faith affects his approach to history.

Whether time is important or unimportant, intelligible or absurd, cyclical or linear are questions intimately bound up with the most fundamental of metaphysical, anthropological, and theological convictions.... What we think of the meaning of history is inseparable from what we think of the meaning of life.1

There are only two choices concerning cause and effect: either chance or design (which requires a Designer). Many historians have written from the standpoint that history involves an inevitable flow to an outcome that is not affected by our participation within it. This approach is called "historicism." Most of us at one time have said, "You cannot turn back the clock." What we have done with that statement is to subscribe to the concept of the inevitable process of history. We have said that "the trend of which the present moment is only the most visible manifestation is the inevitable one..." (Ibid, page 15). That is, we cannot do anything about the present because of what has gone on before. By our viewing history in this way any responsibility we may have had is removed. Such thinking is clearly unacceptable for the Christian.

In this way, historicism becomes a basis of morality. The erosion of traditional values concerning the family and sexual responsibility that have resulted in abortion are often justified on the basis that "times have changed" or that "everyone" else is doing it (the favorite justification of teenagers). Such a position implies that these changes are inevitable, and are somehow even progressive! Yet, how can progress be measured in a blindly unfolding universe?

A moment's reflection on the historian's method will reveal its high degree of subjectivity. As he investigates a certain portion of history, the quantity of his sources far exceeds the length of the account that he will write. Thus, he will select only those events and people that he will write about. What, however, will be his criteria for making these selections? It will not be some objective standard but those criteria that he himself considers to be the most relevant or important. A simple, but profound example is Jesus Christ. Apart from the gospels, He is almost entirely absent from historical accounts. Yet, without question, His life was the most important event in the history of mankind. (See D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, Nelson Publishers, 1994.)

The causes that historians ascribe to events reveal their subjective bias, as well. A recent television program on the life of George Washington had little reference to his Christian belief, yet a Christian historian would see it as the sustaining factor through his struggles as the leader of the Revolutionary Army and as the first President of the United States.2 A comparison of the same historical accounts written by different authors will reveal their different conclusions about cause and effect. Causes and effects are not inherent in the process of writing history; they are interpretations added by the historian. Today, in Russia and China there is the deliberate attempt to re-write history books to correspond with current political philosophies. Even, in the United States, the same process is occurring: our history texts totally ignore the consequences of sin or the judgment of God! If Christianity is true, and it is, God is the ultimate cause and effect of all that occurs (even as He uses "secondary agents"). He is moving all events towards the conclusion that He has designed. But, you would never know that Biblical fact from secular history texts. The Bible, as an historical record, clearly describes His causes and effects.

Thus, the writing of history is one of the most subjective of studies and reveals the historian's values, beliefs, and underlying philosophy of life. A common belief is that history is inevitably and progressively guided by chance. This view is based on faulty premises and is unacceptable to a Christian. Thus, all histories are determined by the "faith" of their authors.3

Epistemology

All that we are discussing concerns epistemology, yet it is doubtful that many Christians have ever studied it. Without understanding epistemology as the foundation for valid knowledge, the Christian cannot experience the unity that his faith gives to all fields of study. Further, he cannot understand why scientists, historians, and others arrive at different morals and solutions for mankind's problems. Worse, he will not know when he incorporates secular principles into his thinking to the detriment of himself, non-Christians, other Christians and, most importantly, the glory of God.4

Psychology

No current discipline has more influenced both Christian and non-Christian audiences, as has psychology. Psychologists5 are found on the faculty of some of the most conservative Christian colleges and seminaries (often teaching "pastoral counseling"). Pastors themselves consider themselves inadequate to counsel many of their parishioners and refer them to non-Christians for "psychotherapy" (a misleading term that only means talking to patients and sometimes giving advice). Books and films by both Christian and non-Christian psychologists are widely disseminated. But, is modern psychology really helpful to Christians and the Church?

That the origins of these psychologies are thoroughly secular and, not infrequently, anti-Christian, is easily proved. Sigmund Freud was Jewish by birth and atheistic in belief. He considered that Christianity was a hindrance, even a disease, rather than the greatest comfort and righteous way of life in the history of mankind. B. F. Skinner believed that man does not have a soul and is only influenced by factors outside himself (that is, he is behaviorally conditioned). Most other psychologists totally ignore the Christian faith; if they mention it at all, they do so disparagingly! Almost without modification these psychologies are "integrated" (a favorite word by psychologists who are Christian) into the Christian's "faith".

At the core of these psychologies is an understanding of man and the universe in which he lives, that is, a worldview. The Bible says that man was created in the image of God, but he sinned and is now in rebellion against his Creator unless regenerated by the Holy Spirit. These psychologies say that man is a product of evolution, that abnormal behavior can be changed to the good without God or the church, and that there is no unchanging standard of morality.6 The Biblical concept of man and the psychological concept of man are antithetical. Common sense should show that principles of behavior derived from ideologies that are totally opposite in their basic premises cannot be reconciled to each other. As we have seen, truth involves a system, and "facts" are interpreted by the entire system.

First, behavior that is inconsistent with biblical standards is sin, results in guilt, requires confession to God for forgiveness, and repentance. Psychology knows nothing of sin before a Holy God. The confusion of sin and guilt among psychologists who are Christians is a tell-tale sign of this anti-thesis.7 Second, the church is absolutely necessary to the growth of a Christian (Ephesians 4:11-16). Oversight and discipline is given by God to the pastor and elders (Matthew 18). Most articles and books by Christians in psychology give little or no reference to the roles of these officers in the "psychological" problems of Christians. Third, the Holy Spirit is the Counselor and Comforter (John 15:5-16), but He is frequently ignored by Christian psychologists.8 To ignore a Person of the Trinity in the very area of His special work is no light matter! Some might even consider it blasphemy.

The prevalence of psychology within Christianity directly results from the failure of Christians to understand the biblical concepts of truth and faith. Faith is relegated to a mystical realm without a concrete definition and practical application. The void left by this concept is sought in psychology because the reality and severity of Christians' problems forces them to seek help wherever they think that they might find it. In this solution, however, Biblical truth has suffered, and by consequence, Christians continue in their problems or find that they get worse. The most serious consequence is that God's glory is diminished because he has provided the answers for Christians in His Word.

Medicine

"The practice of medicine is basically religious" wrote my physician friend. His statement appears startling since many physicians and others advocate that religion should be removed from the interactions between patients and their physicians. We are continuing to see, however, that any area of knowledge is "basically religious." With medicine the connection is simple. Medicine is the practice of maintaining and restoring health. Before health can be defined, however, one must define man (that is, define anthropology). Science, as evolution, says that man is an animal, a biochemical being and nothing more. The Bible says that man is created in the image of God, that he has both physical and spiritual components, that he has fallen from a state of perfection, and that his original state can be restored partially now, and fully in the future. Science says that man is healthy if all his "chemicals" are in a proper state; the Bible says that his spirit must be in a proper state, rightly related to God. Because man is a composite unity of the physical and the spiritual, the body cannot be treated without attention to the spirit.9 Health includes spiritual health, as defined by biblical faith.

For example, medicine is acclaimed for achieving remarkable health for Americans. One evidence is that the life expectancy of both men and women is greater than it has ever been. How does a biblical anthropology affect these figures of longevity? Consider the biblical truth that human life begins at conception, the position of orthodox Christianity throughout history. There are approximately 1.3 million abortions per year and two million deaths from all other causes. Thus, the total number of deaths each year is 3.3 million. Since abortions end a life almost at the time that it begins, a zero must be factored into the formula for longevity. If longevity is an average of 70 years, the math for re-figuring the average would be thus (since all the figures are in millions, the zeroes can be dropped): two times seventy plus 1.3 times zero equals 140. When divided by 3.3, longevity becomes 42.4 years. Since the majority of the medical profession considers the current practice of abortion to be "sound medical practice" (that is, consistent with their evolutionary anthropology), the simple application of a biblical anthropology lowers current longevity by 40 per cent! One's premises or faith profoundly affects one's practice and evaluation of the effectiveness of medicine!

Sociology, Law and Government, and Economics

Since these topics have a great deal of overlap, we will consider them in the same section. In sociology, one must choose some form of predestination.10 It is really very simple. Choose whatever age when you consider that a child becomes "accountable," that is, when he is responsible for himself. For our review here and in many cultures, I will choose twelve. Did our hypothetical twelve-year-old choose his genes? His parents? His early education (both at home and formal schooling? Obviously, he did not choose any of these entities on which he is completely dependent for knowledge in making any choice. So, he does not have free will because his knowledge is limited. He has been predestined by his limitation of knowledge!

Psychologists see man as determined by behavioral reflexes that he is born with or conditioned by his environment. The biologist and the physician see man as biochemically determined. The physicist sees life as determined by physical and subatomic forces. For each approach the common denominator is man's pre-determination by impersonal forces over which he has no control, and therefore, he has no responsibility for his actions. This irresponsibility is the root of modern welfare programs that say that the poor and "disadvantaged" cannot improve their situation, in spite of evidence to the contrary.11 In opposition to these forms of impersonal predestination is the personal predestination of the God of Scripture who holds man responsible for his actions (II Corinthians 5:10). I am not saying that men have no responsibility for other men, but that the modern welfare system is far removed from biblical responsibility of the individual and the family. Because it is, economic growth for everyone is reduced and real economic improvement for the poor and disadvantaged is prevented, even hindered..

The influence of faith on law can be illustrated by the Constitution of the United States. Its anthropology allows for the prevalent dishonesty, limited wisdom, and personal prejudice of men in government by building in a system of checks and balances. The Puritan influence and the Great Awakening gave our founding fathers a consciousness of man's sin. By contrast, the failure of the French Revolution to establish its goal of a golden age demonstrates the reign of terror that can result when these characteristics of men are overlooked.

The influence of faith on law is relevant to the current issue of separation of church and state. Law is ultimately a religious issue because right and wrong are ultimately religious. Law is a religious morality that is enforced by the state. When anyone says that morality cannot be legislated, they have not understood that all law is legislated morality. The issue is what morality will be legislated. So, it is impossible to separate the church and the state. Someone's religion will always be the basis of legislated law, even if it is the religion of humanism. The intention of the founding fathers of the constitution was to prevent the establishment of a national church, not to prevent religious expression into the law. The call for the separation of church is the direct result of the separation of faith and knowledge because faith has come to be seen as less trustworthy than knowledge.

In economics, one finds it strange that counterfeiters commit a crime when they print money for which neither a product nor a service has been rendered, but government considers itself guiltless when it does the same thing. In effect, it steals from everyone because such money decreases the value of every item in the economy by this method of inflation. The printing of money in this fashion is moral only if faith in government is place above biblical faith, because stealing is a violation of God's law (Exodus 20:15).

Faith Is Logical Deduction

Many Christians are aware that Jesus is the Logos, the Greek word for "word." How many, however, link Him with "logic" which is derived from the same Greek word. Indeed, logos has a fullness of expression of which many Christians may not be aware. John Calvin in his commentary on the Gospel of John translates logos, as "Speech." Dr. Robert Trench (an expert in Greek words) states that logos can be translated "word, saying, or rational utterance of the nous (mind), whether spoken or unspoken ... the correlative of reason .... a connected discourse."12 Gordon Clark lists: "computation, accounts, measure, esteem, consideration, value, ratio, proportion, pretext, purpose, theory, argument, proposition, principle, law, rule, thesis, hypothesis, reason, formula, debate, narrative, fable, speech, `verbal expressions or utterance, rarely a single word,' phrase, tradition, rumor, fiction, description, deliberation, speech, dialogue, oracle, assertion, language, prose, sentence; and at the very end of this incomplete (!) list, we find `the Word or Wisdom of God.'"13

Although "In the beginning was the Logic... and the Logic was God" sounds peculiar, it is one possible translation of this verse that better connotes the fullness of logos. People may be less threatened by and feel close to a Jesus who is warm and friendly, but we need to know, that is to have faith, in the fullness of the truth and knowledge that represents the Second Person of the Trinity in the same way that the Father and the Holy Spirit should be known.

Let us briefly review in order to continue to link logic with faith. Faith begins with premises upon which one builds his concept of truth. This process involves logical deduction or the extension of these premises to conclusions that "follow" (are consistent or "cohere", see Chapter 3). For example, put yourself in the position of the young person who is considering what "God's will" is for his life. What he or she really means is, "What vocation will I choose?" The process goes something like this: What interests and gifts do I know that I have from experience? What opportunities are available? What vocations are proscribed by the Bible (for example, being a thief)? What advice have I received from those who are further along in the Christian life (pastors and other church leaders)? From this information, he or she reaches a conclusion that is most consistent with the knowledge derived from these various areas.

Without going into boring detail, because this process is more complex than I have presented it, these steps involve the two types of reasoning in logic: induction and deduction. Deduction is the application of a premise to a more specific situation. An application from our example would be: all Christians have gifts (I Corinthians 12); I am a Christian; therefore, I must have at least one gift.

Induction is a conclusion drawn from gathered information (the empirical process). An application from our example would be: (1) I have a burden to help people and enjoy doing it. As a result, they are better able to serve God in their personal lives and in the church (Ephesians 4:11-13). (2) Mature Christians in my local church confirm my own experience. (3) Thus, I conclude that I have the gift of service (helps, mercy, etc.). So, faith is logical thinking or in other words our faith is no better than our ability to think deductively or inductively.

Because of the importance of this concept, let's look at another example. Most Christians plan to go to the mission field have little or no known means of financial support. They have concluded, however, that God has called them to such a work, and that He owns everything. (They may also conclude that the church is faithful to its missionaries). Therefore, (note how many "therefores," a term of logic, are in Scripture) He (or it) will provide the financial resources to provide for His plan in their lives. From a principle, logic has been applied to a specific circumstance.

What Christians have been calling acts of faith or "stepping out on faith" are logical conclusions based upon their knowledge of biblical premises and their own experience. It is perfectly correct to call this process "faith." What would greatly advance the Kingdom of God is to realize that this process is consistent with the process of logic. Logic and knowledge are demeaned in many Christian circles in deference to faith. When this occurs, faith is separated into a different category from all other knowledge. In Neo-orthodox terms, this separation is the "upper story" and "lower story." Many sincere Christians, who denounce the Neo-orthodox for their derogation of the Bible, make the same mistake their opponents do by this separation of faith and logic.

All knowledge is based upon faith or one's premises, whether or not these are consciously chosen or known. It is hoped that the reader will wrestle with these issues for a better understanding of biblical faith. The separation of biblical faith into a compartment that is divorced from these other areas has resulted in a serious distortion of Christian (biblical) ethics and truth in the various areas of knowledge and worldview. One's faith will determine the practical implementation of these areas: will it be a biblical faith or a humanistic faith?

Notes

1. Schlossberg, Herbert, Idols for Destruction, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, page 12.

2. Marshall, Peter and Luis Manual, The Light and the Glory, Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell, 1977. This book gives one view that clearly describes God's providential action in history. All will not agree on their interpretations, but their method is consistent with the biblical concept of faith. A more recent book is 1776 by David McCullough, New York, Simon and Schuster, 2005.

3. Rushdoony, R. J., The Biblical Philosophy of History, Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1979.

4. Clark, G. C., A Christian View of Men and Things: An Introduction to Philosophy, 1952, Reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981.

5. I will only use the word psychologist, but I include psychiatrists under that label. The only difference between psychiatrists and psychologists is that the former are licensed physicians and are able to prescribe medications for problems,.

6. Obviously, I have simplified the issues. Without examining the premises of psychology, one can find agreement with biblical principles. This agreement, however, is misleading because it fails to contrast the systems from which these agreements are derived. Such a contrast will reveal the ultimate incompatibility of psychology and a biblical approach to life. See the following references for a thorough review of this incompatibility.

7. Adams, Jay E., More Than Redemption, Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1979, pages 196-232. Payne, F. E. Biblical/Medical Ethics Milford, Michigan: Mott Media, 1985, pages 161-165.

8. Adams, Jay E., Competent to Counsel, Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1970, pages 20-25.

9. This is not the place to decide what is and what is not ethical for the physician to practice in giving attention to man's spirit. I have done that elsewhere: Payne, F. E., Biblical/Medical Ethics, Milford, Michigan: Mott Media, 1985.

10. Rushdoony, R. J., The Nature of the American System, Fairfax, Virginia: Thoburn Press, 1978, page 137.

11. Schlossberg, Herbert, Idols for Destruction, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, pages 59-74.

12. Girdlestone, Robert B., Synonyms of the Old Testament, Reprint, 1897, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978, pages 334, 337.

13. Clark, Gordon H., In Defense of Theology, Milford, Michigan: Mott Media, 1984, pp. 85-86.


 

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