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- “21st Century”
- About the Author, Biblical Medical Ethics, and the Christian and Biblical Worldview for the 21st Century
“The” is a definite article that specifies something particular. We are bold to proclaim what we believe is an accurate interpretation of God’s Word. We could have adopted the title, “A Christian and Biblical Worldview for the 21st Century.”
However, Christians have been too soft on their philosophical and ethical principles that are derived from the Bible. For example, this author (Ed) has come to recognize different levels of Biblical commands. This level is seen in Psalm 119, the entirety of which is about the Law of God. In the New King James Version of the Bible, words include law, precepts, His ways, decrees, commands, statutes, and counsel.
There are the ten commandments that every one knows. But, what you may not know is the fullness of application of each commandment. For example, discussed below are the “sins forbidden by the Sixth Commandment” from the Westminster Larger Catechism #136.
The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.
What is fascinating about this commandment is that in the short phrase, “all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense,” the complete view for those who are pro-life is found. We can be against abortion (“all taking away of life”), for capital punishment (“public justice”), for a just war (“lawful war”), and the taking of a life in self-defense (“necessary defense”). And, this document was written almost 400 years ago!
And, thus we see the movement from the commandment itself to its more specific applications. God even takes His Commandment beyond the actions of men into their thought life. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21).
“The” includes the entire range from the literal commandments to the specific applications listed above in the catechism, even to the thought life, as Jesus taught. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Thus, the full range of worldview is seen in this commandment from the mind of God to the mind of man.
Abraham Kuyper presented two areas of knowledge that expand side by side with only enough overlap that they are able to communicate with each other. On one side are all systems of thought that are not derived from Scripture. Basically, this side is humanism, not just those under the banner of philosophies (such as, humanism, Marxism, and statism), but all non-Christian religions (such as, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Mohammedism), as well. See The Mind of Christ.
On the other side is Kuyper’s “two-fold starting point: palingenesis and Scripture.” Palingenesis is translated literally, “new (palin) beginning (genesis).” The best name for that new birth is regeneration. As seen in John 3, it is a change wrought by the Holy Spirit where “it (He) wishes.” This change occurs in the mind and the will of the person affected. It changes confidence from the person himself to that of the Holy Scriptures and its message of salvation in Jesus Christ. (Regeneration is an important event in the life of the believer. One about which too few Christians have insight. On this website, we have a short, but comprehensive explanation of regeneration (born-again or born-from-above).
Because Western Christians are raised in the environment of Christianity (even in its diluted form today), they sometimes overlook the infinite chasm that separates the system of thought that is Biblical Christianity from humanism (all other religions and philosophies). But, the Bible itself makes this infinite chasm apparent with such descriptions, as light and darkness; the world, the flesh, and the devil vs. the Holy Spirit; the evil one vs. the righteousness of God; heaven and hell; principalities and powers of the air vs. the armor of God; and the old man and the new man.
One cannot overestimate the difference in the two systems. Indeed, one is life and the other is death. Picture in your mind the funerals that you have attended. There in the casket is the dead body. Only “dust” returning to dust. By contrast, you remember the living person who inhabited that body: one who brought children into the world and raised them; achieved considerable skills and knowledge in education and vocation; had thousands, if not millions, of conscious thoughts; engaged thousands of others in light and serious conversation, and more, much more. On the one hand, a dead, cold body, only a speck in the lifeless universe. On the other hand, a living, breathing person who created a personal universe with his life.
For many decades, Christians who are pastors and theologians have led Christians astray with the concept that “the Bible is true in all that it affirms relative to salvation and morality.” This limitation of Scripture has led to making God less than He is (omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent); watering down, if not giving away the fullness of a created earth in six days; a severe limitation in the victorious life of Christians; the loss of God working in history; the domination of humanism and Mohammedism in our time; and many, many other mixtures of the life of the Scriptures with the dead bodies of philosophies and religions.
A Biblical worldview must be comprehensive, coherent in the unity of all its parts, and as authoritative as the voice of God from Mount Sinai. The Bible is the very Word of God written, no more and no less, to all areas of knowledge. For over 200 years, archeologists have tried to refute the Bible. They have not been able to do so. For 150 years, scientists have tried to promote godless evolution, but creation scientists have countered with theories and evidences of their own. Sociologists have tried to change personal morals, and we have a divorce rate that is sky-rocketing and an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases. Psychiatrists have tried to eliminate guilt from personal awareness, and we have become nations of drug addicts (legal and illegal)
There is overwhelming evidence that the Bible, as the very Word of God written, goes way beyond “faith and morals” (as important as those are). A truly Biblical worldview will reach and stretch (within a reasonable hermeneutic) to fully apply its truth to all disciplines of life.
“One of the fads of modern times is to change nouns into verbs and adjectives. For example, “prioritize” comes from a noun “priority” that have been made into a verb. “Christian” is a noun, used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26, 26:28; I Peter 4:15-17) that has come to be used frequently as an adjective, as we have used “Christian Worldview” in our title.
When “Christian” becomes an adjective, however, right and wrong, truth and falsehood, become what Christians say and do, instead of what God says in His Word.
The study of (worldview), therefore, is not that of surveying empirically the sum-total of the behavior of those, who are portrayed for us in the Bible as believers. What such a study would furnish is simply a description of the behavior of believers. And, since there is so much sin and inconsistency in the behavior of believers at their best, whether they are viewed individually or in their corporate relations, we could not by any such empirical method delineate the biblical (worldview). The biblical (worldview) is that manner of life which is consonant with, and demanded by, the biblical revelation… divine demand, not upon human achievement, upon the revelation of God’s will for man, not upon human behavior.(1)
For example, according to some polls, (evangelical) Christians divorce in America at about the same rate as do non-Christians. Thus, the “Christian” standard becomes that of a 50-50 chance that a marriage will survive.
Whereas, God through His Son said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6). God’s standard for marriages is for life. The “Christian” standard is a 50-50 chance for divorce.
(Here is not the place to discuss all the aspects of the Biblical view of marriage. What I have said is true. God’s standard is marriage for life. But, He does allow divorce for unrepentant sexual immorality and desertion of an unbeliever from a believer. See Jay Adams, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage from the Bible.)
The excuse given for these divorces is another example of “Christian” morality. “I don’t love her (him) anymore!” Now, God’s standard of love is the example of Jesus Christ. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were enemies of God, Jesus Christ died for us. We are to love our neighbors, as ourselves. We are even to love our enemies. Any excuse of not “loving” sinks in quicksand when compared to the Rock of Christ’s love and sacrifice of His own.
So, what is the relevance of “Christian,” as a adjective. It would be better to substitute the word “Biblical,” instead. There are “Christians” in liberal churches, who have little or no place for the Bible as a standard. To refer, continually, to a Biblical standard would 1) quickly reveal those that don’t hold to a Biblical standard, and 2) focus the debate on what God has said and not what Christians say and do. The greatest issue of our day, and perhaps has been since the acceptance of the canon, is the authority and extent of Biblical truth and “ethics” (law, commandments, principles, etc.). Someone has said, “The Bible is true about everything to which it speaks, and it speaks to everything.” While the Bible may not give details in every area of human endeavor, its does and must by the controlling ethic in every area.
Granted, using “Biblical” instead of “Christian,” does not eliminate all the problems of setting standards. Many evangelicals, who by affirmation are “Bible believers,” obviously give little value to the Bible, as a standard. Some place it among other truths with the deceptive phrase, “All truth is God’s truth.”
Yet, at least using “Biblical” rather than “Christian” names the source of values, ethics, and worldview. And, it becomes apparent when directions are cited that they are not Biblical, if they have no Biblical source.
We have used “Christian” in our Domain Name because many Christians will look for a “Christian” worldview, rather than a Biblical worldview. We hope that our title directs them to our website where they will read this page and the many others here that strive diligently to be Biblical.
1) John Murray, Principles of Conduct, (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1957). Worldview in in parentheses because I have substituted “worldview” for “ethics” and “ethic.” They are one and the same. See Glossary on these words.
Worldview is simply the core beliefs of a person or group of people that determine the decisions that they make about life. These decisions may range from (1) the trivial, for example, what one will have for lunch, to (2) the more significant, for example, what area of work will be one’s life vocation, or to (3) the ultimate questions of life and death and eternity, for example, the issue of abortion or heaven and hell.
Perhaps, the most consistent characteristic of a person’s worldview is that it is carelessly acquired without any real effort. This acquisition is almost as true for the Christian as the non-Christian. One’s positions are just a product of unquestioned acceptance of what others have said or what feels “good” or “right” at the moment. For example, can you articulate an opinion on “the right to medical care” from a Biblical perspective? Can you articulate the issues of free will and predestination?
But, there is hope. Among Christians, “worldview” is on the move in the 21st century! Many lectures, articles, books, and conferences are being produced that are well subscribed and read.
Specific areas are being developed, perhaps more so than at any time in history of God’s people since Christ. Home schooling is growing by leaps and bounds with an emphasis and development of family life that is Biblical and exciting. Parents and children are involved in deeper and broader ways.
Universal and world history is being taught in a depth and breadth that has been little recognized in the past. Vision Form1 sponsored a Mega-History Conference in July 2006 with 12 speakers on over 50 topics with 1000 people (many of whom were families with children of all ages). More and more archeological evidence of “reverse” evolution is being discovered, for example, Maps of the Sea Kings.2
Hundreds of materials and dozens of conferences on true roots of American history are being produced. These show that the founders of America consciously applied a Biblical understanding (worldview) to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and to their way of life. Those founding roots can be traced back, possibly, to 2nd century England. Certainly, they can be traced to 7th century England that laid the foundation for the Magna Charta of 1215.
And, more, much more that will be developed elsewhere in this site with extensive references. All these are giant steps towards the fulfillment of the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:26-31), The Micah Mandate (Micah 6:8)3 and The Great Commission to “make disciples of all the nations… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).
But, there are problems among Christians interested in a true Biblical worldview. The primary problem is one of imbalance. (1) There is a neglect of a systematic theology and a systematic understanding of all of Scripture. All the truth of the Bible is a unitary whole — a beautiful system whose parts fit together in a system like the branches of a beautiful oak tree. They must fit together coherently and consistently or God is not a unity of Person and knowledge!
2) There is a neglect of the whole of Scripture. Christians, especially within their organizations and churches, have their particular doctrines and ethics that blind them to a fuller, comprehensive Biblical worldview. While this bias has been true since 1st century Christianity, the power of this worldview is limited by this neglect. All the words of Scripture are inspired (God-breathed) and profitable for teaching , correction, and training in righteousness… for every good work (II Timothy 3:16-17).
3) There must be a personal commitment, beyond what is easy. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). “Present your bodies a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). “(They) gave … beyond their means” (II Corinthians 8:3). “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds“ (Romans 12:2). “Work,” “sacrifice,” “giving,” “transform” and much more is required of God’s people. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46).
4) There is a neglect of truly Biblical principles. Under “Biblical” in this domain title, we discussed the contrast that the Bible should have over and against any humanistic principle. For example, the modern humanistic state “punishes” thieves by putting them in prison. God, in His word, requires restitution in varying degrees, Exodus 22:1-4. Education is a responsibility of the family, not the state (Deuteronomy 6:7-8). “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10).
Most of our work has been in Biblical ethics. However, “Biblical ethic” is the same as “Biblical worldview.” And, “Biblical ethics” is the same as “Biblical worldview principles.” Far more work has been done in the area of Biblical ethics than Biblical worldview, so all the great work that has been done in Biblical ethics needs to be recognized within the framework of Biblical worldview.
Surely, more than any nation in history, the United States is called by God, “to whom much is given, much is required.” There are signs of a great, new Reformation. But, Christians must be fully and thoroughly Biblical in all their endeavors. Perhaps, this website will contribute to that end.
5) A truly Biblical worldview will contrast sharply with that of non-Christians and the “world” in every area of life. The Bible is full of contrasts between God’s way and man’s way (including Satan’s way). Such descriptions are darkness and light; sheep and goats; the world and the flesh; life and death; Christ and Satan, and heaven and hell. “There is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof is death.”
If a Christian’s principles are not in sharp contrast, at least in some points, to those of the world or unbelievers, then there is no truly Biblical ethic!
- Vision Forum, direct link to the recordings of the History of the World Mega Conference.
- Maps of the Sea Kings, direct link to purchase of this book.
- George Grant has written a wonderful book, The Micah Mandate, on the verses cited above. These verses are often quoted without a full understanding of the depth and breadth that is encompassed in this passage.
The greatest thing that can be said about any century is that it is numbered from the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. After His Passion and humiliation, He has ascended to the right hand of God the Father to take His place as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His days as a humble servant ended with His Resurrection.
This is the 21st century since His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. No matter what millennial view that you take, Jesus Christ will come back with power, great glory, and judgment. We are over 2000 years closer to that event.
While the Bride of Christ has wandered in the wilderness for these two millennia, she has progressed in the specifics of her theology and in her ethical formulations. While she is fragmented into thousands of denominations, she is still one in Him as His Bride and the unity of His Spirit, body, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, and God and Father (Ephesians 4:1-6). While we may never overcome denominational differences,* worldview offers us opportunity for agreement and cooperative ventures to advance God’s Kingdom in preparation for the King to return at His Second Advent.
(* Those differences without compromise should be explored here.)
About the Author, Franklin E. (Ed) Payne, M.D., Biblical Medical Ethics, and The Biblical and Christian Worldview for the 21st Century
My spiritual enlightenment began in the early 1970s. I was fortunate to be among three other couples who were in a Bible study, led by a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS) in Augusta, GA, where I live. We studied Steele and Thomas’ Romans: An Interpretive Outline. During that study, the leader introduced me to Competent to Counsel, the first book that Jay Adams wrote on counseling.
At that time, I had completed the general part of my medical education and needed to decide on specialty training. Having been in a clinical practice situation for two years, it was obvious to me (and still is) that the major problem with patients is not physical, but in their thinking and behavior which triggers damaging emotions. So, I considered going into psychiatry.
But, Competent to Counsel made such an impact on me that I called Jay Adams on the phone, made an appointment, flew to Philadelphia, and spent several hours talking with him. Because of that conversation, I knew that I could not go into psychiatry because it did not give Biblical direction (having been founded upon secular, even anti-godly, philosophy). Since I liked a variety of problems and patients, I chose Family Medicine, as my specialty.
My training at the Medical College of Georgia took place within a small, but growing, department with only two faculty members. When I completed my training, they asked me to join them on the faculty. My intention was to stay for about 5 years, and then go into private practice. Five years turned into twenty-five, after which I retired in 2000.
I had no interest in writing. In fact, my aptitude was in mathematics and science, in which I had majored in college. On my college SAT, I scored considerably higher in mathematics than in English. I was enjoying my teaching in Family Medicine.
Suddenly, tenure stared me in the face! “Publish or perish.” I had been deluded (either by my own naiveté or that of the young department), that research and writing would not be necessary in Family Medicine. But, to stay on the faculty beyond seven years, I had to publish or make other plans. By this time, I had decided to stay.
So, I began to write on two issues: sports medicine and cardiovascular health. I had enough publishing success to satisfy promotion and tenure requirements to stay. Meanwhile, abortion became a concern for evangelicals, and euthanasia loomed on the horizon. I was a member of the Christian Medical Society (now the Christian Medical and Dental Society) and looked to them for answers. In the early 1970s, they had published a book on abortion and an official statement on abortion.
The book had a variety of views on abortion and the statement essentially said that we “lament” that there are so many abortions, but every Christian must decide for himself or herself (my summary in my words). I began to read every book on medical ethics that I could find. There was not much! More work had been done by Roman Catholics, but I had sufficient theological understanding to know that their epistemology was not as authoritative as Scripture.
So, I wondered. “Can I learn a Biblical approach to ethic that can become a biblical medical ethics?” Rightly or wrongly, I made a fleece. I would write ten letters to the editors of medical publications and see what happens. All ten were published! I never had that success again!
So, I began to study Christian and Biblical ethics. To my surprise, there was not a good summary book on an approach to Biblical ethics, much less Biblical medical ethics. There still is not, to my knowledge.) So, I began to read: Systematic Theology, by Louis Berkof; many books by Gordon Clark; Christian Personal Ethics, by Carl F. H. Henry; Principles of Sacred Theology by Abraham Kuyper; Ethical Reflections by Henry Stob (the closest to a basic book); all the books of Jay Adams, as he wrote them and were published; and, many other books which had a chapter or two on basic Biblical ethics or medical ethics. As far as I could surmise, at the time I had the only complete collection of The Journal of the Christian Medical Society and Human Life Review. That is how thorough that I tried to be.
I had the opportunity to meet Harold O. J. Brown. We agreed to write a book on medical ethics together, but God separated us, and he did not have the time except to write one chapter. But, he did ask Mott Media to review my book, and they published it as Biblical Medical Ethics: The Christian and the Practice of Medicine in 1985.
Meanwhile, in 1978, I got this phone call to speak to “that physician who was counseling according to Jay Adams.” (I had begun counseling a few people with whom I came in contact.) That caller was Hilton Terrell, who had just completed his Family Medicine training, but with a background in psychology (Ph.D.) and reading of Jay Adams. His family had labeled him as “just to the right of Attila the Hun.” I still remember the first night that we met. He kept looking at me out of the corner of his eye, as if to say, “Can there really be another physician on planet earth who thinks as closely to the ways that I do?”
Since then, he has read and edited virtually everything that I have written. (Initially, Jay Adams did also.) And, he has written a great deal himself. Together with Andy White, another Family Physician, we started The Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine, which was published from 1987 to 1997. Later, I started a newsletter on AIDS and even later, another newsletter, Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine (the Journal and most of Biblical Reflections… is online on this site: Medicine and Health.
Coalition on Revival
In the early 1980s, Jay Grimstead and others began the Coalition on Revival (COR). It was the next rational step after The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, and its follow-up, on Hermeneutics. The task of COR was to developed a set of Affirmations and Denials in each of 17 worldview “spheres” (areas of culture and theology). These were completed in 1985 and are now online. (www.reformation.net) Great effort went in to the precision and comprehensiveness of each of these areas. It is one of the jewels of scholarship that is sorely neglected and unknown today.
I was fortunate initially to be part of the committee on medicine, and when the first chairman left, I became its co-chairman, writing most of the document. Later, when the psychology and counseling document faltered, I was asked to write that one, as well. While I did not chair that document to completion, most of it is still worded in the way that I wrote it.
I have written four books. 1) Biblical Medical Ethics, 2) Making Biblical Decisions (about population, birth control, and genetic issues), 3) What Every Christian Should Know about the AIDS Epidemic, and 4) Biblical Healing for Modern Medicine: Choosing Life and Health or Disease and Death. The first three are out of print, but a few copies are available at Amazon.com and other used book dealers. The fourth can be bought from Covenant Books, P. O. Box 14488, Augusta, GA 30919, $10.00 postpaid or $5.00 each for multiple copies, postpaid.
My writing of Biblical medical ethics and Biblical medicine mostly ended in 2000, when I ceased writing the newsletter, Biblical Healing for Modern Medicine. Essentially, I stopped because few were grasping the basic issues, much less the more complex issues.
It is quite incomprehensible to me that a nation can spend over $1 trillion… yes, $1 trillion dollars on an industry that actually has a negative effect (excluding abortion) on overall health in the United States. (See Neil Postman’s Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, Chapter 6, “The Ideology of Machines: Medical Technology.)
It is more incomprehensible to me that Christians have no better understanding than non-Christians. My own denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, had its insurance program go bankrupt, even after they were given an opportunity to set it up by Biblical standards.
And, so it goes. Our website, an occasional article that I or Hilton write, and the rare event of someone writing a Biblical medical ethic somewhere else are the only lights in a dark world that worships at the altar of bodily health and modern medicine. Perhaps, Biblical Concourse can steer some souls towards the light of a truly Biblical medical ethic.
Many years have passed since we began our work in medical ethics. But, several years ago, while sitting with some leaders of our local church, one mentioned the need to instruct our middle and high school children in preparation for the humanistic, secular atmosphere of college or for the competitive marketplace that is American life and society that is thoroughly pagan.
His comment started me thinking. “I learned the methods of building a worldview in medicine and medical ethics. Why not apply them to all areas of worldview, such as, economics, law, psychology, education, and many others.
Thus, this website, “The Christian and Biblical Worldview for the 21st Century” was created in idea form and later in to an actual website. I trust that it will advance your thinking towards the ever expanding and eternal Kingdom of God.
And, the saga continues. In working on worldview areas, I became aware of certain philosophical principles that simplify and empower Biblical principles in ethics and worldview. For example, some form of predestination is inescapable. As a logical argument, the centuries-old debate of free will is solved. Because of such issues, I have decided to begin another website (August 2008) BiblicalPhilosophy.org.