A Statement on the Christian View of Knowledge

Not only do we only know God through Jesus Christ, but we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ; we only know life and death through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or our death, of God or ourselves. Thus without Scripture, whose only object is Christ, we know nothing, and can see nothing but obscurity and confusion in the nature of God and in nature itself." Blaise Pascal from his book Pensées.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Our infinite personal Creator called into existence the time, space, mass continuum that we refer to as the universe. Within that universe innumerable phenomena take place. Man is witness to the tiniest fraction of these phenomena, for the vast majority of them are beyond his observation.

Man’s knowledge of himself and his planet appears much more comprehensive than his knowledge of the rest of the universe. But, even man’s knowledge of himself and his immediate environment is limited and prone to error. For man’s knowledge involves interpretation. Since facts are related to one another, man is forced to answer the question, "how is a particular fact related to other facts?" "What correlation or relationship do they bear toward one another?"

As soon as that interpretive process begins, man quickly reaches the boundaries and limitations of observation and empirical science. For human origin, meaning and destiny are beyond the reach of the human senses. Apart from God, all of man’s speculations concerning these ultimates are folly and irrationality. It ought to be clear that the nature of reality and the nature of knowledge are necessarily joined. If they are not joined, knowledge has no rational basis. Ontology has everything to do with the nature of knowledge. For in God, what is real is rational. It is His omniscience that makes rational human knowledge possible.

The final standard of truth is the Word of God; the Bible. Human faculties of sense and reason were created by God that man might take in God’s revelation and thereby think God’s thoughts after Him. Man was created to interpret knowledge by dependence upon God’s revelation. All things in the universe must be interpreted in relation to God and his plan. The universe, its purpose and unfolding history have meaning only in relation to God’s eternal plan to glorify Himself.

If the facts of the universe are not interpreted to the glory of God, man is left with an atomistic concept of knowledge. In that system of irrationality, facts have no meaningful relation to one another, no significant contact. But knowledge is not an endless sea of unrelated facts. God’s absolute comprehensive knowledge is bound up in His purpose and plan for the universe. There is unity to knowledge. God is the ultimate reference point for all knowledge. His control of all things demands the coherence of knowledge.

Every transaction in the realm of knowledge necessarily has an ultimate reference point. God’s knowledge is the basis for all coherent thought. The coherence of God’s thought is the very foundation of human knowledge. Only the Christian can claim ultimate rationalism. The believer interprets all things by means of God’s revelation. That is his basis for unified rational thought.

Sin has had a destructive effect upon knowledge. It has darkened man’s understanding of God and of self, and it has plunged man into irrational speculations. All unregenerate men by reason of their sin, worship and serve the creature instead of their Creator. Creature worship is the height of arrogance and folly. The creation itself cannot provide its own origin, meaning, sustenance nor end. God alone upholds what He has made and gives it purpose. He also executes His plan for the work of His hands. Only He is worthy of the creature’s worship.

In the sin of Eve, there was a radical corrupting of the human thought process. Eve was tempted by Satan to think univocally. By attributing powers of autonomous reason to her mind, Eve in effect negated God’s being as self-sufficient. She usurped that place, making herself the final determiner of knowledge. She arrogated to herself what only belongs to God; the right to be the final court of appeal. By that act, she put all being on one level. She declared independence from God. The lie that sin could gain a kind of freedom or independence from God only produced death. Man’s moral separation from God did not change his metaphysical dependence upon God. Man remains a dependent creature. Adam’s sin perverted both his own thinking and that of his entire progeny.

Since the fall, man’s approach to knowledge has consistently shown adherence to the lie sown in Eden. The epistemology of Eve is practiced by every unregenerate sinner. The Scriptures attest to the fact that man uses his God-given faculties of reason to suppress the truth of God in order to believe a lie.

The natural man, like Eve, thinks univocally. He assumes self-sufficiency. He interprets all he contacts without reference to God. His acknowledgment of God’s knowledge is at best correlative. He sees God’s thoughts and his own thoughts as all necessary pieces of the same pie. Like Eve, the natural man sees all being as equally ultimate. He puts himself on the same level as God. By assuming that all being is equally ultimate, sinful men conclude that knowledge is equally ultimate as well.

This view of knowledge makes God only one among many interpreters. It destroys any distinction between knowledge that is absolute (God’s) and knowledge that is derivative (that of redeemed men). All finite categories of knowledge are viewed as self-sufficient. By embracing the above, the unbeliever rejects the need for an absolute universal in order to know with certainty. He holds his own mind to be ultimate and normal. In that state, he remains blind and deceived.

It is this author’s biblical conviction that the non-Christian’s consciousness is totally incapable of accepting the truths of Christianity apart from regeneration. Without the new birth, even the most intelligent natural man will never rise above ultimate irrationalism. Men must have God’s knowledge in order to have their own knowledge. The only alternative is folly.

Man was created in God’s image in order to realize the goal of living for God’s glory. That image, if not marred by sin, assures a true, but not comprehensive knowledge of God. Those who know God by regeneration and the Scriptures will reach that end of living for His glory.

God has placed in Christ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). It is the Christian alone who can appraise all things (1 Corinthians 2:15). He has the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians. 2:16). As such, he is enabled to think God’s thoughts after Him. Though the Christian’s knowledge is finite, his epistemology is that of ultimate rationalism.

In the final analysis there are really only two epistemologies, that of Eve and that of Christ. Man’s great need is for regeneration, for without it there is no knowledge of God and thus no rationality.

The Christian’s mind is renewed by Scripture. It is his wise caution to steer clear of every philosophy that has its origin in this world (Colossians 2:8). Christ alone is God’s light, and Christ alone is the saved man’s epistemology (Psalm 36:9, John 8:12).

Apologetic Methodology: Conducting an Internal Critique of the Unbeliever’s Worldview

INTRODUCTION: The following suggestions are intended to provide practical guidelines for engaging the unbeliever in a fruitful evangelistic dialog. The presuppositional apologist is ever mindful that the natural man has chosen an erroneous worldview in order to sustain his rebellion against his Creator (and in the process maintain a position of estrangement from God – Romans one).

When we walk the unbeliever through a series of questions designed to critique his worldview, it is to be done in a transcendental manner – this means that the Christian apologist seeks a point of contact with the natural man that lies beneathhis working consciousness. That point of contact is the sense of deity that the natural man seeks to studiously suppress.

In order to do this, it means that the apologist must also seek a point of contact with the systems constructed by the natural man. This point of contact must be in the form of a head-on collision. Only by this collision will there be a point of contact with the natural man’s sense of deity. When this collision takes place, the epistemology and metaphysical principles that control the unbeliever’s reasoning will be exposed.

EXAMPLE: If a man had played checkers his entire life and had never heard of chess; the first time he witnessed a chess game he would no doubt attempt to understand it solely through the vantage point of his experience as a checkers player. So also, the natural man runs everything he hears about the Gospel through the grid of his worldview of autonomous self. (Keep in mind that the unbeliever won’t reason his way to the God of Scripture by slowly paring away his sinful commitment to autonomy. A collision is necessary which will expose his rebellion against his Creator.)

The following questions are designed to accomplish the goal described above – that is to produce an antithesis or collision with the core assumptions of the natural man. As stated above, this collision is intended to bring the unbeliever face to face with his sense of deity (an essential step in bringing conviction of sin and thereby demonstrating the need for salvation).

Philosophic naturalism with its view of an open universe robs God of every attribute described in Psalm 139 (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence). One way to critique this extremely common erroneous worldview of naturalism is to ask the following QUESTION: Since the universe contains both personal and impersonal structures (persons, matter, motion, physical laws) – which is fundamental? Is the impersonal grounded in the personal? Or is the personal grounded in the impersonal? Secular thought generally assumes the latter. Naturalism says we are the product of matter, motion, chance, etc. Naturalism regards the explanation of our existence NOT to rest on the personal, but the impersonal – naturalism affirms the ultimacy of the impersonal. God as Creator and absolute personality is the ground of all other reality. He has no need of any other being – He is self-sufficient, self-existent (Acts 17:25).

Each of these answers (ultimacy of the impersonal or ultimacy of the personal) has CONSEQUENCES. If the impersonal is primary, then there is no consciousness, no wisdom, and no will in the ultimate origin of things. What we call reason and value are unintended, accidental consequences of chance events.

When modern scientists seek the causes of all things, they almost always assume that the personal elements in the universe can be explained by the impersonal (matter, laws, and motion) rather than the other way around. Without absolute personality, we are left with chance or “fate” being absolute.


Because of commitment to autonomy, the unbeliever has an irrational preference for impersonalism over personalism. We must not allow the unbeliever to suppose the impersonal is more ultimate. We challenge him to consider the alternative. Ask him to give a proof for his view – the kind of proof he requires of us! Show him his impersonalism is the product of irrational faith. God as Creator and absolute personality is the ground of all other reality. He has no need of any other being – He is self-sufficient, self-existent (Acts 17:25). Take the unbeliever to passages of Scripture which set forth the Creator’s authority, rights, power, ownership, and plan.

In order to induce a collision that brings the unbeliever into a greater consciousness of his sense of deity, the apologist engages in raising and answering ultimate questions – this will UNCOVER the unbeliever’s rebellion against God. We must talk to the unbeliever in light of Romans one; don’t talk to him in merely a logical paradigm. (Raising and answering ultimate questions is the only way to bring out his rebellion and attack it; remember, the neutrality approach nurturespride and autonomy.)

There is no neutral spot in the universe to study God – it’s impossible to go outin front of God in order to understand God. All must be under Him. There is no independent viewing of God – we think of Him in a dependent manner because all creatures are upheld by Him every moment. We can only understand the creation by the Word of God (Ps 8:1-5). The pagan allows his abilities and faculties and powers of building and inventing to inflate him to arrogance and pride.

In our apologetic method, we do not allow the unbeliever to pit his faulty worldview against the supernatural God of Scripture. We take the sinner back to the presuppositions upon which his worldview is founded.

Man cannot know God, creation, or himself APART from God’s interpretation. Man, in his intellectual rebellion, allies himself with Satan’s interpretation (or worldview).

Give the unbeliever the Gospel. If he disagrees, then ask him some of the following QUESTIONS: Do you know what you believe? What are your convictions? What is your position? THEN: Where did you get that? Where are your answers coming from? Mine are rooted in the Word of God, the Bible. What would disprove your position? What is the basis for your claim against Christ?

Then give the apologetic for the Gospel (as Paul in Acts 17). The pagan has no credible argument; he only has absurdity. Begin every encounter with the claims of Christ. We argue presuppositionally that man knows God and was created to think God’s thoughts after Him.

The natural man sees himself as an expert in his opinions. You have not taken him on UNTIL you take him on at the point where he judges God. The unbeliever sets his mind autonomously against God.

We carry our worldview to the pagan UNPROVEN. We impress upon him that he does not have a legitimate reason why the biblical worldview is not absolutely true. QUESTIONS : Do you understand that it’s possible to use you mind to sin? Do you know that God requires you obey Him in your thought life (2 Cor 10:5)? May I show you what God says about your worldview? Take him to Romans 1 and Ephesians 4 so that he understands the difference between a believer and an unbeliever.

If he subscribes to naturalism, you can ask the following QUESTION: Do you believe that chance produced knowledge, personhood, the laws of non-contradiction (logic), uniformity in nature, and an ethical code? The laws of logic come from God. The law of non-contradiction is being used by you to war against the knowledge of God. You have not been able to explain anything. Take him back to Scripture and show him the passages about futile thinking (Rom 1; Eph 4), and show him that wisdom and knowledge begin with the fear of God (Prov 1:7).


EXAMPLE: If you set out to map Mount Everest with a flashlight and a 12 inch ruler you would utterly fail. So also, because God is transcendent, we are utterly dependent upon His self revelation in order to know Him as He truly is. As finite creatures made of dust we do not possess the “equipment” to take His measure.

The transcendental argument determines the presupposition behind the sinner’s interpretation of any particular fact. Underlying the natural man’s discussion of facts is his commitment to his particular method of knowing. His theory knowledge (epistemology) is but a part of a whole network of presuppositions he maintains. His presuppositions include beliefs about the nature of reality (metaphysics) and his norms for living (ethics). A key point for the apologist to understand is that the unbeliever (when espousing his autonomy) treats his method of knowing, reasoning, proving and learning as normative.

The starting point is never the same level of being as the facts to be studied. The transcendental method exposes the world view behind the facts. When seeking to uncover the foundations for the “house of human knowledge,” it behooves the apologist to ask QUESTIONS that reveal a person’s world view:

· What is the nature of things that are real? (Is the ground of all existence personal or impersonal?)

· How does the world operate? (By chance or by the perfect plan of an all-wise and good God?)

· Where did our world come from? (Wouldn’t you agree that man’s origin, identity, and destiny are inseparable?)

· What is man’s place in the world? (What is the source of man’s purpose, calling, and worth?)

· What is man’s nature? (Is he merely an advanced animal, or is man designed in the image of image and likeness of his Creator? Thus fully accountable to his Creator?)

· Are there moral or epistemological norms that are not chosen by the individual? (Are there fixed moral laws that form an external point of reference?)

· What are the criteria for truth? (Is it consensus, science, common sense, and/or the ultimate authority of God?)

· What are the proper methods of knowing? (Is it human reasoning, or God’s authoritative self-revelation in Christ and the Holy Scriptures?)

· Is certainty possible? (What is the source of epistemological certainty?)


The purpose of the above questions is to provide an internal critique of the unbeliever’s worldview in such a way that he becomes epistemologically self-conscious –that is that he owns he presuppositions that underlie his worldview, admitting his commitment to darkness, and futile thinking.


To the glory of God, we contrast the unbeliever’s philosophy of fact with the Christian world view. (We use the transcendental method to expose the inconsistencies of the unbeliever’s world view. The natural man’s system is not a system, it is the opposite of God’s truth.)

When the unbeliever rejects Christ, he is also rejecting Christ as interpreter of the world (Christ’s interpretation of the world includes the whole world of knowledge).


Our methodology must reflect a fidelity to the epistemic Lordship of Christ.Semi-rationalistic apologetics (common to classical and evidential apologetics) fails to do this. It fails to deliver the final blow which is found in Romans 1. Until that final blow is delivered, the natural man tosses Christian evidences over his head into a sea of probability. Autonomy of reason will stay unchallenged; it will continue to be viewed as the final reference point, the final arbiter of truth.

The presuppositional apologist utilizes Romans one, and, in so doing he attacks and exposes the mechanism of the unbeliever (suppression, speculation, futility, etc.). Only then is the ultimacy of chance and contingency properly cast down so that Christ’s epistemic role may have its proper and authoritative place.

Can we expect a man to accept Christianity when he hasn’t thoroughly investigated all other religious options? Should he crucify his intellect by swallowing a fantastic and totally demanding world view because you say so? In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word, you must surrender to the good news of salvation. By contrast, the semi-rational apologists declare, “How in the name of common sense can you expect him to believe your message instead of theirs?” The answer (says Whitcomb) is somewhat shocking. That person has no right to challenge the message, because the Holy Spirit who made him in the image of the living God had given him the capacity to recognize spiritual truth when he hears it.

QUESTION: Do you understand that God holds you responsible for how you respond to His revealed truth? God has built into us the capacity to recognize spiritual truth as God Himself proclaims it to them, and then demands they recognize who He is (reject, resist, and suppress the testimony of His Word and you are doomed forever. God does not doom people for what they cannot do. You are responsible because God tells you that you are capable of recognizing Him when He speaks.

To be made in the image of God is to be endowed with the capacity to recognize spiritual truth. God has made every person in possession of His image and likeness (though warped and distorted by the fall). This image is still in tact and functioning – that is why we put murderers to death. Jesus Christ “enlightens every man.” He has given all men a sufficient illumination and capacity to recognize God’s truth when they see it. What people need is not more light! They are immersed in light – this is the condemnation, not that they couldn’t recognize the light, but that they rejected the light and would not come to the light.

Our apologetic approach of raising and answering ultimate questions is not designed to overpower the depraved and corrupt reasoning of the natural man. An internal critique of the sinner’s worldview is designed to show the absurdity of their argument and worldview. Our apologetic approach is not designed to overcome and answer every objection – BECAUSE no answer will satisfy the unbeliever UNTIL gives up his rebellion against God.

When we seek a point of contact with the unbeliever, it is not to “out logic” him so that he will say “Uncle!” intellectually. We are always to keep in mind that at the bottom of every objection lodged by the unbeliever is an attack upon the character, authority, government, and nature of God.

Our point of contact with the unbeliever, according to Scripture, is for the purpose of bringing conviction, exposing rebellion, reaching the conscience, and surfacing his sense of deity.


Point of contact QUESTIONS: Do you consider death, disease, injustice, evil, disasters, victimization, war, etc. to be “normal” for mankind according to God’s perspective? -- then give him the Christian worldview and the Gospel again (Syll. p. 1, I., B, 1).[1]

Can you explain why Christ’s hearers consistently attacked Christ’s Person and message? Show the unbeliever from Scripture why every sinner, has a propensity (Rom 1) to mishandle the Scriptures (p. 2, II., A. 2, B. 2) & (p. 4, II. E. 2).

Do you welcome God’s merciful and faithful testimony about sin; do you consider it a mercy that God should bear witness to the universality and depth of depravity human sin? Why or why not? Certainly in the world of medicine, he knows that proper remedy is inseparably linked to accurate diagnosis (pp. 2-3, II. C. 1). Does he understand that only regeneration can avail to “reset” the sinner’s mind and give him a new heart and a new record in heaven? (p. 2, II. C).

Can you define yourself apart from God? If he attempts to do so, show him how irrational such an attempt is – God has determined the categories of knowledge. To abandon God’s categories is to move into futility and irrationality (p. 3, II. D. 2-3). Who we are depends completely upon who our Creator is! Who you really are depends upon who you are in the sight of God.

As your Creator, Designer and Lord, He authoritatively defines who you are and what your standing is before Him. The apologist should strive to surface the natural man’s judging of God. Question: Why do men argue and disagree with God as to what their standing is before Him? Answer: Because of what is described in Colossians 1:21 – men are “hostile in mind” toward God – they regard God as an enemy (p. 6, IV. D., 1-2; V., 1).

True repentance is holistic; it is both intellectual as well as overtly moral. Faith and repentance constitute a radical, even traumatic change in which the there is a complete exchange of epistemologies involved. The repenting man abandons his own thoughts and surrenders to Christ as his epistemology. This is why it’s absurd to think that an unbeliever has one or two “sticking points” that are keeping him from saving faith (p. 5, IV. C., 2-3).

QUESTION: How does your belief system differ from the Word of God? Listen to his objections and then present to him the opposite of what he claims to believe. Note that the categories of guilt, righteousness, good works, forgiveness, judgment, atonement will all have their distorted counterparts in the erroneous worldview of the natural man (p. 6, V. 2).

Where are your answers coming from? Tell him that yours are coming from the Word of God. Show the unbeliever what God says about his worldview. Remember, the sinner’s intellectual assumptions are on trial in God’s court. In the Bible, God always turns the table on the skeptic and accuser of the divine. The revelation of Christ is not on trial; for the revelation of Christ is inseparable from the infallible proof God has given; God’s revelation of Christ is inseparable from Christ’s eschatological role as Judge of mankind (Acts 17:30-31).


Do you understand that Christ’s death and resurrection were necessary in order for men to know God and His truth? The COST of having true knowledge is nothing short of a personal relationship with the living God through His Son as He is revealed in Scripture (p. 7, V. B, 2). The point of contact with the sinner cannot be man’s opinions, misgivings, suspicions, and speculations. Due to the fact that man is estranged from God, who is the source of all truth; man cannot reason about God until he knows God in a personal relationship of justification and reconciliation.

Do you know what God says about your reasoning ability? The apologist is not to set about to construct a mountain of reason to persuade the unbeliever; he is to continually set forth biblical thinking about ultimate questions (when you’re talking to a rebel, keep raising and answering ultimate questions so that the unbeliever is continually confronted with God’s authority).

Human reason is a faculty planted by God for the purpose of receiving and re-interpreting God’s revelation, therefore reason cannot operate accurately independent of God; it must be the servant and tool of divine revelation. Reason cannot be relegated to some neutral category or neutral authority. Scripture states that the status of your reason is inaccurate if it is operating autonomously. Only God can think independently with total accuracy – when man attempts to do so, he is reaching for the impossible status of divinity.

Truth is inseparable from Who God is. Truth does not exist as an independent body of knowledge separate from God. Repentance begins when the sinner abandons all independent thinking about God and begins to worship God as He is revealed in Scripture.

If one attacks God, who is the ultimate reference point and source of all truth, he puts himself in a position to not understand truth. (Repentance puts a halt to judging God.) Semi-rational systems of apologetics flatter man’s reason. The classical approach allows a man to continue to worship his own mind. In the classical approach, the laws of logic and the scientific method are put ahead of Scripture (Scripture being the object of faith). By contrast the presuppositional apologist understands that Scripture is proclaimed in order to produce faith in Scripture.

QUESTIONS to pose to the unbeliever that are designed to surface his faulty epistemology:

· Is there a truth standard outside of God? What is its authoritative ultimate reference point?

· What is your god like – can you describe his attributes and character? (Does your description correspond to reality? Is it reasonable, rational, and realistic?)

· How would you know if you were using your God-given mind to sin against God?

· Do you believe it is possible to reject the God of the Bible and then make sense when talking about all of life?

· Does good exist apart from God?

· Do you believe it is possible to clear your conscience by keeping a moral code?

· Do you believe that God alone has the right and responsibility to determine absolute right and wrong and the consequences of each?

· What is your source of certainty regarding unseen things? (i.e. “there is no hell”).

· What are God’s claims upon man?

· Are you made in the image of God? Do you know how fully that affects your life?

· Can you explain how your position differs from the Word of God?

· Do you know what God says about your worldview?

· Do you understand why it is possible for man to know God?

· In each case, press the antithesis – show the unbeliever that the truth is the very opposite of what he purports. Ask him, “Where did you get that answer?” Can you give a credible reason for rejecting the claims of Christ?” “Do you realize that your answers are seeking to deny God’s authoritative self-revelation?”

To this list one might add questions about the evil and suffering. Unbelievers have an extremely deficient view of the origin of evil and suffering. How does your worldview account for evil and suffering? Only the Christian worldview can give an adequate accounting of the existence of evil and suffering and its origin AND its destiny.

[1] This reference refers to the Ten Lessons on Biblical Apologetics by Jay Wegter. These references are to the first lesson in the series.

Art and Biblical Worldview

Regarding aesthetics and biblical worldview, Dr. Brian Morley of The Master’s College makes the following observations:



The subject of beauty is greatly neglected in studies of philosophy from a Christian perspective.  The following kinds of questions are sure to arise for the serious Christian thinker: “Is beauty a matter of each culture’s values; or is there a trans-cultural standard of beauty—traceable to the Creator?”  “What is the relationship between truth and beauty?”  “What is the role of aesthetics in Christian worldview?”


Dr. Morley goes on to say, Nancy Pearcey’s comments in her book, Total Truth,certainly apply regarding the ‘secular captivity’ of the cultural arts.  “Christians watch—helplessly standing by with hardly a clue as to how to impact culture; relate to the arts; or make any impact at all. The current state of affairs is a vast departure from the role of the arts in church history.  For the last 2000 years the church has been the force which has influenced the arts far more than any other force.  Christians seem to be alienated from the arts.  Most dedicated Christians go to work, join a church board, go home, and make almost no impact upon, or contact with, the cultural arts.”



Morley’s observations serve as a catalyst for discussion.  After all, biblical worldview affirms that there is a perfect correlation between the Word of God and human experience. Therefore, we should expect that our human yearning for beauty would be addressed in the Bible.  The following article is intended to explore these questions from the perspective of a Christian artist.   


God is the ‘Master Artist’



God has created us to be enthusiastic spectators of His excellence.  The universe is the ‘stage’ of His glory.  We were designed to think God’s thoughts after Him as we marvel at the order in creation.  Our aesthetics are keyed to God’s own expression of truth and beauty.



By way of example—we are impressed and inspired by the grace, courage, beauty and strength of a black stallion.  But God is the original artist.  He thought upthe very idea of ‘horse’ in the first place.  He determined every aspect of its anatomy and behavior.  He planned that this animal would be domesticated by man and that it would fill an immense niche in the development of human culture.  When the Lord heightened Job’s understanding of the divine wisdom which pervades creation He alludes to this ‘original divine design’ while describing the behavior of the horse (Job 39:19-25).



From the historic use of the horse in farming; in warfare—everything from carriages to racing—we are amazed at the versatile uses of this noble animal.  I think how often horses have been depicted in art.  Whether the activity is recreation, agriculture, transportation, or war—the horse has served as a living ‘tool’ utilized by man.


The artist is necessarily a ‘student’ of God’s creation.  When a painter of sculptor begins his creative work; he is forced to consider angles, radii, textures, colors, patterns, shapes, and forms.  In a word, he is confronted with God the Master Designer.



Whether the artist is drawing hands, head, nose—a shark, a tree, or a golden retriever; the person seeking to do the creative work is faced with the ‘geometry and design’ used by God the Master Designer.  The human artist is confronted by the original design genius of the Creator.



As light defines the musculature and skeletal systems beneath the skin—the artist (if he or she is to be a truthful and deft draftsman) must diligently study his subject.  In the artist’s observations; he observes and takes mental notes.  He mustknow his subject if he is to make it look real and believable.  



 When we look at a painting or a sculpture and we say that it looks real—what we are saying in actuality is that the artist has repeated a small degree of God’s design.  The artist in using oil paint or bronze has captured many of the same ratios, angles, forms, and relationships that are found in the creation.  The artist has been visually thinking a tiny portion of God’s thoughts after Him.



Jonathan Edwards saw beauty as consisting of the order in which parts are rightly related.  In Edwards’ words, beauty consists mostly of ‘sweet mutual consents’. By this he meant that the things which make up an object of beauty (whether the creative work of God, or the craft of a human artisan) are ‘rightly set’ or rightly related (Albert MohlerA Christian View of Beauty, Part One, p. 3).



Examples abound from nature whether foliage, cloudscape, glacier, lightning, purple grapes, antelope, or flowers, everything in nature speaks of God’s order and design.  Even holding up a freshly cut orange wedge to the light reveals a world of design and order.  The Christian artist takes none of these for granted. He or she studies all the features and relationships within the design of his subject.


God the Master Artist has set the Standard for Aesthetic Beauty



 God’s truth and goodness determine the standard of beauty.  The beauty that God has placed in the creation is immediately related to His goodness.  For Adam and Eve were placed in paradise—a place of limitless beauty—thus God’s bounty and goodness are joined to beauty.



Humans have a yearning for beauty.  We seek to surround ourselves with beauty.  The aesthetic evokes satisfaction and admiration in us.  This trait is unique to the creatures made in God’s image.  We find the order in an English garden very pleasing to the eye; but a wild boar sees only that which he may root up.    



The creation speaks of the order and of the cycles that form man’s habitat.  The flower; the pollen, the bee; and the fruit speak of the goodness of God in creating and arranging systems which constantly replenish man’s food supply.



Beauty is related to order because God has given us a standard of unity, proportion, and clarity (Thomas Aquinas).  God has created a nearly infinite number of living things which are complexes containing parts.  The individual parts (in an organism or plant) bear a precise relationship to the whole. 



So fundamental and primary are these relationships between the parts—we find humor in a drawing that intentionally distorts ratios (such as a man’s nose drawn half the size of his face).  Even the untrained eye can notice when the legs of a horse are poorly drawn perhaps as too short, or with joints in the wrong places.



The standard of beauty is fixed; it is not evolving.  Some would no doubt contest this statement; but God finished His creative work on the sixth day and rested on the seventh.  There is no possibility of progress in the sphere of beauty becausebeauty is not evolving.  The standard has been set once and for all by God when He pronounced all that He had made exceedingly good (Gen 1:31).  God’s unspoiled creation formed the original ‘canon’ (or standard) of what is beautiful.  



A rose or an orchid has intrinsic beauty because contained within its design and purpose is the thought of God.  Truth, beauty, and virtue have no existence independent of God—they originate in the thought of God.  When a man or woman expresses truth, beauty, and virtue—it is but thinking God’s thoughts after Him.



Beauty is an expression of unity, clarity, and coherence set into a well-organized whole.  The parts are well-formed and properly proportioned to one another. This is true of a beautiful symphony as well as a beautiful Victorian piece of furniture (note the need for experts who know the ‘standard’ when judging art shows, dog shows, horse shows, or wine competitions—they are intimately acquainted with the proportions which make up the standard). 



Beauty is to be admired, enjoyed, appreciated for its goodness—but beauty is not to be worshipped.  Beauty is intended for our enjoyment that we might bless and glorify our Creator who is good—and who has placed His goodness in the creation as a testament to His creatures of His benevolence (see Mortimer J. Adler,Six Great Ideas, pp. 64-123).



Thus the doctrine of creation is the starting point when thinking about beauty and creativity within Biblical worldview.  God’s creative work is both beautiful and functional—colors, sounds, patterns, textures, and fragrances fill God’s creation.



Not only is creation evidence of God’s infinite wisdom and power; it also testifies to His creativity and artistic imagination (Leland Ryken, “The Creative Arts,” inThe Making of the Christian Mind).



Torrential waterfalls, rainbows, fragrant meadows, sunsets, snow-capped summits, produce a human aesthetic response.  “The Christian knows that very fabric of the universe expresses God’s presence with majestic beauty and grandeur. Psalm 19:1 states, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows forth His handiwork.’  Nature has been called the ‘aesthetics of the infinite.  Everything in the natural world can be appreciated for its aesthetic qualities which find their source in our Creator” (Jerry Solomon, Jimmy Williams, Art and the Christian, www.probe.org).


Art that is Beautiful communicates Truth



God the Master Designer has joined form and function in what He has made. God has designed certain structures to perform specific functions.  From our earliest childhood years we remember books about zoo animals.  We memorized the unique things about them; their shapes, their lifestyles; the noises they make.   



Each creature has distinctive features which perfectly join form with function (note the body type in the following creatures: giraffe, ostrich, pelican, kangaroo, hummingbird, blue whale, wolf, shark, river otter, and  buffalo—body design perfectly fits lifestyle).  



The Lord highlights His own creativity and imagination when speaking to Job about the diverse behaviors and lifestyles of the creatures He has made (Job 38-41).  Though the ostrich is a bird, it is created to run like a horse at full gallop—ostriches do not migrate like flying geese.  Kangaroos bound effortlessly in great leaps, penguins ‘fly’ underwater propelled by ‘wings’ that are designed to serve as flippers that paddle water not air. 



It’s almost laughable how trite the creatures are which are invented by science fiction writers.  The ‘norm’ in sci-fi is something which has mutated into a savage gray-brown monster dripping with goo pursuing human victims across the silver screen.  Mutants are ‘easy’ to invent; but what is difficult to design is a new creature that is truly beautiful.  This is next to impossible because God has already filled every niche of creation with a nearly infinite variety of creatures—animals which fly, hop, slither, waddle, leap, glide, walk on hundreds of legs, or travel by jet propulsion (squid). 



The original systems, plants and animals, and relationships in our world are purely the thought of God.  The Creator has given us the concepts; the categories; and the first principles.  It is these which we work with in the aesthetic realm. God has set the standard of beauty—it is not evolving because He has provided, and immutably set, the categories for reality. 



When an artist is engaged in creative expression; he can be overwhelmed by the sheer potential number of possible arrangements.  But it is the things which God has created that are brought together in creative combinations.  Consider the infinite wisdom which is demonstrated in the lovely meeting of form and function.



When an artist studies God’s creation; he is forced to reckon with the union of form and function.  We take the aforementioned animal behaviors for granted—often forgetting the infinite wisdom that went into their design.  But, as soon as the artist begins to draw a living creature which God has designed; he comes face to face with the connection between form and function (Carl Zimmerman, Christian Art—Cultivating a Biblical Worldview). 



The human hand is far more complicated than the human heart.  Why? Because the functions the hand performs are more complicated than the functions of the heart.  Art helps us understand more of God’s handiwork in creation because art makes us ‘see’ in new ways—with greater depth of observation.  (EX. Examples of the union of form and function are everywhere in nature: an elephant’s trunk, a pinecone, a sea urchin, a hawk’s eye, a kelp forest, a tentacle, etc.)



Man as a creative spirit made in the image of God imitates God in his pursuit of form and function.  Art and imagination touch so many areas of our lives.  Nearly every modern convenience—every industrial/manufactured product you depend upon began as a drawing—as a piece of conceptual art—from the car you drive; to kitchen appliances; to your ipod; to your clothing; to your furniture you sit on and sleep on at home.



Untold billions of design dollars are spent by auto makers worldwide to find just the right combination of form and function.  We want a vehicle which performs well and is pleasing to look at.  Inventors and designers are always looking for a glorious blend of the two.



Along these same lines; think of how much historic architecture in Europe is based upon the arch.  The arch is beautiful; aesthetically pleasing—and yet it is one of the most efficient structures fulfilling the function load-bearing in a visually pleasing and economical fashion (minimum bricks for maximum load-bearing capacity).  Thus, form and function unite in the architecture of the great cathedrals of Europe.  I also think of the most famous bridges in America which are engineering masterpieces.  Suspension bridges are engineering marvels which also possess beauty.  The greatest beauty is where form and function meet most perfectly. 



The masterpiece of the human body is an engineering marvel.  Your face alone contains a number of highly efficient organs needed for your survival—sense of smell, taste, sight; facial expressions, speech, taking in food, drink, oxygen, listening.  In addition, your face is unique from all other humans—it is part of your identity.  The organs on your face perform so many utilitarian functions; yet your spouse regards your face as beautiful or handsome and desires to kiss you.



As the image of God, man shares with God the characteristics not only of rationality and morality; but also the desire and ability to make things.  “The image of the creative God in people is why people create” (Leland Ryken). 



Abraham Kuyper said the following, “As image bearers of God, man possesses the possibility both to create something beautiful, and to delight in it. . . . The world of sounds, the world of forms, the world of tints, and the world of poetic ideas, can have no other source than God; and it is our privilege as bearers of His image, to have a perception of this beautiful world, artistically to reproduce, and humanly to enjoy it.”



Beautiful art communicates truth because it says that if God made it—it is worthy of being depicted in art and talked about (Francis Schaeffer).  God as Creator has filled His creation with subjects that are not immediately religious (galaxies, forests, birds, whales, mountains, and brooks). 



 Therefore, art within the Christian worldview is not always identifiable as ‘religious’ (that is not containing symbols and themes that are immediately recognizable as religious).  Christianity is not just salvation—it is total truth which concerns the world in its totality and the cosmos itself.  Man’s emotions, body, values, and surroundings are therefore important subjects in God’s world because the individual is made in the image of God and possesses an immortal soul.  In a word, the individual counts (Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible).



By contrast in much of modern art man is but an abstraction; a symbol void of divinely bestowed dignity.  Contemporary art tends toward nihilism—man is flattened out into an abstraction without purpose and significance—he is frequently pictured as adrift in a meaningless world ruled by chance instead of placed in a purposeful world ruled by an all-wise and infinitely good Creator.    


The Artist’s Creative Process underscores the fact that he is made in the Image of God



Man as the image of God is ‘creatively receptive’ of God’s truth and beauty. By ‘creatively receptive’ means that man is designed by God to receive divine revelation.  In art creative receptivity manifests itself in countless combinations. When an artist incorporates a tulip motif into a stained glass window; he is being creatively receptive.  In other words, he is taking what God has made and using it creatively. 



Examples abound.  Even in interior decoration designers bring in beautiful specimens of stone, wood, coral and plant life—weaving them and integrating them into the décor of the home.     



We show our creativity by using what God has made in aesthetically pleasing ways; it is part of our stewardship.  We see this in the design of musical instruments—yet another example of a manmade union of form and function (trumpet, violin, and kettle drum are made of different materials given to us by God).



God gives a wonderful example to mankind of creative receptivity when He gives the ‘blueprint’ for the tabernacle in the book of Exodus.  Instead of a structure of sanitary white; He employs bells, flowers, precious stones, sculptures, symbols, angles, animal likenesses, color tapestries, sweet fragrant incense and anointing oils. 



Instead of commanding the construction of a tabernacle that is solely raw utilitarian; it is filled with aesthetics.  In essence, He is guiding man in the process ofcreative receptivity; He is setting an example of constructing something that is creatively receptive.  Craftsmen are selected to work in gems, hardwood, textiles, metallurgy, and gold leaf.  The end result was that the sacred tent (and it accoutrements) was for glory and for beauty (Ex 25:33-36; 28:2, 40; 39:24).    



‘Creative receptivity’ extends not only to the arts; but also to the sciences and related disciplines.  Creative receptivity belongs under the broader heading of common grace; for God’s benevolence allows man to research and investigate all the categories of knowledge He has given.  Through human labor, men compose, investigate, design, and synthesize.  Their resultant contributions to science, medicine, industry, and engineering allow us to better fulfill the dominion mandate (Gen 1:28; Ps 8).  In addition, through the discoveries made in these disciplines—the suffering born of the curse is relieved (diseases are prevented and cured; housing conforms to safety standards; etc.). But we must add that common grace is an expression of God’s present long suffering; divine judgment is coming (Rom 2:1-11); only the redemption that is in Christ Jesus will ultimately reverse the curse.



Whether in the visual arts, drama, or literature; the creative process utilizes the ‘symbolic vocabulary’ of God’s world.  By ‘symbolic vocabulary’ is meant that all that it is around us belongs to God’s world.  The world in its unfallen state was the unblemished thought of God.  When artists and writers express themselves creatively, they are employing the ‘symbols’ which exist in the real world (Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible).



All effective communication depends upon the use of these symbols (home, family, mother, father, tree, cow, friendship, mealtime, sleep, work, dress, stars, emotions, etc.).  Without the use of symbols; we cannot know what the artist is saying.



“Abstract art” may contain color and design; but without symbols it remains in the category of ‘non-representational’.  It misses an entire dimension—it has an undefined relationship with the viewer.  It is alienated from the viewer so to speak—it does not connect so as to communicate.



In great art there are symbols employed which immediately register as recognizable to the eye of the viewer.  When I first began to sell and create art worthy of purchasing; I felt a little intimidated by great photography—as if I were in competition with the camera.



But the more I studied the great masters (like Corot and Sargeant) the more convinced I became that a painting is offering something far different than a photograph. 



True art gives us something that pure objectivity (like the camera), cannot give us--art gives us the human response—the soul’s response to life.  One of Robert Frost’s most memorable poems is titled, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”  A photo could not possibly say what Robert Frost does in just a few lines of the English language. He expresses emotion—the soul’s response to snowfall in the woods.  And we are grateful—willing to pay for his poem.  In Frost’s poem he communicated what has impressed his spirit.  He gave us a window into the human soul. We are grateful he put into words what he felt at the time. 



 Great art does something similar.  The artist controls the treatment of the subject he is painting—whether it is a picnic, a sunset, a baby, or a civil war battle.  The painter seeks to communicate what he feels about the subject.  He uses color, design, lighting, composition, and gesture in order to tell a story. 



Beautiful art not only demonstrates the principles of draftsmanship and aesthetics; it also communicates the artist’s uniqueness and personality—and most of all, the artist’s convictions about his subject.   



Therefore 10 great artists would paint the same subject in 10 different ways.  This can be frustrating to people who like precise rules—for there is an immense amount of room for individual interpretation. In fact in great art the uniqueness of the individual painter—with his own interpretation of his subject—permeates his work.



An artist brings to the creative process his own passion, convictions, experience, and understanding of his subject.  These factors separate fine art from other forms of two dimensional representational art such as illustration, commercial art, and industrial photography. 



When you buy a piece of really great art you are getting the ‘soul’s work’ of that man or woman who painted the piece.  Through modern laser technology we could cut a marble statue of a man that was more anatomically faithful than Michelangelo’s ‘David’; but as a piece of art it would be ‘soul-less’.



The artist’s ‘toolbox’ does not just contain paint and brushes—he brings curiosity, a sense of wonder, experimentation, expectation of discovery.  He also brings a willingness to wrestle and grapple with the problem—until he finds a satisfying solution—ultimately he seeks a way of portraying the symbols so that what he wants to say will be understood by the viewer.  He wants to impress the viewer with what has impressed his own soul.



In William Turner’s “Shipwreck of the Minotaur,” the viewer is made to feel the devastating power of the sea as it overwhelms the little craft which float upon it. A slanted horizon duplicates the pitching feeling of being tossed by the waves. Turner wants the view to reach for Dramamine (a drug to prevent sea-sickness) as we view the scene.



Turner is giving us an experience—through his creative receptivity he combines a monstrous raging sea with sky, and little boats with hopeless men.  Through these symbols in our world he effectively communicates a mood of fear, panic, and despair, as well as a pervading sense of the smallness of man (emotions common in our fallen world in which God often sends his temporal judgments).


The Presuppositions behind ‘Evil Art’



Art forms add strength to the worldview which ‘shows through’, no matter what that worldview is—or whether the worldview is true or false (Schaeffer).  ‘Evil art’ is Francis Schaeffer’s term.  And even as an artist; I don’t believe that it is unfair to use this designation when referring to art which presents a life view hostile to biblical worldview.



The presuppositions of the Enlightenment which fed into the thinking of the French Revolution—sought to throw off the moral truths of God’s Word.  The Bohemian ‘freedom’ concept promulgated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau lauded the idea of the autonomous man who lived above reason and the moral government of God (Schaeffer, Art and the Bible). 



The lie that man can ‘be free’ by throwing off God’s Word permeates the cultural arts today.  In nihilistic art, man is ‘junk’—he is nothing but a biological machine without freedom, dignity, or purpose. 



In the paintings of Francis Bacon (20th C.) the brokenness of man is depicted in the artist’s very intentional painting style which uses gore and deformity to communicate the human condition.  “Bacon painted half-truths. He presented deterioration and hopeless despair, but he did not present mans’ honor and dignity” (Solomon and Williams, Art and the Christian).  



Picasso’s cubism is also a statement about the human condition.  Many of his works capture the fractured nature of modern man (note the use of cubism in Picasso’s, “Demoiselles d’ Avignon,” 1907; the ‘brokenness’ of the prostitutes fits the use of cubism).



I recently attended a ‘concert’ by two Cal Arts college students.  They employed a damaged radio from which emitted squawks and bursts of static—as well as a poorly tuned cello that was strummed like a guitar.  This cacophony was accompanied by hammering on a five-gallon jug.  It was clear that their worldview was showing through.  When I asked them about their life view; I wasn’t surprised to find that they believed in a chance universe.  By their ‘music’ they expressed their chaotic view of the universe. 



The three great themes of redemptive history—Creation; Fall; and Redemption are inseparable from ‘truthfulness’ in art.   The ‘minor theme’ in biblical worldview is that men have revolted from God—and as a result, evil, death, and decay are reigning.  The ‘major theme’ in Christian worldview is that life is not absurd; but meaningful.  God has created us in His image—true morals exist.  God’s own character forms the law of the universe. 



The Creator’s relation to the universe is the essence of created reality. Death, suffering, and injustice exist only because man has rejected God and thrown off His moral government (Schaeffer).



God in His infinite love and wisdom provides the solution to the sinner’s dilemma.  Through Christ’s death and resurrection sinners who repent and place their trust in Christ are redeemed from sin and death.



As mentioned above, there is legitimacy to the ‘minor theme’ of biblical worldview—that is the lost-ness of man and the abnormality of the universe in its present state.  But, to major in the minor theme alone is unbiblical and untruthful (ibid.).



Majoring in the ‘minor theme’ is the content of so much of contemporary art. Modern art galleries feature art pieces which major in man’s lostness, depravity, inhumanness, and brokenness.  When the ‘minor theme’ is turned into the major theme; pessimism reigns; and is treated as ultimate reality.  Granted, the sinful human condition captures a ‘shard’ of reality; but misses the major theme entirely.  Life is indeed absurd apart from Christ—nihilism, pessimism, and hopelessness dominate life without Christ.   ‘Evil art’ is man seeking to make sense of the world without Christ.   



Modern sinners prefer the ‘absurdity perspective’ of life in order to free up their lusts and justify their apostasy from God.   The knowledge of God is the onlyrationality.  Man made in the image of God cannot make his own new rationality.       



Sinners suppress the knowledge of God and commit idolatry in the process (Rom 1l:18-23).  They worship and serve the creature and the creation instead of God. Everything that man turns to in place of God can be designated a false integration point (Schaeffer’s synonym for an idol, True Spirituality).     



Man was created as a complex unity—he was designed to find wholeness and unity in the worship of his Creator.  Idols fragment that unity.  They are false integration points.  Therefore in ‘evil art’ we see false solutions to man’s dilemma. Examples include the flowery romanticism of nature worship as well as sexual eroticism, humanism, utopianism, Marxism, etc.



Leland Ryken makes the following observation, “Human depravity and evil are one of the leading subjects of art.  The fallen nature of people makes it possible for the arts to express falsehood and to have an immoral effect on an audience” (Leland RykenCulture in Christian Perspective, quoted in “Lost Arts” by TamelaBaker, Moody Monthly Magazine, June, 1995). 



Artists who ‘normalize’ immorality in their art are responsible for their willful rejection of divine revelation.  An artist may seek to justify depicting pessimism or sexual eroticism in a painting by using the following explanation, “I am only painting reality; I am a creative unbiased observer.”


Man as the image of God—was made by His Creator to be creatively receptive—but this is a ‘moral universe’ because its Creator, Upholder, and Ruler is holy. God’s good gifts—the overflowing bounty of His generosity—more often than not are set within a moral context.



Work, food, resources, sexuality, relationships, and ownership are all gifts of God which have a moral context.  Francis Schaeffer drives this point home when he describes human evil as the perversion of virtue.  In other words, the misuse of God’s good gifts—their removal from the moral context in which they are given results in selfish ambition, coveting, sexual immorality, idolatry, violence, and greed.



Art based upon the worldview of secular humanism sends the message that life’s joys and pleasures are ours for the taking—and not a sacred trust with a moral context set by the divine Giver.



Paul tells us in Romans one that the worship of nature is a ‘default’ response to the willful loss of the knowledge of God.  When nature is yanked from its biblical context of revealing the glory of God (as well as man’s stewardship of the created order)—nature can become an idol.  Paul tells us in Romans one that the worship of nature is a ‘default’ response to the willful loss of the knowledge of God. 



One might accurately say that man’s depraved nature is ‘hard-wired’ to nature worship.  Certainly in the history of paganism we see that the arts played a central role in perpetuating myths, legends and rituals, and in providing imagery for the worship of demonic ‘deities’.  ‘Neo-paganism’ (the new paganism of the 21stC.) is rapidly taking us back to a worldview of pantheism and nature worship. 



Scripture does not forbid making representational art, but Scripture forbids the worship of images.  “You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God” (Lev 26:1; Ex 20:4-5). 



Recently I visited the De Young Art Museum in San Francisco.  As I walked through rooms of beautiful paintings; I entered another immense room of primitive carvings and scowling masks.  My daughter was uncomfortable in the room; for there were decorated human skulls and cases full of items used in sorcery. 



The De Young Museum was displaying these primitive pieces from Oceania (islands of the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand) as art—just as legitimate as Renaissance art.  I quickly explained to my daughter that the worldview of the islanders was coming through in these creations—for they lived in a world of spiritual darkness filled with superstition, animism, evil spirits, and ancestor worship.  No wonder their art was ‘evil’—for it was communicating lies about the nature of reality.


Like Great Music and Literature; Excellent Art enriches our Lives—by bringing us Satisfaction and strengthening our Biblical Worldview.


We were made for the appreciation of beauty.  God placed Adam and Eve in a paradise with a myriad of sights, sounds, smells, and flavors.  Visually, the paradise contained everything necessary to satisfy the yearning for beauty and order (flowers, trees, animals, precious stones, springs of water).



The billions of dollars a year spent on flower gardens testify to man’s longing for the ordered beauty that was inherent in the original paradise.  Flowers are not normally used in our culture for their food value; but we recognize the universal appeal of their aesthetic value.  They cheer us; refresh us; lift our spirits.  The labor of gardening brings pleasure as one looks upon the order and productivity resulting from planting and cultivating.



When a Christian spends the day in an art gallery or an evening at a concert; he or she is engaged in a noble activity.  Says Ryken, “To be artistically creative, and to enter into the creativity of others, is to exercise the image of God within oneself” (Leland Ryken, quoted in “Lost Art,” by Tamela Baker).



Since we are made in God’s image that must include the glorious concept that we too are creative (Solomon and Williams, “Art and the Christian).   Adam was to cultivate and keep the garden (Gen 2:15).  God the Creator loves the beauty in His created world—Adam was invited to share in the creative process of bringing order to the creation. God has permitted humans to take the elements of His cosmos and create new arrangements with them [and the potential number of those arrangements must be nearly infinite].  Perhaps this explains the reason why creating anything is so fulfilling to us.  We can express a drive within us which allows us to do something all humans uniquely share with their Creator.  God has thus placed before the human race a banquet table rich with aesthetic delicacies. He has supplied the basic ingredients, inviting those made in His image to exercise their creative capacities to the fullest extent possible.  We are privileged as no other creatures to make and enjoy art (ibid.).


What Standards of Judgment for Actual Works of Art may be derived from the Christian Worldview?



Francis Schaeffer utilized the following categories of questions for evaluating a work of art: 1.) Does the work of art show technical excellence?  (Regardless of your ‘taste’ in subjects, does the work demonstrate technical excellence?)  2.) Does the work of art possess intellectual content and validity?  (Does the worldview come through in the piece; or is it banal, confusing, and/or mundane?)  3.) Does the piece of art demonstrate integration between content and vehicle of expression?  (In other words, is there a correlation between the style in which it is painted and the content of the painting?)    



Leland Ryken offers the following series of questions when considering a work of art:  1.) “Does it call my attention to something about either reality or modern culture that I need to know?”  2.) “What is the nature of the gulf between this particular work and my Christian values?”  3.) “Does my contact with this work have a negative effect upon my Christian beliefs or morals?”  4.) “Does my contact with this work make me more capable or less capable of being God’s person in the society in which He has placed me?” 

(Leland RykenCulture in Christian Perspective, is quoted in the article “Lost Arts,” by Tamela Baker).      


Jerry Solomon and Jimmy Williams draw their art evaluation questions from Philippians 4:8:  “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”



QUESTIONS:  1.) Truth: Does this work of art represent God’s truth?  Does life operate in this fashion in accordance with God’s revelation?   2.) Honor and dignity: Is the life of man presented as having dignity and honor; or only as despairing and hopeless?  3.) Right and pure: Is the subject of this work of art ‘pure’ and ‘right’ or is it sordid, degrading, worldly, and impure?  4.) Lovely:  Does the work of art contain aesthetic elements?  5.) Good repute: Does the lifestyle of the artist tarnish his work?  (None the less, because all mankind is made in the image of God; hedonistic artists are capable of admirable works of art.  5.) Excellence:Does the work of art demonstrate craftsmanship; does it possess technical mastery?  6.) Praise: Is the art a forceful vehicle of communication which supports the biblical worldview?  (Does it encourage a culture to lofty heights; or does it drag a culture toward ruin?  (Solomon and Williams, Art and the Christian). 


Art is not created in a ‘Worldview Vacuum’


The artist will ‘view’ life and depict life through his or her worldview.  When a person is optimistic about life without God; he will lose his or her freedom. Freedom is only found in God’s moral order—restored in Christ.  The wishful thinking of utopianism—found in so much of contemporary art—is not neutral.  It constitutes a overt hostility to freedom and dignity in Christ.


To live, and work, and create—as if one is NOT made in God’s moral image (and as if it is not a moral universe) is to be enslaved and corrupted in sin.  Sin is that which slays the life of God within man.  By sinning man further breaks the moral image of God—and further fragments the unity which comprises a human being (H.R. RookmaakerThe Creative Gift). 


Only by God’s redemptive revelation can man make sense of history.  Only by God’s revelation in His Word will man be able to reconcile man’s cruelty and nobility; man’s dignity and depravity; and man’s plight and purpose.  If Christians are to be a force in shaping culture, “they will have to come to grips with the culture in which they inevitably live and move and have their being.  They will have to know where to draw the line against becoming assimilated into a secular culture, lest they lose the quality of being separate. . .” (Ryken quoted by TamelaBaker, “Lost Arts”). 


“Jesus didn’t just grow spiritually.  He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).  To develop an appreciation f or the arts, we have to be exposed to them—with discretion.  The first step is to become informed” (Bob Clark, in Tamela Baker, ibid.).


“Artistic talent should not be hidden under a bushel.  It is a gift of God, to be cultivated for the service of God and our neighbor. . . We should never let our lives give credence to the critics’ charge that Christians are enemies of culture” (Charles Colson in Tamela Baker, ibid.).


The arts and sciences do have a place in the Christian life—they are not peripheral.  For the Christian. . . .living under the lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts.  A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God” (TamelaBaker in Ryken). 


The Christian understanding of aesthetics directly opposes the world’s conventional wisdom concerning beauty.


Biblical worldview suggests that what is beautiful is simultaneously the good, the true, and the real (Albert Mohler).


Plato recognized that the good, the beautiful, the true and the real are all essentially reducible to the same thing.  “If there is one good, then that good must also be true, which must also be the real, which also must be the beautiful.  So the good, the beautiful, the true, and the real—the four great transcendentals—are unified in the One.  For Plato, however, the One had no name” (Al MohlerA Christian Vision of Beauty, Part One, p. 2).


Augustine identified the One as the true and living God who is perfectly revealed in Christ.  Augustine took Plato’s speculations into the heart of the Gospel—suggesting that Christians understand that our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is altogether beautiful; for He alone is absolute good, truth, and reality. His creation is a reflection of His beauty, truth, and goodness.  As self-existent Creator of all (ex nihilo; out of nothing); He is the Source, the End, and the Judge of all that is good, beautiful, true, and real (ibid.).


Our Christian worldview ought to bring us to a greater awareness of the ‘transcendentals’ which are inseparable from beauty—namely that every question of beauty is joined to a moral context and a truth context.  When we affirm that these God-given transcendentals are an eternal constant; then we are required as believers to “see beauty as a matter of truth to which taste is accountable, rather than as a matter of taste to which beauty is accountable” (ibid.). 


It is precisely at this point (the unity of trancendentals) that biblical worldview is on a collision course with the world’s philosophy of beauty.  The world is eager to call something “beautiful” which is NOT good, or true, or (in many cases) real.  We as believers are called to be ‘salt and light’; therefore a substantial part of living out our Christian worldview is to keep these transcendentals joined (goodness, beauty, truth, and reality).  We violate Scripture and depart from Christian worldview if we “sever the good from the true, the true from the beautiful, the beautiful from the real, and the real from the good” (ibid.).


When we view history through the biblical lens of creation, fall, and redemption; we can quickly see what has gone wrong in the realm of beauty.  The original satanic lie in Eden yanked beauty and goodness from its moral context (the forbidden fruit was beautiful to look at, delicious to the taste; but deadly).  Since the Fall, we humans have willingly severed the unity which exists “between the good and the beautiful, between the true and the real, and between the beautiful and the true.  Why would we want to call something that is ugly ‘true’ [or ‘good’]?  . . . . [It] is a symptom of human sickness, and that sickness is sin” (ibid, p. 3). 


Since the beginning, Satan has sought to tempt by means of a false understanding of beauty.  By his lies the evil one separates beauty from truth and goodness—then draws into sin by offering evil as a greater allure than good.  “Thus the confusion over beauty is not merely an item of cultural consternation, nor is it merely a matter of theological debate.  It is a matter of redemption.  The only way out of our confusion is to know the Creator” (ibid.).  Only in Christ are we made ‘new creatures’ with the ‘mind of Christ’.  In Him alone redeemed sinners find the good, the beautiful, the true and the real—restored in unbroken unity.


The fallen world has an axe to grind.  Because the kingdom of darkness is make up of ‘truth suppressors’ (Rom 1:18-23); unbelievers suggest that beauty is a matter of taste; not truth.  By contrast, the believer affirms the unity of transcendentals, “we are required to see beauty fundamentally as a matter of truth to which taste is accountable, rather than as a matter of taste to which truth is accountable” (ibid, Part Two, p. 1). 


The Fall severed the unity of the good, the beautiful, the true, and the real—and we were plunged into confusion and rebellion.  Having chosen estrangement from God; we took our ‘worshipping capacity’ and aimed it toward the creature and the creation (Rom 1:25).  “We began to look at the human creature as beautiful in and of himself [and herself] rather than beautiful because he or she is made in the image of God.  Thus we adopt and bring into the very center of our hearts a corrupted understanding of beauty that bears more signs of the Fall than of common grace which allows us—even as fallen creatures to see this beauty [Ps 19]” (ibid, p. 2).


The world’s seductive definition of beauty has a dehumanizing effect upon those who believe it.  Al Mohler provides us with a convicting example of severedtranscendentals when he cites an example of the world’s standard of beauty.  A fashion magazine cover girl is ‘beautiful’ when compared to the face of a child with Down’s syndrome.  But the fashion magazine has offered us something that is less than real.  Through make-up, lighting, and digital air-brushing; we are presented with a woman who is less than real.  The ‘perfect’ face of the model on the fashion magazine answers our desire for ‘prettiness’ but not beauty.  Beauty involves the unity of the good, the true, and the real.  When these are in unity; they call us “to look below the surface and to understand that the ontological reality of every human being is that we are made in the image of God.  The imago Dei is the beauty in each of us, and the rest is but cosmetic irrelevance” (ibid., Part Three, p. 1).


Media-driven concepts of prettiness bid us to gaze into society’s mirror for our concept of attractiveness; rather than gazing into our neighbor and seeing the image of God in them.  Christian worldview explains why the Fall has produced cultural standards which “tend to dehumanize our fellow human beings.  We delude ourselves into thinking that attractiveness means beauty. . . . [W]e lie with the attractiveness we portray on the newsstands, on the television, in Hollywood, or in the mirror. . . The whole category of pornography is one big mutual co-conspiracy to deny the beautiful in favor of a perverted ideal of attractiveness.  The real is denied, because given the insatiable desire of the sinner toward erotic attractiveness, the real no longer suffices” (ibid., pp. 1-2).  


The restored union of transcendentals, which the Gospel alone can bring, is the destiny of the cosmos.  In speaking of the beauty as an evangelistic category, Dostoevsky put it this way in The Brothers Karamazov, “’Beauty is the battlefield where God and Satan contend with each other for the hearts of men.’ . . .[T]he evil one tempts with prettiness, and lies about beauty, and corrupts the good, the beautiful, the true, and the real, sundering them from each other and celebrating confusion. . . Evangelism then is a matter of restoring unity of the transcendentals. . . [That unity] can only be put back together again by the One who created the world, and thus redeems” (ibid., p. 3). 


Says Mohler, “Beauty for us is an evangelistic mandate, a missiological purpose. We are the people who know what beauty is. . . we have seen it in a foretaste, and we have been promised it in an assured promise.  In this life we live amidst the pretty, the corrupt, and the artificial.  We live among those who do not believe beauty exists, and among those who think beauty can be manufactured.  In such a context, we are the ones who have to say we know beauty, and it is none other than Jesus Christ the Lord” (ibid., p. 3-4).   


When He returns; the reconciliation He accomplished at the cross will be consummated.  He will ultimately make a new heavens and a new earth “in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:14).  “[I]t was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself. . .” (Col 1:19-20a). 


Discussion Questions:

  1. What do we mean by “God is the Master Artist?”
  2. Define the concept “Creative Receptivity” in relation to art.
  3. What is the connection between beauty and the joining of form and function?
  4. Why does Francis Schaeffer use the term ‘evil art’ when speaking about certain art pieces?
  5. Explain the phrase, “’Creation, Fall, and Redemption’ are inseparable from truthfulness in art.”
  6. Why does excellent art enrich our lives?
  7. What are some standards of judgment Christians ought to use when judging a particular piece of art?
  8. Explain the phrase, “Art is not created in a worldview vacuum.”
  9. When Satan tempted Eve, how did his lie separate goodness, beauty, and truth?
  10. What are some of the elements of the world’s philosophy of beauty and how does that philosophy produce damage, de-humanization, and enslavement?


Biblical Cosmology and the Christian Response to Neo-paganism

Our text is Romans 1:18-28.  Romans is the book of God’s courtroom.  It is the book of wrath revealed and righteousness revealed.  And the word ‘revealed’ is crucial—it means that if God hadn’t revealed it, you never would have figured it out on your own.  So it is wrath revealed and righteousness revealed.  Romans one tells us why sexual politics ground zero in the culture war that is raging between biblical Christianity and secular humanism.


Regarding our sermon title, cosmology is that branch of philosophy which deals with the origin and structure of the universe.  At the heart of biblical cosmology is the Creator-creature distinction.  Biblical cosmology includes the creation of male and female as the image of God (with the sub-themes of the dominion mandate; and biblical anthropology). 


Central to biblical cosmology is that God is Creator and ‘Definer’ of what He has made. As Creator He gives designations, definitions, categories and relations of what He has made.[i]  God’s defining role over His creation has established the creation structures of male and female and marriage and family.  These creation structures are foundational and ontologically real—they are at the core of your being (which is why social contract theory, sexual perversion, and abortion constitute a radical overturning of biblical cosmology).[ii] 


The absolute truth of cosmology is essential in interpreting the universe.[iii]  God’s relation to the creation is the ordering principle of the universe and of reality.  Because God is the sustainer and definer of all that He has made; there is no such thing as a reality greater than God—or a reality in which God is but a component (note this error in deism and pantheism).


Thus, biblical cosmology is the sole vantage point ‘high enough’ to provide the foundation for a unified cohesive worldview (the alternate is pluralism, diversity, and hopelessly fragmented knowledge).  Cosmology alone provides a wide angle lens broad enough to see man’s place in the universe.  Biblical cosmology is a totally unified ordering principle—without it, worldview has no foundation. 


Consequently biblical cosmology is the foundation of the gospel—for the gospel only makes sense in a world in which our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is Creator, Owner, Upholder, Lawmaker, Ruler, Redeemer, and Judge.   The gospel has no point of contact in a world in which pagan cosmology has replaced biblical cosmology.  This is why there is an increasingly desperate need to define categories as God does—that He is Ruler, Sustainer, Owner of His creation—and that the designations and definitions He has made concerning His creation are absolutely essential for accurately interpreting reality.  


God has authoritatively set forth His ‘blueprint’ for His creation.  His blueprint, found in His Word, is not only our moral map; but also our ‘metaphysic.’  In other words, God’s relation to what He has made is our fixed point of reference which provides our understanding of the nature of reality (Ps 96).  Only by what God has said in His infallible Word do we know what is true, real, right and wrong.[iv]  


The Western world is undergoing a process of ‘paganization.’  Militant paganism has declared war on the church and the family.  As more and more Americans accept the humanist assumptions of society, the shift away from our Judeo-Christian roots will be reflected in government, business, law, education, religion, marriage, and family.


Like an immense wrecking ball, secular humanism has been moving through society for the better part of a century.  It has left destruction in its wake.  The ‘wrecking ball’ of naturalism has systematically broken down the boundaries set by God.  Philosophic naturalism (evolutionary theory) has so thoroughly permeated our culture—it has practically become our national worldview.  Students imbued with Darwinism find themselves metaphysically lost in a materialistic/chance universe without a fixed point of reference (75% of students are looking for the meaning of life).


The secularists have used the above philosophy of materialism to target the divine ‘blueprint’ given by God by which His creatures are to interpret the world, and order their lives and society.  Naturalism has been ‘shredding’ the divine blueprint.  Secularism views man as a biological machine and not the image of God.


Secular humanism’s assault has torn down God’s creation structures and it has left society craving a replacement.  Paganism offers itself as that new ordering principle. Naturalism’s denial of God’s creation structures has left an immense vacuum.  Paganism is proposing to put the world back together again (after postmodernity has deconstructed the world and emptied it of meaning).[v] 


Paganism is growing and thriving in the ‘seedbed’ left by secular humanism.  Paganism is rushing into the spiritual void left by secularism.  And, though paganism offers itself as a new comprehensive ordering principle; it still needs evolution in order to function (evolutionary theory is the pseudo-universal that drives paganism). 


Secularists want a ‘spiritual’ answer—but not from Christianity.  Paganism offers that spiritual answer.  In presenting its totalizing cosmology, paganism has gone to war against theism and the biblical truth of male and female as the image of God as standing in the way of its goal of global oneness.  In a sense, paganism is the ‘stepchild’ of secular humanism—it has germinated in the seedbed of secular humanism.       


This worldview ‘lens’ of paganism proposes a sweeping monistic vision—stressing the oneness of all things; the divinity of man and nature; and the goal of global harmony.  Paganism as a worldview presents a new view of the order of creation—a new way to view reality.   This is a patent denial of biblical cosmology.  It is a rejection of the Creator’s order.  The antithesis affirmed in Scripture demonstrates that paganism is not partly right—but is the very antithesis, or opposite of the truth.[vi] 


Biblical cosmology is expressed in the distinctions which God has made in creation.  We could say that God creates by ‘separating things’—heaven and earth; dry land and sea; animal and plant; day and night; good and evil; man and woman (Gen 1:4ff.).   


“Two-ness” is the very essence of biblical cosmology.  The creation structures formed by God are: male distinct from female; human distinct from animal; animal distinct from plant; etc.  These ‘binaries of two-ness’ constitute boundaries or divisions established by the Creator.  “These principles should not be seen and understood merely as primitive cosmology, but as stating a metaphysical principle and teaching a point that the universe has a moral base.”[vii]


In other words, there is a moral order built into the creation (there behaviors that are ‘against nature’).  “Human beings are only correctly understood in relationship to their Creator [and His moral government].”[viii]  As humans, our identity and purpose are inseparable from our designation as the very image of God.  Our rationality, worship, and morality are the direct expression of having been created in the image of God. 


Thus to be human is to be ‘mission-focused’—our identity as the image of God contains our ‘job description.’ We are to raise up God-fearing communities; we are to devote ourselves to marriage and family; we are to exercise the dominion mandate over the works of God’s hands.  Our identity and our calling as humans made in the image of God are inseparable.[ix] 


Paul begins the largest epistle on salvation (Romans) with an analysis of pagan thinking in a world that has lost biblical cosmology.  We need Paul’s analysis of the world because it is into this world that we must speak the Gospel. 


Paul tells us in Romans one that man’s rebellion (the same universal rebellion) is expressed in a three-fold way.  This rebellion is manifested in three areas:


CONCEPTUALLY (theology and the nature of God)


SPIRITUALLY (spirituality and the human response of worship)


BEHAVIOURLY (sexuality and the human response in corporeal behavior)




The first of these three expressions of rebellion leads to the next and so on.  In the realm of thought, suppression of the knowledge of God leads to sinful expression in the next area which is spirituality.  Spirituality then becomes the worship of the creation and the creature (nature) which leads to rebellion in the third area which is in behavior.  Wickedness is expressed in sexual immorality.[x] 


God’s response to man’s rebellion is wrath revealed.  God’s wrath revealed takes a very specific form.  God’s wrath is His righteous response to man’s wicked three “exchanges.” God’s wrath is expressed in three “givings over.”  Man exchanges in vv. 23, 25, 26.  God declares that He judges the three pagan exchanges by giving over in vv. 24, 26, 28.  They are given over in their minds, their spirits, and their bodies.


Paul’s use of definiteness (articular nouns) means that he has specificity in mind when he refers to the truth, the creature, the lie, the Creator.  Jesus said that when the devil speaks; he speaks “the” lie (Jn 8:44)—the lie spoken at the beginning in Eden.  Paul is speaking of the original lie manifesting itself in subsequent forms in human history.  Therefore Paul is referring to a specific denial of the truth when sinners suppress the truth of the knowledge of God. 


Paul’s focused language (with definite articles) narrows the religious options in the world to two possibilities: one either serves the truth or the lie.  In order to believe the truth, one must believe in God’s eternal power (His eternality), God’s divine nature (His utter transcendence—the fact that He is immortal and invisible—He is altogether ‘other’ and cannot be equated with anything in the creation—1 Timothy 1:17).  God is preexistent to matter.  The doctrine of creation ex nihilo is unknown in all other documents in the ancient world.[xi]


It is vital that we know this in our pluralistic society.  What appears to be countless spiritual options in the world with its syncretism, pluralism, diversity, and relativism, is really only two ways of being spiritual.  Our kids are hearing that there are hundreds of ways to be spiritual.  (To not retain the knowledge of God in one’s thoughts is to commit intellectual idolatry.  A wrong concept of God elicits God’s wrath on the individual.)


The wrath of God is revealed against those who suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness (v. 18).  God’s judgment (His wrath revealed) has different expressions in different ages in human history.  In today’s postmodern world whose center lies in the autonomous self—the net ‘yield’ is a bitter harvest of emptiness and moral disorder—vain and futile thinking (this is serious bad news! God allows society to unravel.)


What our postmodern world celebrates—namely its rejection of all absolutes, and its assumed right to define all reality privately—is actually a sign of God’s wrath (1:22). The postmodern definition of personal freedom does not change the fact that humans inescapably make moral judgments all day long (2:12-16). 


Therefore, what is revealed about God in Romans One is NOT that we can find Him on our own terms, or in our own way, NO, what is revealed is that He is wrathful toward those who suppress His clear self-revelation given in both general revelation (creation), and special revelation (the Word) (1:18-21).  His wrath is revealed in giving sinners over to futile thinking and immoral living. God reveals Himself as just; the whole world accountable and guilty (3:19). 


The revelation of God’s wrath spoken of in this context is not speaking primarily of future wrath; but the present reality of wrath.  The present reality of God’s wrath means that God’s anger is expressed in giving sinners over to their lusts and to a depraved mind.  (EX. Like a house perched high on a crumbling cliff—as God’s wrath is revealed, the moral fabric of society is permitted to erode away—moral sense, meaning, law, and order gradually tumble

to the rocks below. Men receive ‘the due penalty,’ ‘foolish thinking,’ and ‘darkened hearts.’)


God holds men responsible for how they treat general revelation.  How a man treats general revelation (God’s testimony in creation) will show up in how he treats special revelation (God’s testimony in Scripture).  All men are immersed in a virtual ‘sea’ of divine revelation (Ps 19).  Because God has made it evident ‘in them’, and ‘to them’, they are ‘without excuse’ (or without any rational ordered defense for their behavior). 


What are the categories of religious knowledge possessed by every unbeliever? Every natural man knows that he is created by God; that God is good; and that God will judge him someday.  And he also knows that God’s invisible attributes; eternal power; and divine nature are clearly seen—being understood through what has been made (1:19-21). 


The theological content of THE LIE is as follows: eliminate the truth that God deserves to be worshipped in thankfulness; overturn God’s order in the cosmos (the order which reveals God’s nature); replace God with another divinity—worship and serve the creature and the creation.  The pagan’s preference for the lie is what makes him a fool (v. 22). 


The central pillar which supports the truth of theism is Creator-creature distinction.  Once the fundamental pillar and pedestal of the truth is removed and lie is believed; any folly is possible.  If you lose the initial biblical cosmology, you lose everything.  Biblical cosmology is the bedrock of Christian faith and theism (Ex 15:2; Jer 10:14; Ps 96; Acts 17:24-29). 


The nature of true worship is inseparable from the Creator-creature distinction.  The wrong order (denial of the Creator-creature distinction) results in pagan spirituality.  In pagan spirituality, the nature of worship is overturned—the creature and the creation are worshipped.  Man loses his glory and dignity in the process.  He exchanges his glory for shame (v. 23). 


Our innate glory is due to the fact that we are made in God’s image (Gen 1:26).  God’s created order for us is that we rule over the works of His hands (Ps 8).  Paganism strips man of the dignity of his creation identity (Gen 1:27; Deut 15:6; Is 32:1; Eph 1:21).  Pagan cosmology reduces man to sameness with an animal—he becomes subjected to the creation.  In refusing to submit to the Creator he submits to created things (in practice he is debased—he loses his creation identity when he will not worship God). 


This loss of dignity and creation identity is typified in Israel’s apostasy in the matter of the golden calf (Ps 106:12-20).  What is shocking today is that nature worship, which is regarded as progress by paganism, has always been condemned by God as self-destructive folly. 


Pagan spirituality is radically pantheistic.  It denies the transcendence of God when it asserts that the universe cannot be explained by anything outside of itself.  For paganism, the cosmos is self-emergent, self-sustaining, self-fulfilling, self-interpreting, self-determining.  Modern pagans, even in lab coats, are looking to the animal kingdom to justify human sexual perversion.  If you worship nature, you lose your human dignity and descend to the level of an animal (EX. Note the Norwegian museum exhibit of homosexuality in the animal kingdom.) 


Paganism’s stance on sexuality is certainly an expose of its system of thought.  The worship of creation will include the worship of sex (a continual media event in the West).  What a testimony of divine inspiration that Paul begins the book of Romans with an explanation of the pagan worldview that underlies homosexuality.  Paul ties homosexuality to a theological reason—the exchange of the truth for the lie and the worship of the creation (v. 25).   


Paul is giving us a theological reason for illicit perversion—it is the overturning of the truth about the nature of the world.  Overturn the truth about God’s created order and you overturn the notion of God (you lose biblical theism).  God has written the knowledge of His glory into the nature of the creation (vv. 19-20). 


The lie (v. 25) will work itself out in sexual immorality—and in particular homosexuality.  Homosexuality is an overturning of God’s created order.  The worship of nature is a very unnatural way of living.  Ancient Sodom changed the order of the woman’s nature (v. 26).  It should not surprise us that a return of paganism in the public arena should be accompanied by homosexuality (and the homosexual agenda). 


Neo-pagans talk about their homosexuality as spiritual.  The homosexual priest of paganism destroys created distinctions and joins opposites.  “Androgyny is the sacrament of monism” (June Singer, a Jungian psychologist). 


How grateful we are to Paul to show us the nature of paganism and its moral consequences.  Paganism and theism are two mutually exclusive cosmologies.  Biblical theism finds monism idolatrous.  The ‘one-ism’ of monism cannot abide in the dualism of theism.  


The two systems (or cosmologies) are mutually exclusive.  Homo-theology emphasizes that everything has the same substance—it brings all to sameness.  Let’s look again at the three categories Paul addresses—truth (theology), worship (spirituality), and behavior (sexuality).   


HOMO-THEOLOGY stresses that nature and the divine are identified with each other (no distinction).  HOMO-SPIRITUALITY worships nature and the self (narcissistic praise of self).  It seeks a ‘spiritual’ goal of removing differences.  HOMOSEXUALITY is the most ‘natural’ thing if the above is true—it is the preferred sexual expression of pagan worldview. 


Homosexuality follows paganism everywhere (note its advocacy on university campuses where paganism is taught).  The homosexual agenda affirms that we all benefit from the breakdown of gender binary (the breakdown ‘liberates’ from stereotypes, patriarchy, oppression of women, and discrimination,). The homosexual agenda seeks to change our culture by destroying the notion of the image of God as male and female.   


By contrast (antithesis) the “Two-ness” of theism explains so much in the Christian faith.  Two-ism protects the Creator-creature distinction; dignity; personhood; hierarchy; stewardship; rationality; ethics; meaningful history; revelation; mediation; resurrection; God’s love; prayer; praise; Christian experience.  Two-ness upholds the immutability of the creation structures: God and man, male and female, man and animal, animal and plant, good and evil.


The created distinctions intrinsic in biblical cosmology may be expressed as follows:  HETERO-COSMOLOGY celebrates the Creator-creature distinction.  HETERO-SPIRITUALITY celebrates the otherness and transcendence of God which makes possible true worship and intimacy.  Nature and the creation give praise; and do not receive praise.  HETERO-SEXUALITY is union with difference.  It symbolizes the relation of God and the world and a love relationship with another person different from us.[xii]   


“The goal of paganism is the conjunction of opposites” (Peter Jones).  Paganism is built upon the fundamental oneness of all things (monism).  Under the pagan worldview, all is divine, all shares the same substance.   Under paganism the ‘two-ness’ of biblical worldview is overturned.  It is viewed as false to make distinctions if all is the same.  Paganism seeks to achieve spirituality by removing the distinctions which God has made.  Global spirituality seeks to obliterate the antithesis which exists between the truths of theism and pagan worldview. 


Pagan spirituality seeks to erase the distinctions between God and man; between man and animal; and between man and woman.  Perversion is the inevitable result—the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans chapter one that the overturning of created order will result in unnatural ways of living (Rom 1:24-27). 


The worship and serving of nature is man’s ‘default response’ and consequence of setting aside the knowledge of God and His created order.  To remove the distinctions between God and us is ultimately the same as no distinctions. In essence, human depravity is ‘hard-wired’ to nature worship.  We are created to worship, therefore the denial of God does not remove man’s worshipping nature—man will worship some aspect of the creation by default.[xiii] 


The breaking down of the gender binary (male-female) is central to the whole new vision for society—a vision which intends to usher in a new moral order with new laws and ethics.  The deconstruction of male and female lays the groundwork for a new morality in which laws are made to ‘prevent discrimination against alternative lifestyles.’ The pagan worldview rejects the created order substituting pagan cosmology in its place.  The outcome is a new set of ethics which enforces homosexual politics.[xiv]  When God is removed from ethics, laws can become vices (note the current forms of legislation in sexual politics).               


In pagan spirituality, the male-female distinction is erased making homosexuality appear ‘natural’ within that worldview.  As pagan spirituality is applied everywhere, Christianity will increasingly be regarded as the adversary of progress.  Because of the male-female binary aspects central to biblical cosmology; Christianity is regarded as the single greatest threat to public acceptance of homosexuality.[xv] 


Paganism’s ‘free ride’ into our generation is proof that post-Christian Westerners have released their grip upon the transcendence of God (cosmology).  The resultant ‘spirituality,’ divorced from the transcendent God of Scripture, is rushing in like a flood.  Pagan spirituality needs a ‘blank’ god.  In the pagan concept of immanence, God is everywhere and everything so He becomes no one and nothing.  By contrast, real spirituality comes from real immanence—from Immanuel, ‘God with us’—solely in the incarnation and the work of the Spirit.[xvi] 


Christian college students are often ‘mute’ when it comes to engaging our culture.    

“One of the reasons the mouths of our college kids are often closed in their public witness is because they are intimidated by the politically correct, diversity-inclusivistic ideology of the academy. Students are ‘brainwashed’ into a survivalist mode of, ‘Can’t we just get along?’ with its implicit appeal to intolerant oneness.”[xvii] 


Our Christian students are in trouble because they cannot make the truth they believe ‘speak’ to this culture.[xviii]  They lack the training necessary to see the total relevance of God’s truth to all of life.  Liberal educators who have embraced the pagan cosmology have ‘framed the issues’ of the day within their pagan worldview.  As a consequence, Christian students are regularly intimidated by their professors.   As a result, Christian kids tend to keep their convictions private, or they blend with the world.  Unfortunately, the latter choice is the most common one; but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Through training in biblical worldview our young people can be equipped for effective Christian apologetics and evangelism. 


Regarding the need to equip our university students, Peter Jones says,


Christian college students for the most part are unable to mount a convincing critique of the erroneous worldviews on campus, and they are unable to give a theological defense of the Gospel.  You cannot take on the enemy of paganism that surrounds us if you ignore the categories that identify it—religious categories by which it must be forced to make its public case.  Understanding those categories will help Christians find their minds and voices.[xix]


Liberal educators (having embraced the pagan cosmology) have ‘framed the issues’ of the day within the categories of their pagan worldview.  Consequently, we are in a serious crisis of discourse.  The political left has told us that we cannot think outside their box—therefore they always win the argument.  What is needed is a more incisive way for Christians to talk about the issues.  Believers need clear categories.  They need to see through the lens of antithesis—that there are two totally antithetical systems (theism and paganism).  Both claim to be the truth about reality.  This approach is incredibly helpful to students.


What appears to be countless spiritual options in the world with its syncretism, pluralism, diversity, and relativism, is really on two ways of being spiritual.  Our kids are hearing that there are hundreds of ways to be spiritual.  But the lie beneath all false religious options is more unified than we have imagined.   There are only two religious options vying for hearts and minds.


Biblical cosmology plays a central role in equip our apologetic strategy. Biblical cosmology lets us as believers ‘frame the issues.’  God the ‘Definer’ gives us the correct categories to define our world and to engage our world.  The categories given by our Creator are necessary in order to deconstruct paganism.  Because students are weak ideologically and theologically; it is imperative that we, as Christian leaders, equip them to define categories as God does.  We must cast the battle as a collision between monism and theism; between biblical cosmology and pagan cosmology.[xx]


Romans one is the key—for in that chapter Paul tells us how the pagan world puts itself together.  Our college and high school kids need these categories in order to open closed mouths.  The purpose of studying paganism opens our understanding in how to do evangelism in the antithetical sense.  In defining the truth, we define the lie the world is presenting against the truth.  We use paganism to define the clear boundary outside of the truth (antithesis). 


The biblical approach has always been to compare (two) worldviews: biblical and pagan.  “. . .walk no longer as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind. . .” (Eph 4:17).  Don’t think and walk as the pagan thinks and walks.  Eschew the incoherent way that pagans think.                 


Biblical cosmology offers and preaches antithesis in a world of synthesis.  Only biblical cosmology is theologically robust enough to expose and oppose the march of neo-paganism.  If we are to check the advance of neo-paganism, the ‘cosmology bomb’ has to hit.  Our wedge point or fulcrum is cosmology.  It supports the lever by which we tip over the idols of pagan ideology which are seeking to capture our culture. 


Our job as Christian leaders is to provide students with the cosmological and theological categories necessary to enable them to stand against the prevailing errors of our day.   We are standing at a crossroads in church history.  We must ‘world-proof’ our kids to avoid sending them like lambs into the wolf packs which populate the academy.  Only by providing a full-orbed theology which puts antithesis into bold relief will we give them back their voice.[xxi]


Central to our strategy is to not only set up the contrast between pagan and biblical cosmology—but we must also show the consequences of each worldview.  The dire consequences of pagan worldview are catalogued by Paul in Romans chapter one.  Those who subscribe to pagan worldview are judged by God.  They experience three areas of being given over—they are: given over in their minds; given over in their spirits; given over in their bodies.[xxii] 


By contrast Christ as Lord of the cosmos and Lord of the Church is truth and life incarnate.  “. . . [He] abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim 1:10b).  He is sovereign over all knowledge—in His ‘epistemic lordship,’ Christ answers, and delivers from, by His own Person, every version of ‘the lie’ (Rom 1:25).  He reconciles to God.  Thus, at the center of Christian worldview is Christ the ‘Savior of the World.”[xxiii]



Our strategy in exposing and answering neo-paganism involves contextualizing our message—by this we mean that our proclamation of God’s truth is joined to a critical reflection upon our culture.  We seek to cast the battle as the fight between biblical and pagan cosmology. It is by means of God’s ordering principle (cosmology) that we may equip the saints to answer the paganism of the academy—we do so by proclaiming the biblical answer to monism. 


Christo-centric biblical theism operates by antithesis.  It penetrates the syncretistic world of inconsistent ideas and false spiritualities.  The cosmology of biblical worldview is the weapon capable of piercing and dismantling the fortifications of paganism which are raised up against the knowledge of God. 


We preach the glorious gospel against the black backdrop of the human condition.  Our culture sits under the settled anger of God’s wrath.  Human bondage to sin is complicated by darkened thinking.  In His wrath, God leaves men to a depraved mind, to absurd thinking and to moral disorder.  But wonder of wonders, God is not only revealing His wrath; He is revealing His righteousness.  In the gospel message we discover that God is making friends of His enemies.  He is freely giving His righteousness to former rebels.  He has given His Son and not withheld Him (8:32, paradoken—same Grk. word as ‘given over’ in Romans one).  And in the giving of His Son to die on Calvary’s cross, Christ Jesus has absorbed into His own Person the very wrath that sinners justly deserve. 


The gospel unfolds the altogether different love of God.  In redemption, God takes His own wrath on Himself.  He loves so much that He breaks down our sinful human hearts by His love and compassion.  He brings His righteousness near (Is 46:12-13).  He clothes us with His righteousness (Is 61:10). 



[i] Dave Doveton, “Paganism in the Church” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[ii] Jay Wegter, “Worldview, Apologetics, and Evangelism, BCW363A” (Newhall: The Master’s College, 2007).

[iii] Dave Doveton.

[iv] Jay Wegter, “Worldview.”

[v] Peter Jones, “Forms of Paganism” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Emil Brunner in Dave Doveton, “The Pagan Deconstruction of a Biblical Worldview,” p. 3.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Jeffrey Ventrella, “

[x] Peter Jones, “Framing the Issues; Finding our Voices” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[xi] Peter Jones

[xii] Peter Jones

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Dave Doveton, “Paganism in the Church.”

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Ted Hamilton, “How does the Gospel Preach in a Culture of Paganism” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[xvii] Peter Jones.

[xviii] John Stone, “On the Cause of Christian College Students being Mute” (Newhall: The Master’s College, 2007).

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] Peter Jones.

[xxi] Peter Jones.

[xxii] Ibid.

[xxiii] Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, The Saviour of the World (Cherry Hill: Mack Publishing Co., r.p. 1972).

Biblical Cosmology, Neo-Paganism, and the Gospel

Cosmology is that branch of philosophy which deals with the origin and structure of the universe.  At the heart of biblical cosmology is the Creator-creature distinction.  Biblical cosmology includes man as the image of God (with the sub-themes of male and female; the dominion mandate; and biblical anthropology). 


Central to biblical cosmology is that God is Creator and ‘Definer’ of what He has made.  God as Creator gives designations, definitions, categories and relations of what He has made.[i]  God’s defining role over His creation has established the creation structures of male and female and marriage and family.  These creation structures are foundational and ontologically real (which is why social contract theory and sexual perversion constitute a radical overturning of biblical cosmology).[ii]


The absolute truth of cosmology is essential in interpreting the universe.[iii]  God’s relation to the creation is the ordering principle of the universe and of reality.  Because God is the sustainer and definer of all that He has made; there is no such thing as a reality greater than God—or a reality in which God is but a component. Thus, biblical cosmology is the sole vantage point ‘high enough’ to provide the foundation for a unified cohesive worldview.  Cosmology alone provides a wide angle lens broad enough to see man’s place in the universe.  Biblical cosmology is a totally unified ordering principle—without it, worldview has no foundation. 


Consequently biblical cosmology is the foundation of the gospel—for the gospel only makes sense in a world in which our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is Creator, Owner, Upholder, Lawmaker, Redeemer, and Judge.   The gospel has no point of contact in a world in which pagan cosmology has replaced biblical cosmology.  This is why there is an increasingly desperate need to define categories as God does—that He is Ruler, Sustainer, Owner of His creation—and that the designations He has made concerning His creation are absolutely essential for accurately interpreting reality.   God has authoritatively set forth His ‘blueprint’ for His creation.  His blueprint, found in His Word, is not only our moral map; but also our ‘metaphysic’—our fixed point of reference which provides our understanding of the nature of reality.  Only by what God has said in His infallible Word do we know what is true, real, right and wrong.[iv]


The Western world is undergoing a process of ‘paganization’—the influence of the new paganism is impacting Christianity.  Militant paganism has declared war on the family.  As more and more Americans accept the assumptions of society, the shift away from our Judeo-Christian roots will be reflected in government, business, law, education, religion, marriage, and family.


Paganism is growing and thriving in the ‘seedbed’ left by secular humanism.  Like an immense wrecking ball, secular humanism has been moving through society for the better part of a century.  It has left destruction in its wake.  The ‘wrecking ball’ of naturalism has systematically broken down the boundaries set by God.  Philosophic naturalism (evolutionary theory) has so thoroughly permeated our culture—it has practically become our national worldview.  Students imbued with Darwinism find themselves metaphysically lost in a materialistic/chance universe without a fixed point of reference.  Paganism is rushing into the spiritual void left by secularism.  And, though paganism offers itself as a new comprehensive ordering principle; it still needs evolution in order to function. 


As more people assimilate neo-pagan assumptions about reality; they justify their syncretism with an appeal to modern science.  Having ‘shaken off faith,’ they claim that they have a view of reality grounded in science.  Yet their supposed grounding in science is nothing but anti-rationalism—it is scientism; not science.[v]   “When scientific method dominates so totally as to overstep legitimate boundaries [i.e. the empirical investigation of physical phenomenon] by making universal claims; it becomes a worldview—it becomes ‘scientism’ rather than science.”[vi] 


Scientism’s assumptions about the material nature of reality are the result of a leap of groundless faith.  A universe formed by chaos (in which the impersonal is considered prime reality) cannot produce the pre-conditions of knowledge—those conditions being: logic, morality, personhood, correspondence between one’s mind and the world, uniformity in nature, and science. 


Scripture proclaims God to be the only authoritative vantage point for all reality.  God structures all reality—He is the ultimate reference point for all reality.  God and His plan for His creation constitute ultimate reality.  Our rationality is grounded in His rationality.[vii]  Denial of the Creator-creature distinction constitutes a plunge into absurdity—for it is impossible for the creature to set up his own rationality in defiance of his Creator who is the source of all rationality.[viii]


The secularists have used the above philosophy of materialism to target the divine ‘blueprint’ given by God by which His creatures are to interpret the world, and order their lives and society.  Naturalism has been ‘shredding’ the divine blueprint. 


This new level of human rebellion is reminiscent of the Lord’s words through Jeremiah addressed to apostate Judah, “Do you not fear Me?  Declares the Lord.  Do you not tremble in My presence?  For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.  Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.  But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and departed” (Jer 5:22-23).


“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your soul.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jer 6:16).


Secular humanism’s assault has torn down God’s creation structure and it has left society craving a replacement.  Paganism offers itself as that new ordering principle. Naturalism’s denial of God’s creation structures has left an immense vacuum.  Paganism is proposing to put the world back together again (after postmodernity has deconstructed the world and emptied it of meaning).[ix] 


In that sense, paganism is the ‘stepchild’ of secular humanism—it has germinated in the seedbed of secular humanism.  Secularists want a ‘spiritual’ answer—but not from Christianity.  Paganism offers that spiritual answer.  In presenting its totalizing cosmology, paganism has gone to war against theism and the image of God as standing in the way of its goal of global oneness. 


Paganism as a worldview presents a new view of the order of creation—a new way to view reality.  This ‘lens’ of paganism proposes a sweeping monistic vision—stressing the oneness of all things; the divinity of man and nature; and the goal of global harmony.  This is a patent denial of biblical cosmology.  It is a rejection of the Creator’s order.  The antithesis affirmed in Scripture demonstrates that paganism is not partly right—but is the very antithesis, or opposite of the truth.[x] 


Biblical cosmology is expressed in the distinctions which God has made in creation.  We could say that God creates by ‘separating things’—heaven and earth; dry land and sea; animal and plant; day and night; good and evil; man and woman. 


“Two-ness” is the very essence of biblical cosmology.  The creation structures formed by God are: male distinct from female; human distinct from animal; animal distinct from plant; etc.  These ‘binaries of two-ness’ constitute boundaries or divisions established by the Creator.  “These principles should not be seen and understood merely as primitive cosmology, but as stating a metaphysical principle and teaching a point that the universe has a moral base.”[xi]


In other words, there is a moral order built into the creation.  “Human beings are only correctly understood in relationship to their Creator [and His moral government].”[xii]  As humans, our identity and purpose are inseparable from our designation as the very image of God.  Our rationality, worship, and morality are the direct expression of having been created in the image of God.  Thus to be human is to be ‘mission-focused’—we are to raise up God-fearing communities; we are to devote ourselves to marriage and family; we are to exercise the dominion mandate over the works of God’s hands.  Our identity and calling as humans made in the image of God are inseparable.[xiii] 


“The goal of paganism is the conjunction of opposites” (Peter Jones).  Paganism is built upon the fundamental oneness of all things (monism).  Under the pagan worldview, all is divine, all shares the same substance.  In modern pagan thinking, to give good and evil objective status is to NOT understand reality.  According to pagan spirituality, one is not enlightened if he or she still makes distinctions between good and evil—for good and evil are not regarded as absolute opposites.[xiv] 


Under paganism the ‘two-ness’ of biblical worldview is overturned.  It is viewed as false to make distinctions if all is the same.  Paganism seeks to achieve spirituality by removing the distinctions which God has made.  Pagan spirituality seeks to erase the distinctions between God and man; between man and animal; and between man and woman.  Perversion is the inevitable result—the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans chapter one that the overturning of created order will result in unnatural ways of living (Rom 1:24-27). 


The worship and serving of nature is man’s ‘default response’ and consequence of setting aside the knowledge of God and His created order.  To remove the distinctions between God and us is ultimately the same as no distinctions.[xv] 


The breaking down of the gender binary (male-female) is central to the whole new vision for society—a vision which intends to usher in a new moral order with new laws and ethics.  The deconstruction of male and female lays the groundwork for a new morality in which laws are made to ‘prevent discrimination against alternative lifestyles.’ The pagan worldview rejects the created order substituting pagan cosmology in its place.  The outcome is a new set of ethics which enforces homosexual politics.[xvi]      


In pagan spirituality, the male-female distinction is erased making homosexuality appear ‘natural’ within that worldview.  As pagan spirituality is applied everywhere, Christianity will increasingly be regarded as the adversary of progress.  Because of the male-female binary aspects central to biblical cosmology; Christianity is regarded as the single greatest threat to public acceptance of homosexuality.[xvii] 


Relativism has been eroding the antithesis view of truth—replacing it with the synthesis view.  As the Western world has lost the Creator-creature distinction so also it has increasingly been discarding antithesis (that truth and error are mutually exclusive).  It has bought into the synthesis concept of truth whenever it serves its purpose.  The synthesis approach merges opposing religious systems so that they are accommodated to each other.  One religious belief no longer ‘limits’ the other.[xviii] 


With synthesis ‘in’ and antithesis ‘out,’ crass pragmatism has become the over-arching value by which life choices are made.  People conduct their lives in a manner which could be designated, “ontologically egalitarian.”[xix]  In other words, by erasing the Creator-creature distinction; they place their own ideas above the Creator’s infallible revelation.  Having rejected biblical cosmology they are now ‘free’ to engage in self-worship.  Their own minds now occupy the precise place which Scripture reserves for God’s aseity (or, God’s own mind—as He is self-existent and self-contained.  The Word affirms that our knowledge depends on His knowledge).[xx]


The church has been napping amidst this drift away from antithesis.  In the recent past believers haven’t had to make a full cosmological response to the unbeliever’s objections; but now it is absolutely essential—for the cosmological base for the gospel is gone.  Nothing can be taken for granted anymore.  The Creator-creature distinction cannot be assumed in our dialog with the un-churched.[xxi]


We now live in a world in which religious truth and error are no longer mutually exclusive—they are just different ideas or ‘tastes’ with no one ‘view’ constituting absolute truth.  Pastor Tim Keller comments on this phenomenon:  “The Western world now is a mission field never faced before—it is ‘ex-Christian.’  It has been inoculated; but retains only a distorted memory of Christianity; a memory of Christianity as the age of prejudice.  With the memory of prejudice comes the commonly held notion that Christianity cannot be credible because there cannot be one true religion to the exclusion of all others.”[xxii]


Concerning the loss of categories, consider the following assessment of the spiritual state of our culture from a college pastor who heads up a large ministry on the campus of a secular university in Southern California: 


Students steeped in postmodernism have given up trying to answer ‘ultimate questions’.  We are finding more and more in our evangelistic efforts that we are talking past unsaved students.  In other words, when we try to share the Gospel on campus, we are discovering that the foundations for understanding reality are absent.  Postmodernism has given students a view of reality so steeped in relativism that God is inconsequential—outside of reality if you will. In addition, philosophic naturalism, like a corrosive acid, has been gradually eroding away confidence in the reliability of the Bible.


The traditional view of truth—that truth and error are mutually exclusive, is disappearing.  Pastor Hal Farnsworth notes that today’s younger ‘emergent’ Evangelicals are leaving behind antithesis.  They are abandoning the boundaries between truth and error and gravitating toward synthesis.  They are embracing a ‘realized pluralism.’  Having imbibed postmodernism into their thinking; they lack discernment; therefore they are easily drawn into a synthesis view of truth.  They have discarded the very absolutes they need for growth—namely commitment to a position which demonstrates the elimination of false options and the love of the truth.[xxiii]


Older church members are not faring much better.  The majority of believers have never had any serious biblical theology.  This makes them highly vulnerable in a world fraught with the new ordering principle of paganism.  Professed believers without a theological foundation lack the categories necessary to guard critical thinking.  As a consequence they are apt to assimilate the world’s philosophies—often without knowing they have done so.   


Without a theological foundation believers are left with disconnected categories.  Thus apart from biblical cosmology (which under girds coherent biblical worldview) there will be no holistic vantage point—we will not be able to clearly see God, ourselves, our world, and our place in the world.  In a word, we will not be able to recognize, nor hold back, the syncretism which is opening the door to the paganization of the church.[xxiv] 


It is more and more common today to find professed believers who do not view unified Christian truth as absolutely essential in interpreting the universe.  There is a growing phenomenon known as the ‘syncretistic Christian’—a professed believer who possesses both biblical and pagan categories.  This is indeed disturbing because it shows that these professed Christians have no grasp on the totalizing worldview of biblical cosmology.  Hence, there is a huge need to recover the doctrine of creation.  Believers do not see the relevance of cosmology to coherent worldview; but they desperately need to see it![xxv]


Christians have too easily conceded immense areas of culture because they do not see God over all.  Their compartmentalized Christianity will necessarily manifest itself in compartmentalized convictions.[xxvi]  Certainly this ‘disconnect’ born of fragmented knowledge weakens the entire Christian life.  Without a coherent worldview, truth and life become divided and ethical consequences follow in one’s behavior.  Many of the Christian college students I disciple illustrate this problem of ‘disconnect’—they see only a vague link between what they believe and how they should live.  A set of disconnected categories also shows up in ineffective evangelism. 


Christian college students are often ‘mute’ when it comes to engaging our culture.    

“One of the reasons the mouths of our college kids are often closed in their public witness is because they are intimidated by the politically correct, diversity-inclusivistic ideology of the academy. Students are ‘brainwashed’ into a survivalist mode of, ‘Can’t we just get along?’ with its implicit appeal to intolerant oneness.”[xxvii]


Regarding our believing university students, Peter Jones goes on to say,


Christian college students for the most part are unable to mount a convincing critique of the erroneous worldviews on campus, and they are unable to give a theological defense of the Gospel.  You cannot take on the enemy of paganism that surrounds us if you ignore the categories that identify it—religious categories by which it must be forced to make its public case.  Understanding those categories will help Christians find their minds and voices.[xxviii]


Our Christian students are in trouble because they cannot make the truth they believe ‘speak’ to this culture.[xxix]  They lack the training necessary to see the total relevance of God’s truth to all of life.  As a consequence, they either keep their convictions private, or blend with the world.  Unfortunately, the latter choice is the most common one; but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Through training in biblical worldview our young people can be equipped for effective Christian apologetics and evangelism. 


Unlike evangelism in the recent past; our struggle now involves a ‘worldview clash.’  The unbeliever’s faulty worldview must ‘collide’ with the timeless truth of God’s Word so that the unbeliever sees where he opposes God.  It is only the Word of God that is capable of deconstructing the unbeliever’s faulty worldview.  This ‘clash’ between worldviews is necessary because in today’s world, knowledge has been privatized into personal opinions without absolute truth.  And, without truth claims there can be no objective sin or evil—one is left with a domesticated God who does not judge, govern, or redeem.[xxx] 


Recently I spoke with college students in Los Angeles County regarding the shootings which took place on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic.  Not a single student we spoke with was willing to identify the shooter’s actions as ‘evil’ or ‘wicked.’  This refusal to identify objective evil is now endemic to our culture—a culture which has accepted moral relativism as ‘reality.’ In addition, all of the students interviewed by myself and another university pastor at two Michigan universities said that morals are not fixed or absolute; but are constantly evolving.  This unwillingness among students to identify objective evil goes hand in hand with the moral relativism and synthesis view of truth that makes room for paganism.


The philosophical ‘climate’ on college campuses literally ‘stacks the deck’ against biblical Christianity.  D. A Carson makes the following observation: “The pressure exerted by philosophical pluralism is so great that to press for an exclusive truth claim is to be regarded as a bigot.  The postmodern world is relativized so totally that one is no longer allowed to say somebody else is wrong without sounding like a hypocrite.”[xxxi] 


Author Christian Smith notes that, “The very idea of religious truth is attenuated, shifted from older realist and universalist notions of convictions of objective Truth to more personalized and relative versions of ‘truth for me’ and ‘truth for you.’”  Smith comments, “We often hear youth proclaim, ‘Who am I to judge?’ ‘If that’s what they choose, whatever,’ ‘Each person decides for himself’ and ‘If it works for them, fine.’”[xxxii]         


Again Sean McDowell observes, “Rather than holding to the traditional definition of truth as correspondence to reality, youth today seem to have adopted a pragmatic approach to truth. In other words, many youth see truth as what ‘works’ in their lives, rather than a belief that accurately reflects the world. A recent Newsweek article put it this way: ‘Even more than their baby-boomer parents, teenagers often pick and choose what works for them...’”[xxxiii]


David Wells notes that the correspondence view of truth is rapidly disappearing.  The correspondence view of truth holds that statements about reality that are true reflect and correspond to what is there.  In other words, for a statement to be true—it means that there is no external reality that nullifies the statement.  In a true statement, the words correspond to what is there.  Postmodernism casts away any hope of the correspondence view of truth.  Consider how this stands in stark contrast with God’s revelation which sets up an antithesis with all that is untrue. God’s holiness sets up a contrast with all error and all evil.[xxxiv]


Biblical cosmology plays a central role in our apologetic strategy.  God the ‘Definer’ gives us the correct categories to define our world and to engage our world.  The categories given by our Creator are necessary in order to deconstruct paganism.  Because students are weak ideologically and theologically; it is imperative that we, as Christian leaders, equip them to define categories as God does.  We must cast the battle as a collision between monism and theism; between biblical cosmology and pagan cosmology.[xxxv] 


Paul begins his epistle to the Romans with an analysis of pagan thinking.  This is intensely relevant in our own world which has lost its biblical cosmology.  We must understand the world into which we are called to speak the gospel.[xxxvi]


James Herrick highlights the role of cosmology in our Christian apologetic, “We must revive Christian cosmology in all its comprehensiveness.”[xxxvii]  That ‘comprehensiveness’ includes the Christo-centric elements of our biblical worldview—namely that Christ is epistemic Lord; that He, as Logos, is the source of rationality in the universe; that He unifies all knowledge; that He is the embodiment of God’s wisdom; that He alone bridges the gap between Creator and creature; and that as ‘Lord of all,” His rule is both personal and cosmic—He governs the individual and the universe.  Christo-centric cosmology is critical in light of the fact that Evangelicalism is migrating away from an understanding of Christ’s supremacy as it touches epistemology and biblical worldview.[xxxviii] 


The Person of Christ is the answer to every false form of spirituality.  The ‘Christ hymn’ section of Colossians (1:13-23) is meant to dismantle the lying cosmology of incipient Gnosticism.[xxxix] 


Paganism’s ‘free ride’ into our generation is proof that post-Christian Westerners have released their grip upon the transcendence of God.  The resultant ‘spirituality,’ divorced from the transcendent God of Scripture, is rushing into the church like a flood.  Pagan spirituality needs a ‘blank’ god.  In the pagan concept of immanence, God is everywhere and everything so He becomes no one and nothing.  By contrast, real spirituality comes from real immanence—from Immanuel, ‘God with us’—solely in the incarnation and the work of the Spirit.[xl]  In his book, Above All Earthly Powers; Christ in a Postmodern Culture, David Wells exposes the spurious notion of privately constructed ‘spiritual’ spaces:


To the Church, therefore, God has given His Word, His Word of truth.  When God the Holy Spirit acts in His illuminating role, He enters the sacrosanct spaces in which postmoderns hide themselves and in which they define their own reality.  God respects no sacred spaces other than the ones He is filling, for what we have been considering in this discussion of postmodern individualism and relativism, this postmodern construction of a sacred reality that reflects postmodern sensibilities, is nothing less than the contemporary version of a very ancient idolatry.  Since God brooks no rivals, He respects no self-constructed sacred spaces.  These are spaces in which the sinner declares his or her own sovereignty and, in projecting human want and need into eternity, is, in that very act seeking to control eternity, to have it on his or her terms.  Eros spirituality, however, dies in the presence of God’s Word because biblical truth destroys the sinner’s sovereignty which is at the heart of this kind of spirituality.[xli]


Biblical cosmology offers and preaches antithesis in a world of synthesis.  Only biblical cosmology is theologically robust enough to expose and oppose the march of neo-paganism.  If we are to check the advance of neo-paganism, the ‘cosmology bomb’ has to hit.  Our wedge point or fulcrum is cosmology.  It supports the lever by which we tip over the idols of pagan ideology which seek to capture our culture. 


CWIPP is well positioned to utilize biblical cosmology in its efforts to deconstruct paganism; but we must sharpen our focus.  (Many expressions of Christianity tend to lack a holistic worldview.  The lack of a holistic worldview is tied to weakness in the following areas: the preeminence of Christ; the vantage point of redemptive history; the sovereignty of God; the Solas of the Reformation; the importance of man as the image of God; the implications of the Creator-creature distinction; the necessity of critical thinking.[xlii] 


Peter Jones notes that Christian college students have been doing their evangelistic work ‘under the radar.’  They have been keeping a low profile.  They know from experience that it is somewhat easy to be a Christian if one does not raise the issues of worldview.  If one maintains a pluralistic posture while wearing pluralistic garb—it’s possible to avoid social ‘persecution.’  But if one becomes ‘too visible’ by raising the absolutes of biblical worldview—then one will likely experience rejection.  The reason is clear; biblical worldview is filled with antithesis from top to bottom.[xliii]


Our job as Christian leaders is to provide students with the cosmological and theological categories necessary to enable them to stand against the prevailing errors of our day.   We are standing at a crossroads in church history.  We must ‘world-proof’ our kids to avoid sending them like lambs into the wolf packs which populate the academy.  Only by providing a full-orbed theology which puts antithesis into bold relief will we give them back their voice.[xliv]


Key in our strategy is to not only set up the contrast between pagan and biblical cosmology—but we must also show the consequences of each worldview.  The dire consequences of pagan worldview are catalogued by Paul in Romans chapter one.  Those who subscribe to pagan worldview are judged by God.  They experience three areas of being given over—they are: given over in their minds; given over in their spirits; given over in their bodies.[xlv] 


By contrast Christ as Lord of the cosmos and Lord of the Church is truth and life incarnate.  “. . . [He] abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim 1:10b).  He is sovereign over all knowledge—in His ‘epistemic lordship,’ Christ answers, and delivers from, by His own Person, every version of ‘the lie’ (Rom 1:25).  Thus, at the center of Christian worldview is Christ the ‘Savior of the World.”[xlvi]



Our strategy in exposing and answering neo-paganism involves contextualizing our message—by this we mean that our proclamation of God’s truth is joined to a critical reflection upon our culture.  We seek to cast the battle as the fight between biblical and pagan cosmology.  It is by means of God’s ordering principle (cosmology) that we may equip the saints to answer the paganism of the academy—we do so by proclaiming the biblical answer to monism.  Christo-centric biblical theism operates by antithesis.  It penetrates the syncretistic world of inconsistent ideas and false spiritualities.  The cosmology of biblical worldview is the weapon capable of piercing and dismantling the fortifications of paganism which are raised up against the knowledge of God. 







[i] Dave Doveton, “Paganism in the Church” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[ii] Jay Wegter, “Worldview, Apologetics, and Evangelism, BCW363A” (Newhall: The Master’s College, 2007).

[iv] Jay Wegter, “Worldview.”

[v] Jeffrey Ventrella, “Grotius or Gaia: Identifying and Defeating the Legal Implications of Neo-Paganism” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[vi] Norman Klassen, Jens Zimmerman, The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006) 116.

[viii] Michael Vlach, “Presuppostional Apologetics” (Sun Valley, CA: The Master’s Seminary, 2006).

[ix] Peter Jones, “Forms of Paganism” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[xi] Emil Brunner in Dave Doveton, “The Pagan Deconstruction of a Biblical Worldview,” p. 3.

[xiii] Jeffrey Ventrella.

[xiv] Peter Jones, “Forms of Paganism” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[xvi] Dave Doveton, “Paganism in the Church.”

[xviii] Steve Lonetti, “Evangelism TH 701” (Sun Valley: The Master’s Seminary, 2000).

[xix] Hal Farnsworth, “On the role of Biblical Cosmology in the Deconstruction of Neo-Paganism” (Memphis: CWIPP Board discussion on strategies, 2007).

[xx] John Frame, “Aseity and Christian Apologetics” (Orlando: Reformed Theological Seminary) 16, 17.

[xxii] Tim Keller, “Evangelizing Postmoderns” (Minneapolis: Desiring God conference, 2006).

[xxiii] Hal Farnsworth.

[xxv] Paul Helseth, “Reasoning ‘Rightly’ about Contingent Reality: On the Implications of a Sacramental View of the Universe” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[xxvi] Mike Law (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[xxix] John Stone, “On the Cause of Christian College Students being Mute” (Newhall: The Master’s College, 2007).

[xxx] D. A. Carson, “Reaching Postmoderns with the Gospel” (Minneapolis: Desiring God conference, 2006).

[xxxii] Christian Smith, Soul Searching; the Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, p. 144, in Sean McDowell, “True for you; but not for me,” p. 1, www.planetwisdom.com). 

[xxxiii] John Leland, “Searching for the Holy Spirit” (Newsweek, May 8, 2000, p. 61, in Sean McDowell, p. 1).  

[xxxiv] David F. Wells, Above All earthly Powers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005) 82-86, 88-90.

[xxxvii] James Herrick, “New Myths for a New Pagan Age” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[xxxviii] Jay Wegter, “Introduction to the book of Colossians” (www.frontlinemin.org).

[xl] Ted Hamilton, “How does the Gospel Preach in a Culture of Paganism” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[xli] David F. Wells, p. 175.

[xliii] Peter Jones, “Framing the Issues: Finding our Voice for the 21st Century” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[xlvi] Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, The Saviour of the World (Cherry Hill: Mack Publishing Co., r.p. 1972).

Circularity and Christian Apologetics

Does the Bible’s ‘self-attestation’ constitute circular reasoning?     

We begin with the premise that the circularity employed in defending Scripture is not the same kind of circularity employed by the unbeliever in defending his erroneous worldview. 

The unbeliever’s circularity is flawed.  A worldview cannot validate itself because it is made up of presuppositions (assumptions/core commitments) which are taken on faith.  A worldview is like a scale that weighs things; but it can’t weigh itself.  When it comes to validating itself, there still must be a standard by which the internal weights of the scale are calibrated. 


The natural man’s reasoning processes may be compared to a pair of “faulty scales.”  (Grover Gunn, A comparison of Apologetic Methods, pp., 3, 4). It is useful to the Christian apologist to know that the unbeliever’s “scales” are not in working order!  In this analogy the “scales” are analogous to one’s world view.  All information that a person encounters is interpreted by means of his world view.  The scales are utilized to validate everything except one thing—they cannot weigh themselves!


God has given to every man “weights” that are accurately stamped.  They are stamped internally by reason of the fact that all men bear the image of God.  Every person has an innate knowledge that he is made in the image of an almighty Creator—the law of God is written upon man’s heart (Rom 2:14, 15).


The God-given “weights” are also stamped externally.  The whole creation that surrounds man gives inescapable daily evidence of the power, wisdom, and majesty of its Creator (ibid., p. 5-7).  In order to avoid the indelible stamp that God has put upon these “weights,” the natural man constructs a fantasy view of reality that flows from his own mind. As a consequence, the unbeliever’s ‘scales’ do not “weigh” accurately.  “Issues that should carry great weight [the Creator’s absolute claims on the creature] have no weight at all on the scales of unbelief” (ibid, p. 13).


In essence, the unbeliever is “pressing a depraved thumb upon the scales.”  The unbeliever cannot get an accurate reading upon his scales because he has set aside the authoritative claims of God, Christ and Scripture.  Because the apologist is armed with an understanding of the unbeliever’s reasoning  processes, he will not suggest for a moment that the unbeliever’s scales are in working order.  His argument at many junctures will confront the unbeliever’s world view – “Hey, get your thumb off of those scales!  You’re cheating!” (ibid, pp. 14, 15).


When the Christian apologist keeps asking the question, “And why is that true?” He is actually ‘drilling down’ deep enough to hit core assumptions which are taken on faith.  These core assumptions are commonly offered as ‘proofs’ of one’s life view—but in reality, they are self-referential. 


DISCUSSION: What are the problems encountered when one seeks to employ a ‘self-referential’ ‘proof’ for one’s life view? In other words, how can a scale ‘weigh itself’ for accuracy? What is needed determine its accuracy?)


The circularity used in proving the Bible differs from all other kinds of circularity

It is common for Christians to be accused of circular reasoning when they seek to prove the Bible from the Bible.  But is that circular reasoning in the classical sense?  The presuppositional apologist must know why the Bible’s self-attestation is not to be equated with the world’s use of circular reasoning. 


A frequent refrain in the debate between believer and unbeliever is the plea for neutrality as ‘fairness’.  Debating parties are urged to begin at a point of neutrality.  But is it possible to begin reasoning without an ultimate starting point?  Not really.


When a Christian debates a philosophic naturalist; often little is really accomplished.  Facts and ‘purported facts’ fly about.  But in reality little contact is made—both are arguing from their respective starting points.  In a way it is like a contest between a whale and an elephant.  Lots of thrashing takes place; but there is no conquest.  The two beasts live in completely different realms—land and sea! 


The real work of providing an internal critique of the unbeliever’s worldview only takes place when the Christian ceases to debate over the meaning of certain facts; and begins to expose the unbeliever’s faulty epistemology (in other words; show the unbeliever that the ‘scales’ of his worldview cannot weigh themselves).


The circularity employed in defending Scripture is inseparable from its sufficiency

If the Christian moves over to neutrality in order to get a hearing—he is actually taking a stand against the sufficiency of Scripture.  To concede neutrality is to step onto the apostate turf of “nobody knows for sure.”  God has given general revelation to overturn “nobody knows for sure.”  All men are rendered accountable by God’s general revelation.


General revelation (God’s revelation in the created order, and in the conscience) renders all men guilty; without excuse. How one treats general revelation totally conditions how one treats special revelation (the Word of God).


To concede or grant a neutral starting point is to deny that the Bible is the ultimate epistemological foundation for belief—and for authority in all other areas. What in the universe in more certain than the Bible?  The Word of God will NOT defer to a more authoritative standard than itself. 


DISCUSSION: Defend the statement above—namely that a neutral starting point denies that God speaking in His Word is the ultimate epistemological foundation for belief. What is the role of General Revelation—why has God given it?


The assumptions of the Enlightenment now govern the world’s epistemology

The assumptions of anti-supernaturalism are antithetical to divine revelation. Out of the Enlightenment came the idea that science would replace religion as the guardian of truth.  Modernity celebrates autonomous reason.  Darwin pitted objective empirical science against religion and myth. 


Western culture, having abandoned God’s absolutes, utilizes the distorted lens of naturalism to interpret the facts of God’s creation.  The result is futility.  Man has abrogated the epistemological authority that belongs to the Word of God alone.


Is reason the ‘common ground’ we have with the unbeliever?

Dr. Mike Vlach, Professor of Apologetics at The Master’s Seminary provides the following answers: Some believe that assuming the truth and authority of the Bible is intellectually dishonest. In fact, some would say that it is circular reasoning to assume the Bible’s authority when telling people they need to obey the Bible. Instead, shouldn’t we use reason to prove the authority of the Bible?


Reason is not the common ground upon which the believer should try to make contact with the unbeliever. Unbelievers possess an epistemic bias is to twist God’s truth for their purposes since they are truth suppressors.


Granting human reason as “common ground” means granting the unbeliever autonomy in using his human reason to determine whether he/she should believe in the God of the Bible or not. The Bible does not grant this right to the unbeliever. The unbeliever is called to repent and believe the Gospel.


It is not as though presuppositionalists are the only ones assuming an ultimate presupposition. Everyone has ultimate presuppositions that cannot be “proven.” Whenever anyone argues for the truth of something, they are assuming something. As Frame states, “Everyone else reasons the same way. Every philosophy must use its own standards in proving its conclusions; other wise, it is simply inconsistent” (Frame, AGG, 10).

DISCUSSION: Address the common notion held by Christian ‘integrationist’ apologists who subscribe to the idea that human reason (when it agrees with Scripture) helps establish the veracity of the Bible.  Do you see any error in holding to the concept that human reason ‘shares’ authority with the Word of God in determining what is true, real, right, and wrong? 


Why should we assume the Christian worldview in order to defend the Christian worldview?

The Bible is its own ultimate criterion for truth.  John Frame reminds us that every philosophical system uses its own standard in proving its conclusions; otherwise it would be inconsistent.  Key to our understanding is to grasp the following: 


When arguing for an ultimate criterion; one must use criterion compatible with that conclusion.  Vlach notes this as well, “Assuming the truth of Christianity is not a vicious circular argument. As Frame puts it, ‘the rational basis for faith is God’s own rationality. The sequence is: God’s rationality → human faith → human reasoning. The arrows may be read ‘is the rational basis for’ (Frame in Cowan, 210). Thus, the sequence is linear, not circular.”


Greg Bahnsen’s comments are also helpful.  There are necessary conditions for truth which are inseparable from absolute truth itself.  These conditions MUST be argued with the ultimate truth.  God, as set forth in Scripture is transcendent. Thus, we will find Him ONLY by the conditions consistent with His transcendence.  Those conditions are dependency upon His infallible self-revelation.  You can’t look for God the way you’d look for crackers in the cupboard (Greg Bahnsen,Bahnsen vs. Stein Debate).


Wegter also notes, “If you set out to map the Himalayas with a pad of paper, a flashlight, and a 12 inch ruler—you would fail on a grand scale.  Why?  Because the magnitude of what you are seeking to map and measure is infinitely larger than your tools and your vantage point.  So also, the God of Scripture cannot be known or found by the inadequate tools of human reason and empiricism.”  DISCUSSION: Discuss the following concept: is man able to set aside God as the source of human rationality and then successfully invent his own basis for rationality?  Include in your discussion why our Creator’s rationality is the source of our own.  Include in your discussion that the necessary conditions for knowledge are in God alone—a universe based on chance and chaos can not be the source of rationality.     


Ultimate intellectual criteria for truth must involve circularity

“Although appealing to the Bible as the ultimate epistemological foundation for belief may sound simplistic and naïve to some (as well as unpersuasive) . . . this is the key to maintaining the full sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Not only does God not call Christians to put the authority of His Word ‘on the shelf’ while they argue for Christianity, but doing so will deny the very thing they are setting out to prove, namely, that God’s Word should be the authority over every area of thought (including apologetics)” (Michael J. Kruger in Vlach, “The Sufficiency of Scripture in Apologetics,” TMSJ 12/1 Spring 2001: 70).


To deny circularity when it comes to an ultimate presupposition leads to an infinite regress of reasons.

“To deny circularity when it comes to an ultimate authority is to subject oneself to an infinite regress of reasons. If a person holds to a certain view, A, then when A is challenged he appeals to reasons B and C. But, of course, B and C will certainly be challenged as to why they should be accepted, and then the person would have to offer D, E, F, and G, as arguments for B and C. And the process goes on and on.


Obviously it has to stop somewhere because an infinite regress of arguments cannot demonstrate the truth of one's conclusions. Thus, every worldview (and every argument) must have an ultimate, unquestioned, self-authenticating starting point. Another example: Imagine someone asking you whether the meter stick in your house was actually a meter long. How would you demonstrate such a thing? You could take it to your next-door neighbor and compare it to his meter stick and say, "see, it's a meter." However, the next question is obvious, "How do we know your neighbor's meter stick is really a meter?" This process would go on infinitely unless there were an ultimate meter stick (which, if I am not mistaken, actually existed at one time and was measured by two fine lines marked on a bar of platinum-iridium alloy). It is this ultimate meter stick that defines a meter.


When asked how one knows whether the ultimate meter stick is a meter, the answer is obviously circular: The ultimate meter stick is a meter because it is a meter. This same thing is true for Scripture. The Bible does not just happen to be true (the meter stick in your house), rather it is the very criterion for truth (the ultimate meter stick) and therefore the final stopping point in intellectual justification” (Kruger in Vlach, 81, n. 31). 


DISCUSSION: Of course the above relates back to Webster’s definition of truth, “that which has fidelity to an original.”  Explain why God in Christ is the ‘Original’. Discuss why reasoning without presuppositions is impossible.


What are some of the ways Biblical circularity differs from the world’s flawed logic?

  • We presuppose the Christian Worldview in our apologetic because of the impossibility of the contrary (chaos cannot produce the pre-conditions of knowledge—i.e. logic, morality, correspondence between one’s mind and the world, uniformity in nature, and science).


  • The Word of God proclaims God to be the only authoritative vantage point for all reality.  God structures all reality—He is the ontological reference point for all reality.  Truth and reality meet eternally in the mind of God. To presuppose the authority of self-attesting Scripture is inseparable from holding to the sufficiency of God’s Word. 


  • Human reason cannot be the final reference point for all reality (finite man cannot provide the universals necessary to bring unity to particulars).  (In the schema of autonomous reason, truth and reality do not cohere with one another; nor do they have comprehensive meaningful contact.)


  • The ‘circle’ scribed by the Word of God encompasses all reality and accounts for all reality.  Inside the ‘circle of reality’ scribed by God’s revelation is God’s authoritative condemnation of all lying worldviews.  Therefore, you can tell the unbeliever that God has something to say about his worldview! Also inside the circle of God’s revelation is God’s infallible word about angels, demons, the elect, the reprobate, history, creation, the new creation, the kingdom of light, and the kingdom of darkness (John C. Whitcomb Jr.,Contemporary Apologetics).


  • Only the Word of God perfectly correlates with human experience—only the Word of God is the ‘key’ which fits the lock of universe.  General revelation and special revelation are in total agreement.  This refutes the error that one worldview is as good as another.


  • The Word of God is self-attesting—it is God’s self-revelation (note that Christ’s self-attestation was the basis of His authority claims during His discourses).


  • God created man with the capacity to recognize God’s truth the moment he sees it.  Man is without excuse because the knowledge of God has been “made evident” to all men—the doctrine of general revelation (Romans 1:18-23). 


  • The sinner is totally unable to make sense of himself, of God, or of this world apart from the Christian worldview.  Through erroneous worldviews, sinners suppress the very worldview they need to make sense of the world.


  • Christ died for the church—to give His redeemed true knowledge.  He died to give us ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Cor 2:16).  Therefore to reject the Word of Christ is to reject Him both as Savior and as ‘Interpreter of the world’. 


DISCUSSION: Take the above reasons for ‘biblical circularity’ and turn them into a sample apologetics dialog with an unbeliever (role play).


Is presuppositional apologetics the only apologetic methodology which utilizes a presuppositonal starting point?

Dr. Vlach has compiled a fitting response: “[I]t is not as though presuppositionalists are ‘assuming’ its starting point while other apologetic approaches are not. Everyone has an ultimate starting point. Unlike others, presuppositionalists are up front about what their ultimate presupposition is.”


Ex. Those who believe that human reason is the ultimate authority in all matters (rationalism) must assume that human reason is the ultimate authority.


Ex. Those who believe that experience (empiricism) is the ultimate authority in all matters must assume that experience is the ultimate authority. 


“The point is that when one is arguing for an ultimate criterion, whether Scripture, the Koran, human reason, sensation, or whatever, one must use criteria compatible with that conclusion. If that is circularity, then everybody is guilty of circularity” (Frame, AGG, 10). “. . . [P]resuppositions are inescapable, so the issue becomes one of their validity or invalidity. The presuppositionalist therefore is concerned with the task of deriving his assumptions from the Scriptures” (George Zemek in Vlach, 9).


DISCUSSION: Since the unbeliever ‘pretends’ that he has no presuppositions—how would our worldview questions be useful in exposing the unbeliever’s  core assumptions? Why would it be extremely valuable (from the standpoint of Christian apologetics) to show the unbeliever the radical contrast between his professed beliefs and the Word of God?

Depravity has Radically Corrupted Human Reason

I. Why study the ethical condition of the unbeliever’s mind?


A. The doctrine of original sin concerns man’s apostasy from God. In Eden, Adam and Eve tested God, rebelling against His command. As a result of the fall of our first parents, sin (radical depravity), and death became universal for the human race

(Rom. 5:12).

B. When man broke away from God ethically, he also broke away intellectually.Man’s intellectual rebellion is expressed in his attempt to interpret everything inwhich he comes into contact without reference to God.[i][1]

C. Grover Gunn gives us an analogy that is extremely helpful in understanding the the unbeliever’s intellectual rebellion. Gunn compares the natural man’s reasoning processes to a pair of “faulty scales.”[ii][2]

1. In this analogy the “scales” are analogous to one’s world view. All information that a person encounters is interpreted by means of his world view. (The scales are utilized to validate everything except one thing – they cannot weigh themselves! World view cannot validate itself.)

2. God has given to every man “weights” that are accurately stamped. They are stamped internally by reason of the fact that all men bear the image of God. Every person has an innate knowledge that he is made in the image of an almighty Creator. By reason of that image, every man also has the law of God written upon his heart (Rom 2:14, 15).

3. The God-given “weights” are also stamped externally. The whole creation that surrounds man gives inescapable daily evidence of the power, wisdom and majesty of it Creator.[iii][3]

4. In order to avoid the indelible stamp that God has put upon these “weights,” the natural man constructs a fantasy view of reality that flows from his own mind. He assumes that the true and living God has not revealed Himself in Scripture.

5. As a consequence, the unbeliever’s scales do not “weigh” accurately. Due to the rebellious assumption that the God of Scripture does not exist, every conceivable area of life is interpreted in an erroneous manner. (“Issues that should carry great weight have no weight at all on the scales of unbelief.”)[iv][4]

6. In essence, the unbeliever is “pressing a depraved thumb upon the scales.” The God-given weights are rendered inaccurate by that constant act of tampering. The unbeliever cannot get an accurate reading upon his scales because he has set aside the authoritative claims of God, Christ and Scripture.[v][5]

7. When the revelation of God is evaluated on the world’s scales, the result is rejection and skepticism. As a result, measuring reality is a task that is absolutely impossible for the world’s autonomous scales.

8. Because the apologist is armed with an understanding of the unbeliever’s reasoning processes, he will not suggest for a moment that the unbeliever’s scales are in working order. Rather, his argument will at many junctures will confront the unbeliever’s world view – “Hey, get your thumb off of those scales! You’re cheating!”[vi][6]

II. Romans 1:18-23 is the Scriptural record of the universal corruption of humanreason. The Romans passage documents man’s intellectual war upon the moralimage of God.


A. Romans 1:18 – The wrath of God – God’s wrath is His holy aversion to all that is evil. God’s holiness and love are expressed in righteous indignation against evil.

Revealed – A continued outpouring, “dynamically, effectively operative in the world of men… proceeding from heaven” Murray, p. 35. Present tense, ongoing disposition; settled indignation.

Against ungodliness – (Ungodliness is disregard directed against God Himself) and unrighteousness (disregard for God’s laws); the latter flows from the former.

Suppression – To Suppress is to hinder or hold down as a captive what is true (Psalm 14:1). They continue to try to convince themselves that the God of the Bible does not exist. Though they studiously suppress the knowledge of God, all men are theists in their hearts.

B. Romans 1:19 – Natural revelation – What they do know – the knowledge of God that is “in them” – subjective (the image of God in them) and “unto them” –objective (the wonders of nature), Psalm 19:1,2 “The heavens…”

C. Romans 1:20 – They are without excuse because they know:

The facts of creation – They have observed the external creation.

God’s eternal power – They have been witness to God’s unfailing omnipotence in sustaining the world. They have beheld God’s invisible attributes (wisdom, omniscience, etc.) and God’s eternal power. They know (internally) because they have reflected upon the creation.

The divine nature (the Godhead) – The divine nature is seen in God’s unchanging, everlasting deliverance – His providential dealings through the ages – His consistency in upholding the world.

Clearly seen – God’s attributes are seen (understood) upon reflection and by observation (limited knowledge and awareness of the Creator). This knowledge is sufficient to condemn him, but not to save him. Psalm 97:6 – “The heavens declare the righteousness…”

III. The unbeliever’s mind is fixed upon a lie.

 A. Though the whole cosmos points inescapable to the truth of the Creator, theunbeliever prefers the lie. (Although he tries, man can’t escape from himself, for he is the crown of God’s creation – Ps 8; 19; 139.)[vii][7]

1. He exchanges the truth for a lie (Rom. 1:25). The opposite of truth is rebellion, lies, foolishness (Prov. 1:7; Jer. 22:11-14; Matt. 12:30). He worships the creature instead of the Creator – this is idolatry.

2. He has foolishly decided in his heart that the God of the Bible does not exist (Rom. 3:10-12).

a.) His heart, the inner control center, is against God (Rom. 5:10).

b.) Out of the heart are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23).

c.) The heart is the location of human character (Luke 6:45).

d.) The heart is the aspect of man that concerns God the most (1 Sam. 16:7).

e.) The heart is the seat of man’s spiritual faculty (Prov. 3:5), man’s moral faculty (Mark 7:20-23), man’s intellectual faculty (Heb. 4:12) and man’s emotional faculty (Prov. 15:13).

3. The unbeliever seeks to wipe out God and be his own god.

a.) Genesis 3:1-7 – Satan told Eve a lie -- she would be “like God” knowing perfect holiness. Adam and Eve sought to interpret the universe without God – Jer. 8:9.

b.) Lost men are usurpers of God’s place; they are acting autonomously.

B. The unbeliever’s conscience accuses him (Romans 2:15).

1. The Law is written upon man’s heart (his moral conscience).

2. Men know it is wrong to steal, kill and lie, but they reject the God who put this moral standard in their heart – they cannot give an account for the morals they believe to be true.

3. John Calvin said that there is an inescapable sense of Deity in the heart of every person.

IV. The unbeliever suppresses the truth of God.


 A. In order to embrace the lie, the unbeliever unrighteously suppresses God’s truth.He “holds down” the truth of God, not wishing to retain the knowledge of God in his thoughts.

1. Though he possesses the truth of God, he suppresses the truth about God, thus

he sins against knowledge. (The unbeliever has no sentiment to live for the glory of God.)[viii][8]

2. Although the unbeliever represents himself as a “truth seeker,” as “neutral”

and as “objective,” the Scriptures declare the natural man to be in rebellion against

the God of truth. The seat of all sin lies in this aforementioned suppression.

The denial of God’s truth is an expression of man’s arrogant claim to be

autonomous. At the heart of the denial is man’s wicked attempt to erase the

very essence of the Creator-creature distinction which alone can give meaning

to existence.[ix][9]

3. The unbeliever resembles the tenant farmers in Jesus’ parable (Matt. 21:33-44).

The farmers had a livelihood because of the mercy of the landowner, but they

refused to honor Him.

4. The natural man has “an ax to grind,” or vested interest in suppressing the

revelation of God. If he can expunge the knowledge of the Creator from his

thoughts, then he will not have to think about God as his Lawgiver and Judge


B. In his suppression, the unbeliever makes self the ultimate reference point. The

natural man wants to be his own absolute authority. The Scriptures affirm that

autonomy belongs to God alone.

1. The unbeliever attributes autonomy to self – he tries to make his mind the

determiner of reality. Man desires a “god” who will leave the autonomy of his

mind in tact.

2. The Bible states that man cannot know God, the created world or self apart from

the revelation of God. Therefore when man makes self the ultimate reference

point, he places himself in a position to not understand truth. God regards man’s

speculations as futility, darkness and utter foolishness (Rom. 1:21-23; Eph. 4:17-


3. Reasoning begins either with self or with God. The Bible is the infallible

starting point. Submission to God only occurs when men believe, submit to and

obey God’s Word. Submission to the truth of God is submission to God.

C. The non-Christian’s philosophy or world view, is based upon his allegiance to


1. Man’s commitment to independence from God rules out the possibility of

acquiring true knowledge. By seeking to live and think independently of God,

man has left the only source of certainty. The natural man wears a mask of total

certainty, but at the same time he is uncertain because he has abandoned the

source of true knowledge. (The cost of rendering God irrelevant is incalculable.

It thrusts man upon a shore-less sea of epistemological despair.)

2. In so doing, he opposes himself – he is left with only finite speculation and

probability.[xi][11] He is stuck with a world ruled by chance and contingency. A

universe based upon chance has no basis for meaning and rationality, thus no

certainty. The commitment to independence brings man to futility and


3. The God of Scripture is ultimate reality and absolute truth. The choice to live

independently of Him is incalculably expensive. Non-Christian philosophy

based upon allegiance to independence claims to know truth, but offers nothing

but ruin and eternal death.

4. In their determination to be independent of God, unbelievers reject the claims of

Christ. The Apostle Paul refers to every man-generated philosophy as “empty

deception” (Col. 2:8).

 D. Scripture exposes the lie of independence.

1.  Romans 1:18-23 reveals that the opposite of truth is not ignorance, but

rebellion, folly, foolishness and preference for the lie. The Bible states that the

whole knowledge endeavor is a moral issue. God gives meaning to the facts of

His creation. The sinful mind rejects God’s authoritative interpretation of the

facts. (To assign a fact a different meaning than God does is sin. Sinners

readily redefine knowledge that God has already defined, eg.: death, galaxies,

morals, etc.)

2. The lie began when the human race fell away from God. When our first parents

sinned, they believed the lie that man can successfully be his own ultimate

reference point. The lie offered “freedom” – man could do whatever he deemed

right in his own eyes and succeed. Man could be the measure of all things and

the master of his own destiny without his world falling apart. The lie also

involved a philosophical commitment that pictured man as able to give facts

their original definition.

3. Reception of the lie corrupted man’s reason. The unbeliever by God’s common

grace is able to use his created abilities to make worthwhile contributions to

culture, research, education, the arts etc. But, his sinful mind rejects God’s

authoritative revelation. His radical sin bias (known as depravity) issues forth

in a comprehensive and antagonistic perversion of God’s general revelation

(God’s witness in the created universe). As long as the lie is in place, a man is

kept from knowing the true and living God.

4. Fallen man uses his intellect to judge God’s revelation as false. The sinner uses

the autonomy lie to set himself up as judge over what presents itself as divine

revelation. Fallen man does not wish to think about the source of his existence

(namely that he is upheld every moment by the thought and power of God). By

means of the lie, man seeks to produce an “intellectual” buffer between himself

and God. (Through the philosophy the lie provides, man seeks to distance

himself from accountability to God – he wants estrangement from his Creator

who makes claims upon him.)

5. “[A]ll humans are born under the dominion of sin, with an overwhelming

inclination to measure life in the scales provided by Satan. The basic measure of

Satan’s scales is the false gospel, ‘you can do what is right in your own eyes, and

you will not be judged with death; you will succeed in life’” (Grover Gunn on

Genesis 3).

6. Fallen man distorts the truth to fit his desires. He does not conform his desires to

the truth. Fallen men adopt a belief system that permits sinful expression. This

could be referred to as “L.C.D. religion.” (LCD because the lowest common

denominator in this “equation” is a man’s lusts, desires and passions – these

determine what he will believe – he gravitates to a belief system that allows him

to keep his sin.)

In other words, the unbeliever selects a belief system that does not demand

repentance from sin. By contrast, the Word of God declares that true repentance

(which God requires of man) involves forsaking the sins which are antagonistic to

the truth of God.

7. (Only by the miracle of the new birth is a man enabled to repent – only then does

he possess the inclination to do God’s will and forsake evil.) The sinful

suppression of truth only ends when a man repents from self as the ultimate

reference point. Os Guinness notes that impenitence is characterized by distorting

the truth so that it is conformed to one’s desires. By contrast, true repentance

submits to the truth of God and, in ongoing repentance, one’s desires are

continually conformed to God’s truth.[xii][12]

E. The lie is filled with internal inconsistencies.


1. The lie assumes that this space, mass, time continuum known as the universe is

self-sustaining. But the naturalistic world view cannot account for morals, the

laws of logic, the conditions of knowledge and uniformity in nature. (i.e., a

universe founded upon chaos offers no accounting for the above.)

2. Suppression by choice is unsuccessful. The natural man knows that punishment

awaits him for his sin, yet he pretends that he can’t find God for lack of data.

Greg Bahnsen offers the following insight from Scripture, “Being ‘without God in

the world,’ the natural man yet knows God, and, in spite of himself, to some extent

recognizes God. By virtue of their creation in God’s image, by virtue of the

ineradicable sense of deity within them and by virtue of God’s restraining general

grace, those who hate God, yet in a restricted sense know God, and do good.”

(One cannot disassociate who God is from what He has commanded and

commended as His system of truth and ethics.)

3. For fallen man, corrupted reason is never the tool of divine revelation. For the

unbeliever, reason is either slain on the altar of chance or reason is worshipped as

the final authority. (The unbeliever’s god is not rational, realistic or reasonable.)

The unbeliever claims that he lacks reliable proof that the God of the Bible exists.

BUT when asked to supply the categories of “proof” he would designate as

admissible, he is unable to describe those categories (See Proverbs 28:26).

4. A chance universe is the enemy of rationality. To say that rationality is based upon

irrationality is to “kill” facts as they are gathered. (Facts are “killed” because it

becomes impossible to give them meaning with any certainty.)

V. Suppressing the truth of God results in dire consequences.


A. There is nothing more destructive to the dignity and integrity of man than to know

the truth of God and to suppress it. The Apostle Paul pulls back the curtain and

shows us the moral turpitude ensues when it is no longer held back by the dam of

truth. (With the theological basis for morality set aside, nothing remains to keep the

floodgates of immorality closed.)

B. It is not enough to know that men suppress the truth of God. We must know the evil

consequences of suppression. This is not just an intellectual rejection of God’s truth.

What is involved is nothing less than the rebellion of the whole man.[xiii][13] (Mind,

emotion and will are all united in the refusal to give God the glory He is due. Men

refused to honor Him or give thanks.)

C. The dire consequences of man’s suppression are catalogued in Romans chapter one:

1. INTELLECTUAL FUTILITY – All thinking that sets aside the claims of God

always ends in futility. (They make nonsense out of logic.)

2. SPIRITUAL DARKNESS – When the Creator-creature distinction is denied, the

mind is flooded with soul-damning myths. (The areas of life dominated by the

myth run the gamut, the range of subjects is endless: origin, destiny, purpose,

knowledge, ownership, being, death, reason, morality, hope, reality etc.) 


3. INCREDIBLE FOLLY AND STUPIDITY – The more man claimed to be eminent

in philosophy, the more foolish he became. Nothing less than vanity can be

expected when men exchange the truth of God for a lie.

4. FALSE RELIGION – False religion is evidenced in the proliferation of idolatry in

all its forms and manifestations. Men worshipped and served the creature and the

creation. This universal idolatry includes egocentrism, humanism, hedonism,

skepticism, materialism, intellectualism, and vain philosophy.


5. GROSS IMMORALITY – The unbridled expression of lust is one of the degrading

effects of man’s mutiny against God. Immorality is the rebellion of mind, spirit,

and body. The lust of the flesh replaces the love of the creature for the Creator.

6. SOCIAL DEPRAVITY – Suppression of God’s truth is highly destructive to social

standards and structures. Social depravity disrupts the essential order that is

necessary to maintain the decency and dignity of civilized society.[xiv][14]


[i][1] James F. Stitzinger, Apologetics and Evangelism, (The Master’s Seminary, Sun Valley, CA, 1999).

[ii][2] Grover Gunn, A Comparison of Apologetic Methods,(http://capo.org/cpc/apolo22.htm), pp. 3, 4.

[iii][3] Ibid., pp. 5-7.

[iv][4] Ibid., p. 13.

[v][5] Ibid., p. 14.

[vi][6] Ibid., p. 15.

[vii][7] Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, “Crucial Biblical Passages for Christian Apologetics” Jerusalem and Athens,

E. R. Geehan, Ed. (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1971), pp. 134-136. 

[viii][8] Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready, (Atlanta: American Vision, 1996), p. 42.

[ix][9] Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, Jerusalem and Athens, p. 136.

[x][10] James F. Stitzinger, Apologetics and Evangelism.

[xi][11]Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 105.

[xii][12] Os Guinness, Time for Truth, from Christian Book Summaries, vol. 1 no. 15 (Apr. 2000), pp. 6, 7.

[xiii][13] Hughes, Biblical Passages, p. 136.

[xiv][14] Ibid., p. 137.

Dialogue on Pseudo-Science versus Empirical Science

The following is a letter received by Frontline Ministries containing several questions regarding Jay Wegter’s essay, “Paganism tries to make ‘Pseudo-Science’ its Universal Truth.” Jay’s response follows. This is an example of how the presuppositional method of apologetics can be used. It is offered here for whatever benefit you, the reader, may find. – Frontline Ministries

Dear Frontline Ministries,

My comments and questions refer to the essay by Jay Wegter entitled “Paganism tries to make ‘Pseudo-Science’ its Universal Truth.”

The essay, as I study science, was certainly thought provoking. The assumptions you state are mostly true and have to be assumed otherwise you end up being Descarte with nothing but yourself, which is as you can see not helpful or useful at all.

My first point is that science works, as you can see all around you and in front of you right now, so maybe these assumptions it uses are necessary or at least helpful. You say yourself that "God is transcendent. He is not a part of the universe" so surely in studying the universe, excluding God is not so much an atheist plot but rather a way to simplify things.

Secondly, throughout the essay you say that scientists are making a mistake in excluding the supernatural. What parts of science would benefit from the inclusion of the supernatural? (please note this is a sincere question rather than an argumentative challenge) Since the evidence doesn't change but is only added to, what theories would change do you think? gravity, quantum mechanics, evolution? Planets would still orbit the sun, particles will still break through impossible barriers, fossil records will still exist.

Thirdly, what action would like to see happen? What should change? Also which supernatural view would you use, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, etc.? Qualification of this choice would have to be made to every scientist in the world. Otherwise science would suffer the same division as religious practise which would help no one, in fact people would suffer from the lack of cooperation in fields such as medicine.

Thanks for you time, hope these questions aren't too unintelligent.

Mr. *****

United Kingdom

Dear Mr. *****

Thanks for your thoughtful questions; they deserve a reply.

As I seek to answer your questions, you’ll find that my response will reiterate two themes: 1.)There is a world of difference between pseudo-science and empirical science. I will continue to draw a line of demarcation between pseudo-science and empirical science. From now on in my reply, pseudo-science will be designated PS, and empirical science will be designated ES. 2.) As a Christian and a student of science, my final authority for interpretation of facts is the infallible Word of God, the Holy Bible.

In reply to your first question, “Are not the assumptions science makes useful or helpful?” My answer is absolutely yes. But I would go much further and state unequivocally that “doing science” would be impossible without these assumptions. My article was not intended to undermine the assumptions necessary to practice ES – just the opposite. Good science would be impossible if uniformity in nature did not exist and if chaos reigned in its place or order and predictability. Uniformity in nature is essential if an experiment is to be repeatable. The scientific method would be impossible without uniformity of nature (the longest ongoing experiment in human history with recorded results is farming – approximately 3000 years of accurately kept records).

In exposing the false assumptions of PS, it is my intention to ask questions that uncover the initial “faith commitments” of PS. (PS is also known as philosophic naturalism – for the sake of space, I’ll designate it PN.)

When one investigates the core assumptions of PS and philosophic naturalism (PN), it becomes clear quite quickly that PS and PN are posing as science, but actually constitute a belief system or philosophy. Consider the pre-commitments of PS and PN:

· Matter is eternal.

· The universe is ultimate.

· Chance is ultimate.

· The nature of reality is material.

· Science is the only objectivity.

· Nature is self-explanatory (no explanation is needed beyond the natural order).

· Nature is all there is and all there will ever be.

· Facts are not created by an Almighty God (therefore facts do not reveal a Personal Creator).

· The world is governed solely by uniformly operating laws.

· There is no plan and no determinism outside the universe.

· Morality is relative because it is merely the product of social Darwinism.

· The mind of man is autonomous.

· If there is a God, He can’t be known personally.

· If there is a God who has given authoritative divine revelation, it has been falsified by man.

Because PN and PS begin all investigation, all fact gathering, and all interpretation of data with the above pre-commitments governing their findings, it totally conditions their conclusions.

So badly did evolutionary researchers wish to find a “missing link” that filled in the yawning gaps in the fossil record, they abandoned empirical science when presented with spurious data.

What they regarded to be evidence of a 500,000 year old ape man (Piltdown Man), proved to be a fraud. A jawbone and skull fragment had been filed down, and chemically aged to deceive the public (this hoax stood for 40 years until it was exposed in 1953).

Nebraska Man was a similar fraud. The single tooth upon which the fictitious Nebraska Man was fabricated proved to be a pig’s tooth, yet the evolutionary “authorities” cited Nebraska Man as “proof” of evolution at the famous Scopes trial.

God’s Word utterly refutes each of the bulleted assumptions made by PN and PS listed above. God states in His Word that suppression of His truth and rejection of His answers constitutes moral rebellion. God has given us every reason to believe that His character is trustworthy. It is man’s sinful use of God-given intellect that causes him to expunge the knowledge of God from his mind.

God’s ultimate testament to His truthfulness is the sending of His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture says that Christ came to tell us who God is, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, ‘He has explained Him” (Jn 1:18).

Christ Jesus is God’s authoritative “mouthpiece” who gives absolute answers to every ultimate question. Apart from His authoritative revelation of truth, man can only drift on a shore-less sea of relativity. He can only retreat into speculation which leads to absurdity, pessimism, and futility.

The Scriptures make it clear that Christ is the source of certainty in our knowledge of God, the universe, and ourselves. Apart from His infallible Word, man can only speculate regarding the following ultimate questions:


Where did man come from? What is the value of a human being? What is the source of man’s dignity? Does man have an eternal soul? Why is mankind here? Why is there evil? What is the origin of evil and suffering? Why is morality universal? Where did the laws of logic come from? What is the meaning of life? Is there life after death? Can God be known? What is the future of the human race? Who put the information in the nucleus of cells?

Jesus Christ answers the above questions with absolute authority. In so doing He declares to us the nature of reality. Christ proclaims that God is ultimate reality. Man only can know ultimate, or absolute truth when, “Thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” We do this by reading, believing, and practicing the truth of God’s Word, the Bible.

When good science is doing its best work (empirical research and discoveries that accord with the scientific method), then the scientist is literally “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” It was the famous scientist Johann Kepler that first uttered the above quote!

Kepler was one of many Bible-believing scientists whose research paved the way for modern science. Scientists such as Newton, Boyle, Bacon, Faraday, Agassiz, Morse, Pasteur, Sedgwick, Linneaus and von Braun all believed in a personal, almighty, transcendent Creator God who not only designed all life, but also put the laws of nature into operation to conserve what He made from chaos.

Because these scientists believed the Bible, they understood that an all-wise God put laws into operation which could be investigated. Thus they had courage to invest in the labor of countless hours of research – knowing that “to think God’s thoughts after Him,” would be to discover the reasonable laws set in motion by a reasonable God.

By contrast, PN and PS reject God’s revelation. Instead they are looking solely through the lens of human reason, “[they] suppress the truth [of God] in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18b). Scripture states that God will judge those who spurn His infallible Word and turn to speculation – “[God’s] eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen [through the creation], being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became foolish in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:20-21).

Perhaps the most visible media spokesman for evolution (and PN and PS) at the end of the 20thCentury was Carl Sagan. He was in the habit of saying on T.V. (on every program), “The universe is all there is and all there will ever be” (such a “religious,” non-scientific pre-commitment colored all of his conclusions.)

Consider what God’s Word says about persons who turn away from God’s answers concerning worldview. According to the New Testament, Carl willfully suppressed what he knew about the God of the Bible, and instead turned to speculation (see Romans 1:18-23).

Romans chapter one says that suppression of the truth of the One true God of the Bible not only exposes a person to the judgment of God, but also leads to foolishness. As an example of the futility in Sagan’s thinking; consider the following. Sagan constantly lobbied for millions of dollars to be spent for SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence).

Carl was asked, “What would you do if you did make contact with an E.T.?” His reply reveals the foolishness inherent in the suppression of God’s truth. Sagan answered that he would ask the E.T., “Who are we? Where did we come from?”

It’s sad but fascinating that Sagan would credit an E.T. with providing answers to ultimate questions with certainty, but would reject the God of the Bible who has already answered the ultimate questions with certainty.

Sagan’s push for SETI, and the justification of such a project brings to light the pre-commitments of PS and PN. By proposing that the nature of reality is material, PN collides with what God says in His Word about reality.

Philosophic naturalism cannot explain how inanimate matter and random chance molecular collisions can produce personhood. Even by the scientific principles of first cause, and adequate cause, the big bang and the chemist’s elemental table provide a woefully inadequate first cause of human personhood.

Francis Crick, one of two evolutionists who discovered DNA, saw that the staggering amount of information in the nucleus of a cell could not be attributed to chance. Crick’s has been quoted as suggesting that the DNA came from an E.T. The bankruptcy of evolution to explain the miracle of human life constantly emerges when ultimate questions are asked.

Shifting the source of life to another part of the universe in no way solves the problems inherent in mechanistic evolution.

Sagan knew that his naturalism was a poverty stricken system that could only define human life in mechanistic terms. But, if life is nothing more than tiny electrical impulses bridging the synapses of neurons, then what is the point of moral purity? What is the source of human dignity? If evil will never be punished and righteousness never rewarded, then why not live for self?

That is precisely the question. History tells us that PN has produced deadly fruit. Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot all expressed overflowing gratitude for the theory of Darwinian evolution. Why? Because they recognized that they had a “scientific” (pseudo-science) basis for oppression and the elimination of those “unfit” to live in their societies.

Humanism is the bedfellow of naturalism. Humanism has declared itself to be a religion. Humanism rests upon the pillars of philosophic naturalism, geological Uniformitarianism, and Darwinian evolution. That is why this author refers to the above as pseudo-science – it is a religious philosophy masquerading as science.

Your second question, Isn’t excluding God when studying the universe a way of simplifying things? I appreciate your tact here. But the prevailing view that has captured the sciences since the end of the 19th Century would be the presuppositions of the Enlightenment thinkers. These men wanted to free academia from the constraints of religion. Their tool of choice to separate religion from academia was philosophic naturalism (see the bulleted assumptions for insights into their worldview).

Therefore my question is, “Whose presuppositions will one use when studying the universe?” If it is Sagan’s presuppositions, then the conclusions of one’s research will always exhibit naturalistic pre-commitments. The facts won’t be God’s facts. They will be man’s facts – interpreted in such a way that the conclusions circulate back to the pre-commitments and pose as scientific conclusions (i.e. a particular fossil is 30 million years old, why? because the rock is 30 million years old, why? because we know that the theory of evolution must be true , why? because the only alternative is a personal, almighty Creator, and we already ruled Him out when we made our pre-commitments -- again, speculation and futility).

Because of Sagan’s core assumptions, he expected to find E.T.’s. He assumed that the almighty Creator God of the Bible was a myth. He was a “consistent” philosophic naturalist. His pre-commitments totally governed how he gathered data, and how he interpreted data. It is naïve to assume that the realm of evolutionary science is a “philosophy-free” zone.

To my list of Bible-believing scientists, I could add 60 more individuals who believed in a personal, almighty transcendent Creator. These men did their research with the glory of God in mind. Scripture states that creation is constantly declaring the glory of God (Ps 19:1-6).

If one starts with naturalistic core assumptions when doing scientific research, it will radically color every conclusion. Naturalism is a philosophy which makes God superfluous, and man supreme.

My question is, “Is it possible to consistently do good science without presupposing the God of the Bible?” I believe that the answer is “no.” For when God is abandoned, one is left with a worldview that is innately self-contradictory and self destructive – namely a universe that has uniformity in nature, but is based upon chance.

The second law of thermodynamics refutes the idea that order can come from chance. God is the all-wise and all-powerful Designer and Fashioner of all life. Therefore, how can it be considered good science when the nearly infinite diversity of life on this planet is attributed not to the God of the Bible, but to the false gods of time, chance, and mutation? Evolution has never been witnessed. Scientists are hard-pressed to cite even one clear example of a favorable mutation.

What parts of science would benefit from the inclusion of the supernatural?

Evolutionists twist the definition of death, making it a cause of increasing complexity of life. Death, they say, drives natural selection. But empirical science tells us that natural selection (at best) can keep a gene pool strong; it cannot make anything new and more complex.

God says that death has a moral cause. Man broke faith with God and death is the moral consequence. Without God’s definition of death, mankind cannot see the reason for God’s plan of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life in Christ. PN and PS assume that death, decay, disease, and suffering are normal and have always been here; Jesus Christ through the Apostle Paul says the opposite. “Through one man sin came into the world, and death as the consequence of sin, and death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12).

Evolutionists appeal to the fossil record for evidence for the origin of life. The fossil record is the story of death by a global catastrophe. The fossil record is made up of billions of dead things preserved in water born sedimentary strata all over the earth. This doesn’t point to the present processes rainfall and erosion occurring today. The conditions necessary to form these fossils are not occurring today.

The Word of God tells us that God judged the early earth because of man’s sin. The order in nature was temporarily destroyed by a water-born catastrophe of global proportions. If God’s Word is true, what kinds of evidence would we expect to find in the earth’s strata? Certainly there would be a testament to death by burial in water-born sediments. This is precisely what is seen in the fossil record.

Consider also that the fossil record has systematic gaps between the kinds of animals. (gaps which are totally consistent with the science of taxonomy). If evolution were true, we wouldn’t see gaps between the kinds; we would see countless transitional forms between the kinds. We would have museums full of fossils that demonstrated one animal becoming another. The transitional forms are absent. The data in the fossil record points to the biblical fact that animals were formed by God complete, “[created] after their kind” (Gen 1:21).

The fossil record is made up of billions of dead things preserved in water born sedimentary strata all over the earth. This doesn’t point to the present processes rainfall and erosion occurring today. The conditions necessary to form these fossils are not occurring today.

In the fossil record, we see mass kills of animals buried before decay could dissolve their bodies (the Grand Canyon has a mass kill layer of Nautiloids that extends over one hundred miles – no present process could produce such an huge fossil bed).

The earth’s crust reveals immense geological structures that could not be formed by today’s processes (the Sauk sandstone sequence is a continuous stratum of sandstone that extends from Nova Scotia to the Western North America. No process exists today which could generate a sedimentary layer like the Sauk. It is a sedimentary layer that was produced by a deluge.)

The Word of God makes an indissoluble link between origin and destiny. Humans came from the hand of God and they must appear before God who is the Judge of all the earth. PN and PS are totally opposed to the entire concept of dealing with a God who judges and who is executing His perfect plan as moral Governor of the universe.

In order to escape their moral accountability to their Creator, proponents of PN and PS postulate a universe that created itself and maintains itself. God regards this to be intellectual rebellion. The Bible is plain in its statements about the entrance of sin. When sin entered the human race, intellectual rebellion was its key manifestation that opened the door to all forms of immorality (see Romans chapters 1-3).


What action would you like to see happen? As you probably have concluded, our website is our attempt by God’s help to be part of the solution. We firmly believe that history gives ample evidence that lies about origins lead to immorality and social decay. The reason is obvious – when the universe is made its own cause, then man is not accountable to a holy and righteous Creator who is both Savior and Judge.

According to the Scriptures, man will not use his mind to love God and His truth UNTIL that person’s sins are forgiven. As long as sinful man lives as a “fugitive” under God’s moral government, it is impossible to honor God for His love and goodness – the unforgiven individual will prefer distance from God and he will use his intellectual capacities to attempt to explain away his accountability to God.

God’s merciful answer to man’s spiritual dilemma is the Person of Jesus Christ. By His life, substitutionary death for sinners, and His resurrection He has conquered man’s most pernicious enemies. Only the Son of God can get a man past sin, death, hell, the world, the flesh, and the devil. Only the power of the Son of God can save man from himself and from the wrath of God.

Those who have not repented of sin and who have not placed their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior will continue to use their God-given faculties of mind to distort and suppress the truth of God (see Romans chapter one).

What I would like to see happen is that the message of Jesus Christ as Creator, Lawgiver, Savior, Lord, and Judge be preached again as it was 200 years ago when men began their research with a fear and reverence for God as He is revealed in His Word.

I hope that these answers are a cause for deep reflection and that these answers will again lead you to read the living Word of God, the Bible that you might “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

Consider also these excellent websites on the subject of science and origins:




In His Grace,

Jay Wegter



Grace-driven Sanctification

An Introduction to the Centrality of the Gospel


The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the very “food” of the Church.  The Gospel, or as Paul describes it at times, the “word of grace,” or “word of truth” is the sphere in which the church operates.  It is her life breath and atmosphere.  For it is by the Gospel that the Church worships, progresses in her knowledge of God, wars against her soul’s enemies, maintains purity, pursues unity, and fulfills her mission to the world. 


The Gospel is “our canon within the canon.” It was the Apostle Paul who said, “For I determined, while among you, to be unconscious of everything but Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).


Those who disbelieve the Gospel are literally at war with who God is.  They show themselves hostile to God’s self-revelation; and consequently hostile to the knowledge of God (2 Cor 10:3-6; Rom 1:18-20).  The only way to know God, and therefore to be saved, is to become a friend of the cross (for the Gospel of the cross reveals the glory of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ – 2 Cor 4:6).


True believers literally love the way God has saved them.  They love the truth and feed upon it; they “preach the Gospel to themselves.”  They cherish Christ as revealed in the Gospel.  They meditate upon the word of God’s grace, marveling at God’s wisdom in the cross.  Therefore the Gospel is their constant meeting place with God; for it is the revealer of the heart of God toward us (1 Jn 4:9, 10).


Our boldness to draw near to God in prayer and the confidence that we are heard is because the Father has graciously called us to meet Him at the altar of the slain Lamb of God.


The Gospel is the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:30).  Oh how the Gospel towers over the human intellect. Consider that God has taken man’s salvation into His own hands -- for the love of God and the wisdom of God have carved out a hiding place for believing sinners by means of the justice of God in the cross – so that by the sovereign calling of God the sinner may take refuge in the mercy of God from the wrath of God.


The fruits and dividends of preaching the Gospel to ourselves are immense.  It will greatly help us keep a godly perspective that focuses our attention upon the cross of Christ.  It will enable us to understand our life in the world and our identity in Christ.  It will give us a vantage point by which we interpret everything; for the cross puts all things in true relation to each other.  It will fill us with peace, hope, and joy in believing.  It will cause us to live upon Christ by faith.  In a word; it will exert a sanctifying force upon us.


I. Ongoing faith in the Gospel is the source of our spiritual renewal.

As Luther said, the fiends of sin and guilt are always beating up the believer and assaulting his conscience. How the saint needs to see that Christ was given for his sins.  Renewal by means of the Gospel is our constant need.


Those who are willing to continually drink deeply from the well of the “word of grace” (the Gospel) are never bored with God.  On the contrary, they are renewed by fresh views of God – views that produce awe, adoration, wonder, fear, and amazement. That’s why the Gospel is central to worship.  For it is by the Gospel that God exalts, preserves, makes known, and glorifies His holy character in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6). The saint is renewed and transformed as He continues to behold God in Christ (2 Cor 3:18).


By nature even saved men are prone to live by sight and sense.  Like silt settling to the bottom of a lake, our thoughts find the lowest common denominator and eventually return to a temporal value system and a system of legal working.  Only the Gospel can renew us, and lift us to another “dimension” by which we live grace-based, “God-ward” lives.


Just as gravity causes water to flow downward so that it eventually finds the bottomland, the swamp, and the stagnant slough, so also the old nature tugs at the saint, pulling him away from faith living.  It takes energy and a plan to move pure water uphill to the water tower at the hilltop.  So also, feeding on grace is a matter of intentionality. 


In order to rebound from spiritual declension, one must assess the spiritual malnutrition in his own soul.  He must stir himself past the carnal apathy that has left him contented with spiritual dryness and a lukewarm disposition toward Christ. (Christ as He is revealed in the Gospel answers all of  our spiritual hunger.  We must keep feeding upon Him and not upon the dry husks offered to us by the world.) 


The believer must take seriously the fact that Christ sharpens His rod of discipline to chasten believers who exhibit more complacency than zeal.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent (Rev 3:19).


The believer is frequently confronted by the gap that exists between what the N.T. requires of him, and what his actual obedience consists of.  The true believer is always to be about the business of closing the gap by ongoing repentance.  But, his efforts to close the gap must be by means of evangelical repentance, not legal repentance. 


Evangelical repentance is grounded upon the fact of our union with Christ.  Evangelical repentance looks to Christ as our completeness, our entire eligibility for God’s acceptance and favor, and for our right-standing with God and for our qualification to be sons of God in the kingdom of God.


Our efforts in pursuing holiness MUST flow from grace motives that stimulate evangelical repentance. Ongoing repentance for the true believer flows from his foundation of union with Christ.  (Every single sub-Christian cult practices the opposite – they all practice legal repentance; which is an effort, though religion and moral effort, to measure up and be approved and accepted by God so as to win His favor.)


Paul guarded against all forms of legalism; he consistently anchored N.T. commands upon the foundation of the gospel truths of grace and redemption.  His arguments for obedience were soundly developed from the believer’s union with Christ


Without that connection, Christians are left with free-floating exhortations that have the hollow echo of “be-good, and try harder.” A discipleship approach, or ministry pattern, of attempting to improve the Christian life by right attitudes and behavior modification falls woefully short of the grace-based pattern set by the Apostle. 


If the precepts we teach are disconnected from the word of grace, the struggling believer is frequently left with the impression that his Christian life is a non-stop effort to measure up. To keep our sanctificationgospel-driven, the exposition of biblical principles must be joined to a glorious exhibition of the majesty of the Savior who loves the redeemed to the uttermost.


The Apostle Paul’s controlling burden for his converts was that they would be granted (by the Holy Spirit) a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ” (Eph 1:17ff.).  This prayer request for his converts involved a Spirit-imparted understanding of the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace and calling in a way that would penetrate their hope and affections. 


The Christian life is a life of walking worthy of our calling (Eph 4:1).  The first three chapters of Ephesians set forth the infinite riches and glory of our calling.  The believer who understands, and highly esteems his calling by the Gospel of grace is in the best position to obey his Lord from right motives.   But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18a).


Our sanctification progresses as our knowledge of God increases.  We mature in the knowledge of Godas we keep on considering the Lord’s saving work toward us as it is spelled out in the Gospel of God’s grace (Eph 1:15-23; Phil 3:8-12).


When the saints are awakened to the all-pervasive spiritual reality that they owe their life, their future, their sonship, their status, and their favor with God in Christ solely to the unobligated sovereign mercy of God, it has a life-transforming and renewing effect.  (The Holy Spirit keeps renewing us by ongoing faith in the Gospel of God’s grace given to us in Christ.)


II. Ongoing faith in the Gospel produces a passion for God’s glory.

Once the saint begins to understand (by means of a spirit of wisdom and revelation, not just academically, but in his deepest affections) that God’s sovereign mercy is not just how God is taking poor sinners to heaven, but it is the very center of God’s plan to glorify Himself – then the saint begins to see things from a different perspective; a perspective which we could designate the Divine View Point (DVP).


(A believer operating from DVP takes to heart the message of Ephesians one; God’s glory is exalted in the entire salvation of the sinner.  God is lavishing grace on the sinner for His Name’s sake!  Ez 36:22, 23.) 


When the believer is stuck in patterns of spiritual defeat, it is frequently because he had not lifted his eyes above his own struggles.  Unbelief keeps us focused upon our own circumstances and performance.  As long as the saint is stranded in a Human View Point (HVP) perspective, he has little incentive to exercise passion for the glory of God.


By contrast, living by Divine View Point produces a kind of “grace awakening;” it elevates our thinking to live in compliance with Colossians 3:1-3.


“If this be so; if you were raised with Christ, if you were translated into heaven, what follows?  Why you must realize the change.  All your aims must center in heaven where reigns the Christ who has thus exalted you, enthroned you on God’s right hand.  All your thoughts must abide in heaven, not on the earth.  For I say it once again, you have nothing to do with mundane things: you died, died once for all to the world: you are living another life” (Expanded paraphrase of Col 3:1-3 -- J. B. Lightfoot’s Commentary, p. 208).


In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the believing sinner discovers to his utter astonishment that God has planned from all eternity to join His matchless glory to the unending blessedness and welfare of the believing sinner. (God’s glory is forever joined to His plan to make you glorious in Christ.)


In response to such infinite grace Calvin says, now let us fall down before the majesty of our good God, with acknowledgement of our sins, praying Him to make us perceive them more and more.  And may He enliven us with the doctrine of the Gospel that we may see our own sins and shamefulness and be ashamed of ourselves, and also behold the righteousness which has been shown us in our Lord Jesus Christ, and lean upon it with the endeavor to be fashioned thereafter, so that daily we may come nearer and nearer to it, until we cleave thoroughly to it (Calvin’s Sermons on Ephesians, pp. 445, 446).


By God’s design, the glorious effect of grace – namely to be taken up and “intoxicated” with God (hungering and panting after Him and delighting in communion with Him) is the prerequisite for selfless ministry to others (including a zeal for evangelism – genuine ministry is the overflow of worship).


The Gospel of grace alone can make us leave our comfort zones on behalf of the needs of others.  Grace alone can move us past self-protection.  Transforming grace is what is needed in order for us to be lifted out of self concern and to be taken up with God.  Apart from Divine View Point, our tendency is to settle into a relational life characterized by personal interests, independence, guarded privacy, prickly defenses, and cherished masks.    


The saint “stranded” in the HVP perspective of things tends to operate from the carnal vantage point of self concern.  His vantage point turns upon his self-ordered world of personal peace, protection, and prosperity. (EX. When God had extended Hezekiah’s life, the Judean king had settled into an HVP mindset of personal peace and prosperity – don’t let trouble or the troubled near my door.)


His truncated “keyhole” vision of things has no picture window to see what God is doing in the world.  In spiritual practice he lives in a dingy hut, contenting himself with the “bread and water” of carnal security and comfort.  Though seated in the heavenlies, he doesn’t stir himself to see past the tiny walls of his little stick hovel of HVP.


Religion has become a spiritual compartment characterized more by deadening duty than delight.  Instead of glorying in an all-pervasive relationship with Christ that dominates exceptionally in his life, his heart is smothered in layers of guilt, obligation, and fear.   He is like a prisoner in his grey castle of self. 


The Gospel of grace is the cure.  The kind of grace thinking enjoined by Paul is what is necessary to raise us from a state of spiritual lethargy to a pervasive consciousness of all that God is toward us in Christ. Only by a grace awakening can we be lifted out of carnal self concern to function from a DVP vantage point (Divine View Point) laid out by Paul in Ephesians 1-3.


And what a vantage point it is!  Meditate for a moment upon God’s plan revealed in the Gospel.  Consider what it means to be taken from dust to glory: “What is [God’s] goal?  What does He aim at? . . . His ultimate objective is to bring [redeemed mankind] to a state in which they please Him entirely and praise Him adequately, a state in which He is all in all to them, and He and they rejoice continually in the knowledge of each other’s love – men rejoicing in the saving love of God, set upon them from all eternity, and God rejoicing in the responsive love of men, drawn out of them by grace through the gospel” (J. I. Packer,Knowing God, p. 81). 


This is God’s glory and man’s glory bound up together in a setting in which the whole created order has been transformed (Packer, pp. 81-82).


Oh how the Church needs to feed on the grace of the Gospel.  A passion for God’s glory in our lives is the blessed byproduct of walking through the gates of Ephesians  chapters one through three, and (by the Spirit’s enablement) understanding what God is doing in the world – He is glorifying His grace, and He desires that the saints align their entire lives with His plan.


III. Ongoing faith in the Gospel produces a series of  sanctifying “Grace Awakenings.”

The maturing saint has numerous “grace awakenings” as his Christian life progresses over time.  The spiritual cycles of these awakenings bear a strong resemblance to one another.  Every time, it is the Gospel order – first there is a withering and stunning view of our weakness, sin, pride, inadequacy, smallness, pettiness, unbelief, unmortified lusts, and frigid love for God.  Exposure precedes clothing (as with Adam when he hid.) We become utterly disillusioned with our Christian lives.


Then, just when we are ready to write ourselves off as useless to God, as unfruitful and failures as Christians, then the Holy Spirit inspires us to exercise “mustard seed” faith in a passage of Scripture, or a promise from the Word.


Even a single line of living Scripture believed anew with struggling faith can be a staging area from which God can give us fresh revelations of His faithfulness (and from which He can do new things in our lives).


Amidst our self-loathing, the Holy Spirit “shows us the blood” yet again.  We feed our faith again upon the grace of God in Christ.  We fall at Lord’s feet and consent to be loved by Him for Christ’s sake alone. Suddenly duty becomes delight – we move all the way into renewed enjoyment of all that God is towards us in Christ.


It is through the lens of the Gospel that we see that we are God’s possession.   Our identity as sons of God is drawn directly from the word of grace.  To the degree that the saint defines himself by the Gospel, literally drawing his identity from what God says about him, to that degree his life will demonstrate eternal values.


By contrast, the saint adrift in the dwarfed faith of HVP tends to define himself primarily by temporal things. His job, his income, his possessions, his friends, his status, his hobbies, his appearance – all these define the HVP saint in his own mind, more than his holy, God-possessed status in Christ.


Preaching grace truths to ourselves regularly is not an option.  Without a steady spiritual diet of the word of grace, of Christ and Him crucified, the lower nature will assert itself.  Performing, pretending, and a passionless spirit will dominate our lives if we are not feeding upon Christ as He is revealed in the Gospel.


Here is the unbreakable truth, if your own identity in Christ, as defined by the Gospel, is your controlling identity, then you will see the Gospel as your life.  The Gospel through Christ’s constraining love will animate you; it will determine how you see everything. It will mark out your value system.


“Grace-awakenings” have a sanctifying effect upon the Christian life.  As Pastor Al Martin noted, the inescapable repetitive theme of Scripture from cover to cover is sin and grace.  As pastors, we have the often unappreciated task, but awesome privilege of persuading folks that God loves people by His active confrontation of their sin.


By His Word, His Spirit, and His ministers, God continually brings people to the crossroads of repentance. We are heralds of a message that is always timely: Repent, confess, mortify sin – experience renewed cleansing and restoration.  Delight in God again, find new wonder and gratitude as you commune with Him; have the joy of your salvation restored.  Experience joyful integration (as the Psalmists) when you come out of hiding and walk in the light again; living a sin-judged life of transparency before God.


But how do most of our parishioners live in the private world of their spiritual lives?  What lies behind the guarded shutters of their souls?  Beneath their quiet desperation and patterns of spiritual defeat is a fear that if their rebellion, and weakness, and failure were to come into the full light of God’s gaze, they would be devastated.


As a result, they shore up the little hovel that conceals their depravity with self-protective strategies to defend against judgment.  Beneath that stiff upper lip is a proud, but fearful spirit that won’t take the “risk” ofrunning to the atonement one more time.


The flesh works overtime to shield itself from any feelings of condemnation, shame, diminishment, and failure. Chutzpah becomes the rule of the day – the posture that is maintained says, “I have it all together.” Prickly defenses are employed to keep others from drawing too close.  Personal brokenness is kept at arm’s length as a repugnant thing too filled with weakness to be considered beneficial.


What is needed is a grace awakening.  When Mike Horton wrote the book, Putting the Amazing back in Grace, he was addressing a pervasive problem – it’s all too common for believers to lose their wonder and awe of God’s grace.  Why does this happen?


Amazement at God’s grace is a function of being conversant with our ill desert and ruin by reason of sin. The greater our apprehension of our need for Christ, the more we will marvel at God’s grace.  The reverse is also true – without a deep awareness of our ill desert and ruin by sin, we will unintentionally devalue divine grace.


It’s needful, but humbling to wake each day with the intent of facing our utter dependency upon Christ.  The alternative is choosing to be managers of our own depravity.  When we lose our amazement at God’s grace, it’s generally because we have drifted into a lifestyle of managing our own dereliction and depravity with something other than the grace of God in Christ.  Preaching the Gospel of God’s grace to ourselves each day is the solution!  Do you do the ‘book keeping’ of your soul and conscience by the Gospel?


IV. Ongoing faith in the Gospel shows us that sanctification is driven by relationshipmore than rules.

Historically, the Church has always found it a battle to keep the doctrines of justification and sanctification joined (and operating in their logical relation – especially as set forth in the Pauline epistles).  Pietism separates the two cardinal doctrines; as does quietism.  Legalism and antinomianism mitigate against their unity as well. 


Of all the groups in church history, the Puritans seemed to have best understood the essential and practical relationship between justification and sanctification (many of the Reformers did as well, but they did not write on it as prolifically as the Puritans). 


As servants of Christ, our anthropology ought to reflect an extremely keen insight into the hearts of our hearers.  We’re preaching to people who carry in their bosoms the seeds of the Galatian error.  We should never be shocked at how religious the flesh of man can be.  We should always keep in mind how enormous our capacity is to forget the Gospel.


Orthodoxy can be a forum for the flesh.  We are preaching to folks like ourselves who carry in their souls an internal enemy of God’s grace, even though they are believers!


Carnal sense has no trouble understanding moral obligation, ethical responsibility, duty, performance, reward, merit, production, and law, BUT, it requires the ongoing work of God’s Spirit to understand and live by the grace of the Gospel


The flesh of man prefers a formal, manageable approach to religion.  True religion always tends to degrade in the direction of heartless orthodoxy which is characterized by formalism and compartmentalization. (See essays: Orthodox Formalism and Thoughts on Church Renewal).


Only fresh acts of faith take us off of ourselves and dislodge self from being at the center (even Christians would rather do some work of service than do the work of believing – note Heb 4.  Christ was witness to this propensity in hearers; a tendency to work rather than believe – Jn 6:27-29).


Due to this bent in all of us, the challenge is to keep before the brethren the union of justification and sanctification.  And the fact that grace is not primarily a principle or a possession; grace is a relationship; it is relational. 


God has made us His possession that we might know and enjoy Him and in so doing glorify Him – all flows from Christ, our “Source Person.”  We are saved to commune with the Trinity and in so doing ultimately realize (that is be transformed into) our true identity in Christ.


Grace is a love relationship with our Heavenly Father through Christ our Lord in the power of the Spirit. Sanctification is the outworking of this love relationship.  When the believer maintains his relationship with the Lord, he is living a “separated unto God,” or “sanctified” life.  Thus sanctification involves caring for our relationship with God (David Peterson, Possessed by God).


Our relationship with God is manifested in our relationships with others.  As John Piper says, “It is my greatest joy to experience the in-filling grace of God overflowing from me for the good of others.”  The habitual consciousness of who God is toward us in Christ in all His mercy and love is a major part of our equipping to love the brethren (Col 3:12-13).


Through the word of grace, and union with Christ we are made “fit” to wear the garments of grace in order that we might serve the Body.  The “garments of grace” are described especially in Ephesians 4-5 and in Colossians 3-4. 


The language used by the Apostle in these chapters is “put on” (put on like a garment the character qualities of Christ).  Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Col 3:12b).  Our practical sanctification is lived out as we wear the garments of grace in our relationships with believers.


In this way, others see that we have become partakers of Christ and of grace.  The Gospel of grace provides the rationale for us to love sacrificially; to be spent on behalf of the brethren; to live for the edification of others. 


The word of grace gives us the reasons why we are to identify ourselves completely with Christ’s purposes. The believer is a member of Christ’s Body; as such each member is to contribute his part to the maturation of the Body of Christ as a whole (Eph 4:15, 16).


Each member of Christ’s Body is to commit himself to the Great Commission which is not only directed at evangelism, but equally at discipleship.  And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man that we present every man complete in Christ (Col 1:28).


Such radical identification with Christ and His purposes requires that our affections be captive to the grace of God in the Gospel (to be captivated with the Gospel of God’s grace is synonymous with having a DVP perspective).  Only then does the believer gladly make the purposes of Christ his life’s direction. 


Pastors in training face a whirlwind of seminary instruction that tends to leave them with a certain inference, namely that the Bible is a divinely inspired, inerrant “technical manual” from which they are to mine and exegete timeless principles. 


The sheer volume of academic material to be covered in the seminary curriculum pushes spiritual life issues into the background.  As a consequence, the following essentials are frequently neglected: the believer’s union with Christ, the doctrine of abiding in Christ, the spiritual nature of ministry, the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ, and the relationship between spiritual position and condition (definitive and “progressive” sanctification).


Without the Gospel of grace as our focus, there can be a tendency to preach principles and then recruit volunteers for ministry while the sense of obligation is weighing heavy.  Our people can easily interpret our ministry activity and “orthodox output” as the very soul and heartbeat of the Christian life. 


Indeed, this happened at the church of Ephesus (Rev 2).  Productivity “ate up” devotion to Christ as the highest value.  If we are to be faithful to the logical relationship between justification (the Gospel) and sanctification, then we will want to follow the pattern set by the Apostle Paul.  An understanding of “who we are in Christ” and our devotion to Him will have to precede “what we do for Christ.”


The Gospel of God’s grace is our constant corrective; it keeps liberating us from the pressure to “measure up” in order to be loved and accepted by God.   Preaching Christ in the Gospel of grace is the key to an “identity-based” ministry that puts who we are in Christ ahead of what we do for Christ.


As Christian workers we should personally master an understanding of the relationship between justification and sanctification.  It’s an area of study that eludes most laymen. Folks who have been church members for decades have difficulty explaining the relationship between these two doctrines of justification and sanctification; most cannot do it. 


Those who are able to give the barest explanation of the relationship between the doctrines often do so without any mention of the dimension of life in Christ and union with Him.


It is the goal of this author to challenge every growing believer to be Gospel-centered.  Consider keeping at least one book on your nightstand that deals with this topic of justification and sanctification and union with Christ.  This author is increasingly convinced that Christian maturity is retarded because believers are not approaching sanctification and service as a function of faith in Christ and the Gospel (suggested bibliography at end of this paper).


When we preach the Gospel to ourselves daily, it keeps reminding us of the holy character of God, of the loving heart of God toward us in Christ, of who we are in ourselves as sinners, and of who we are in Christ. (The beauty of reckoning our union with Christ is a growing recognition of His Person.  With that growing realization of Christ comes radical identification with Him in our life of discipleship.)


V. Ongoing faith in the Gospel allows us to reckon Christ’s righteousness imputed to our account.

Our carnal bent is to dress in fig leaves; or “the emperor has no clothes.”  The Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 3:27 that, “You have clothed yourselves with Christ.”  When believers lose their wonder at God’s grace, it’s often because they have been seeking to clothe their souls with something other than Christ.


The behavior of the self-deceived Laodiceans of Revelation 3:14-22 typifies the universal tendency of seeking a counterfeit clothing of the soul. They boasted that were rich, wealthy, in need of nothing.  What a shock it must have been when Christ the Lord, with eyes like a flame of fire, peered into their hearts and declared them to be wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.


There is a certain specter of horror that rises up at the prospect that the bulk of the professing

Church today may see itself far differently than Christ the Lord does.  The mindset of the Laodiceans was the polar opposite of utter dependency upon Christ.  Their boast was in things which they imagined would clothe their souls.  As a result, not a small part of their blindness involved abject ignorance of their desperate need of divine grace.  The mirror of God’s Word alone can keep us from self-deception in this matter.


How does God deal with our sinful tendency to seek “clothing” for our souls in things other than Christ our completeness (Col 2:10)?  The answer is that God through His Spirit and His Word exalts Christ in all of His offices (Prophet, Priest, and King; Logos, Lawgiver, Loving Redeemer, Lion of Judah).  The Father displays His Son to the saints so that they will come to understand that in all of His offices, Christ ever lives to represent us and bring us to God.  The Father convinces us that apart from Christ we are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.   


The safest place for the believer is to be constantly undergoing a “grace awakening.” Welcome views of personal sin, of your depravity, dereliction and utter dependency – let them drive you to Christ.  Invite the Sunrise from on high to shine upon your life.  Ask Him to show you where you are building with wood, hay, and stubble.


When you consent to be clothed by Christ alone; you will find the exit to the “grey castle of self.” (Yes there is some pain involved; but it is primarily to our pride.  Oh how fortifying this is to spiritual health to be scraped down to bedrock so that we are motivated anew to build upon Christ alone.)


The theme of sin and grace runs through Scripture like a continuous scarlet thread – the invitation has continued for thousands of years: apart from God’s grace solution in substitutionary atonement, there is nothing to clothe the nakedness of your souls but worthless fig leaves that cannot hide moral deformity from God’s sight. 


One would think that sinners who have tasted God’s redeeming grace would be done with every sort of fig leaf covering.  But such is not the case.  The believers at Corinth had many kinds of fig leaves; boasting and ‘upsmanship,’ a party/sectarian spirit, materialism, ruthless self-assertion.  The “grace garments” enjoined in Colossians 3:12-20 were all but missing from their corporate practice.


Paul placed all of the Corinthians’ carnal behaviors under the microscope of God’s wisdom in the cross and found each one of them to be symptomatic of the world’s wisdom; a wisdom antithetical to the cross of Christ (James 3:13-18).


The Apostle stated in his Corinthian letters that the message of the cross-centered life is the spiritual diet of the mature.  But only those who are sick of the world’s wisdom are ready for this diet (1 Cor 2:15-3:3). 


The diet of the spiritually mature produces substantial spiritual growth.  The cross-centered believer increasingly perceives that his relationship with the Lord is the foundation for all of his other relationships. 


Thus, the man or woman constrained by Christ’s love will have all of his relationships transformed becausehis motives will not be dominated by self-protection and self-enhancement (the flesh by natural instinct is committed to protection from judgment, criticism, diminishment, as well as to self-advancement).  Instead of an agenda issuing from a self-directed life; the controlling, constraining love of Christ will equip the believer to love God and others (2 Cor 5:14).


If we are to excel in love and servanthood; if we are to be characterized by honesty and realism; and by heroism in dealing with personal sin, we will have to be in that habit of preaching the Gospel to ourselves. Only the man or woman who is constrained by Christ’s love and who lives a cross-centered (Gospel-centered) life is capable of dealing with personal sin at the depth enjoined in Scripture – the depth commanded of the true disciple of Christ.


Any attempt to “manage” our depravity by a means other than the Gospel will produce destructive side effects.  To seek to clothe our own souls by carnal strategies will tend to produce a host of masks, defenses, and personal agendas that keep us from being unhindered vessels of Christ’s love to the Body of Christ.  As the Scotsman said, “There’s a stone in the pipe” – Christ’s love cannot freely pass through us to others. 


Jesus said that His true disciples would not love their lives in this world (Jn 12:24-26). (The carnal love of one’s own life in this world includes all of the community-destroying, cherished, fleshly defense mechanisms employed to guard ourselves from others.)


The man who lives a sin-judged life by walking in the light will stand out amongst those who do not live in this way.  Only the cross-centered life has the guaranteed power to transform our relationships (Phil 2:1-8; Rom 15:1-6).


The message of sin and grace is the starting place.  500 years ago Luther wrestled to the point of weariness with the problem of how a totally depraved person could be completely accepted by God.  Once he had his salvific “epiphany” regarding the wonder of God’s justifying love – then Luther could exclaim with uncontainable joy that the believer is justified, yet a sinner. 


This is precisely where our parishioners are still stuck.  “Justified, yet a sinner” has never taken hold of them in a life-transforming manner.  Therefore they cannot be heroic in dealing with personal sin and failure. Why?  Because deferring judgment, defending against condemnation, and protecting from perceived criticism is still a higher priority than fellowship with God. 


Only the person secure in Christ’s justifying love can face his sin with courage; only the individual who solidly appropriates the word of justification can afford to hear the worst things about self. 


Apart from deep confidence in Christ’s justifying love -- judgment, condemnation, and criticism (perceived or real) make our defense mechanisms go ballistic.  Figuratively speaking, we are ready to cut off, attack, or “kill” the person who brought our failure to light and made us feel diminished.


This non-evangelical response to hearing about our sin tears churches apart (Gal 5:15).  The foolish, and frequently the immature, cannot tolerate admonishment; it is the wise man that welcomes correction and shows gratitude for it (Prov 9:8).


The man who works by carnal means at clothing his own soul, instead of living by faith in Christ, will fail at providing an adequate covering.  His legal efforts are but an exercise in impotence; his response is usually “coveting of every kind,” – Rom 7:8.) 


For this very reason, the saints are in constant need of taking the good word of justification into their souls.  If the Gospel is not their “food,” the temptation will be overwhelming to manage their depravity by carnal methods (the world is more than happy to oblige our longing to clothe our souls – it has a thousand counterfeits and “scorecards” by which we may pronounce ourselves “O.K.”).


If we are not integrated or made whole by Christ’s righteousness imputed, then we will attempt to find our completeness in other things.  The latter approach was indeed the state of the Laodicean church.  In their self-deception, the Laodiceans imagined that they were in charge of their own value and completeness.


Self-deception must give way in order for the message of sin and grace to  transform.  In order for the message of sin and grace to take hold, the Body of Christ must determine to be examined by the proclamation of God’s Word through the Lord’s ministers.


Everything in us (except for the Spirit and the new nature energized by Him) opposes coming close enough to the light for exposure of sin to take place (Jn 3:19-21).


Apart from the news of redemption in the cross, we tend to shoot the messenger.  If the atonement is not our daily hiding place, we will have false refuges from judgment – and every false refuge has its social consequences (note how destructive the Corinthian “fig leaves” were to true community in that local church).


The believer who preaches the Gospel to himself each day will be equipped for heroism in dealing with personal sin.  He will gladly make it his daily practice to consent to be clothed by Christ’s righteousness,and thereby live by faith in Christ.  As a consequence, his relationships will be transformed.


VI. Ongoing faith in the Gospel lets God’s verdict about us become the “loudest voice in our conscience.”

The man who walks in the light of the cross learns to take in the glorious word of justification in Christ as the “loudest verdict” in his conscience.  Oh how liberating this is!  We’re all too often in a ‘grace-less’ mindset. When in that posture we tend to be overly critical, sensitive, self-protective, and walking on eggshells because the verdict of conscience is suspended upon the opinions of men instead of the verdict of Almighty God (Rom 8:32-34).  (So many professing believers are virtually undefended against the accusations of the evil one who works to keep the consciences of the saints in a heavy, joyless, and defensive state.)


(The immature have yet to discover the spiritual diet of cross-centered living.  Therefore they are far too dependent upon the praise, approval, judgment, criticism, and glory of man.  This is one of the negative factors that “morphs” churches into social clubs that turn upon human recognition.  So sensitive have church members become to the praise of man that every ministry effort and “performance” must be heaped with praise, applause and recognition –even though this moves them dangerously close to having their reward in full nowThe glory of man and the glory of God have always been antithetical – John 12:42-43; 5:44)


The sin and grace theme concentrated in the Gospel is about God actively confronting our sin that we might be brought close to Him who is the source of all life, light, love, and blessedness.  The cross brings us down that we might be raised up to live in overflowing gratitude for the “exotic love” inherent in our sonship (1 Jn 3:1).


God’s answer to our excesses, and spiritual lassitude, and propensity for fig leaves is fresh apprehensions of Christ and His grace.  Wonder of wonders, as John Owen states in his work, Communion with God, our depravity is a huge point of interface with God.  As we take our sin to the Lord and take Christ for our righteousness again and again, we are having communion with the Lord.   God is honored – He takes delight in our frequent appropriations of Christ for our entire righteousness.  (God’s verdict reckoned is communion with God realized.)


How much this differs from the carnal conclusions of our fleshly minds.  When we make efforts to clothe the nakedness of our souls, we always do so at the cost of  leaving the cross at the entrance gate of our salvation. It becomes a distant memory instead of a daily present reality for all the needed “bookkeeping” of our consciences with its outstanding accounts and consciousness of guilt.


VII. Ongoing faith in the Gospel provides the motivation to maintain our relationship with the Lord.

How do most believers live behind the doors of their souls?  They tend to work 100 times harder on their goals and all of the accompanying props and supports of ego than they do upon maintaining their relationship with the Lord.


If they only knew that what they are seeking (peace, joy, happiness, security, a non-accusing conscience, a sense of intense belonging) are byproducts of walking in close communion with the Lord – literally the dividends of the cross-centered life. (Let us not be afraid to preach the benefits of obedience.  Paul spoke of the peace, joy, and hope that redound to the saint who lives a life of faith – Romans 15:13.)


Twenty-seven hundred years ago Jeremiah proclaimed that God’s covenant people had a preference for stagnant leaky cisterns instead of the pure, cool fountain of living water found in the Lord (Jer 2:13).   Why this preference for the irrational and for false sources?  What motivates us to attempt to slake our thirst on bile-colored pond scum instead of the artesian well of God’s love and presence? 


The answer is that since the Fall in Eden, men have placed their confidence in what they can control and produce. (God Almighty, through Isaiah diagnosed this penchant for control when He read the hearts of the Jews who were ready to boast, “My idol did them” (Is 48:5).  By contrast, the faith that pleases God is self-renouncing – it looks away from self (and self’s desire to control).  It looks away from self as a source and instead looks to God’s character, God’s heart, and God’s covenant with us; Christ Himself.


How we must get it into our heads and hearts that God desires to meet with us at the following juncture:God meets us at the cross when we deal with sin His way.


It’s true for the person just converted as well as the saint.  When we begin to understand and practice this, then we will be better equipped to preach the vast Gospel theme of sin and grace to a needy people.


God’s infinite grace is full and free, but it is bestowed within the context of conditions produced by God’s Spirit.  In His mercy, God grants the ability to repent.  The Spirit produces brokenness over personal sin – the convicted man is crushed in his spirit over his lusts and his hurtful sinful patterns of behavior.  The cross alone can produce a Spirit-convicted man who desires to leverage himself upon God. 


The cross brings the sinner low; it dashes to the ground all human strategies for managing personal depravity.  The man brought low abandons all false refuges and hiding places from judgment; he comes clean and owns his guilt.  He judges himself worthy of divine judgment; he flees to the atonement.  Only then (through this Spirit enabled conviction and repentance) does the “altar” of the cross become the sinner’s treasured everlasting meeting place with God (Heb 13:10ff.).


The Christian comes back to meet God there over and over again.  By fresh acts of faith in the message of the cross, we are renewed and we are motivated to maintain our relationship with the Lord.  The outcome of maintaining our relationship with the Lord is practical progress in sanctification (Rom 6:22-23). 


The “grace” part of our Gospel of sin and grace tells us that the cross-centered life demands our full attention.  It refuses to be peripheral; it cannot be compartmentalized nor formalized. Life as a living sacrificecalls for universal obedience – every area of life is to be characterized by ongoing conformity to God’s Word.


Cross-centered living calls for courage; a daring to draw near again and again in order to have the light of Christ and His work shine upon our affections, our identity, our behavior, and our relationships – there is a constant renewal of our determination to take refuge in Christ the covenant and hiding place. 


The cross-centered life calls me to a path of radical identification with Christ in which the Word of God dominates exceptionally in every area of my life.  The cross is inseparable from self-denial -- there are 10,000 places where God’s will cuts across my will.  Those who take up the cross understand this intimately – they “feel” the ruggedness of the cross upon their flesh.  What they would prefer to pamper and excuse, the cross condemns and slays.


Yielding to God’s Spirit involves ongoing mortification of sin (Rom 8:12-13; Col 3:5ff.).  At these junctures of putting to death sin, we put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 13:14).  Our striving against sin is not merely moral exertion at work.  The cross-centered saint puts on Christ by reckoning Him as our entire sphere of grace.    He abides in this sphere, reckoning all that is his by union with Christ.  This alone is the Christian’s “staging area” for his battle against sin.


Our choice is the sea of “FUD,”(fear, uncertainty, doubt) or the “Sphere of Christ.” By virtue of our union with Christ we live in the sphere of Christ.  He is our life, light, blessedness, comfort, joy, hope, covenant, sonship, enablement, acceptance, and completeness.  But as with all positional truth, we only enjoy and experience the benefits by the exercise of our faith.  Positional truth is not immediately experiential.  It must be believed to be enjoyed and experienced. 


Christ is our sphere.  If we live without Him in view we will tend to operate on a treadmill of striving that oscillates between pride and despair.  And without faith and reliance upon Him, we will tend to consult our feelings, our conscience, and our opinions which is how we become adrift on a sea of F.U.D. to begin with.


The saint is to live by faith alone.  We appropriate by faith, enjoy by faith, grow, and serve by faith. 


Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (or reckoning ourselves in His sphere) results in fellowship with Him.  We gladly submit to His Meditorial Kingship – we say “yes” to the Spirit at those junctures where sin is to be mortified. The result is the Spirit’s filling and control; joy in the Lord; intimate fellowship with God.


The Church has many who walk at a determined distance from the cross.  They walk so as to give the cross a wide berth.  Those who do not take up the cross fail to cooperate with the purposes of God’s heart (Rom 8:28-29).  As a consequence they do not have as their life goal to be presented complete in Christ (Col 1:28). 


Is it not time to remind our people that it only those who are friends of the cross who are truly friends of God (Phil 3:17-21).  The cross stands at the center of our relationship with the Holy One.  The message of sin and grace is not only about our entrance into salvation.  It is the message of God’s eternal purposes fulfilled in Christ (Rom 16:25-27).  It is the message of how the God of all grace is taking defiled sinners from dust to glory. 


We are appointed by our Savior to care for brethren who are not yet fed up with expressions of the world’s wisdom in their own lives.  They have yet to reach a point of disgust with their carnal mindsets and behaviors that destroy love and unity.  We must continue to proclaim Christ crucified until they are finally fed up with the sins which work against the Spirit’s will for true community (see Rom 14-15). 


We must preach Christ crucified until our listeners crave the diet of the mature.  We must proclaim the Gospel of the cross until our hearers are consumed and intoxicated with the beauty of Christ.


How can we best cultivate a longing for the spiritual diet of the mature; how can we be a catalyst for that which induces hunger for the message of the cross-centered life?  How does God take hold of a man so that he desires the cross, knowing it will pinch and pierce his flesh?  


We must learn to display Christ not only in His sinless life of infinite virtue made manifest, but we must also learn to display the perfections of His Saviorhood – a Saviorhood perfectly suited to the sinner’s every need (Heb 7:26-28); a Saviorhood that is co-extensive with the sinner’s ruin.


Living by the Gospel of God’s grace produces the dynamics of grace in the life of the Christian.  For the Gospel is our very food and nourishment, the Gospel is our weapon by which we overcome the world.  The Gospel is the ‘glue’ that holds the saints together in the mystical Body of Christ.  The Gospel is our divine window to knowing God.  The Gospel lets God be God and we the creature.  The Gospel produces devotion to Christ and every instinct of worship in the new creature.


Therefore, we are to be ever about the business of setting forth the Gospel of sin and grace and of displaying the Son of God.  Apart from cross-centered living, the individual will attempt to clothe his own soul.   God’s answer has been clearly given – let us set our course to emulate the Apostle Paul who said, “For I determined, while among you, to be unconscious of everything but Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).


Honoring the God of History

INTRODUCTION: Man operates within a time-space-mass continuum, but dreams of an existence that is not bound by these dimensions. Through technology, man has loosed himself from the earth’s gravitational pull, rocketing through space in supersonic craft. He has propelled himself into orbit, experiencing weightlessness, but he cannot escape the dimension of time. Time machines are but a product of science fiction writers.

No doubt our longing for the timeless is a propensity planted in our hearts by our Creator. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon indicates that, “[God] has put eternity in their hearts (Eccl. 3:11). There is sound reason for this. Man cannot be satisfied with a finite integration point – only an infinite God can satisfy the heart of the creature made in God’s image. Man is made for God – nothing finite can fill that God-shaped void in the soul.

Man is locked in time, God is not. He is transcendent – He is not a part of His creation, nor is He subject to its physical laws. Man experiences events in the sequence of time. God sees all at once. This is difficult to comprehend, but an illustration can offer some assistance.

Suppose you purchased a grandstand seat to watch the Rose parade, you would see each float as it passed by in the sequence it was placed in the parade. But if you were in a blimp looking down on the parade route, you would see all of the floats simultaneously – you would not be subject to their sequential appearance in time. So also, God comprehends the end from the beginning. But in doing so, He is infinitely more than a spectator. Scripture declares that God is carrying out His purpose in history – “[He] works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).

One’s view of history determines one’s view of God. A person’s worldview quickly manifests itself when it comes to his philosophy of history.

Naturalistic and humanistic philosophies of history DENY that the origin, purpose and consummation of history are controlled by an all-wise, all powerful, personal God.

Scripture continually affirms the sovereignty of God over history. The Bible proclaims that God is sovereign over:

1.) Good and evil events – Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6.

2.) The sinful acts of men – Gen. 50:20; 2 Samuel 16:10,11; 24:1.

3.) The free acts of men – Proverbs 16:1; 21:1; Romans 8:28,35-39.

4.) The details of the individual’s life – Job 14:5; Psalm 139;16.

5.) The affairs of the nations – 2 Kings 5:1; Psalm 75:1-7; Daniel 2:27.

6.) The final destruction of the wicked – Proverbs 16:4; Romans 9:17.

Therefore, according to the Bible, the government of God is not simply limited to the enforcement of His holy laws. The reign of God encompasses all things that come to pass, even the evil acts of men.

God’s providence rules over the smallest details. Jesus told His disciples, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). In that context, Jesus was encouraging His disciples to greater trust in their heavenly Father’s competent care.

The very substance of saving faith in God is the confidence that He is in control of the believer’s life (Rom. 8:28). By contrast, how helpless is the man without faith in God’s Word (in terms of understanding reality). The “wisest” unbeliever who does not interpret history by the authoritative Word of God resigns himself to epistemological despair (he never attains to certainty as to the meaning and purpose of history and his own life). As a consequence, the unbeliever is left with the bare phenomenon of sight – for him all things appear to unfold by a principle of bald contingency and chance without a governing, all-wise plan.

Consistent with his worldview, the unbeliever orders his life autonomously, as if the sovereign God of history does not exist and as if history has no plan.

The natural man collects “evidence” of a chance universe formed by chaos. He argues for the randomness and senselessness of history in order to support his worldview. The natural man has an axe to grind – it is the axe of who will be in control – God or man. The denial of God’s sovereignty over history is tantamount to an attack upon the authority of His throne. (God’s mighty rule over all events is a marvelous truth, especially when one considers that history is like a tapestry of intertwined and interwoven threads – it cannot be cut off clean. Every event decreed by God, whether good or evil and every person extends influence to all things. Note the plethora of examples from Scripture of the interrelatedness of events, especially those which began as an inconsequential detail but ended up effecting innumerable lives. The book of Esther perfectly illustrates this profound truth.)

God’s power to redeem sinful man, God’s ability to fulfill prophecy and God’s faithfulness to His promises demand that He be in control of history. It would be impossible for God to promiseredemption if He did not control all things. The smallest event out of His control could cause the plan of redemption to miscarry. Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus assured His disciples that the Father’s plan of redemption could not be stopped by all the forces of darkness (see Matthew 16:18). After Christ’s resurrection, the Apostle Peter told his hearers that God’s plan foreordainedthe crucifixion of Messiah. Though the persecutors of Jesus were guilty of great wickedness, in their ignorant rage they actually fulfilled God’s plan by crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ (See Acts 2:22,23; 3:14,15; 4:25-28; 1 Cor. 2:8).

It would be impossible for God to give precise prophecies and ensure their fulfillment if He were not in control of history. More than a quarter of the Old Testament is prophecy. Many contain so many specifics that the chance of an accidental fulfillment is outside the realm of possibility (if calculated by mathematical probability).

It would be impossible for God to promise comprehensive care, provision and leading to His people if He were not in control of history. There are scores of promises to believers concerning God’s tender care, protection and provision. The smallest detail outside of God’s control would always pose a potential threat to these comprehensive promises (See Matt. 6:25-34; Philippians 4:6, 7, 19).

The intellect of man, unaided by Scripture, cannot understand the meaning of history. Scripture is filled with the message that God is moving all history to its point of consummation. God is the One who unifies history in Himself and in His purposes.

From our perspective, so much of history appears to us to be mishmash of chaotic events. Apart from Scripture, history appears to have no unifying plan or purpose. But the Christian knows something that the world does not know -- namely that God has given His people a vivid sneak preview of the last chapter of history yet to be lived out. God has told us in His authoritative Word that he will “tie up” the innumerable loose ends that are now but a confusing paradox (See Ez. 39:21-23).

As in a “who done it” novel, history (by God’s design) has saved its thrilling climax for the last chapter. Then what has been hidden and mysterious will be revealed (See Rom. 2:16).

The Scriptures cite numerous examples of what appear to be unrelated events dove-tailing into a majestic plan. These biblical historical narratives are intended to show us God’s involvement in history. They function as precursors of the final consummation at the end of the age. God will then “tell all” that is necessary for us to see His perfections in the way He has ruled human history.

The story of Joseph in the book of Genesis is a classic example of God’s commentary on His historical dealings with men. Think of the power, might and wisdom necessary to bring together seemingly antithetical happenings into a perfect plan.

Here is a partial list of the events that occurred in the story of Joseph’s imprisonment and his rise to the throne of Egypt:

Joseph’s brothers sell him to traders as a slave, then the brothers hand their father a bloody coat and let their father conclude Joseph was slain. Betrayed by the wife of his master, Joseph is deposed and sent to prison, falsely accused as a rapist. A plot to kill Pharoah is uncovered – the baker and the cup bearer are sent to the prison where Joseph is held. Joseph interprets the dreams of both men. The baker is hung, but the cup bearer is restored to his post. The worst drought in half a millennium hits the Mediterranean basin. Jacob is forced to go to Egypt to buy grain for food.

All these events, including God’s dealings with each person on the stage of history at the time (whether pagan or believer) must be considered as well.

God is bringing His plan to fruition while at the same time respecting the free agency of each person (so that God is described in the Bible as showing no partiality, but exercising justice and goodness toward all).

In the story of Joseph, all of the fractured beams of light that bounce chaotically about from our vantage point of history are focused into a stunningly bright, clear beam of intense cohesive light like a laser beam. For God tells us the outcome of the story – Joseph’s rise to power declares God’s goodness in dealing with a family, a nation, a kingdom and the whole Mediterranean basin (all are preserved from death by famine). The summary verse in Genesis regarding the wisdom of God’s providence in the life of Joseph is as follows: “And as for you (Joseph’s brothers), you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

When we read the account of Joseph in the book of Genesis, it is God graciously pulling back the veil that we might see the majesty of His providential wisdom and power. God is giving us a glimpse of the height of His throne – that is the omnipotence of His wisdom and power in providence.

We see God accomplishing His plan to give food to the Mediterranean world. We see Him dealing with His creatures in perfect holiness and we see Him exalting His attributes.

Joseph’s father, Jacob has his faith severely tested at the height of the famine. Prior to his reunion with a “living” Joseph in Egypt, he begins to despair of God’s goodness. As Jacob contemplates the “loss” of Joseph and the potential loss of Simeon and Benjamin, he utters “all these things are against me” (Genesis 42:36-38).

Without the benefit of God’s revelation in these events and without seeing the outcome of a glorious family reunion with his sons in Egypt, Jacob is tempted to function only by bare sight. Little did he know that God was going to restore to him what he thought he’d lost as well as grant him additional blessings.

So it is that in narrative and prophetic divine revelation, portions of history have the veil pulled back to reveal God’s providential might, power and wisdom.

Believers are greatly heartened by these passages of Scripture which display God’s infinite power over history. For most of history does not have the veil pulled back as yet. History’s flow so often seems to be a “river” of unrelated, often senseless and cruel events that appear to mock any unifying plan. (See also the book of Job. Job experiences incalculable losses without the immediate benefit of God’s immediate commentary – Job 1-3 ff. Only later does he understand the true meaning of God’s greatness.)

In the end, Christ will consummate every purpose of God. He will pronounce the destiny of every rational creature. All human measuring sticks will be discarded – on that day, the meaning of all things will be defined by their relation to Christ.

Redemptive history shall prove to be the very triumph of God’s perfections and excellence. This is the believer’s hope and confidence – that the same God who decreed history also invaded human history in the Person of Jesus Christ will invade history again at final consummation of the age in order to install His eternal kingdom (Revelation 11:15).

God has exhibited His Son as an atoning sacrifice for sin and has raised Him from the dead (Romans 3:25). History’s crowning and unifying purpose is that of man’s redemption. The Creator of the universe left His throne to accomplish man’s deliverance and restoration (Philippians 2:5-11). At the end of the age, God will wrap up history – because of Christ’s perfect and triumphant work, He will do away with sin and all of its multifarious consequences (death, suffering, disease, wickedness, injustice, etc. – see Acts 17:30,31; Revelation 21:1-7).

God’s Word makes sense of the greatest antinomy of history, the death of Christ (Acts 2:22-24; 4:27,28). Nowhere in history and nowhere in Scripture is the light beam of God’s providence more intensely and cohesively focused than in the death of Christ. In the cross of Christ, innumerable events are brought together: O.T. prophecy, Roman government, Greek language, Judaism, divine justice, mercy, love, wisdom, power, holiness and promises, as well as human fear, unbelief, persecution, envy and cowardice.

God, whose throne is so very high, not only overrules the antinomies which scandalize the human mind, He turns antinomies into a declaration of His immutable purpose and perfections. His sovereignty rules over all – even over events which from our perspective are merely scattered, haywire, and unjust.

Jesus announced ahead of time the sovereignty of God in the cross. Jesus proclaimed to His disciples that His coming crucifixion was not due to a victimization that flowed from weakness. Jesus told His own, “No one takes My life from Me, I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18). Essential to the gospel is that Christ’s incarnation and death were totally voluntary on His part.

The cross is filled with divine sovereignty – it is filled with our philosophy of history. It gives us clues into the greatest antinomies that have ever occurred.

The cross of Christ brings together two seemingly irreconcilable events: 1.) the greatest travesty of justice in human history – the murder of the innocent Son of God AND 2.) the perfect satisfaction of divine justice – the propitiation or satisfaction of God’s justice by the death of Christ. (No wonder the cross is a stumbling block to the mind of the unbeliever -- it towers over the human intellect (1 Corinthians 1;18-25; 2:6-16; 3:18-20). For in the Gospel, the cross is declared to be the result of God’s planning and permission. By God’s foreordination, the God-man is slain by His creatures that sinners might be reconciled to God.)

To our sight, providence often looks like a string of coincidences. Related events appear to be held together by strands of “chance” no wider than a hair’s breadth. Were not some of King David’s escapes from King Saul by a hair’s breadth to our sight?

To the one who knows God, nothing is left to chance. What appears to be a fragile silken strand has been decreed from all eternity and rendered certain. (In the nineteenth century, a Christian was fleeing from his persecutors – exhausted, he squeezed into a shallow cave. The moment he entered, a spider spun a web over the entrance. When the pursuers came to the cave they exclaimed, “He can’t be in here, look at the spider’s web, no one has been here for long time.” Because of His overruling providence, God can make a web into a wall and a wall into a web.)

For the believer, this is no cause for quietism or passivity, for God brings about His will through innumerable secondary causes. God’s people shall reach the heavenly shore by the use of means that God has appointed (Christians are urged in Scripture to use these means diligently, see Hebrews 6:11,12; 1 Peter 1:3-6. Remember, what God has decreed is always joined to the use of means).

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7).

Divine providence is a cause for deep fear of God. No sinner, rebel or scoffer can thwart God’s purposes by sin. Not even Lucifer who has marshaled an immense black kingdom of billions of souls shall overturn one of God’s purposes by his fomenting such a massive rebellion. God’s purposes are not frustrated by the wickedness of man. WHY? Because God’s throne is so high, and His plan is so wide, it encompasses both His saving purposes and the wicked rebellion of the impenitent.

The crushing of the grapes of wrath is no children’s fairytale – God will ultimately make “wine” of the wicked (See Revelation 19 and Isaiah 63). The wrath of man shall praise God’s justice (Psalm 76:10; Romans 9:17).

When we think of God’s sovereignty, it ought to instill in us reverential fear. For human and angelic rebellion did not take God by surprise nor jeopardize His plan.

The entrance of sin into creation fell within the scope of God’s decree. Fools twist this doctrine into heresies of fate and determinism – or even the blasphemous notion that God is the author of sin. God will confound them and terrify them on judgment day – for then the lost will understand to their everlasting horror that God granted their wish to live separated from Him. Though His Spirit strove with them to repent and though God’s truth was pressed upon their consciences, they preferred to have their own way. God permitted them to cling to their self-willed choices and solidify their character -- their choice to remain estranged and alienated from God will prove to be a choice for destruction.

Is this not a cause for fear? God is not a spectator who strolled by the drama of human history and took a seat. NO, God originated time and space history – He ordained and decreed what shall come to pass that ultimately His divine perfections might be declared to the rational universe.

Human history shall prove to be the record of the honoring and dishonoring of God and the consequences of each. History will prove that God is not mocked. It shall be manifested in the end that sowing and reaping are ineffably joined (Gal. 6:7-9). This is an inescapably moral universe because its Creator and Ruler is absolutely righteous and holy.

Destinies are decreed in eternity past by a sovereign God BUT they are fixed in time by sowing. Oh how this should drive us to God for mercy while there is time. For the principle of sowing and reaping never ends -- the soul made in the image of God never goes out of existence (an eternal harvest in our own persons is a most sobering concept).

Scripture calls us to judge our sinful motives – if we are honest, we must admit that we are altogether prone to sow to the flesh (Romans 8:1-11). It is the grace of Christ alone that interrupts the unbreakable principle of sowing and reaping. It is the grace of Christ that made Him willing to come to earth to take the place of helpless sinners. It is the love of Christ that made Him willing to “reap” the sinner’s penalty of death and divine wrath. It is the grace of Christ that plants in the believer a new inclination to sow with a view to righteousness. (Illus.: Why is it that the same sun that hardens clay, softens bee’s wax? It is because clay and wax have radically different natures.)

It is the grace of Christ that illumines the heart of a man so that he apprehends the seriousness of eternal issues. Those who die in unbelief will reap the eternal consequences of their sowing.

To reject divine mercy found in Christ is to remain locked in the strict principle of sowing and reaping. It is to come under the crushing justice of God’s unbending law. It is a rejection of God’s grace.

The unbeliever operates in the futility of his own mind. He doesn’t consider that the universe exists for the glory of God AND that God shall surely realize the purpose for which He made the creation.

Every man’s existence is either aligned to God’s purpose to glorify Himself or it is contrary to God’s purpose.

The natural man has no sentiment to live for God’s glory. The natural man has no desire to “pay” the modest “rent” of daily thanksgiving to God. Judgment day entails the “eviction notice.” Only the grace of God can change the heart of man to live for God’s glory. God’s grace aligns a man to live for God’s glory by uniting the man to Christ. Living for God’s glory is the grateful response of the soul who has tasted the God’s grace.

Nearly one third of Scripture is prophecy. The detailed fulfillment of Bible prophecy is one of the key evidences of the infallibility of God’s Word. God has joined the honor and reputation of His great Name to the infallibility of Scripture. Those who fear God understand that God has raised His Word as high as His Name (Psalm 138:2). This means that not one jot or tittle of Scripture shall fall to the ground unfulfilled (the jot and tittle represent the smallest portions of a letter in the Hebrew alphabet – see Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:17).

God’s glory is inseparably joined to every threat and promise in Scripture. (In His Word is the knowledge of God, the ways of God, the wonders of God and the will of God – God is jealous for His own honor, He has spoken clearly, He has not stuttered nor allowed men to falsify His authoritative self-revelation.)

Since God has declared that He is as good as His Word and that He will fulfill every iota of it, the sinner’s apathetic unbelief is tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet before the Creator. The scoffer makes a wicked wager with his own soul, in his impenitent pride, he thinks that his soul is unconquerable – he tells himself, “I won’t see damnation, I shall continue to escape eternal judgment.” (The natural man’s “hope” constitutes defiance against God’s Word. The natural man makes a suicidal wager that God is not as good as His Word (Prov. 21:30; Ps. 10:13).

God has affirmed in His holy Word that there is no possible way of escape from divine wrath but by safety and refuge in Christ (Hebrews 2:1-3).

The impenitent sinner flies in the face of this unbreakable truth by trusting in his own schemes and opinions while casting aspersion upon the Word of God (Psalm 1:4-6). The unbeliever has more respect for gravity than he does for God’s Word. He takes care not to slip in the shower but races toward the grave without a thought that he has bypassed the Word of life.

The man who has been born again behaves in a much different fashion. The regenerate man constantly places himself under the scrutiny of Christ’s eye (Hebrews 4:12). He regards his safety to be bound up in God’s faithful examination and correction of him (Psalm 139). He knows that apart from the promises of God’s Word, he will lack security, certainty and confident hope. He knows that apart from the warnings of God’s Word, he will stray and be tempted to presumption. He regards the Scripture to be the agency through which the Holy Spirit produced his life in God (1 Peter 1:23). He knows that apart from faith in Scripture, it is absolutely impossible to know God and please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

It is impossible to be neutral toward the Word of God. In the realm of human relations, it is by our words as well as our actions that we are known. Through the words used in communication, relationships are formed, broken and mended. Through the instrumentality of our words, we communicate the contents of our heart to our spouse making ourselves known and winning their love. Through our words, we provide boundaries for our children’s behavior. Our greatest ideas and highest passions are expressed through our words. Our words have the power to elicit joy, tears, comfort, rage or love in others.

Now realize that our Creator, the Author of language and our faculties has reached out to our minds, souls and hearts through the means of His immutable Word. It is impossible to honor Him, bow before Him or know Him without taking His words into our minds and hearts.

Even in our horizontal relationships, our closeness to others is established by the “bridge” of our mutual words. As the Scripture says, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).

The message of God’s Word comes to us at first as an extremely “bright light.” Men shield their eyes of their souls from its penetrating beams. The Bible gives us the reason why men navigate in a wide swath around its eternal truth:

“And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).

The reason men will not read God’s Word is because they fear exposure. God’s message comes as a hammer that breaks rock – men feel its blows upon their conscience and flee from the discomfort (Jeremiah 23:29).

Every man is a part of history – God is the One who interprets and consummates history. He will on the last day announce to each person his eternal destiny (Revelation 20:12,13). It is impossible for a man to be right with God apart from faith in Christ (Acts 4:12). To be “in Christ” by faith is the only right standing before God. Without Christ, there is no standing, no hiding place from God’s wrath, no favor and no acceptance.

It is a staggering thought that men who would not risk one dollar in a one on one basketball game with Kobe Bryant dare to go one on one with God on judgment day without Christ as Savior. (The Scripture presents Christ as the “defense attorney” for the believing sinner – see the use of “Advocate in 1 John 2:2.)

God has but one perfect hiding place for believing sinners – the Son of God, friend of sinners. This brief life is but a preparation for eternity. God has commanded us in His Word to be reconciled to Him through Christ. He has given us fair warning that His coming judgment is more comprehensive than we can possibly imagine.

His gracious offer of mercy is priceless – for God is willing to receive even the worst sinner now and wash him from every transgression (Isaiah 1:18). On the last day, it will be too late, the doors of mercy will be closed. Therefore God is now imploring men through His servants to be reconciled to God now.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest possible news and tidings from heaven – God is satisfied with the Person of His Son as a Substitute for sinners! He asks NOTHING MORE by way of satisfaction and acceptance. The believing sinner can add NOTHING to Christ’s work of satisfying the demands of God’s broken law. And the sinner can add NOTHING to the perfect obedience that Christ rendered to God’s righteous demands in the law (Romans 6:23).

The sinner’s blessed task is to “settle out of court” – admit the full extent of your guilt and receive full pardon now. All those who refuse to settle out of court now will receive the sentence of eternal judgment on the last day. God is glorified in the salvation of sinners. His willingness to freely receive the believing sinner is promised in His Word (Isaiah 55:1-8).



Looking Back to Understand the Future, 2 Pet 3:1-18


As defenders of the Genesis account of creation, we are in the habit of viewing Noah’s Flood through the lens of geology and the fossil record. As we well should, for the earth history gives powerful testament to a global cataclysm by water.


This essay will examine the flood through the lens of Christian worldview. The benefits of doing so are manifold. Worldview involves the study of presuppositions (when we study origins from a worldview perspective, we find that evolution is as much a philosophy as it is an unproven theory).


Worldview is Foundational to a Person’s Understanding of Reality.

Evolutionary Humanism’s Distorted Lens: Human Intellect + Facts = Truth


We study presuppositions not only to articulate and defend the Christian faith, but also to better understand the false starting point (false assumptions, and false core beliefs) of skeptics. All investigation begins with a faith choice (God’s lens or the lens of autonomous human reason). (“Faith choice” is another way of saying presupposition. Study by means of worldview helps us “x-ray” the depraved reasoning processes of the unregenerate.)

Every man interprets the facts around him through the framework of his worldview. Every worldview is anchored in an ultimate starting point, or core belief. All investigation and interpretation of facts begins with FAITH in one of two starting points – 1.) FAITH in the God who was there, OR 2.) FAITH in the philosophies of men who weren’t there (i.e. Darwin).

The Christian Worldview lets us see the Facts through God’s Lens.

The parts of our Christian worldview fit together like interlocking puzzle pieces.Distort one piece, and it affects the shape of all the other pieces. Every time I meet a person who regards six-day creation to be too fantastic, I also find that their skepticism regarding creation carries over into the Genesis account of the flood.

When we ask the question – “Why is the Genesis flood so important to our Christian worldview?” – we discover that the answers are concentrated in 2 Peter chapter 3. In that chapter, the Apostle Peter gives us the reasons why Noah’s Flood is one of the pillars of our Christian worldview. In God’s inspired Word we find that Bible doctrine is inseparably linked to events in history.


It’s fascinating to think that of all the ways Peter could have chosen to refute those who deny the return of Christ, Peter chose to use the historic fact of Noah’s Flood. The Apostle thunders out the truth that Second Advent of Christ is not a notion held in the heads of religious people, it is anchored in the historic fact of a previous universal judgment – Noah’s Flood.

By contrast, uniformitarians assume that the world has always been this way, but Peter is going to uncover the assumptions that lie behind their twisted worldview. At the same time he is instructing Christians to arm themselves against the dangerous teachings of the coming mockers.

2 Peter 3 can be broken down into six commands to believers:

The Commands of 2 Peter 3: (Know the Prophecy of the Lord’s Return!)

1. “REMEMBER” what our Lord said about His return (vv. 1-2).

2. “KNOW” that Mockers will abound in the Last Days (vv. 3-7).

3. “TAKE NOTICE” of God’s Reason for the Delay of Christ’s Return (vv. 8-9).

4. “LOOK FOR” the Day of the Lord with Eagerness (vv. 10-13).

5. “BE DILIGENT” in your Readiness for the Day of the Lord (vv. 14-16).

6. “BE ON GUARD” against the Danger from the Mockers (vv. 16-18).

I. “REMEMBER” what our Lord and His Apostles said about Christ’s Return (vv. 1-2).

Stir up your sincere (pure) minds by putting into remembrance what you already know about Christ’s return (think through, reflect, meditate upon). A pure or sincere mind is not sullied by vices, heresies, or false ideas. Focus on the most important spiritual truths – this is needful because we are constantly bombarded by the trivial.

The aim of Peter’s reminder is to promote the welfare of his readers. In light of the difficult days coming, in which world rebellion against God will intensify, they were to hold fast to their first beliefs as a safeguard against the influx of false teachings.

Take heed to the O.T. and the N.T. Scriptures, for as the Lord’s coming draws near, false teachers will proliferate (Matt 7:15; 24:4-5, 11; Mark 13:22-23). The commandment of our Lord and Savior is, “be ready!” “Be on the alert!” (Matt 24:36-44; Mk 13:32-37; Luke 12:35-40).

At the close of the Apostle Paul’s ministry he gives a very similar warning in 2 Timothy 3-4 concerning the spiritual climate of the last days – the bulk of the world’s population will refuse to know and practice the Holy Scriptures.

II. “KNOW” that Mockers will abound in the Last Days (vv. 3-7).


vv. 3-4 -- The Apostle warns of the certainty of their coming. Skepticism concerning creation and the second coming will reach a crescendo of mockery in the last days. (The “last days” refers to the time period that will close the present age.)

The mockers have a scornful disregard of sacred spiritual things (Ps 1:1; Jude 18).The fact that they walk after their own lusts connects them to the false teachers of chapter two (chap. 2 exposes their licentious conduct and their self-willed opposition to the Law of God – Rom 8:5-8).

Our passage makes the point that sinners select a worldview that permits the expression of their lusts (note Romans 1:18ff.). The way these false teachers/mockers reason concerning the apparent delay of the parousia clearly contributes to their apostasy (Matt 24:48-51; Zeph 1:12). “Parousia” – coming, arrival, presence of the Lord. 

They have a vested interest behind their worldview of skepticism and –namely that they might indulge in immoral behavior (note that the downward spiral of suppression of God’s truth described in Romans 1 effectively opens the floodgates of immorality).

The false teachers mock the promised appearing of the Blessed Hope, even though the “Promise of His Coming” is Christ’s own promise – Matt 10:23; 16:28 (God warns that He will destroy those who desecrate the sacred things of God by false teaching – Jude 10).

The greater part of the world’s population is utterly indifferent to this promised hope. Most people entertain a “hope” for global change that looks to a world system based upon evolutionary humanism RATHER than looking for God to return to His creation.

For” (Greek - gar) shows that these false teachers and skeptics can use the language of reason (though the stated reason is neither logical nor scriptural). “Fathers” refers to the O.T. fathers -- the Genesis patriarchs.

By using the terminology, “fell asleep” – the mockers formulate their argument against the parousia in the language of the orthodox faith. (Jesus and the Apostles used “fell asleep” euphemistically to refer to physical death – Mark 5:39; Acts 7:60; 1 Thess 4:13-14; 1 Cor 15:6, 18, 20-21). The scoffers are not hard line atheists.They don’t maintain an eternally existing universe. They recognize a god, but not the God of revelation revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

The scoffers base their claim of rejection of the parousia upon the belief that all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. “All things,” (Greek, panta) denotes the entire observable cosmic system. They appeal to observation: the laws and processes that govern nature today have always been the same in the past. Evolutionary uniformitarianism dominates the scientific and educational establishments of every nation in the world today.


Uniformitarianismis the theory that all geological phenomena may be explained as a result of existing forces having operated uniformly from the origin of the earth to the present time. “The Present is the Key to the Past.”


The Flood Theology of 2 Peter 3: God has woven into earth history, human history, and divine revelation a testament to global judgment. Peter’s argument for the coming universal judgment by fire is based upon the historic fact of universal judgment by water. “The Past is the Key to the Present and the Future.”

Their argument against the parousia is taken from the uniformity of nature. They state their case as if it is clear and demonstrable. There is no place in their worldview for a cataclysmic upheaval such as the Bible’s teaching on parousiaTheir flawed logic could be paraphrased as follows: Since God has not previously invaded human history in order to judge sin decisively and universally, we have no reason to believe He ever will do so. You might say these mockers were “moral uniformitarians” as well! They reject any view of divine intervention in judgment. They are willingly ignorant of the four universal judgments of God in history.

The Four Universal Judgments of God in Human History: 1. The Fall, 2. The Flood, 3. The Cross, and 4. The Day of the Lord.

vv. 5-6 – Evolutionists of every stripe (atheistic, deistic, pantheistic) ignore God’s clear testimony that heaven and earth did not evolve, but were called into existence by God’s omnipotent Word (by God’s almighty Word the creation was called into being fully complete and functioning from the beginning).


Peter is going to expose the fallacy of the mockers’ claim. Their self-willed reading of the past is false. When they assert that the world continues without great convulsion from the beginning, they do so by deliberate exclusion of evidence. A true reading of past history reveals a cataclysmic destruction by water.

Peter describes the period before the flood. The world had equilibrium; a created order. “Out of water,” and “by water,” is a summary of Genesis 1:2-10. The primeval earth was surrounded by water. It was suspended in water. A firmament was put between the “waters above and the “waters below (this agrees with the two sources of water for the flood in Gen 7:11). Then God placed a great quantity of the “waters below beneath the surface of the earth (these became the fountains of the deep) until the flood. Truly the earth is the “water planet.”

By the “Word of God” stresses that the world came into being not by chaos and spontaneous generation, but by divine fiat (“and God said”). The false teachers held to the self sufficiency and immutability of the natural order.


v. 6 – The antediluvian world overflowed with primeval waters from above and below the firmament (the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven). The existing antediluvian world order was broken up and destroyed so that it perished (it was not annihilated, but transformed, radically changed, and utterly devastated). The flood destroyed the world under the direction of God’s Word (Ps 29:10). The Greek word for “flood,” katkluzo means to surge over completely, to totally inundate, to flood.

So different was the world before Noah’s flood, that Peter designates the antediluvian world of Noah’s day, “The world that then was.” According to Peter, there will be three worlds in human history. Each of the three have a radically different order in nature. 


The Three “Worlds” of 2 Peter 3:6-7 – 1. The World that then was, 2. The Present Heavens and Earth, and 3. The New Heavens and Earth.

The mockers willfully deny God’s acts in history. Peter said it would be so in the last days. Even though the words of Christ, the Apostles, and the Prophets confirm the inspired record of the Genesis flood, and the genuine facts of science and history point to its reality, the mockers willfully deny that that the flood ever happened.


v. 7 – Peter presents us with a flood theology” so to speak. The Apostle affirms that one global cataclysmic judgment establishes that there also may be another.Scripture demands that believers view Noah’s Flood as a paradigm for future global judgment (Luke 17:26-27; Matt 24:37-39).

Peter’s “flood theology” helps us see clearly the parallels between the judgment and deliverance of the Genesis Flood and the judgment and deliverance of the Day of the Lord.

Peter’s Flood “Theology” -- The Doctrines Revealed through the Genesis Flood:1. Grace before Judgment, 2. Perfect Discrimination, 3. One Means of Salvation, 4. Appropriation by Faith, and 5. Replacement of the Whole World.

Peter turns uniformitarianism on its ear by informing us that when it comes to the works of God, the past is the key to the present, and to the futurenot the other way around as the uniformitarians maintain!

A significant feature of our worldview is that in the present heavens and earth will NOT continue in perpetuity. The present cosmos and the processes that occur in it are under a conservation domain (an observable uniformity based on the Noahic Covenant – Gen 8:22), the conservation of the present world is headed toward one great consummation and purpose – the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire.

By the same “Word of God” that called the creation into existence, the present heavens and earth “are stored up” for fire (Grk. thesaurizoto treasure up, to store up, to reserve).


The present heavens and earth are not permanent and immutable. A future cataclysm will bring a determined end to the present cosmic system. The world and the cosmos are utterly dependent upon the omnipotent Word of God (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3). They await a cataclysm by fire. The present heavens and earth are “stored up” with a view to their predetermined destiny of conflagration.


Peter’s picture of judgment by fire is not confined to the earth; it includes the heavens as well (note the O.T. passages – Is 66:15; Dan 7:9-10; Mic 1:4; Mal 4:1, also the N.T. – Mt 3:11-12; 2 Thess 2:7-8). The present earthly order is kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (For the mockers to believe this would be to condemn themselves and admit that they must deal with God who judges.)

The heavens and earth have not been “dismissed” to go their own way (as the scoffers and deistic evolutionists maintain), subject only to the laws of nature.

Unbelievers act as if by sinful rebellion they have won freedom from God’s moral government – 2 Pet 2:19; Ps 2:1-5; Rom 6:16; Jn 8:34. Not so! The controlling hand of the Creator is upon the world. This is central to our worldview. The judgment of the ungodly is certain. The doctrine of imminent judgment is inseparably connected to creation and the Genesis Flood. The ungodly will not face extinction, but everlasting torment (Rom 2:1-16).

III. “TAKE NOTICE” of God’s Reason for the Apparent Delay of Christ’s Return (vv. 8-9).

Now Peter gives the needed instruction to readers regarding Christ’s apparent delay. His readers had been taught to live with the expectation of Christ’s return. The readers of the epistle must not do what the mockers are doing – they must not interpret the delay as an indicator of unending uniformity.

Peter’s explanation begins with a statement about God’s relation to time. (This verse is commonly misinterpreted to support the Day-age theory, but the verse is not a reference to creation week (1000 yrs = a day is NOT a math formula or an equation).

God uses time redemptivelyConcerning the timing of Christ’s return – theparousia has not failed when we view the apparent delay from the vantage point of God’s relation to time. God’s relation to time invalidates the objection of the skeptics (Ps 90:4).

God’s use of time cannot be conformed to our finite viewpoint and schedules.God’s use of time is not that of human conception. He may do in a brief time what we may feel could only be done in thousands of years. Or He may do in thousands of years what we feel should be done in a day (from the time of childless Abraham until the conquest of Canaan was over half of a millennium!).

God can do profound things in a short amount of time. Consider the intensive character of creation week – six 24 hour days to make the universe and the world (and, as Dr. Morris reminds us, it only took that long to provide the pattern for man’s work week).

The Only Begotten Son of God exhausted the curse of God against the sins of the elect in only six hours on the cross.

God’s apparent delays should never be interpreted as inability to perform. God is not holding back on the promised fulfillment of Christ’s return. (The intensive character of the Day of the Lord will shock the world; it will be unbelievably terrifying for unbelievers when it hits.)

Peter’s exhortation is a warning to Christians to not be affected by the teaching and influence of the scoffers and skeptics. If we understand the reason for the apparent delay, we will be better fortified against what the Scriptures call “fainting” (Heb 12:5).

The reason for the apparent delay (a delay from our perspective) is that God is exercising self-restraint in the face of deliberate provocation by sinners. His exercise of longsuffering patience is designed to give ample room for repentance (Rom 2:4-11). (God’s common grace postpones wrath and judgment, but onlysaving grace removes God’s wrath from repenting sinners.)

Patient toward “you-ward” is a reminder to Peter’s readers that they themselves have experienced this fact of God’s loving patience.

God’s patience and longsuffering are an expression of His genuine desire that for the salvation of mankind (it is not a reference to the determining will of God).The word “wishing” here in v. 9 is a description of God’s disposition toward sinners, not an explanation of His sovereign plan for individuals (see also Ez 18:23; 33:11).

The goodness of God is ever seeking to lead men to repentance (Rom 2:4). Men must make room for such comprehensive change in their lives. God in His mercy is giving men as much time as possible to repent. At Christ’s return (the Day of the Lord) it will be too late.

IV. LOOK FOR” the Day of the Lord with Eagerness (vv. 10-13).

Warning! None should presume upon the apparent delay regarding the Day of the Lord -- as if an open-ended amount of time remains. The Day of the Lord will come as a thief (sudden, unexpected arrival, “as a thief,” – Matt 24:43-44; 1 Thess 5:2, 4; Rev 3:3; 16:15).

The Day of the Lord will: 1. Come as a thief (Rev 6:12-17). 2. Sweep away every lie (Is 28:17). 3. Destroy all human authority (Dan 2:44-45). 4. Shake the existing order into oblivion (Heb 12:25-29). 5. Reclaim God’s rightful authority over all creation (Rev 11:15).

The first part of the Day of the Lord is very sudden. It will come with undeniable reality. There will be irreparable loss for the unprepared, but eternal blessing for those living in expectation of Christ’s coming (1 Thess 5:4-10).


The events associated with the Day of the Lord involve a cataclysm by fire. (God warned Noah of things yet unseen by humans – Heb 11:7. God warns us through the Apostle Peter about things not yet seen. We can hardly imagine a cosmic cataclysm by fire. We’ve seen nuclear reactions at a distance in the stars, and relatively close up in nuclear detonations on earth, but we cannot imagine a thermo nuclear reaction that envelops the entire known universe.)


The scoffers asserted the durability of the present cosmological arrangement (order). Peter says that there will be a cosmological (eschatological) purging that is indescribable in scope. How reminiscent this is of Jesus’ words (Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).


The heavens shall pass from one state of existence to another. All evidence of sin’s consequences; decay, death, and deterioration will be burned up. A global and cosmic atomic fission reaction, or explosive disintegration will involve the transformation of chemical energy into heat, light and sound. The elements will be dissolved, loosened, broken up into their component parts, like a building torn down into bricks (disintegration, not annihilation).

The Greek supports this picture of renovation – Grk. word for “elements” is stoicheionmeaning fundamental constituents.


There will be a cleansing away of the bondage of corruption and futility. The old cosmos will be made fresh and new by the Word of God’s power. The picture of the future drawn by Peter is the very opposite of that drawn by the mockers and scoffers.


The earth and its works will be burned up. God’s judgment of earth lays bare what is worthless in all human achievement apart from Him. Nothing survives to enter the Kingdom of God but the righteous and their deeds. The world is passing away (1 Jn 2:15-17).

The parallel Peter is making to the Genesis flood is unmistakable in our text. When God establishes His eternal kingdom, He will overturn and destroy the present world order as well as the physical cosmic order.

The Day of the Lord will sweep away the refuge of lies (Is 28:17). It will grind all human authority into powder (Dan 2:44-45). It will shake every created thing into oblivion (Heb 12:25-29), with the exception of those who are in God’s kingdom.

When God evicts the wicked from His creation, their homes, property, their bodies, possessions, the terra firma they have walked on will all be relinquished – “no place was found for them,” it says in Revelation 20:11. When the contaminated universe goes out of existence, there will be no place left for those contaminated by sin but hell itself.

The Day of the Lord is not a single event, but series of events in the unfolding of God’s end time program. It includes the rapture of the Church, the tribulation, Christ’s millennial reign, and the great white throne judgment, and the making of the new heavens and earth. The Day of the Lord (God’s Day) will last approximately 1007 years total. It is uniquely, “God’s Day.”

V. BE DILIGENT” in your Readiness for the Day of the Lord (vv. 14-16).

In view of the imminent Day of the Lord, believers have the duty to live holy lives. Peter reminds his readers of the strong link between Christian hope and daily conduct. He presses upon them the impact that the prospect of the Day of the Lord must have.

All holy living involves separation from evil, and it involves dedication to God in all our conduct. (“Make no provision for the flesh,” – Rom 13:14). Holy living is seeking to please God.

Peter urges them to have expectancy – to continually turn their minds toward the future. Amidst the pressures around them, they must set their minds on things above (to the point of having an eager desire to be with the Lord – Rom 8:23).

In v. 13 – Peter includes himself in this hope and expectation whereby we are looking for new heavens and earth where righteousness dwells. The renovated world will have the moral quality of righteousness. The justified will no longer be wanderers, pilgrims with a foreign citizenship, we will dwell securely in our eternal home.

The program of God for mankind will be brought to its consummation. There will be a cataclysmic, comprehensive judgment upon all evil, and a culmination of that judgment in the eternal reign of righteousness. Everyone entering this new world will be in perfect agreement with God’s sovereign will.

“Things not yet seen” belong to the Flood and the Day of the Lord:

The “Things not yet seen” by Noah (Heb 11:7): A Global Cataclysm by Water with all of its accompanying Catastrophes. The “Things not yet seen” by our generation: Cosmic Thermonuclear “Fire” and the “New Heavens and the New Earth.”

Empirical science is filled with limitations, for God in Christ has asserted unseen realities that are beyond our powers of observation.


Those who depend upon their five senses instead of the Word of God will be unprepared when the Day of the Lord arrives. The Christian must be careful not to be influenced by the scoffer. Skeptics take a “wait ‘n see” attitude about the promised coming judgment, therefore it will take them by surprise.


v. 14 – Peter speaks with a shepherd’s heart. The word “therefore” links together faith and conduct. “Be diligent!” We can’t live in idleness; we must be diligent, zealous, making every effort to fulfill the duty of holy living. Only the righteous will attain that world. The prospect that we will soon stand before our Judge is to have a profound effect upon us (those who abide in Christ and have expectancy of His return will be purified in the process of living in that manner – 1 Jn 3:3).

v. 15 – Believers are exhorted to hold a right view of the delay. The false teachers (mockers) concluded that our Lord’s failure to return was proof that our hope was a delusion. Believers must take into account daily, continually, that the purpose of the Lord’s apparent delay is the exercise of His longsuffering which results in salvation.

While God is waiting, He is giving both time for the unbeliever to be saved and for the believer to be “working out his salvation,” (Phil 2:12-13). We are to regard God’s patience to be our salvation.

2 Peter 3 is a litmus test that explains the contrast between a true believer and a false teacher. The test is, “How will you evaluate the delay of the return of Christ? And how will you order your life in consequence of that delay?” Those two questions cut to the heart of the matter.

In the final three verses of this chapter, Peter summarizes his warnings about scoffers. Their teaching and lifestyle present a very real danger to Christians (Note Psalm 1:1).

VI. BE ON GUARD” against Danger from the Mockers (vv. 16-18).

v. 16 – The false teachers misused the Apostle Paul’s teaching on grace (easy-believism – no life change). They turned grace into licentiousness and antinomianism (we know this from the little book of Jude). They took the life-giving Word of God and twisted it, distorted it, and wrested it to their own destruction. They did violence to the laws of biblical interpretation. (In attempting to destroy the Bible, men destroy themselves.)

How relevant this exhortation is to our subject of origins. It is so dangerous to wrest the Scriptures and attempt to justify compromise with the ungodly philosophies of evolution and humanism.


The wicked twist the Word to fit their own opinions. They willingly distort the truth of God in order to accommodate their inner desire for self indulgence. They dishearten the righteous by mocking the reasons for holiness.


v. 17 – The Apostle’s exhortation can be broken into two parts; a negative, or prohibition, and a positive, or injunction. Both parts of the exhortation must be obeyed if we are to be protected from the danger of the mockers.

1.) the negative exhortationkeep guarding yourselves, beware of falling – guard against being carried away and led astray by keeping too close company with false teachers and wavering professors. (We must have a habitual sense of our own weakness and the ever present danger that surrounds us. Maintain a spirit of perpetual vigilance and steadfastness.

2.) the positive exhortation: grow in grace and keep on growing. Growth is a positive duty. Advancing in grace counterbalances us, safeguards us against falling. Effective growth involves removing the hindrance of making provision for the flesh. Growth in doctrine and practice must work together. Each is inadequate in itself.

Believers are already in the sphere of grace. We grow in grace when we apprehend grace in Christ with ever increasing faith. When we order our lives by the grace of Christ, enjoying it more richly, our character and relationship with the Lord develops and grows.


We’ve seen clearly that our hope and expectation of Christ’s return is necessarily linked to our conduct. All the godly who have gone before us have by faith weighed the infinite riches of the glory to come against the passing pleasures of this world. The godly have said along with Paul, “Momentary light affliction is working for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17).

The faithful have decided along with Moses that the “reproach of Christ is greater riches than the world” (Heb 11:26).


When a person denies the universal judgments of God it sows to an immoral lifestyle – it works against the fear of God (cynicism about the delay of Christ’s return, twisting the Scriptures, denial that man shall wax worse and worse as in the days of Noah all shape a person’s moral profile).


The worldview of the unbeliever is that sin, death, and decay is normal. Last Days skeptics deny that death has a moral cause; they are willfully ignorant of the fact that human sin is the cause of a cursed creation. Is it any wonder that they resist God’s merciful plan of deliverance? (They subscribe to a worldview that blinds them to man’s need and to God’s purposes).


Genesis records that fact that God in the past has already delivered the righteous, and evicted earth’s evil tenants once before. God will do it again -- the Genesis flood is a model of future eradication of evil from man and nature. God has once before changed the workings of nature on a global scale. He will do it again on an infinitely larger scale.


This fact totally conditions the way you view Christ’s return. Instead of appearing as a fanatical religious belief in the minds of lunatics, Christ’s glorious return has a basis in physical history, the Genesis Flood.


Through Peter, the Holy Spirit has taken the significance of the Genesis Flood right into the present and the imminent future. Through His inspired Word, God has taken the historic fact of the global flood and shown us its direct correlation to worldview and its consequent conduct and ethics.


Once we begin to understand just how unified our Christian worldview is, it will make us more bold to preach the Gospel. What God has done on a global scale, He will do again. Our doctrine is not merely propositional spiritual truth, Bible doctrine is inseparably linked to earth history and human history. This is a cause for fear of God, not fear of man.

Salvation is physical as well as spiritual. God will purge the last vestiges of evil from the universe (except for the lake of fire). Are you ready to stand in His protection in Christ as Noah and his family in the ark?


Barker and Kohlenberger, eds, Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary, Zondervan, 1994.

Hiebert, Edmond, Second Peter and Jude, Unusual Publications, 1989.

Lloyd-Jones, D. M., Expository Sermons in 2 Peter, Banner of Truth, 1983.

Morris, Henry, M., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Bible Publishers, 1995.

Our Evangelistic Strategy is Guided by the Nature of Faith

I. Scripture reveals the nature of faith and the condition of the



A. Scripture never describes the heart of the unbeliever in a favorable

light. The Word of God depicts unbelief as an expression of the moral

state of the inward man. In order for faith to germinate in the heart of a

man, there must be a moral change in the heart (John 8:43-45; 1 Cor.

2:14; Ez. 36:26,27; Luke 18:26,27).

B. An understanding of the nature of faith is essential in shaping the

method by which the sinner’s need is addressed.


1. Is the issue of unbelief a matter of rebellion, or lack of data, or both?

Scripture affirms that it is rebellion. The sinner is already hostile to

the light he has been given – the suppression of God’s truth has been

his practice, prior to hearing the truth of the gospel (Rom. 1:18-23).

2. Only a moral change of heart can reverse this (Matt 12:33).

C. In his book, Always Ready, Greg Bahnsen notes that Scripture gives us

numerous descriptions of a fool. When the Bible speaks of a fool, it

does not refer to a dimwitted buffoon. The biblical meaning of a fool has

to do with the person whose unbelief is expressed as disregard for God

and His truth.

1. The fool is characterized by self trust – this is why he lacks wisdom. He has forsaken God, the only source of true wisdom.

2. The fool relies upon his own (allegedly) self-sufficient intellectual powers. He thinks that his mind can operate effectively without being informed by Scripture. As a result, he is not teachable (Prov. 1:7;10:8; 15:5; 1 Cor. 1:20). [i][1]

3. From God’s omniscient perspective, the fool lives a life of vanity and folly. The fool is his own worst enemy, he opposes himself by rejecting God, the source of life. (By rejecting God’s offer of life and forgiveness, the fool makes a choice for his own destruction, thus he proves to be hostile to his own eternal welfare.)

4. Jesus alluded to the fool’s value system when He said, “For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

D. The biblical fool may have a normal intellect, but he is characterized by

the misuse of his intellectThe following thought behaviors are

 descriptive of the fool:

1.) He avoids the topic of his creaturehood and origin. He operates from a position of “non-createdness.”

2.) He does not distinguish between his own thoughts and God’s thoughts.

3.) He views himself as the ultimate authority for determining truth.

4.) He attributes God’s attributes to himself (as if he, the finite creature, has the power, unaided by Scripture, to answer ultimate questions and uncover universal truth by the use of autonomous reason).

5.) He denies God’s authority and absolute claims upon his life.

6.) He says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).


E. The biblical fool does not make God and His revelation the starting point in his thinking. Therefore, in his reasoning, he is antagonistic toward God. In his mind, he is an enemy of God because he uses his God-given intellect to obviate the Holy Scriptures (Col. 1:21; James 4:4; Mark 7:8-13).[ii][2]

1. Man’s break from God ethically, was also a break from God intellectually. God bears witness in the Scriptures as to the nature of man’s fallen intellect (Romans 1:18-23; Eph. 2:3; 4:17,18).

2. When fallen man regards himself as the ultimate reference point, he puts himself in a position tonot understand God’s truth (Romans 3:10,11). (Since his heart is in a state of enmity against God, he is in no position to independently verify divine truth.)[iii][3]

3. The natural man’s rebellion is seen in his covert enmity toward God’s claims upon him – though the unbeliever assumes the posture of a “truth-seeker who lacks data,” he is actually committed to his own independence from God. (Proofs from the wonders of nature and the creation will not overcome the unbeliever’s enmity toward God. As long as his core commitment is to autonomy, he will continue to suppress the truth in unrighteousness.)

4. Frequently, the unbeliever describes himself as neutral when it comes to the testimony of Scripture. He pretends to be objective. The Bible exposes this as a façade. For God’s claims upon a man eliminate every notion of neutral ground. There is no neutral spot in the universe and there is not a single rational creature in the universe who is neutral (the two orders of rational creatures are men and angels).

5. The Creator will not leave a man’s imagined autonomy in tact – instead God in His Word, confronts it head on and exposes it as rebellion.[iv][4]

II. When considering absolute truth, there are only two philosophies.

A. The first philosophy is what the Bible commends as genuine faith. It submits to the authority of God’s Word – this submission involves a presuppositional commitment to the veracity of the Scriptures.

1. The faith of Abraham perfectly illustrates this confidence in the reliability of God’s Word – Romans 4:14-22;

Hebrews 11:8-10, 17-19.)

2. God and His Word are self-authenticating. God doesn’t go outside Himself to define, understand or present Himself. There is no truth standard outside of God. There is no truth “magnifying glass” large enough to place over God and His authoritative Word -- every imaginable scholastic discipline is but a “particular.” Only God is the concrete universal absolute.

3. Without God’s ultimate truth, man attempts to create his own reality. Such an attempt moves man from reason to irrationality. Ultimate truth cannot be argued independently of the preconditions inherent in it. One might as well say, “Let’s stop breathing oxygen while we debate the necessity of that gas.” The only way we know anything with certainty is by God’s authoritative revelation - Psalm 36:9.)[v][5]

B. The second of the two philosophies is the commitment to self as the ultimate authority. 

1. As a result of mankind’s fall into sin, there is a universal commitment

to self as the ultimate starting point for all knowledge.


2. The debate between the two philosophies is over ultimate authority.

Where does the ultimate authority reside? Does it reside in God or in


3. Jesus Christ is God’s reference point for man (Col. 2:3). He is the

source of absolute truth and He is the source of

ultimate answers to ultimate questions.

III. Because the two competing philosophies constitute a clash between

sources of ultimate authority, they totally condition the process of

interpreting facts.

A. These competing philosophic systems govern a man’s philosophy of facts. Every personinterprets facts according to one of these two philosophic systems.

1. When the natural man is confronted with the witness of God in

creation, he studiously suppresses the truth or holds it down by

means of false interpretation. His use of autonomous reason as the

starting point means that he will be an untruthful interpreter.

2. Man’s consciousness is a covenant consciousness. In other words,

God placed man on this planet to be a steward over the works of His hands (Psalm 8).

3. That stewardship involves covenant obligations – the Creator’s

ownership is upon man, for man is the “image-bearer” of God. This

is an immense privilege – man has a great purpose because he is

created for a great task. Central to this covenant responsibility is

man’s calling to be a truthful interpreter of God, creation and

humanity (Genesis 1-2).[vi][6]

4. Scripture proclaims that God’s attributes, power and divine

nature are clearly seen, yet the natural man interprets these facts of

creation untruthfully. He resorts to speculation and futility of mind

and becomes a fool as a consequence. Man’s unbelief in God’s Word

issues forth in disobedience to covenant obligations.

5. The Scripture says that unbeliever is without a defense (Greek,

apologia) or without excuse before God (Romans 1:18-23). They

 have no excuse because God has clearly shown Himself to mankind.

6. Remember, one’s world view is inseparable from one’s theory of

knowledge. The natural man “worships” his own mind as ultimate;

he has a theory of knowledge that exalts autonomous reason. As a consequence, he rebels against God’s authoritative revelation. His world view reflects his commitment to think independently of God.

B. According to God’s Word, human reason is to be the servant of divine


1. Reason is a faculty designed by God for the task of interpreting

truthfully. The divine mandate of interpreting truthfully can only

be fulfilled when man is in submission to the Word of God,

thinking God’s thoughts after Him.[vii][7]

2. When men reject the Word of God, their interpreting will always be

false. The refusal to follow God’s truth will lead a man into error in

all fields of thought. (An erroneous starting point necessarily leads

to erroneous conclusions concerning the origin and meaning of

every fact in the universe.)

3. When men interpret falsely it is because they have regarded their

reason to be an independent and neutral faculty, not the servant of

divine revelation.


 C. God’s Word puts the sinner’s intellectual assumption of autonomous

reason on trial. Holy Scripture turns the tables on the unbelieving

sinner. Though unbelievers talk as if God and His revelation are on

trial, the Word of God places the sinner’s errant heart on trial.

The divine arraignment of the sinner is cast in a fourteen point

indictment found in Romans 3:10-18:

“There is none righteous, not even one;

There is none who understands,

There is none who seeks for God;

All have turned aside, together they have become useless;

There is none who does good,

There is not even one.”

“Their throat is an open grave,

With their tongues they keep deceiving,”

“The poison of asps is under their lips”;

“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;

“Their feet are swift to shed blood’

Destruction and misery are in their paths,

And the path of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

D. God’s indictment of Adam’s sinful race reveals why no man can

reason his way to God. Man’s mind is not neutral, but in rebellion.

The natural man uses his mind to sin against God. (God has

endowed man with the gift of reason and logic in order to receive

divine revelation. The independent exercise of reason will always

 result in erroneous interpretation.)

IV. Without reverence and faith, there is no understanding of God and all

He has made.

A. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise

wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). (Those who fear God are in

awe of His sovereignty. They maintain a deep reverence for the His

unbreakable Word.)

B. Faith in God is NOT based upon autonomous proofs that satisfy our


1. God demands faith in His Messianic Son (John 6:28,29).[viii][8] There

is NO knowledge of spiritual things until a person has savingly

believed upon Christ. For Christ is God’s authoritative Interpreter

 put over man as sovereign Lord.

2. Rejection of Christ is rejection of God the Son as Interpreter of the

world (Christ has absolute epistemic authority in all fields of knowledge – Col. 2:3).

3. When man arrogates to himself the position of epistemic

authority, he defies God’s authority and God’s appointed

Representative, Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:9-11; Ps. 2). (The field of

epistemology concerns the origin, validity and structure of

 knowledge – it deals with how we know what we know with


C. Faith therefore has a moral basis – it reveals what is in the heart of a man.

1. When a man’s heart is wrong in the sight of God, his thinking will

correspondingly be futile. Unbelief is not an error in judgment, unbelief is the fruit of a heart in rebellion against God (Heb. 3:12).

The opposite of truth is not ignorance, but rebellion.[ix][9]

2. Jesus declared that the means by which a person knows and

understands spiritual truth with certainty is by being willing to do

God’s will (John 7:17).[x][10] According to the Son of God, understanding

 is the reward of faith.

3. As long as a man uses his depraved intellect to “put God on trial,”

(or judge God), he cannot know or understand God. Human reason

cannot be the support of faith, for the object and

source of faith is God and His revelation (Rom. 10:17).

V. Man cannot reason his way to God.

Genuine faith does not depend upon what it sees, but upon the self-

attesting veracity of God’s Word (Heb. 11:1-6). Faith submits to the

dependability of Holy Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16,17). [xi][11]

A. There can be no “flat line” reasoning to God. There are two important

reasons for this. First, when one argues for an ultimate intellectual

criterion, circularity in reasoning will be unavoidable. Every world view

and every argument must have a starting point that is unquestioned,

authoritative and self-authenticating.

1. Without this ultimate starting point, facts will be unrelated and

“brutish,” (isolated, without interpretation by a universal). (One

cannot even begin to evaluate the very first fact he encounters

without a set of non-negotiable presuppositions about knowledge and

the universe in general.)

2. Every world view or philosophy of necessity must use its own

standard of truth to prove its conclusions. There is no standard for

 truth that sits above the Scriptures and there is no fact in the

universe more certain than the Scriptures.

3. The Bible believing Christian affirms that there are no neutral

facts that hold an authority independent of a scriptural interpretation. “They are God’s facts. And they are to be interpreted according to God’s Word.”[xii][12]

4. Reason either begins with God or self. Reason that begins with

God involves thought dependent upon God’s revelation. Reason that

begins with self assumes the false presupposition that man’s mind is


B. Second, those who come to know God have had a radical overturning of

their presuppositions about autonomous reason. The ability to

understand God is stipulated upon faith. Faith is the soul’s

“abandonment” of itself to God and His Word. Thus the only way to

know God is by forsaking one’s independent thinking about God. This is the very opposite of attempting to reason in a “flat line” manner.

C. God commands unbelievers to renounce their antagonistic reasoning and

to embrace a new system of thought (John 8:24).


1. Repentance (which always accompanies genuine faith) involves

radical abandonment of autonomous world views and independent

thinking about God.

2. Where there is true faith and repentance, there is a submission

to the mind of God and a new commitment to think God’s thoughts

after Him. The renewed mind embraces an entirely new epistemology

in which Christ and His Word are the final reference point and

authority for knowing (1 Cor. 2:14-16).

3. Repentance puts a halt to man’s judging God – it terminates a

man’s commitment to think “ultimately” (or with autonomous

reason). Repentance by means of God’s authoritative truth

mortifies the natural man’s view of self. It destroys his

presuppositions of ultimate thinking. It brings to bear the full

weight of God’s claims upon him.[xiii][13]

4. There is a self-renouncing character to saving faith – it looks

away from itself to God as the source of truth and life. Thus faith

cannot be grounded in man’s self-reliant thinking – in true

repentance, the final reference point and starting point shift from self

to God (Phil. 3:3; Jer. 17:5; Prov. 28:26; 1 Cor. 2:4,5).

VI. The point of contact of God and His truth with sinful man is at the

point of man’s rebellion.[xiv][14]

A. Though the sinner is commanded to seek God, he cannot take a step

in God’s direction without divine assistance (John 6:44,45; Is. 55:1-

11). When the sinner cries to God for mercy, he is also pleading for

the ability to come to God, believe and be saved (Luke 18:13).

1. God makes Himself known to the unbeliever by FIRST setting

forth the man’s predicament. His habitual breaking of God’s

law, his ill-desert, his legal guilt and his moral failure must be stated.

When the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin, He “shows the sinner

his chains and the weight of his guilt.”

2. Men are not ready for the good news of the gospel UNTIL their

consciences have been educated concerning the seriousness of God’s

claims upon them (Gal. 3:23,24; John 16:13).

3. Man’s spiritual apathy constitutes rebellion. Man’s apathy is a

symptom of a heart dead to the things of God. The Scriptures

state that the solution to man’s spiritual deadness is the vivifying

power of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:1-5):[xv][15]

“And you were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…”

4. Christ is God’s comprehensive answer to man’s predicament. God

commands sinners to appeal to Christ for a new heart of faith and

repentance. Man’s number one duty is to come to Christ and be

forgiven (Rev. 22:17).

B. The unbeliever’s arguments sound “rational” until he is taken back to

his world view and presuppostional starting point.[xvi][16] At that juncture,

his system falls apart – man’s existence in order to be meaningful

cannot be grounded upon chaos, chance and absurdity.

1. Even unbelievers presuppose theism in order to reason at all. There

are certain “preconditions” of knowledge that only an almighty

Creator can supply.

2. These preconditions include the following: God knows all things

exhaustively, God is the concrete universal that unites all particulars,

God’s control over the universe is manifested in the uniformity of nature,

God is the source of morals, God is the source of logic, God supplies the

categories of knowledge, God has interpreted all things, God answers

every ultimate question, God rules the universe according to His purpose

and plan.

3. Without these preconditions of knowledge, man is unable to predicate

anything. He is adrift upon a sea of epistemological despair –

certainty and rationality are ever out of reach. Man can only retreat

into solipsism (solipsism is the theory that the self is the only thing

that can be known and verified – self is the only reality).[xvii][17]

4. “When one willingly limits his faith, presuming to question the ability

or truth of God based upon human intellect or argumentation, it is a

serious provocation before the Lord – e.g., Psalm 78:18-22” (Greg

Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 93).

5. A universe without God’s sovereign moral authority and rule is a

universe based upon chance. The natural man clings to chance in

order to escape the claims of God. To opt for a chance universe is to

reject the God of the Bible.[xviii][18]

6. The natural man’s theory of knowledge is synonymous with his world

view. Since the unbeliever trusts in the ultimacy of his own mind, he

correspondingly rejects the authority of God’s Word. His world view is

necessarily constructed so as to invalidate God’s claims upon the


7. God’s almighty control of all things is manifested in His preservation

of His Word, the Bible. In a universe where chance is ultimate, the

Word of God is necessarily falsified by man. Thus, chance destroys

the infallibility of the Scriptures and the Gospel. (The unbeliever’s

system of thought is internally rotten. He cannot have it both ways –

he cannot have rational universe and at the same time, have a

universe based upon chance. Reason is slain on the altar of chance.

The God of the Bible is the precondition of knowledge and rationality.)

C. The nature of biblical faith governs our apologetic method.

The nature of belief must guide our strategy when defending the faith

and evangelizing the lost. As a result, we never hold the ultimate

authority of God’s Word in abeyance for the sake of neutrality amidst


1. When defending the faith, we do not appeal to autonomous empirical

“sight,” instead, we proclaim the a priori Word of God.[xix][19]

2. Man is utterly dependent upon God for existence and meaning. We

are God’s thought and creation, upheld and sustained by Him every

moment (Col. 1:16,17; Acts 17:24-27).

3. It is absolutely impossible to find a vantage point that is neutral,

objective and autonomous from which to scrutinize God and His

Word. There is never a moment when the claims of the Creator are

not resting upon the creature.

4. When men pretend to operate from a neutral vantage point, they are

in reality revealing a heart full of revolt against God. Their greatest

need is not a superior vantage point, it is repentance and faith toward



[i][1] Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready, (American Vision, Atlanta, 1996) 55.

[ii][2] Ibid., pp. 65-67.

[iii][3] James F. Stitzinger, Apologetics and Evangelism TH 701, (Syllabus from The Master’s Seminary, Sun Valley, CA copyright 1999) 84,85.

[iv][4] Ibid., pp. 84,85.

[v][5] Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready, pp. 66-68.

[vi][6] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, (Presbyterian and Reformed, Phillipsburg, 1955) 90-95.

[vii][7] James F. Stitzinger, Apologetics and Evangelism, p. 17.

[viii][8] Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready, pp. 87,88.

[ix][9] Ibid., p. 88.

[x][10] Tom Wells, The Moral Basis of Faith, (The Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, 1986) 9-11.

[xi][11] Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 89.

[xii][12] Michael J. Kruger, “The Sufficiency of Scripture in Apologetics” in The Master’s Seminary Journal, (12:1, Spring 2001) 70, 81,82.

[xiii][13] James F. Stitzinger, Syllabus, p. 89.

[xiv][14] Ibid., p. 104.

[xv][15] Ibid., p. 103.

[xvi][16] Ibid., pp. 58,99,101,113.

[xvii][17] Greg L. Bahnsen, A Critique of the Evidentialist Apologetical Method of John Warwick Montgomery, pp. 5,11.

[xviii][18] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, pp. 140-150.

[xix][19] Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready, pp. 91-93.

Paganism tries to make...

I. Uncovering the agenda of pseudo-science.


A. Pseudo-science presupposes that the material world is the sum

total of reality.

1. Another word for pseudo-science is naturalism. “Pseudo” is an

apt title because naturalism does not base its conclusions upon

the scientific method. Materialism or naturalism cannot be

verified by empirical science. Naturalism is a philosophical belief

about the nature of reality.

2. Naturalism operates upon the premise that God (if He exists),

cannot be known, or He is irrelevant or absent. Any mention of

God is seen as an “addition” to science that clouds objectivity.

(By contrast, the founders of modern science dealt with God “in

relation” to science, not in addition to science.)[1]

3. Along with acting as if God is irrelevant, naturalism assumes an

intellectual elitism or “disciplinism.” This intellectual bigotry

falsely asserts that “science” operates independent other

disciplines. (Its literature is replete with anti-theistic language.

“The universe was not designed, the universe has no purpose,

the universe was formed by mindless, purposeless processes.”[2]

B. For the naturalist (materialist, pseudo-scientist), the universe is

analogous to a box:

1. Everything that exists is inside the box. The natural order is caused by (or explicable by) things that exist in the box.

2. Nothing, including God, is outside the box. THEREFORE, nothing outside the box (the box we call the universe or natural order) can have any causal effect on the box. The natural order is a closed system. Determinism is therefore true.[3]

3. The “box” view of the universe is a philosophy concerning the nature of reality. The propositions of the materialist-naturalist are as follows:

a.) Only nature exists.

b.) Nature has always existed (it is self-existent).

c.) Nature is characterized by total uniformity. Regularity

(uniformity) precludes the possibility of a supernatural event.

d.) Nature is a deterministic system, “free will” is not compatible

with naturalism.

e.) Nature is a materialistic system. Everything real is explicable

as a material entity.

f.) Nature is a self-explanatory system. All that happens may be

explained in terms of other elements of natural order. (It is

not necessary to seek an explanation beyond the natural


(When contrasting theism to naturalism’s box analogy, we assert that God exists outside the box. God created box. God acts causally within the box.)[4]

C. The driving force behind naturalism (pseudo-science) is an agenda

that demands materialistic conclusions from its “research.”

1. Evidence that the conclusions of naturalism are “rigged” come

from the pseudo-scientists themselves!

2. After reviewing Carl Sagan’s book, Demon Haunted World,

Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin declared, “It’s not that the

methods and findings of science compel us to accept a

materialistic explanation of the phenomenal world, on the

contrary, we are forced by our a priori adherence to material

sources to create an apparatus of investigation and set of

concepts no matter how marvelous that produce materialistic

explanations. Materialism is absolute. We cannot allow a

divine foot in the door.”[5]

D. The goal of materialism is clear. It is nothing short of a complete

interpretation of the universe.


1. Pseudo-science regards the whole phenomenal world to be its territory. That includes mental, physical, and human behavior. The scientific method is regarded as the SOLE gateway to the whole region of knowledge.[6]

2. Philosophers Comte and Pearson assume that facts and classifications of facts (categories) can be empirically discovered. Materialistic “science” offers itself as an absolute authority in matters of knowledge. Naturalism suggests that we have no right to believe anything (including morals) unless they are principles discovered “through a microscope.”[7]

3. Within the philosophy of modern science is the supreme goal of uniting all knowledge within a single all embracing system. Pseudo-science boasts that it possesses a single all-sufficient principle of interpretation. By that principle, it purports to provide the meaning of all reality while denying the living God of Scripture (this evinces an apostasy that rejects God’s role in providing the principle of interpretation by His plan.)[8]

4. Pseudo-science is a philosophy that is not committed to science, but to evolution as its universal. Michael Shermer, leading spokesman for naturalism, admits to its religious structure: “Scientism is a scientific world view that encompasses natural explanations for all phenomena, eschews supernatural and paranormal speculations, and embraces empiricism and reason as the twin pillars of a philosophy of life appropriate for an age of Science. . . cosmology and evolutionary theory ask the ultimate origin questions that have traditionally been the province of religion and theology. We follow the dictates of our shamans who command our veneration . . . with scientism as the foundational stratum of our story and scientists as the premier mythmakers of our time.” [9]


II. The presuppositions of naturalism drive its methods and



A. Though it claims objectivity, naturalism is a slave to anti-God


1. Man cannot be the source of unity in human experience. God alone has unity of knowledge. Only God can give unity to knowledge and to human experience.[ [10]

2. When mankind apostatized from God in the Fall, it formed a cleavage between man’s experience and truth and reality. This division between experience and truth is evident in naturalism. (In the present state of being “cut loose” from unity, openly anti-theistic men must presuppose a theistic view of reality in order to conduct experiments and make logical inferences.)[11]

3. With the entrance of sin, man cut his study of himself loose from God. He also cut his study of nature loose from himself (man as the image of God). For this reason, all the study of nature since the fall has been false. As far as an ultimate point of view is concerned, the unbeliever has been in error in his interpretation of the physical world, for it cannot be known apart from God.[[12]

4. The premises of naturalism (“nature is all there is and all there will ever be”) cannot be tested empirically. The ultimacy of matter (materialism) is a philosophy and a world view. Carl Sagan (the self-appointed televangelist of naturalism) often alluded to the fact that naturalism was a world view. He remarks, “Our ancestors worshipped the sun and they were far from foolish.” The Christian apologist must challenge the assumption that science by definition means naturalistic philosophy.[13]


B. Modern science claims “total objectivity,” but it defines that

“objectivity” according to its presupposition of materialism.

1. Modern science insists that it works with “facts” (uninterpreted

bits of irrationality scattered by chance). Strict materialism

demands that these “facts” are irrational and undetermined by

anything outside of the universe (thus no divine providence).[[14]

2. In order for modern science to wear its mantle of “unrestricted

research,” it must cling to a view of the universe that regards

contingency as a universal (the ultimacy of chance). There must

be no determining character to determine any determinate


3. It is the essence of modern to assume that facts are non-

revelational of God. The unbelieving scientist is breaking God’s

covenant when he says that he is just objectively following where

the facts lead him (“I’m just using the scientific method”). An

example helps illustrate apostasy of the scientist: Suppose a

researcher decided to dig up a large section of ground on the

White House lawn and then not only acts greatly surprised when

The guard taps him on the shoulder asking for his permit, but also

insists on his right to so what he is doing without any permit at

all. (This is God’s universe, all facts are God’s facts. Man is

under covenant obligation to God to interpret the phenomenal

world as such.)[16]

C. The laboratory is not a philosophy-free zone.

1. The procedures associated with empiricism are inseparable from philosophy-laden world views and techniques.

2. Empirical methods rely upon philosophical and theological underpinnings. It is a misnomer to for the scientist to assert that he performing “theory-independent” observation.

3. Analysis and conclusions are only possible if one operates upon premises. Without the underpinnings of philosophy and theology, empiricality and objectivity fall down on both sides.[[17]

4. In order to hold up objectivity and empiricality, scientists must provide a philosophical “container” for their facts. It could be illustrated by the way that we form a bowl in our mashed potatoes to hold the gravy. For the scientist, the bowl that holds his facts consists of the philosophical, metaphysical, theological underpinnings.[[18]

5. The most basic presuppositions necessary in order to “do science” are as follows. The scientist has to presuppose the reality of the universe, the uniformity of nature, the reality and rationality of his mind, the compatibility between the physical universe and abstract thought (otherwise there could be no true meaning – he could not make his knowledge coherent to other minds). [19] These presuppositions drawn from theism are necessary for rationality. But the modern scientist adds two “inviolate” hypotheses of his own that are anti-theistic:

a.) Facts are not created.

b.) There is no determination outside the universe.

D. The driving force behind pseudo-science is materialism. The

presupposition of materialism totally conditions the method and

conclusions of materialism. Presupposition, method and

conclusion are inseparable.

1. “Scientism” repudiates anything that cannot be reduced to the

physical/material and studied by the scientific method.

Chemical evolutionist Richard Dickerson comments, “Science,

fundamentally, is a game. It is a game with one overriding and

fundamental rule. . . Let us see how far. . . we can explain the

behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of

purely physical and material causes, without invoking the


2. As Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin admitted, the a priori

adherence to material causes creates a method of investigation

and set of concepts that produces material explanations.

a.) Having presupposed that the world was governed solely by

uniformly operating laws, Darwin philosophically “rigged”

his argument for evolution. If one accepts philosophical

naturalism, then mechanistic determinism (evolution)

“must” be true regardless of the facts.[21]

b.) Operating upon the presupposition of naturalism, Darwin

had already “stacked the deck” in favor of a naturalistic

account of life, before he uncovered any convincing facts.

As British biologist Richard Dawkins put it, Darwin “made

it possible to be a an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”[[22]

(The evolutionary naturalism of pseudo-science is the

pagan’s “universal” by which he interprets all facts.)

E. Unbelieving scientists speculate, then dictate their concept of the

nature of reality. (They posit a mindless first cause.)

1. The unbelieving scientist sets out without God in search of the

highest philosophical concept in terms of which he can

interpret reality.[23]

2. Francis H. C. Crick who discovered the DNA molecule has

said, “The ultimate aim of the modern movement in biology is,

in fact, to explain all biology in terms of physics and

chemistry.” Crick made this remark in the context of biology’s

insurmountable problem; namely how does one explain how

worlds of information got into DNA molecules? Recognizing

the immensity of the problem, Crick then postulated that DNA

codes in bacteria were transmitted to our planet in a missile

from some other part of space.[24]

III. The limitations of science severely restrict its ability to

interpret reality.


A. Modern science touts its fidelity to objectivity, but fails to consider

the severe limits on science. (The aims, methodologies, and

presuppositions of science cannot be validated by science. The

effort to validate science is a philosophical issue. One cannot

turn to science to justify science.)[25]

B. There are “bare minimum” assumptions that science must make

in order for its work to be viewed along rational realist lines.

These assumptions include:

1. The human senses are reliable and capable of giving accurate

information about a “mind-independent” physical world (and

not merely information about successive sense impressions).[26]

2. Science must assume some uniformity of nature in order to

justify induction. (Uniformity is critical when researchers

assume that they can legitimately infer from past cases to

unexamined future cases. But the justification of induction is

a philosophical issue.)[27]

3. Science assumes both uniformity and the existence of

universals in order to justify inductive inferences from the

examined members of a class. (These assumptions are

necessary in order to extend their findings to all the members

of a class, past and future. But these assumptions themselves

cannot be justified inductively.[28]


3. Science assumes that the laws of logic are true.

4. Science assumes that numbers exist (i.e., is the “two-ness” of an oxygen molecule just as much a constituent as its other chemical properties?).

5. Science assumes that language has meaning (i.e., scientific theories are examples of language and are therefore involved in issues of semantics).

6. Science assumes that truth exists and that it involves some sort of correspondence between theories and the world.

7. Science assumes certain moral, epistemic, and methodological values in its practices. (Truth-telling and honest reporting in experiments are regarded as moral virtues.)[29]

(These assumptions are necessary to ground science as a

rational discipline. But these assumptions are philosophical in

nature or “brute givens" which cannot themselves be verified by



C. The limitations of science point to the fact that only Christianity

is the source of a rational world view. The limitations of science

include the following:

1. Science deals only with the physical universe. (Knowledge

related to universals is not the domain of science. Examples

include: morals, the laws of logic, the preconditions of

knowledge, the immaterial world and world view. See

Colossians 1:16, 17 and Psalm 145:3).

2. Science cannot prove a universal negative. (It is absurd

when modern science attempts to make a blanket statement of

denial about the anti-supernatural nature of reality. An

example of a universal negative would be: “There is no such

thing as hell, as an angel, as a devil, as an eternal human

soul, as a person Creator.)

3. Science is unable to make objective moral judgments.

(Man cannot be the source of absolute ethics. Proponents of

social Darwinism have shown a preference for the wholesale

rejection of moral absolutes that flow from the immutability

and holiness of God.)

4. Science cannot produce final answers to ultimate

questions. Science cannot supply the absolute universals by

which facts are to be interpreted. God alone reveals ultimate

absolute truth by which facts are given meaning. (99% plus of

all of the phenomena in the universe are and have been beyond

human observation. It is a hopeless task for man to

autonomously attempt to gain the unity of all knowledge.)

5. Scientific work is fallible and prone to error. The vast

majority of scientific theories have changed in the last one

hundred years. Most have been altered, replaced, or discarded.

6. Science is bound by certain God-ordained restrictions.

The mind of man is ontologically different from the mind of

God. Man’s ability to interpret the universe correctly is totally

dependent upon God’s revelation. (e.g., Does the Grand

Canyon contain the story of the evolution of life on earth or the

record of a catastrophic deluge?)

7. All scientists (people) are prejudiced by their commitment

to foundational assumptions about the nature of reality

and the nature of knowledge(The natural man operates

upon prior assumptions and presuppositions. See Romans

1:18-32 and Jeremiah 17:9.)


IV. Modern science is a woefully inadequate reference point. It

cannot explain the nature of ultimate reality.


A. To stress the limits of science is not “anti-science,” -- the

Emphasis upon limits is simply to show that science is by

definition limited in its valid sphere of reference.[31]


B. Great thinkers have warned over the centuries that a departure


from God denudes man of meaning and results in the death of

certainty. No matter how much learning and research is

interspersed, the denial of God and the death of meaning cannot

be separated.[32]


1. When man asserts a materialistic view of reality, he can give no

concrete reason why humans have more value than the aquatic

life in a pond.[33]

2. By linking together undirected, purposeless variation and blind

impersonal processes, Darwin made the spiritual explanation of

life superfluous.[[34]

C. The Creator-creature distinction is the starting point for all



1. A transcendent God requires a transcendent method. (When

man pursues absolute universal knowledge, he is totally

dependent upon the mind of God.)

2. God is transcendent. He is not a part of the universe.

Therefore it is hypocritical for unbelievers to suggest that if He

existed, He could be found directly by empirical methods of

investigation. (Even within the universe, scientists assert the

existence of many things that are not directly observable but

are only “known” by their effects. Examples are: black holes,

the laws of friction, magnetic fields, etc.)[36]

3. One cannot prove the existence of God in the same way that one

proves the car is in the garage. The transcendent God of the

universe must be presupposed. For no method or equipment

can be used to “go out front of God” in order to find Him. He

gives all the light to all created facts. God cannot be “found” by

evaluating facts from a supposedly neutral vantage point. To

attempt to do so would be like standing at the base of Mt.

Everest and trying to illuminate the summit with a penlight

flashlight. The equipment is totally inadequate.[37]

D. The laws of logic, an ordered universe, and vast information all

presuppose an all-powerful God.


1. Theism alone gives coherence to human experience; theism

alone unites truth, experience and reality.

2. Information is not inherent in matter. (When musing upon the

origin of life by chance processes, the famous astronomer Sir

Fred Hoyle likened that probability to a row of blind individuals

10 to the 50th power in length (10 followed by 50 zeroes), all

finding the solution to the Rubik’s cube at the same instant.[38]

3. Scientists are faced with countless mysteries in the physical

world that they cannot explain. (Scientists are baffled by a host

of behaviors in the animal world. They are unable to explain

the source of engineering skills in spiders and the location of

navigational organs in migrating birds.[39]

4. While the natural man remains an unbeliever, he cannot rise

above his vain approach to reasoning. Without presupposing

the God of Scripture, the unbeliever will continue his attempt to

make facts intelligible by relating them solely to other facts.

The task of the apologist is to call upon the unbeliever to

confess his intellectual ruin.[40]






[1] Michael Bauman Ed. Et al, Michael Bauman, “Between Jerusalem and the Laboratory: A Theologian looks at Science” Evangelical Apologetics, (Camp Hill: Christian Publishing Inc., 1996), p. 199.

[2] Ibid., p. 200-201.

[3] Ronald B. Nash, World Views in Conflict, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1992), pp. 117-118.

[4] Ibid., pp. 118-121.

[5] John Blanchard, Does God Believe in Atheists? (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2000), p. 427.

[6] Gordon H. Clark, A Christian View of Men and Things, (Jefferson: The Trinity Foundation, 1952), 201-202.

[7] Ibid., 202.

[8] Robert L. Reymond, The Justification of Knowledge, (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1976), p. 87.

[9] Henry M. Morris, “What are they afraid of?” in Back to Genesis, p. b, c, vol. 31, no. 12 Acts and Facts (December 2002).

[10] Brian Schwertley, Secular Humanism, ed. by Stephen Pribble, (http://www.reformed.com/pub/secular.htm), pp. 4-7.

[11] Ibid., p. 7.

[12] Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1998), p. 296.

[13] Charles Colson, How Now Shall we Live? (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), pp. 52-55.

[14] Robert Reymond, The Justification of Knowledge, p. 88.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, pp. 680-681.

[17] Michael Bauman, Evangelical Apologetics, pp. 197-198.

[18] Ibid., p. 198.

[19] Robert Reymond, The Justification of Knowledge, p. 88.

[20] John Blanchard, Does God Believe in Atheists?, pp. 427-428.

[21] Charles Colson, How Now Shall we Live?, pp. 95-96.

[22] Ibid., pp. 94-95.

[23] Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apogetic, p. 506.

[24] Ravi Zacharias, A Shattered Visage, (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, 1990), p. 39.

[25] J. P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City, A Defense of Christianity, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), p. 197.

[26] Ibid., p. 198.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid., p. 199.

[31] John Blanchard, Does God Believe in Atheists?, p. 436.

[32] Ravi Zacharias, A Shattered Visage, p. 80.

[33] Brian Schwertley, Secular Humanism, p. 2.

[34] Charles Colson, How Now Shall We Live?, p. 82.

[35] Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 557.

[36] Brian Schwertley, Secular Humanism, p. 3.

[37] John Blanchard, p. 428.

[38] Charles Colson, How Now Shall We Live?, p. 74.

[39] Werner Gitt, In the Beginning was Information, (Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, 1997), pp. 12-14, 241-246.

[40] Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 701.

Point of Contact

I. Scripture does not affirm the unbeliever’s method of evaluating God’s truth. (The Bible establishes a point of contact that exposes the sinner’s faulty epistemology.)

     A. The unbeliever operates upon the assumption that he is autonomous and not accountable to God. This core commitment to autonomous self drives the unbeliever’s studious suppression of God’s truth.


          1. We cannot allow the natural man’s assumption of himself as ultimate reference point to remain unchallenged. If we do not challenge his assumption, he will interpret Christianity in naturalistic terms.[i][1]

          2. The believer and the unbeliever can have no common area of knowledge UNLESS they agree between them on the nature of man. No such agreement exists. (Scripture affirms anantithesis rather than an agreement.)[ii][2]


     B. God has clearly revealed His truth to sinners. Unbelievers strive to distort the truth beyond recognition.[iii][3]


1. Believer and unbeliever do not have methods of interpretation in common. When we treat the natural man’s thought processes as normal, we are behaving as if he has the “ability” to correctly interpret the phenomenal world.

2. Natural men interpret the phenomenal world on the assumption of human autonomy. In order topreserve their presupposition of autonomy, unbelievers assume the non-createdness of facts and they assume a system logic that envelops both God and man.

C. Unbelieving man is in no position to judge what God can say and cannot say about Himself or what God can do and cannot do in saving and in condemning. [iv][4]

1. The apologist must constantly keep the above in mind. He must not grant sinners the authority that they can do right or handle right the Scriptures.

2. By nature, the sinner is incapable of handling the Word of God truthfully. Unbelievers demonstrate their rebellion by sitting in judgment on the Scriptures.

D. In order to retain the Biblical method of apologetics, we must fix our mind on the true state and condition of the unbeliever.

II. Scripture uncovers the strength and content of the unbeliever’s

bias against God’s truth.


A. Scripture gives a full account of the unbeliever’s hostile state of mind. [v][5]

1. When men refuse to acknowledge God’s truth, they will be led into futility and error. The sinner daily changes God’s truth into a lie.

2. The unbeliever suppresses God’s truth because he doesn’t want to deal with God whorevealed it. Sinners choose not to know as they ought, because knowing comes with ethical obligations. The God who is to be known through His revelation requires all men to be subject to Him as sovereign Creator and Lord.[vi][6]

B. The natural man blurs the infinite distinction between himself and God. The unbeliever thinks of himself as equal to God and insists upon occupying His place.

1. The natural man has abandoned the creature-Creator relationship for which he was made. Like Adam, he has “rooted” himself in the world. He hides in the world from God. By worshipping and serving the creation, he proves that he is NOT rich toward God (his treasure is elsewhere).[vii][7]

2. In his darkness and rebellion, the natural man denies his need of divine revelation to understand his world and man’s place in it. He has complete confidence in the human rational process to discover all knowledge. He only deems to be true what autonomous reason deems to be true. By claiming to know independently of God, he usurps the place of God.

3. Like Adam, he has a definition of freedom that is based upon the ultimacy of his mind. He views freedom as the “liberty” to arrange his life according to the dictates of his own counsel.[viii][8]

C. In his pride, the natural man denies that he needs regeneration to reset his mind. [ix][9]

1. The pride of the natural man naturally wants to destroy the system of supernatural revelation that exposes his sin and shame and reveals his helplessness. (It is impossible for him to be objective when he has a vested interest in silencing the testimony.)

2. In his pride, modern man says that he can identify himself, BEFORE he knows and identifies God.[x][10]

3. In his pride, he has no sentiment whatsoever to use his intellect to glorify God. All of God’s truth is “shoved” into naturalistic categories. The unbeliever denies that God has planned all the relations between what He has created. He denies that all created reality displays the divine plan. In his pride, he assumes that facts and laws are intelligible without God. He sees reality as greater than God.[xi][11]

4. The sinner has a three point premise: a.) He denies creaturehood, he believes that he is ultimate. He assumes that self (and not God) is the final reference point for explaining all things. b.) He assumes that all things are non-created and controlled by chance. c.) He believes that the power of logic he possesses is the means to determine what is possible and impossible in a universe of chance.[xii][12]


D. The sinner is incapable of diagnosing himself. In his self-deception, he assumes non-createdness and autonomy.


1. In his self-deception, he has chosen an epistemology that is informed by his ethical hostility toward God.[xiii][13]

2. His negative reaction to God’s revelation issues from his false view of himself. The Christian apologist must know that the unbeliever is quite a different sort of person than he thinks he is. The unbeliever will not have a correct view of self apart from Christianity.[xiv][14]

3. In his self-deception, he assumes that he is a proper judge of all claims to authority. By contrast, the Scriptures proclaim that he is not autonomous, but a dependent creature and sinner before the face of God. He must subordinate his reason to the Word of God in order to have the light necessary to interpret his experience.[xv][15]

E. The unbeliever’s hostility to God’s truth provokes his Creator to wrath (Rom 1:18).

1. Any and every truth about God that comes to the unbeliever is immediately suppressed. When man’s darkened understanding has completed its “restructuring” activity, the original truth emerges as falsehood. The suppression of God’s truth is only overcome by the convicting and illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.[xvi][16]

2. It is the nature of sin to deny the God’s rightful honor. The unbeliever is strongly motivated to interpret all reality according to his atheistic presuppositions. The sinner finds Christian truth so uncomfortable that he twists it, denies it, suppresses it, changes it and domesticates it.[xvii][17]

III. No man can escape the Creator’s clear revelation in the natural order and the inward conscience.


A. Human beings can never escape facing their Creator. God reveals Himself in the universe around them and in their own constitution. God is man’s environment.[xviii][18]


1. Human sin cannot destroy man’s knowledge of God. Sin cannot eradicate man’s sense of deity. Human rebellion does not create a new reality in which man possesses genuine autonomy. (A “sense of deity” constitutes the following: By virtue of being made in God’s image, man has an innate God-given consciousness that he is a creature of God, he is responsible to God, and he is a covenant-breaker.[xix][19]


2. God’s face appears in every fact that the unbeliever seeks to suppress. Unsaved men constantly fight a losing battle to obliterate the truth of God. But the truth they seek to extinguish is inherent in their very beings.[xx][20]

B. All men possess a sense of deity. The common ground we share with unbelievers lies not in a common epistemology, but in a common bearing of God’s image. Sense of deity is not merely probable conclusions about God’s existence, it is actual metaphysical common ground – all men bear God’s image.  Thus, sense of deity becomes the proper point of contact within apologetics and evangelism.[xxi][21]


C. The natural man cannot live consistent with his atheistic presuppositions. As a consequence, he operates with knowledge “borrowed” from the Christian world view.


1. Without a “head on” collision with the false assumptions of the natural man, there is no point of contact with his sense of deity.

We must challenge the sinful structure of the natural man.[xxii][22]

2. Every man knows he is a creature accountable to God. We must have the faith to believe this, no matter how vociferous and dogmatic he may be in his resistance to God’s truth. [xxiii][23]

IV. The sinner’s real problem is not intellectual, but moral. As a

hostile enemy of God, he denies his need of divine revelation to

understand the world and man’s place in it. A truly biblical

apologetic emphasizes the antithesis that exists between the

mind of the believer and unbeliever.[xxiv][24]


A. The believer and the unbeliever do not have interpretation in common. Given the ANTITHESISthat exists between faith and unbelief, there is no truth that is religiously neutral.[xxv][25]


B. According to Romans 1, man knows “after a fashion,” but he does know ethically.  Because man is a creature who belongs to God and who is ethically responsible to God, knowing is an ethical process.


C. The antithesis is not merely one group of propositions contrary to another, it is about the whole life of a man. It is about the conflict of the ages between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the wicked one. [xxvi][26]

1. The antithesis between kingdoms centers upon the matter of the recognition of the lordship of Christ.

2. The antithesis between kingdoms concerns the reasoning of the human heart. There is a sharpantithesis between the wisdom of God and the foolishness of unbelief (1 Cor 2:6-16).

3. Believer and unbeliever live in antithetical realms of thought. 

Practically speaking, they live in different “universes” of discourse.

They have no point of contact epistemologically. The epistemological

gulf is humanly unbridgeable. Only by God’s Spirit can the sinner

attain to a true knowledge of God.[xxvii][27]

D. The Christian apologist must QUALIFY the antithesis that exists between believer and unbeliever.

1. It is true that the non-Christian’s ethical hostility adversely affects

his epistemology and his interpreting of the world and God. But it is

also true that in the real world, unbelievers believe and behave in

ways with which the Christian agrees. Fallen man knows truth and

does “morally good” things in spite of the fact that in principle he is

set against God (Unbelievers may promote charities, work for law

and order, espouse moral behavior, and assist the poor.)[xxviii][28]

2. A second way that we can qualify the antithesis is by emphasizing

that the antithesis to God is not metaphysical, but ethical. Unbelief

does not change the metaphysical reality that all men will never be

anything but image-bearers of God. The antithesis is ethical in

nature. Sinners know that they have broken God’s law, they

know they suppress the truth and they know they should obey God.[xxix][29]

E. Apologists need to be epistemologically self-conscious – they need to

exhibit with greater clarity, the antithesis between the believer and the

unbeliever’s espoused systems of thought.


1. When presenting his apologetic argument, the Christian should

begin by emphasizing the absolute ethical antithesis in which the

natural man stands to God.

2. The apologist must not “tone down” the confrontation between truth

and error. By emphasizing the antithesis, the apologist guards against

arguing with a fool on the “turf” of his world view.[xxx][30]

V. We must find the point of contact in the natural man. Non-

presuppositional apologetics permits the legitimacy of the natural

man’s view of self to stand.[xxxi][31]


 A. Our point of contact is man’s rebellion against God’s claims upon



1. We press the claims of God upon men without apology.


 2. Ask the natural man how his system differs from the Word of God. 

 Listen to his objections. Present him the opposite of what he claims to



 3. The pagan does not have a legitimate reason why the Christian

world view is not true. The Christian apologist challenges the sinner to

take his faith out of himself and put it in God.[xxxii][32]

4. Unbelievers frequently try to reduce the point of contact to a debate

between personal opinions. Respond by asking, “Where are your

answers coming from? Mine are rooted in the Word of God.” Show the

unbeliever what God says about his world view. Remember, the

sinner’s intellectual assumptions are on trial, not the revelation of


B. The apologist is to appeal to the sense of deity that is in the very

depth of the sinner’s consciousness. The natural man is always

confronting the same God who now asks him to yield obedience to


1. We go beneath his consciousness to the sense of deity he seeks to

suppress. The natural man is constantly haunted by Romans 2. The accusations of God’s law written on his heart fill the workings of his conscience.[xxxv][35]

2. Because men are ignorant of God due to sin, the point of contact cannot be in human reason or aspirations.[xxxvi][36]

C. The natural man suppresses the very world view he needs to make

sense of the world and himself. Man is a creature of God, designed to

think God’s thoughts after Him.[xxxvii][37]


[i][1] Greg L. Bahnsen, VanTil’s Apologetic, Readings & Analysis (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1998), 439.

[ii][2] Cornelius VanTil, The Defense of the Faith (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1955), 67.

[iii][3] Thom Notaro, VanTil & the Use of Evidence (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1980), 41.

[iv][4] Robert L. Reymond, The Justification of Knowledge (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1976), 29.

[v][5] Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready (Atlanta: American Vision, 1996), 80.

[vi][6] Thom Notaro, Van Til & Evidences, 33.

[vii][7] C. K. Barrett, From First Adam to Last (New York: Scriber’s and Sons), 13, 17.

[viii][8] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 84.

[ix][9] Ibid., p. 75.

[x][10] Ibid., p. 157.

[xi][11] Ibid., pp. 173, 196.

[xii][12] Ibid., p. 231.

[xiii][13] Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 410.

[xiv][14] Ibid., p. 422.

[xv][15] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 108.

[xvi][16] Robert L. Reymond, The Justification of Knowledge, p. 26.

[xvii][17] John M. Frame, “Van Til on Antithesis” Westminster Theological Journal, 57:1(Spring 1995): 92.

[xviii][18] Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 417.

[xix][19] Ibid., p. 419.

[xx][20] David L. Turner, “Cornelius Van Til and Romans 1:18-21” Grace Theological Journal 2:1 (Spring 1981): 52.

[xxi][21] Ibid., p. 55-57.

[xxii][22] Thom Notaro, Van Til and Evidences, p. 40.

[xxiii][23] James F. Stitzinger, “Apologetics and Evangelism TH 701” (The Master’s Seminary, Sun Valley, CA, 1999), p. 97.

[xxiv][24] Ibid., p. 97.

[xxv][25] Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 424.

[xxvi][26] John M. Frame, “Van Til on Antithesis” WTJ, P. 101.

[xxvii][27] Richard B. Gaffin Jr., “Some Epistemological Reflections on 1 Corinthians 2:6-16” The Westminster Theological Journal 57:1 (Spring 1995): 106-110. 

[xxviii][28] Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 416.

[xxix][29] Ibid., p. 417.

[xxx][30] James F. Stitzinger, Apologetics, p. 118, 126.

[xxxi][31] Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 440.

[xxxii][32] James F. Stitzinger, Apologetics, pp. 122, 126, 127.

[xxxiii][33] Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 83.

[xxxiv][34] Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 448.

[xxxv][35] James F. Stitzinger, Apologetics, p. 97.

[xxxvi][36] William Edgar, “Two Christian Warriors: Cornelius Van Til and Francis A. Schaeffer Compared” The Westminster Theological Journal 57:1 (Spring 1995): 65.

[xxxvii][37] Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 63.

Presuppositional Apologetics and the Moral Government of God

Not long ago I received by e-mail a one-page article written by Ray Comfort, “Avoiding the Wall of Antagonism.” In this short piece, he suggests that the intellect of the unbeliever is like a brick wall that will not let in biblical arguments. Comfort then asserts that the only faculty in man that is not an avowed enemy of God is the conscience.

The author then makes an appeal to the reader to “learn to speak directly to the conscience.” He then suggests that when the conscience is targeted, the arguments that commonly arise in apologetic discussions will become non-issues (i.e. origins, doctrines, denominations, the fate of the heathen, etc.). “The conscience is God’s ally” says Comfort. “It doesn’t speak against the Law of God; it speaks for it.” In order to win our case, we must bring forth the “star witness” – God’s Law.

Out of a personal desire to find a more perfect union between apologetics and evangelism, my study in the use of the Law in evangelism has taken me to an excellent work on the Puritans –The Grace of Law, by Ernest Kevan.

In Kevan’s work, he documents the way the Puritans used the Law in evangelism. In applying this material to our presuppositional apologetic, my thought was, “To what degree is the conscience of man afflicted when the inconsistencies in his world view are exposed? Does our internal critique of erroneous worldviews fall short of speaking directly to the conscience? How can we turn the transcendental argument into an occasion for humbling the conscience?”

It is my desire to write an apologetic methodology that takes a very calculated aim at the conscience of man. I want to answer Comfort’s charge that apologetics falls short of afflicting the moral conscience.

The following article is a proposal for the aforementioned methodology. Of late, in my evangelism, I have been adding conscience material to my apologetic and have seen an excellent response.

Can a man understand the Gospel if he has no understanding of the divine economy of Law? The Puritans would say, “No!” The Law now has both a precept role and an evangelical role. Its evangelical role is to make sin exceedingly sinful. We are to therefore preach the law “killingly” to the end that the sinner loses all hope of contributing to his own salvation.

It’s fascinating that early Puritans such as Robert Bolton (1606-1654) recognized the danger of “short-cutting” the Gospel by offering free grace, before the conscience was afflicted by the Law (Robert Bolton, Afflicted Consciences, p. 175).

The Puritans believed that the Law was God’s holiness in transcript. They regarded the moral law as a codified copy of the divine nature; an unchanging expression of the holy majesty of God’s Person. Since God’s moral government is founded upon His Law, the ineffable principle of moral cause and effect reveals God’s righteous character. C. H. Dodd regarded God’s moral Law to be built into the very fabric of the universe and creation (C. H. Dodd, Gospel and Law, pp. 70, 71, 79).

Under the new covenant, the evangelical role of the Law is summarized in Galatians 2 and 3. In those chapters we find that the moral law is a “bulldozer” that scrapes human merit off the face of the earth. In fulfilling that role, it functions as a prosecutor, an executioner, a jailor, a tutor, and a curse-er. (In fulfilling this role, the Law prepares the sinner for the Gospel.)


What is the use of the Law in apologetics and evangelism? Ernest Kevan documents the way in which the Puritans used the Law in evangelism (Ernest Kevan, The Grace of Law, pp. 91, 92). Kevan quotes William Perkins who identified four aspects related to God’s moral majesty which must be grasped before the Gospel can be understood: a.) the existence of God’s Law, b.) man’s sin against God’s Law, c.) the guilt of sin incurred by breaking God’s Law d.) the eternal wrath of God poured out in judgment against sin (William Perkins, Two Treatises, in Works, p. 541).

The Puritans believed that the Holy Spirit utilized the preaching of the Law to produce a state of conviction designated as “legal faith” or “the spirit of bondage.” Once in that state of conviction, the awakened sinner recognizes the guilt of his sin, he recognizes the moral government of God, and he comes to understand the hopelessness of working his way out of condemnation (Kevan, p. 92).

A suggested procedure for using the Law in apologetics.

1.) Establish the very concept of moral law. Note how our culture separates the Person of God from moral law. How can we in our preaching bring the two back together again? When ethics are “orphaned” from the Person of God, they are easily debauched. Vices can be legislated as “virtues” (John O. Anderson, Cry of the Innocents, p. 135). (Note the recent legislation on the recognition of homosexual domestic partnerships.)

2.) Establish that moral law is a direct reflection of God’s unchanging moral character. It is impossible to love God without submitting to and valuing His commands as the expression of His righteousness (Deut 30:19, 20). The formula repeated in Leviticus is, “I am the Lord, therefore . . . “ Only the man who “imitates God” will enter the kingdom of heaven (Eph 5:1-6). God’s standard never evolves because the Lawgiver never changes. His moral law for man reflects the immutable character of His righteousness and holiness. It is a standard that is eternally binding upon all civilizations (Douglas W. Phillips, Esq., “Do Laws and Standards Evolve?” Impact #303, Institute for Creation Research, 1998). 


3.) Establish the existence of God’s moral government. Moral cause and effect are administrated by God (note Deut 10, 11, 13, 27, 28). To possess salvation is to be possessed by God. By obedience to God’s commands we manifest that we are God’s possession and that we are willingly subject to His moral government. Paul preached the Gospel against the backdrop of the coming judgment of God’s moral government (see Acts 17:30, 31; 24:15, 16).

A proposed line of questioning in apologetics that can be used to promote the recognition of God’s moral government.

1.) Do you believe that we can know right from wrong?

2.) Do you believe that the concept of right from wrong is merely the result of social convention, cultural mores, and/or Darwinian evolution?

3.) Do you believe that right from wrong is a matter of personal opinion? OR, is right from wrong an external, constant standard which flows from the holy character of the one, true and righteous God?

4.) Do you believe that God has revealed His standard of right and wrong in the Ten Commandments found in the Holy Bible? (Do you also believe that God’s standard in the Ten Commandments is absolute, universal, and unchanging?)

5.) Do you believe that God is the sovereign, moral Governor of all creation, ruling over his moral creatures by means of his righteous laws found in the Ten Commandments?

6.) Do you believe that God’s righteous character, expressed in His moral government, requires that He thoroughly punish all evil? Do you believe that God will someday judge every man and woman by this righteous standard which flows from His own character?

7.) Do you believe that your conscience is an undeniable testimony of the righteous standard found in the Ten Commandments? Do you believe that the same holy God created both your conscience and the Ten Commandments which are an expression of His moral perfections?

8.) Do you believe that God requires you to keep the Ten Commandments? Do you believe that God has a record of your transgressions of His laws?

9.) Do you know what God’s Word, the Bible, teaches concerning personal guilt before God due to the breaking of His laws? My I show you from God’s Word the Bible what God declares concerning the lost and sinful condition of the human race?

(Remember, some of the most flagrant inconsistencies within pagan philosophies and worldviews are in the area of morals and their origin and enforcement.)

The Apostle Paul states that the human condition is made known by means of God’s Law.

“Creation in the image of God demands moral conformity to that image. Romans 1:18-32 is God’s indictment upon man as a creature in sin. Both being created by God and being sinful are universal realities since the fall of Adam. . . Paul is describing God’s attitude toward His creatures that find themselves in sin and outside of Christ. The very fact of their creation makes all men ethically responsible to God. Creation by God’s hand demands moral conformity to God’s law. Man is responsible to God for his conduct and is held to a standard of conduct and indicted and judged for not upholding that standard, even if he has never read or heard of the Bible. According to Paul, man has an innate knowledge of God’s attributes (Rom 1:20), an innate knowledge of God’s person (Rom 1:21), an innate knowledge of God’s law (Rom 1:32; 2:14-15), and an innate knowledge of God’s judgment (Rom 1:32)” (Richard C. Barcellos, The Ten Commandments, p. 19).

“[Thus] man by creation is responsible to God to uphold an assumed code of ethics that comes from God and is known by all men. [The sins listed in Romans one are direct violations of the Decalogue.] This at least suggests that the Ten Commandments can be easily consulted when pointing out the sins of men without special revelation.

It should be obvious now that what the Gentiles possess is the Ten Commandments, though not necessarily in the identical form as they appear in the Decalogue. . . In other words, what the Jews get by special revelation, the Gentiles get by general revelation” (Barcellos, p. 20, 23).

In our apologetic “reasoning” with the unbeliever, we must remember that the conscience of man must be reached BEFORE the sinner is ready to abandon his cherished intellectual fallacies.

Arguments against biblical theism come from the unbeliever’s intellect. “The ungodly mind is like a brick wall. It has been built to keep God out. It is at enmity against Him. It refuses to bow to the Law of God – ‘because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’ (Rom 8:7)” (Ray Comfort, Avoiding the Wall of Antagonism).

The human mind spins off arguments and attacks against God. The carnal mind is the place of battles against God – it is a place of great hostility against the knowledge of God (Col 1:21). “The wall of antagonism is hard and immovable, so make it a habit of going around it. Learn to speak directly to the conscience. This is good news. It means that we can be effective in our Christian witness without having to learn how to pronounce, ‘Australopithicus afarensis’ or define the [contents of] the fossil record, or know the [precise] age of the earth. When you address the conscience, these things become non-issues. [The conscience] is the part of human nature that isn’t an enemy of God. The conscience is God’s ally. It doesn’t speak against the Law of God; it speaks for it. It is the work of the Law written on their heart. It bears witness (Rom 2:15). It testifies for God. It is the trustworthy witness who points out the guilty party in the courtroom. . . If we want to win our case we must bring out our star witness and put it on the stand to give it a voice. We want to stop the mouth of the criminal [a criminal in God’s sight], and that’s what the lawful use of the Law does (Rom 3:19). It condemns the guilty and drives him to give up his defense, so that he will be forced to look solely to the Judge for mercy” (Ray Comfort).

If our witness is to be both biblical and effective, we must know why the Gospel offends the unbeliever.

The religious reasoning that is natural to man always thinks in terms of personal merit. The natural man thinks of salvation in terms of a “commodity” that is bestowed in exchange for religious exertion.

Only the born again Christian understands (by the Spirit’s illumination) that salvation is by union with Christ. The natural man seeks to add something religious to his life; he doesn’t think in terms of abandoning himself to the lordship of Christ.

As a consequence, the Gospel offends because it lays bare one’s life before God. It confronts personal idolatry in all of its forms. It calls and commands us to say the same thing about our ruined condition as God does. It demands that we discard our faulty “scales” of reasoning in exchange for the absolute authority of God’s Word.

The Gospel offends because it demands we make the greatest “U-turn” conceivable, acknowledging that our chosen path has been one of destruction and one of rebellion against God.

The Gospel offends because at its center is the cross. The cross states that man is horribly wrong and God alone is right. The cross of Christ is a monument to the fact that the human race deserves to die, and that nothing less than the death of the only begotten Son of God can avail to remedy our ruin (Gardner Spring, The Attraction of the Cross, pp. 205-207).

The Gospel offends because man is not in charge of its eternal benefits. The sinner’s only hope is the sovereign mercy and pity of God in Christ. If one is to be saved, it hangs completely upon un-obligated divine compassion.

The Gospel offends because the sinner is rescued solely by Christ’s might, love, and infinite grace. Every saved man is therefore utterly beholden to the Son of God. Yes the Gospel offends because men hate being obligated forever to the lordship and Mediatorial Kingship of Christ. They resist the values of God’s Kingdom in which the lives of the citizens of the Kingdom are no longer their own but are possessed and constrained by Christ’s love (2 Cor 5:14).

The Gospel offends because it declares the sinner’s abject moral and spiritual bankruptcy; a bankruptcy in which the sinner has no resources in himself with which to “trade” with heaven. He has no spiritual life, but is like a decayed corpse – whose only hope is spiritual resurrection by Almighty God.

The Gospel offends because sinners are suspicious of the cross; for the cross speaks of pain, suffering, self-denial, and death. The cross calls for a complete reordering of one’s life; a repentance that goes to the depth of one’s being and leaves no existing loyalties untouched.

The cross offends because it speaks of an extremely demanding and comprehensive worldview. It is a worldview that divorces the believer from the love of the world and binds him completely to Christ for his identity, purpose, happiness, and destiny.

The modern “gospel” fails to bring the human condition to light; therefore it comes short of producing true conviction of sin.

Without exposing the human condition in a convincing way that afflicts the conscience, people have little idea what they are to be saved from. Modern presentations of the Gospel tend to emphasize the benefits of salvation rather than the character of God and the sinner’s condition (Jim Elliff, The New Gospel: Appealing but not Revealing, p. 3).

When the Gospel is preached minus the offense of the cross, sinners will attempt to do business with God on their terms, not God’s terms. It is by preaching the offense of the cross that sinners are brought to true repentance. The Gospel is not a different “happiness formula” that we hope to promote over the world’s formula. The Gospel is about knowing the God of Scripture and living for His glory. A Gospel without sin, hell, justice, conviction, and repentance bears no resemblance to the Gospel our Lord preached (Elliff, p. 4, 5).

When Christ preached the Gospel, He removed all middle ground; He eliminated all gray areas. He emphatically stated that there is no territory between truth and lies, between heaven and hell.

Christ’s words concerning the Gospel made a very clear division between men. If a person is not following Christ with all his heart, and seeking to build His Kingdom, and involved in gathering souls, then according to Christ, that person is scattering, and is “against Me” (Luke 11:23).

Christ and the Apostles preached the Law of God, original sin, the need of repentance, and the need for a new nature. When the Gospel is preached biblically, the soil of the heart will be “plowed up” in order to receive the good seed.

Preaching the Law of God and preaching repentance toward God is necessarily joined to the Holy Spirit’s preparation of the sinner.

Only the man prepared by God’s Spirit goes to war against his own sin and his own sin nature. The sinner prepared by the Holy Spirit takes God’s side against himself. As Luther said, “Penance remains while self hate remains.” In other words, no one comes to Christ without being overwhelmed with self-contempt over personal sin.

In order to be brought to true repentance, a man must be taken beyond merely the fear of punishment; he must be taken all the way to hatred of sin and love of Christ. Repentance begins with sobering thoughts of eternity then proceeds to conscience crushing contemplation of personal sin (John MacArthur, Exposition of Luke 3:1-18).

The sinner will come willingly if the Spirit of God has prepared him by crushing his conscience over sin and by bringing him to the end of self. Unbelievers stop short of saving faith and repentance when they place their trust in their efforts of personal reformation. Therefore it is the Spirit’s convicting role to bring the sinner to utter bankruptcy of soul and despairing of all self-help. Only then has the sinner been made ready to seek the solution outside of himself in the eternal Son of God.

Fear of judgment is a preparatory part of repentance. The Holy Spirit brings down the sinner’s pride by means of conviction of sin. The unbeliever is radically humbled so as to behold his wretchedness for the very first time. This is essential preparation for the desperateness that accompanies brokenness and penitence (John MacArthur, Exposition of Luke 12:22-34).

True turning from sin has a desperate-ness about it. The prepared sinner longs for forgiveness and deliverance from sin. The cost of discipleship lived out under the absolute lordship of Christ appeals ONLY to the person who is desperate to be delivered from sin. The prepared person is willing to pay any cost and part with anything in order to have Christ and deliverance (MacArthur).

The Scriptures warn against temporary discipleship. The false believer follows for awhile then falls away. He was never prepared to the point of being so destitute that he pleads with God to be delivered from sin and judgment. The prepared man, by God’s sovereign grace, trusts in God and abandons any imagined right to earthly attachments. He puts his life in the hand of the Lord; he finds in Christ the ability to deny himself and submit to the Heavenly Father’s care and love. He regards his true treasure to be heavenly treasure (MacArthur).

The man who is genuinely converted never outgrows his amazement at divine forgiveness. His mind and affections are now a servant and instrument of God’s Word and grace. He continues to glorify God by viewing God’s grace from the vantage point of his own ill desert (Eph 2:1-16). This is why we preach the Law, for it is the beginning of understanding our ill desert and it is the beginning of preparing the sinner to appeal to the throne of grace for mercy.



The Bible Begins with a Declaration of God, Not a Defense of God.


The Thomistic (Thomas Aquinas, 1224-1274) approach to apologetics makes its appeal to natural theology.  Aquinas employed the empirical tradition in philosophy which can be traced back to Aristotle.  Apologetic thinkers who subscribe to the Thomistic approach do not deny the doctrine of original sin, but they seldom question the basic competency of human reason in philosophy.  Of all the apologetic groups, clearly those who are of the Thomistic (natural theology) group have the most “cheerful” view of human reason (A. T.  Hoover, “Apologetics” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter A. Elwell, Ed., p. 69). 


Aquinas claimed that God’s existence could be established philosophically.  His famous “five ways” of proof (teleological, cosmological etc.) are a posteriori arguments based upon God’s effects in the world.  The “five ways” represent a natural, rational preamble.  Aquinas saw a sharp distinction between nature (data open and accessible to all men), and grace (derived from revelation).  A key feature that distinguishes Aquinas from presuppositional apologists is as follows: Aquinas saw the religious conclusions derived from revelation to be the perfecting, not the repudiation of the conclusions of human reason (Paul Helm, “Thomas Aquinas” The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, J. D. Douglas, Ed., p. 61). 


In 1 Corinthians 1:20-22; 2:1-6, Paul emphatically declares that the knowledge of God through Christ does not rest upon the methodology followed by the philosophers (see Bernard Ramm, “Apologetics, Bible” ISBE, 1:191).  The person who knows God is one who has “become as a little child.”  His starting point is the Bible’s “declaration of God.”  He has presupposed the existence of the God of Scripture and consequently he believes in the infallibility of God’s Word.  


The arguments for the existence of God that are used by the natural school of theology assume that man’s reason is neutral.  By contrast, Scripture states that human reason is corrupted by depravity (see lessons in this syllabus on The Myth of Neutrality and The Nature of Faith).   


I. The Creator’s relationship to the creation.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  The Bible teaches that God created the universe in six days.


A. (Gen. 1).  God created the universe out of nothing.  He did not use any pre-existing material or energy.


1.       God did not create the universe because He was lonely or because He had to.


2.       The work of creation was a free act of His will for His own good pleasure and glory (Rev. 4:11).


3.       Time, space, matter, energy, spiritual beings (e.g., angels) and earthly creatures (e.g., mankind) were all created by God and owe their existence to Him.  All created reality is totally and utterly dependent upon God at  every moment (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17).


B. After God created the universe He declared it to be very good (Gen. 1:3). Therefore death, calamity, sin and evil were not original to God’s created order.


C. God’s creation of the universe teaches us that there are two completely different and separate forms of being: uncreated Being (God), and created being.  There is a Creator-creature distinction.  There is an inseparable gulf between created and uncreated reality.


1.  God is uncreated, independent and self-sufficient.  He is in need of nothing outside of Himself.  Man was created.  He is a creature.  Man is totally, continually and always dependent upon God for his existence.


2.  God is infinite, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing and immutable (i.e., God being perfect, cannot change.)  Man if finite, temporal (i.e., a creature in time), limited in power, limited in knowledge and mutable (i.e., man grows and develops; man learns; and man can sin and do evil).


D. Because God is perfect, unchanging, infinite, and all-knowing, He cannot make mistakes.  He is infallible.  Therefore, God must be man’s source for all truth, knowledge and ethics. 


1.  “In Your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9).  What is true, what is good and what is right is what God says is true, good and right.


2.  God’s creation of the universe teaches us that God is the sovereign Lord  of everything that exists.


3.  God created the universe from nothing; therefore, God owns and has absolute authority over all reality.  God owns every human being.  God has absolute authority and total jurisdiction over all mankind.  His claims upon His creatures are absolute.


E.  God’s moral authority over all mankind is expressed in His commands. Therefore, obedience and service to God are not voluntary, trivial or unimportant.


1.   God commands mankind to study, believe and obey His divine revelation, the Bible.  The God who created, and who sustains all creatures every moment will some day judge all men (Rev. 20:11-15).


2.  God’s creation of the universe shows His kindness and goodness.  God created the earth and proclaimed it to be very good (Gen. 1:31).  The beauty of the world God made for us to enjoy is intended to move us to thanksgiving for His incredible creation.


3.  Those who know God thank Him every day for His fantastic and glorious creation.  The antitheist attributes the bird’s song, the seasons and the stunning wonders of creation to nothing more than atoms floating randomly in the void.  The natural man subscribes to the absurd notion of a chance universe where unthinking particles somehow formed galaxies, stars, planets, fish, birds, animals and people.


F. The concept of a universe based upon chance is a concept formed by the fallen intellect of man. 


1.  “Pseudo-science” believes in much more incredible miracles than any Bible-believing Christian does.  It’s just that the world view of evolutionary naturalism postulates that their “miracles” occur very slowly (over billions of years).


2.  Evolution is a religious faith without empirical evidence.  It is a philosophical absurdity (that chance and chaos can produce order, complexity, purpose and meaning).[i][1]


3.  Why is evolution so popular today?  Because people love their sin and do not want to make peace with God.  They prefer to retain their imagined autonomy, they refuse to submit to their Creator. 


II. Male and female are created in the image of God

The Bible teaches that man and woman were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28).


A.  To be created in the image of God is to be as much like God as a creature could possibly be and yet remain a creature.


1.  As the image of God, man is able to reason, to feel, to solve problems, to interpret his environment, to reflect upon his own behavior, to create and to relate.


2.  Man the “namer” of things, man the researcher, man the lover of beauty and man the fashioner of culture are all a function of bearing the image of God.


B.  Being made in the image of God has comprehensive holistic implications. The meaning and purpose of the human race is grounded in the truth that man is made in the image of God.


1.  Thus, mankind’s existence as the image of God is inseparable from the answer to every ultimate question.  (Ultimate questions concern man’s origin, purpose and destiny – “Why are we here?  Where did we come from? Who are we? etc.”) 


2.  Man as the image of God is inseparable from man’s origin and destiny. (Carl Sagan, representing the evolutionary world-view, expressed great optimism that the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence would answer the ultimate question, “Who are we?”  Isn’t interesting that Sagan, who rejects the Creator’s authoritative revelation, would submit his intellect to the mind of an E.T.?) 


3.  Being made in the image of God explains who we are.  The image of God first and foremost defines man’s constitution, purpose, significance and  existence.


4.  The image of God is the source of man’s dignity.  Man’s honor and worth are a function of man having been formed in God’s image.  It is this image that establishes man’s uniqueness, setting him apart from the animal kingdom (Jer. 9:23,24). 


C. Man’s purpose and significance are bound to his identity as the image of God. 


1.  The meaning of man flows from God’s definition of man.  Why does man matter at all?  Does man make a truly lasting contribution besides passing on his genetic code to the next generation?  Is it possible to make a contribution that can never be lost?  The answer lies in man’s created purpose.


2.  Man’s design and purpose belong together.  Man is a “covenant” being, designed by God to fulfill purposes that are both physical and spiritual. Man’s role and task under God is that of a steward, a subduer, a laborer, an inventor and a builder.  As prophet, priest and king, man not only rules over the works of God’s hands, he also interprets all things by the Word of God and dedicates all things to the glory of God (Ps. 8).


3.  The image of God is the reason why man cannot be accurately designated an advanced animal.  (Man is qualitatively not quantitatively different than the animals.) [ii][2]


4.  As the image of God, man is to reflect the divine attributes – Lev. 11:44ff; 1 Pet. 1:15,16 (e.g., attributes of love, righteousness, truth etc.). 


a.) Man only functions as a faithful steward of the world and a truthful interpreter of the universe when he is thinking God’s thoughts after Him (that is by Scripture dominating exceptionally in his intellect).


b.)  Man’s ability to carry out this cultural calling and divine mandate is a function of his submission to God’s revelation, the Bible.


D. Man’s privilege and responsibility are a function of bearing the image of God.  It is an inestimable privilege to be the only order of creatures made in the image of God.  God’s condescension is seen in His crowning of man with dignity and honor and in His placement of man over the works of His hands (Ps. 8).


1.  But man’s greatest responsibility is seen in the fact that the image of God is a moral image.  Man is designed to reflect the righteous character of God. 


2.  Man’s effectiveness in reflecting the character of his Creator depends upon his willingness to obey God’s commands.  God’s commandments form a fence or barrier that mark out man’s moral path on earth (Jer. 6:16; 18:15).


III. Redemption restores man’s ability to glorify God as His image-bearer.

As the image of God, man was created to receive God’s revelation.  This is the only way that he can know truth with certainty. 


A. Apart from God’s authoritative Word, the Bible, man is set adrift on a sea of epistemological uncertainty that leads to despair (i.e., apart from the Bible, man has no hope whatsoever of finding absolute truth).


1.  The Bible stresses that God can only be known through His authoritative Word, the Holy Scriptures.


2.   Since God is perfect in holiness and righteousness, He cannot permit man’s fallen nature to be the ground of acceptance before Him.


3.  Fallen man is totally incapable of generating a righteous work that is recognized by God as meritorious.  God’s standard of righteousness is His own absolute holiness (Rom. 10:1-3).


B. God’s plan of redemption reveals His righteousness, compassion, love and justice.  God’s gracious character is revealed in His provision of a perfect Substitute who acts in the room and place of fallen man.


1.  The divinely appointed Substitute supplies the perfect righteousness God law requires.  The Substitute gives His life to satisfy the justice demanded by the law of God.


2.  The key is that the Substitute for fallen man is God’s only begotten Son. He is the perfect, unfallen image of God – very God and very man.  The second Person of the Godhead took on human nature in order to become our Substitute.  In that redemptive role, He restored the broken image of God that was lost in Adam’s fall.  (Those who put their faith in the Substitute are set right with God and restored as reflectors of His righteousness and truth.)


VI. The cruelty of evolution’s lie is seen in its attempt to overturn the truth of man’s identity as the image of God.


A.  By denying that man is made in the image of God, evolution denies man’s only hope.  For God’s plan of redemption involves the restoration of sinful, fallen man by a perfect image-bearer, the Lord Jesus Christ. 


1.  The divinely appointed Substitute came to restore what was lost in Adam.  If evolution is true and man is only an accidental product of mechanistic determinism, then redemption is unnecessary.


2.  By rejecting the truth that man was created in the image of God, evolution contradicts the Person, character and commission of the divinely appointed Substitute. 


   B. Evolutionary naturalism is religious in nature.


1.  Naturalism may be broadly defined as the world-view which states that nature or the material world is all there is.  The origin of life is attributed to impersonal, natural laws and mindless processes. 


2.  Naturalism embraces evolution as its universal.  In other words, evolution is seen as the unifying “truth” by which the numerous particulars of our existence may be interpreted. (Everything from quasars to ladybugs is attributed to evolution. Evolution is also the interpretive “grid” through which the relationship of all things to one another is viewed. ) 


C. Naturalism is the wholesale rejection of God’s revelation (“wholesale,” because naturalism rejects the testimony of God’s wise design in nature and it rejects God’s witness in Scripture of man’s sinful condition and need of redemption).


1.  Naturalism views man’s mind as ultimate (thus able to answer ultimate questions without divine assistance). 


2.  By rejecting God’s truth about the creation of man and the universe, naturalism posits a radically different “reality” that is materialistic. [iii][3]


D. As a consequence of denying God’s revelation, man must find counterfeit sources of dignity, purpose, significance, responsibility and ethics.


1.  As man looks to material sources for his ontological needs, he inevitably worships and serves the creature and the creation (Rom. 1:25). 


2.  When man gives credit to nature for creating itself, the processes of the physical world are “deified.”  Chaos, time and chance become the pagan trinity responsible for all existence. 


E. The Bible exposes naturalism as a lie chosen by men seeking to give intellectual credence to their rebellion against God. 


1.  Those who seek refuge in naturalism are attempting to nullify the Creator’s claims upon their lives (Rom. 1:18-23).


2.  The foundational issue in the debate between creation and evolution is not about vast ages, mutations or natural selection.  The real issue in the conflict concerns the nature of reality.  Naturalism contradicts the whole idea of a theistic universe ruled by an almighty personal God.  The actual crux of the debate is, “God is” versus “God isn’t.” 


3. Naturalism’s proponent’s often hold to an agnostic or soft form of atheism.  This entails an acknowledgement that a god exists, but his deeds are inconsequential.  He never did anything that really matters.  He is not creator, nor is he intimately involved with mankind.  The god of naturalism is finite and merely a part of the universe.


V. Naturalism has left mankind a legacy of immoral fallout. 


A. Man in charge of his own meaning, morals and significance has left a terrible legacy.  A number of oppressive regimes have expressed their gratitude to Darwin for providing an ideology to sanction their butchery (e.g., Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot among others).  When God is dead, “Survival of the fittest” as a credo can be a deadly bludgeon in the hands of the state, history has proven it so.


B. Naturalism’s approach to morality is the polar opposite of biblical theism. The God of the Bible asserts that His moral code is universal and eternal. Naturalism views morals as merely social convention. 


1.  Public opinion becomes the source of ethics, not God.  The Ten Commandments are not regarded as God’s moral authority, but are viewed as a tribal or cultural custom of the Jews.  By way of example, naturalism would see marriage as a human invention, not as a universal institution ordained by God.


2.  Since moral values are viewed as inventions, they can evolve. Pragmatism or expediency provides the test of viability for a moral value. Naturalism sees law and ethics as a way of protecting people from each other as they seek to get what they want.  (A world full of individuals with competing self-interest must be governed by law.)


3.  Having eliminated the sovereign Creator (and the purpose of life as living unto Him), naturalism is left with nothing but the creature’s wants. Naturalism is a philosophy that extols human independence from God. “What people want” is the guide.  Naturalism vaunts itself as true freedom when in reality it is a prescription for paganism.


C. Naturalism was central in Enlightenment thinking.  The goal of the “age of reason” was to set free the culture from religion and tradition.  Philosophers sought a scientific understanding of reality.  Enlightenment thinkers hoped to usher in an age in which science could solve the greatest problems and answer the toughest questions faced by mankind.


1.  The legitimate role of true science is to investigate and explain physical/material phenomena.  When science arrogates to itself the mantle of philosophy, ethics and theology, it is no longer empirical. 


2.  In seeking a “scientific” understanding of all things, naturalism constructed a whole new view of reality.  Morals were regarded as merely social mores.  With the loss of the absolutes and categories that flow from theism, naturalism was left with moral relativism. 


  D. Moral relativism, the corrupt fruit of naturalism - Relativism states that truth is relative to the individual and the time and place in which he acts.  Without universally applicable truth, knowledge and ethics are different for each individual under different situations (i.e., situation ethics).  Values are only cultural – based upon personal interests.  All value systems are equally valid.


1.  Under relativism, values come from commonly expressed needs, not from God’s universal laws.  The classroom teacher is then shouldered with the task of teaching the new morality of relativism (i.e., “value clarification”).


2.  In the cultural/moral vacuum produced by naturalism, students are to be imbued with the new morality of relativistic tolerance, pluralism and inclusivism.  (e.g., Homosexual couples have as legitimate a relationship as married heterosexuals.  Atheists are the moral equivalent of Christian leaders).


3.  Naturalism comes in the disguise of tolerance, but is filled with intolerance.  Naturalism has its own categories of bigotry, evil and oppression.  Those who would teach sexual morality are viewed as authoritarian and dangerous.  Those who subscribe to a universal moral order that issues from God’s moral authority are seen as backward enemies of human freedom.  Those who affirm that God’s absolute truth is true for all are labeled intolerant bigots. 


4.  Christianity asserts that sexual morality is connected with the will of the Creator.  The Bible affirms that the knowledge of absolute right and wrong issues from the authority of God.   


VI. Naturalism is tantamount to a declaration of war upon God and His rightful authority.


A. Naturalism is seeking to erect an understanding of reality that makes man’s mind ultimate (i.e., man becomes the measure of all things and by autonomous reason he shapes and determines reality apart from God). [iv][4]


1.  Naturalism is patently anti-God.  It seeks to replace God (the omnipotent,    omniscient, purposeful designer) with man.  If there is no personal, all wise, purposeful Creator, then there are no sexual absolutes.


2.   Naturalism is not simply pressing for scientific terminology.  It promulgates an agenda of moral relativism.  


3.  God is ultimate reality.  He determines all truth and all categories.  He holds the future and He holds the definition of all things.  “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD” (Prov. 1:7).


4.  In the 1st century, Christianity was hated because it contradicted man-centered emperor worship and idolatry.  In the 21st century, Christianity is hated because it dethrones man and enthrones God the Creator. 


5.  Because we are created in God’s image, we have rationality.  Man’s faculties, including the laws of logic, are planted by God that man may be able to receive His revelation and interpret all things by His revelation.


B. When man uses his reasoning faculties as a final authority instead of as the tool of divine revelation, he descends into futility and irrationality (Eph. 4:17-19).


1.  The issue is authority in the realm of truth and knowledge.  God has declared His authority.  He has announced that creation testifies to His power and wisdom so clearly that men are without excuse (Rom. 1:18-20).


2.  When men use their God-given intellect to reject God’s testimony, their willful misinterpretation of God’s witness in creation renders them guilty before Him. 


3.  The truths of the Bible are not simply religious ideas held in the heads of religious people.  They are the truths by which the universe is to be interpreted.  They are absolute universal truths that are constantly in force.  They constitute reality because they are God’s thoughts and God is ultimate reality.


C. Naturalism hides behind the disguise of empirical science, but it is shot through with the presuppositions of an anti-theistic universe.


1.  The theory of evolution masquerades as science.  Its philosophical purpose is to legitimize the anti-God assumptions of naturalism.


2.  Wearing a lab coat as its costume, naturalism’s real intent is to give man permission to govern by his own will rather than by the law of God. When man denies the claims of God upon the creature, his bondage to sin is strengthened.  True freedom is to know God and enjoy Him forever. “And you will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8:32).      







[i][1] Phillip Johnson, Teaching Children the Truth about Science, audiotape of lecture by Phillip Johnson, (Focus on the Family), tape # CS999/17515.


[ii][2] James F. Stitzinger, Apologetics and Evangelism TH 701, (Syllabus from The Master’s Seminary, Sun Valley, CA, copyright 1999) 34.


[iii][3] John D. Morris, “Things You May not Know about Evolution,” in Acts and Facts, (Back to Genesis, Apr. 2002, 31:4)d.


[iv][4] Robert C. Newman, ”Scientific Problems for Scientism” in Evangelical Apologetics, Michael Baumen et. al eds. (Christian Publications, 1996) 245. 

The Christian Worldview

I. Why an understanding of world view is important to apologetics.

A. World view entails the sum total of propositions a person believes.

1. It is common for believers to regard Christianity as merely a

collection of life-changing truths rather than as a total

conceptual system. (Christianity is a total world and life view, biblical theism is a total system.)[i][1]

2. Definitions of world view by several authors:

a.) James Sire, “A world view is a set of presuppositions (or

assumptions) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously)

about the basic makeup of our world.”[ii][2]

b.) Phillips and Brown state, “A world view is . . . an explanation and interpretation of the world and second, an application of this view to life.”[iii][3]

c.) Walsh and Middleton explain a world view as follows: “A world view provides a model of the world which guides its adherents in the world.”[iv][4]

d.) James Orr, the 19th century church historian, said that a

world view encompasses the widest view which the mind can

take of things in the effort to grasp them together as a whole

(the whole is viewed from the standpoint of some particular

philosophy or theology). A developed world view supplies

answers to questions of origin, purpose, and destiny.[v][5]

B. Presuppositions play a vital role in world view.


1. Central to one’s thought forms (or noetic structure) are beliefs

that are presupposed without support from other beliefs, or

arguments, or evidence. These presuppositions are taken upon


2. Such presuppositions or assumptions are necessary in order to

think at all. (When we think, we simply take some things for

granted. Even scientists in order to do science, make certain

important assumptions: 1.) They make ethical assumptions

(honesty is good, even vital in research). 2.) They make

metaphysical assumptions (the universe is regular, nature is

uniform). 3.) They make epistemological assumptions

(knowledge is possible, there is a real correspondence between

physical phenomena and the human mind).[vii][7]

3. The assumptions one makes that are most important to world

view are in philosophy and religion. The reason for this is that

philosophical and religious assumptions “put us on a set of

tracks” that lead to certain inevitable destinations.[viii][8]

a.) People are never neutral with regard to God. They either worship Him as Creator and Lord or they reject the rightful claims He has upon His creatures.

b.) Apart from the sovereign grace of God, anti-theistic assumptions that shape a person’s world view will inevitably lead that person to the philosophical “destination” of hardened unbelief.

c.) According to Romans 1:18-32, people reject Christianity under the influence of non-rationalfactors. The ultimate commitments of their hearts find expression in the studious suppression of God’s truth. (The presuppositional apologist will “dig” below the surface to uncover the unbeliever’s irrational presuppositions)[ix][9]

II. The major elements of a world view.


 A. There are certain commonalities when speaking of world views.

1. Each world view has an ultimate reference point (or authoritative

vantage point).

2. In a world where the law of non-contradiction is universal, two

contradicting statements cannot both be true. (This is most

obvious to the believer, but in a culture that is increasingly

relativistic, it is a needed reminder. It is of special importance

when dealing with the internal inconsistencies of the natural

man’s world view.)[x][10]

3. In order to reason at all, every person presupposes certain

things to be true without absolute proof.

4. Only one world view mirrors reality. Like a key to a complex

lock, one world view fits the lock (with its unique combination of

slots and tumblers). Only the Christian world view opens the

locked barrier that separates experience from truth and


B. The elements that make up a person’s world view can be broken

down into five categories.

1. THEOLOGY – What does the person believe about the existence of God? What is God’s relationship with nature? Is God personal? Can He be known? If so, how may He be known? What are God’s attributes?

2. METAPHYSICS – What is the nature of ultimate reality? What is God’s relation to the universe? Is the universe sustained by God or is it self-existent? Is the universe created? Is the universe co-eternal with God? Is the universe mechanistic, solely material, non-purposeful, closed?

3. EPISTEMOLOGY – Is knowledge about the world possible? Can man trust his senses? Does man’s abstract reason correspond with the physical universe so that meaning is possible? Is all truth relative and none absolute? What is the proper role of reason? Can God reveal Himself? Has God infallibly revealed Himself? What is the ultimate authority in the realm of knowledge? What is the source of man’s innate ideas?

4. ETHICS – Are moral laws the same for all people? Are moral laws to be discerned by investigation? Are moral laws constructed by human beings? Is there an absolute source external to humans? (Do morals transcend culture, history, and individual boundaries?) Are morals always changing?

5. ANTHROPOLOGY – Are humans “pawns” controlled by deterministic forces? Is man material only, or does he have a soul? Does man’s existence end at death or is there an afterlife? Is there a heaven and a hell where individuals are conscious and physically present?[xii][12]

III. The unbeliever’s world view is like a fortress that “locks out” the

truth of the Gospel.

A. In order to gain access to the heart of the unbeliever, the apologist

must “war” with the ideas that shield the heart from the truth.[xiii][13]

1. The exhortation to apologists in 2 Corinthians 10:5, 6 reveals

our approach to blinding error. We are to “take captive” – that is to defeat it by means of exposing its falsehood. The apologist’s task is to “blow holes” in the fortress of lies so that the heart can be exposed to the light of the truth.[xiv][14]

2. The apologist wages an offensive against the ideas that are

raised against the knowledge of God. The apologist knows that

Satan holds people behind fortress wall by means of lies and deception. The “spirit of this age” is energized by Satan. It manifests itself in world views that give the unbeliever a “grid of understanding.” By means of the “grid” the unbeliever rejects the gospel because he does not relate to it as a true idea.[xv][15]

3. The goal of the apologist is to identify “the spirit of this age” so

that he may engage in ideological warfare. The apologist,

according to 2 Corinthians 10:5, 6, is proactive; he challenges the confidence people have placed in their “grid of understanding.”[xvi][16]

4. The apologist’s ultimate goal is not simply to “win” the

ideological argument, but to commend the Savior as the only One in whom the sinner may rest for salvation, knowledge, personal relationships and life.[xvii][17]

B. The apologist uses a method of argumentation that does not grant

legitimacy to the assumptions inherent in the unbeliever’s world

view. (Cornelius Van Til summarizes this apologetic method in a

statement known as “My Credo.” The following is a condensed

paraphrase of Van Til’s own summary.)

1. Our principle of apologetics is consistent with that of theology;

we affirm the self-attesting, self-explanatory Christ of Scripture.

2. We refrain from making an appeal to “common notions” upon

which believer and unbeliever agree. Instead we challenge the

non-Christian’s principle of rational autonomy. We set the

natural man’s autonomous view of himself against the Christian

principle that man’s knowledge is dependent upon God’s

knowledge as revealed by the Person and by the Spirit of Christ.

3. The claim that Christianity alone is reasonable for men to hold.

Any other position than that of Christianity is irrational. We

argue therefore by presupposition. We contest the very

principles of the opponent’s position. Unless the truth of

Christianity is presupposed, there is no possibility of proving

anything at all. “The actual state of affairs as preached by

Christianity is the necessary foundation of ‘proof’ itself.”

4. The apologist preaches with the understanding that the sinner

is alienated from God and seeks estrangement from Him. The

apologist knows that the acceptance of Christ is dependent

upon the Holy Spirit who, in the presence of inescapably clear

evidence, opens the eyes of the sinner so that he sees things as

they truly are.

5. We present the message and evidence of the Christian position

knowing that, because man is what the Scriptures say he is, the

non-Christian will be able to understand, in an intellectual

sense, the issues involved. Thus, we will, to a large extent, be

telling the unbeliever what he “already knows” but seeks to


IV. The Christian world view.


A. God is Creator. He created the universe in six days out of nothing (ex nihilo).

1. The universe is not self-existent, eternal, or self-


2. There is a Creator-creature distinction. Humans are made in

the image of God. The fate of every person depends upon the relationship he has with God.[xix][19]

3. God is infallible. God is the source of all truth, knowledge and

ethics. God is self-aware, personal, holy, knowable, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent.

4. God is Sovereign Lord of everything that exists. He owns everything and He has absolute over all reality.[xx][20] God sustains all things, He sovereignly decrees the course of history.[xxi][21]

5. God’s creation of the universe reveals His mighty attributes. The universe discloses God day by day.

B. Mankind fell into sin soon after creation.

1. Wickedness and evil are not the product of a chaotic, chance

universe. Evil is present in the world because of man’s fall into

sin. The fall of Adam brought sin, guilt and death to the whole

human race. Because of Adam’s representation of the human

race, everyone who is born is born with a sinful nature.[xxii][22]

2. Adam were created good. They were created in God’s image.

They were rational, moral beings who could communicate, love

and be creative. They were commanded by God to populate the

earth and conserve it for future generations. Adam and Eve’s

fall into sin literally happened in human history. The biblical

authors, under divine inspiration, attested to the historicity of

the fall.[xxiii][23]

3. The greatest tragedy of the fall is separation from God. The fall

produced the consequence of man’s spiritual death and loss of

fellowship with God. Human sin is a declaration of rebellion

against God (and His law).[xxiv][24]

4. The loss of fellowship with God produces spiritual death which

leads to physical death and ultimately eternal suffering in hell

(Rom 6:23; Mark 8:12).

C. In God’s sight, sin is the universal condition of the human race.

1. All men are born spiritually dead. If a person dies in that

unsaved state, he will be cast into outer darkness (Matt 25:30).

2. Unsaved, spiritually dead sinners are so judged because they

have sinned against an infinite and holy God. Sinners are

transgressors of God’s law. They have enmity in their hearts

toward God and His law (Rom 8:7; 1 Jn 3:4-6).[xxv][25]

3. A person in a state of spiritual deadness is blind to the things of

the Spirit of God. They are foolishness to him. He cannot know

them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14).

4. If a person fails to understand the doctrine of sin, Christianity

will not make sense. No man comes to an understanding of his

spiritual condition before God apart from God’s self-revelation,

the Scriptures.

D. God sent His only begotten Son to die for all those who would

believe upon Jesus Christ.

1. Christ offers man eternal hope. Mankind’s state is hopeless

from the standpoint of human resources, for all are under

ethical guilt and are enslaved to wicked behavior.[xxvi][26]

2. The most important, significant and loving act in history is the

life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the

Messiah, promised in the Scriptures, His sinless life and

atoning death is the foundation of man’s salvation.[xxvii][27]

3. Sinners are totally unable to propitiate God’s wrath.[xxviii][28] They

cannot, by religion or philosophy or good works construct a

place of protection from God’s wrath.

5. The righteousness of Christ’s Person and work is imputed to

the believing sinner so that in God’s sight he is “clothed with the righteousness of God.” The favor, position, and status that the believer possesses before God is by divine donation. God’s

declaration of “forgiven and righteous” concerning the believing

sinner is grounded upon the righteous life and substitutionary

death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

6. Jesus Christ is the perfect Savior. He is fully God and fully man. The sins of those who would believe upon Him were laid upon Him (imputed to Him). The punishment sinners justly deserve was transferred to Jesus Christ (Gal 3:13; 2 Cor 5:21).

7. God who authoritatively revealed Himself in Scripture has sent His Holy Spirit to regenerate and sanctify His people.[xxix][29] The Holy Spirit brings the gift of faith enabling the sinner to understand and believe the gospel and flee to Christ for salvation.

8. The believer’s ultimate joy is to be in heaven with Christ. Carl F. H. Henry sums up the crowning work of the Holy Spirit in His use of the Word of God, “Scripture itself is given so that the Holy Spirit may etch God’s Word upon the hearts of His followers in ongoing sanctification that anticipates the believer’s final, unerring conformity to the image of Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Word.”[xxx][30]

E. The Day of the Lord brings this present age to its consummation.

1. Christ’s return from heaven to earth will be as the glorious,

triumphant, all-powerful, King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev


2. Jesus will sit as Judge of every person who has ever lived (Rom 14:10-12). He will pronounce the destiny of every person.

3. In order to have a proper understanding of the present, one must have a proper understanding of the future (Phil 2:9-11; Acts 17:30, 31). If a person really understood the future, he would submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 3:36).

F. The believer’s world view flows from God’s ultimate authority, the

Scriptures. Our world view is not formed in a “revelational vacuum.”[xxxi][31]

1. Christianity’s touchstone proposition cast in one sentence is,

“Humans and the universe in which they reside are the creation

of God who has revealed Himself authoritatively in Scripture.”[xxxii][32]

2. It is unfair to separate God from His self-disclosure. The Lord

speaks to man with an absolute authority. The idea of

Scriptures cannot be separated from the message of


3. When the apologist clearly and plainly sets forth the Christian

world view, it is incumbent upon him to stress that all other

world views are not only irrational, but logically incompatible

with Christianity.


[i][1] Ronald H. Nash, Faith & Reason, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1988), pp. 21-25.

[ii][2] Jerry Solomon, World Views, (http://www.probe.org/docs/w-views.htlm), p. 1.

[iii][3] Ibid.

[iv][4] Ibid.

[v][5] Rick Wade, World Views (Part II), (http://www.probe.org/docs/w-view2.htlm), p. 1.

[vi][6] Ronald H. Nash, Faith & Reason, p. 26.

[vii][7] Ibid., p. 27.

[viii][8] Ibid., p. 28.

[ix][9] Ibid., p. 29.

[x][10] Jerry Solomon, World Views, p. 2.-

[xi][11] Ibid., p. 2.

[xii][12] Ronald H. Nash, Faith & Reason, 30-32.

[xiii][13] Jim Leffel, The New Challenge in Christian Apologetics, (From a presentation to the Faculty of Cornell University, April 1999), p. 2.

[xiv][14] Ibid.

[xv][15] Ibid., p. 3.

[xvi][16] Ibid., p. 4.

[xvii][17] S. Joel Garver, A Primer on Presuppositionalism, (http://www.lasalle.edu/~garver/presup.htm), p. 4.

[xviii][18] Cornelius Van Til, “My Credo” Jerusalem and Athens, E. R. Geehan, ed. (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1971), p. 21.

[xix][19] Ronald H. Nash, Faith & Reason, p. 35.

[xx][20] Brian Schwertley, A Summary of the Christian Worldview,(http://www.reformed.com/pub/wrldview.htm), p. 1. 

[xxi][21] Greg L. Bahnsen, A Critique of the Evidentialist Apologetical Method of John Warwick Montgomery, p., 9.

[xxii][22] Brian Schwertley, p. 2.

[xxiii][23] Ibid.

[xxiv][24] Ibid., p. 3.

[xxv][25] Ibid.

[xxvi][26] Ibid. p. 4.

[xxvii][27] Ibid., p. 5.

[xxviii][28] Greg L. Bahnsen, p. 9.

[xxix][29] Ibid.

[xxx][30] David A. Noebel, Understanding the Times, (Colorado Springs: Assoc. of Christian Schools and Summit Ministries, 1995), p. 49.

[xxxi][31] Ronald H. Nash, p. 47.

[xxxii][32] Ibid.

[xxxiii][33] Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 551.



The Contribution of the Book of Psalms to Biblical Worldview

The culture war between Christianity and secularism represents a ‘collision’ between competing cosmologies.


The study of biblical worldview encompasses a host of subjects from the origin of the universe to the meaning of man.  A key question in the study of worldview is, “Is the universe open or closed?”  Our secular schools are increasingly teaching the latter—that the universe is closed.  A ‘closed’ universe is self-originating; self-contained; self-sustaining; and self-interpreting.  By contrast, biblical theism teaches us that we live in an ‘open’ universe.  God is its Author, Upholder, Ruler, Definer, and Interpreter.  Yet, He is not part of the creation—He is not bound by the time-space-mass continuum we call our universe. 


Well, it is easy to see that these two cosmologies are absolutely antithetical.  There is no middle ground between them.  Both claim to explain reality.  That means there is an immense ‘train wreck’ occurring in our Western world—a deafening collision between these two worldviews.  This morning we are going to look at the contribution of the Psalms to life view against the backdrop of erroneous worldview. 


Biblical cosmology is that branch of philosophy which deals with the origin and structure of the universe.  At the heart of biblical cosmology is the Creator-creature distinction.  Biblical cosmology includes the creation of male and female as the image of God (with the sub-themes of the dominion mandate; and biblical anthropology). 


Central to biblical cosmology is that God is Creator and ‘Definer’ of what He has made. As Creator He gives designations, definitions, categories and relations of what He has made.[i]  God’s defining role over His creation has established the creation structures of male and female and marriage and family.  These creation structures are foundational and ontologically real—they are at the core of your being (which is why social contract theory, sexual perversion, and abortion constitute a radical overturning of biblical cosmology).[ii]


The absolute truth of cosmology is essential in interpreting the universe.  God’s relation to the creation is the ordering principle of the universe and of reality.  Because God is the sustainer and definer of all that He has made; there is no such thing as a reality greater than God—or a reality in which God is but a component (note this error in deism and pantheism).


Thus, biblical cosmology is the sole vantage point ‘high enough’ to provide the foundation for a unified cohesive worldview (the alternate is pluralism, diversity, and hopelessly fragmented knowledge).  Cosmology alone provides a wide angle lens broad enough to see man’s place in the universe.  Biblical cosmology is a totally unified ordering principle—without it, worldview has no foundation.  (Reason without divine revelation ultimately leads to intellectual suicide.)


Consequently biblical cosmology is the foundation of the gospel—for the gospel only makes sense in a world in which our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is Creator, Owner, Upholder, Lawmaker, Ruler, Redeemer, and Judge.   The gospel has no point of contact in a world in which pagan cosmology has replaced biblical cosmology.  This is why there is an increasingly desperate need to define categories as God does—that He is Ruler, Sustainer, Owner of His creation—and that the designations and definitions He has made concerning His creation are absolutely essential for accurately interpreting reality.  


God has authoritatively set forth His ‘blueprint’ for His creation.  His blueprint, found in His Word, is not only our moral map; but also our ‘metaphysic.’  In other words, God’s relation to what He has made is our fixed point of reference which provides our understanding of the nature of reality (Ps 96).  Only by what God has said in His infallible Word do we know what is true, real, right and wrong.[iv]  We are utterly dependent upon God’s revelation in order to accurately interpret ourselves and our existence.[v]


Like an immense wrecking ball, secular humanism has been moving through society for the better part of a century.  It has left destruction in its wake.  The ‘wrecking ball’ of naturalism has systematically broken down the boundaries set by God. (Note that humanistic cosmologies seek to destroy the distinction between God and man; man and animal; man and woman; and right and wrong.)  Philosophic naturalism has so thoroughly permeated our culture—it has for all intents and purposes become our national worldview. 


Students imbued with Darwinism find themselves ‘metaphysically lost’ in a materialistic/chance universe without a fixed point of reference (75% of American college students are looking for the meaning of life).


The secularists have used the above philosophy of materialism to target the divine ‘blueprint’ given by God by which His creatures are to interpret the world, and order their lives and society.  Naturalism has been ‘shredding’ the divine blueprint.  Secularism views man as a biological machine and not the image of God.


Secular humanism’s wrecking ball has redefined creation as a mass of raw material awaiting our efforts to shape it.  The secularists think of the creation as matter, motion, and impersonal forces with no rational purpose—as if we import all rationality and superimpose it on creation (consider the folly of assuming that mankind has no personal origin—but then demanding that life be based upon rationality, purpose, and significance in a meaningless and irrational universe). 


But, go the Psalms and (all of biblical wisdom literature) you’ll see the attitude that creation has an order about it that we are to attend to. God has filled the creation with ‘sermons’ about His power, wisdom, and goodness (note the content of Solomon’s surpassing wisdom—according to 1 Kings 4:33, it was not only proverbs which characterized his wisdom but an advanced understanding of fauna and flora.  Solomon diligently studied the creation.  He was the greatest naturalist of his time.  He spoke of the cedar, the hyssop, and the fishes of the sea).[vi]


With the rise of modern science there was a fascination with quantities—with measuring things.  Accompanying philosophies suggested that all reality may be reduced to a kind of mathematical formula.  Concreteness, empiricism, and precision became the most valued attributes of knowledge.  In other words, people began to think that the scientific method was the only really valid way to understand the world around us—“real knowledge” was scientific.  “Real knowledge” was empirically verifiable, measurable, and quantifiable.[vii]


Says author, Ken Myers, church leaders, in an effort to remain relevant, and worried about losing their market share, began to reframe traditional Christian teaching in terms that fit the times.  The church pushed its message through the grid of science.  In essence, “[t]he belief became common that only science could make the world intelligible. . .”[viii]  (Ken Myers, Contextualization). 


Modern science had been originally ‘birthed’ by biblical worldview; but now the ‘child’ was turning on the parent.  Modern science’s attempt at patricide was actually an act of suicide—to erode all confidence in the Bible, the foundation of Western civilization, is in reality a choice for the loss of civilization.[ix]  (We’re going to consider the effect that this expanding philosophy of scientism has had upon biblical cosmology.) 


In the minds of most, God as personal, transcendent, involved with creation was eclipsed and demoted.[x]  God’s direct involvement in the lives of His creatures was increasingly ruled out.  God was no longer linked to all the details of reality.  God had been marginalized—retired to a private or sub-cultural role (God had been eradicated as a shared basis of thought and experience). The bulk of modern thought simply dispensed with God.  In contemporary culture God has been marginalized as a figure doing nothing of real significance.  


Though evangelicals stressed personal faith and piety, evangelicals also began to bifurcate God’s role—they saw Him as active in redemption; but allowed science to define the creation.  And we all accept this as benign as long as we have Jesus in our hearts.  But the fallout is deadly serious.[xi]


When one allows the Bible to describe salvation and science to comprehensively describe the creation; it produces a tear, or rend, in our thinking.  The reason why is the salvation-science dichotomy pictures God as having two radically different faces—the side of God that dealt with creation was far less personal than the side of God that dealt with salvation.  As a consequence, the Jesus of salvation became very other worldly and sentimental. 


Peter Jones notes how this dualism has affected the witness of Christians on college campuses, “Believing students on university campuses are able offer Jesus as ‘friend’ but have no clue how to proclaim Him as Lord of the cosmos.”[xii]  This prevalent dualism welcomes Jesus as ‘mascot’ but cannot conceive of Him, or proclaim Him, as majestic Lord of the universe.  This is precisely the dilemma our Christian students face today on the secular university campus.  The loss of biblical cosmology forces them to live with an immense ‘disconnect’ between faith and life. 


Modern culture has encouraged and deepened this dualism.  The yawning chasm which has divided creation from redemption has separated the physical from the spiritual in the minds of many believers.  Through popular culture our youth are bombarded with this dualism.  The wonder of creation as the revelation of God’s majesty has been erased, and with it God’s rule and reign.  Reality is nothing more than what you make it.  The creation is but raw material by which one may construct the self.  


Peter Jones warns that popular culture is relentless in its attack on biblical cosmology.  The over-arching ‘sacred canopy of biblical worldview’ which hangs over the entire human race is being swept away.  Culture once held together by shared religious notions is slowly disintegrating and, at the same time, opening itself up to pagan ideas about spirituality.  Americans are embracing the idea that one can be ‘spiritual’ without believing in the God of the Bible.  Non-theistic spiritualities are ‘all the rage.’[xiii]


The electronic media is dead set on having us forget our Christian worldview.  Nearly every television program operates with an agenda of displacing Christian worldview.[xiv]


The net effect of the above is a palpable separation of our everyday life from our spiritual life.[xv]  Spiritual truths are regarded as only abstract expressions of our inner life.  They are divorced from objective reality. 


According to the contemporary view, all cultural institutions are just merely social constructions which exist for human needs and desires; but do not, and are not, sustained by any kind of ‘given-ness’ in the created order.[xvi]


Redemption tends to be viewed as a private, subjective, personal, preference without an objective basis.  Redemption exists in the mind and the heart—as if concrete reality is the physical universe and salvation belongs to the subjective (salvation is less real than the physical universe). 


How does this dualism manifest itself in evangelicalism?  Evangelicalism’s accommodation to the modern, or dualistic view, has pushed redemption further into the ‘upper story.’  Christians are living in a state of détente with the open ‘gash’ of dualism.  Consequently the majority of professing Christians have lost the cosmological foundation for redemption. The resultant attitude in much of evangelicalism could be stated as follows: “Facts in the created realm shouldn’t get in the way of bringing people to Jesus.”


Christian students often live with an immense ‘disconnect’ between their professed beliefs and their life experiences.  Nancy Pearcey shares the following account: “At a Christian high school, a theology teacher . . . drew a heart on one side of the blackboard and a brain on the other. The two are as divided as the two sides of the blackboard, he told the class: the heart is what we use for religion, while the brain is what we use for science.”[xvii]


This dualism leaves knowledge utterly fragmented—spirituality is partitioned off from the remainder of life.  Says Pearcey, the secular/sacred dichotomy tends to restrict Christianity to the realm of religious truth—this creates double minds and fragmented lives.[xviii]


There are critical dangers associated with the loss and rejection of biblical cosmology.  To set aside biblical cosmology is to turn to a pseudo-integration point which tends to further mangle the unity which is the image of God.  Central to cosmology is the truth of mankind created in the image of God—this truth gives us our meaning, purpose, dignity, ‘job description,’ and destiny.  Thus to reject the truth of mankind created in the image of God, is to commit intellectual idolatry in one’s attempt to unify knowledge and provide meaning (Rom 1:21-23).   


How do the Psalms refute these destructive cultural thought forms? 

When we study the Psalms we find a perfect co-mingling of the physical created order and the moral order in the universe (Ps 19).  The Psalms are given to us to sink our foundations deep into the truth of God’s relation to the world.  These truths are meant to control our understanding of reality.  God is active in our lives; He is active in nature; He is active in history. 


Throughout the Psalms are the twin themes of creation and moral order.  There is no dualism—they operate in tandem.  Creation has order to it that is maintained by God (Ps 96).  God is the ruler over what He has made.  This is the polar opposite of the deist picture of a prime mover who is detached and who allows mankind to invent its own morality (as if moral order can be divorced from Gods creation structures).[xix]


The Psalms assert that the fixity of creation is simultaneously physical and moral. Rather than depicting the creation as awaiting our exploitation; the Psalms describes the whole creation as the worshipping chorus of God.  


Not only does the creation praise God for His power, wisdom, goodness, and handiwork, the creation praises God for His justice.  The Psalms proclaim God as establisher of an unbreakable continuity between the physical world and moral order—the world is pictured as delighting in His righteousness (Ps 50:6; 72:3).[xx]


This inseparable coherence between the physical order of creation and the moral order of creation is behind Paul’s declaration in Romans one.  The creation gives ample evidence concerning God’s character and moral expectations.  Those who disobey are without excuse.  Because there is an unbreakable coherence between the structure of the world and the moral order of human life; men have no alibi for rejecting the glory of God and the duty of man—both of which are evident in creation.[xxi] (According to Romans 1-2, every person knows that God is their transcendent Creator; He is righteous and good; and He will judge them someday.) 


The loss of cosmology makes folks forget that they are living in Yahweh’s world.  This is Yahweh’s world.  He created it; He owns it; He rules it by His goodness and for His own good pleasure.  The world operates in a particular way because it is God’s world and He rules it and guides it.  God delights in the exhibition of His glory—this is the chief end for which all things exist, including knowledge.  The aim of all creation is that God’s glory and excellent perfections should be known, esteemed, loved, and delighted in by His creatures (Jonathan Edwards).[xxii]


There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the Lord (Prov 21:30).  It is impossible that God’s ‘glory purpose’ for His creation should be frustrated by human and demonic rebellion.  When sinners create an illusory world in their imaginations—it does not produce new reality.  Their experience is always testifying to the fact that this is God’s world.  They find themselves ‘bumping up’ against God’s creation structures everywhere they look (beauty, majesty, conscience, law, justice, etc.).


God’s precepts keep us from self-destruction.  Yahweh’s commandments are the safeguard of love to God and neighbor.  Wise travelers don’t fret at the guardrails along the highway—they are grateful for the protection they afford from the cliffs below.[xxiii]


To fear and reverence God is to hate sin and turn from it.  The proportion of our fear of God is revealed in our level of our hatred of sin (Ps 119:9-11; 53, 38, 45).  The Psalms tell us that the Word of God that produces fear of God.  Wise is the man who immerses himself in Holy Scripture.  Because this universe is Yahweh’s creation, there is a common ethical system for all humans.  Moral and physical order permeates every part of the universe.  Therefore the ridiculous advertisement that one may take a ‘moral holiday’ in Las Vegas is patently absurd    (Ps 97:6).[xxiv]


To live wisely in Yahweh’s world is to live according to His justice; and not by fleshly desires, and amoral pragmatism (situation ethics).  A life of wisdom is a life of conformity to God’s norm of righteousness—His law (Ps 94:12).[xxv]  Obedience is to be universal—a whole life response to Yahweh.  We are to please Him in all areas of life by respecting the divine order He has constructed in the world.  Without this there will be moral failure and failure to please God (Ps 86:11-12).[xxvi]        


 God’s Word was given to us to allow us to recall during times of temptation the boundaries God has set.  To be conversant with these boundaries helps the man who fears God to do what is right and what pleases God in times of temptation (Ps 25:12-15; 101:3).[xxvii]


When we embrace God’s blueprint and standard it is not simply an attempt to master a moral code—it is submission to God’s holiness; His loving purposes for us.  It is submission to God Himself who is our Source of life.  For God’s commands constitute His character in code.  Knowledge of God’s holiness and obedience to His precepts are bound up together (Ps 119:18, 38, 66).  


The fool insists on directing his own life.  He demands autonomy at all cost; even if it results in his eventual destruction.  The fool makes personal undefined freedom his chief value.  By these rebellious choices his folly is evident; for he opposes his own welfare; he hurdles toward destruction as a result (Ps. 10:3-15; 50:16-22; 107:17).


The wise man seeks what is best in Yahweh’s ordered creation by revering Yahweh; thus the wise man has skill in living within the world.  By contrast, mockers disdain wisdom, they tear down with scoffing and sell themselves to pleasure-seeking (Ps 37:8-22).[xxviii] 


Wisdom is moral maturity.  Wisdom is living life in Yahweh’s world as He intends that it be lived.  Wisdom results in stability without fear of harm or misfortune (Ps 4:4-8).[xxix]  The highest goal of wisdom is the knowledge of God (Prov 3:32).  To fear Yahweh is to receive and live by His knowledge and wisdom.  God’s purpose; His design in the world is to make us like Him in holiness.[xxx]      


It is impossible to make a fool out of God (Ps 92:6-9; Gal 6:7).  The sowing and reaping principle is built into the very fabric of the universe.  Moral cause and effect is ineffable.  The wheels of God’s justice grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small.  God’s justice is more comprehensive than a sinner can possibly imagine; it extends to the thoughts, intents, and secrets of the heart (Ps 73:18-20; 91:8; Heb 4:12; Rom 2:16).


In a moral universe sin is irrational.  This is Yahweh’s world; that’s why secret sin is ‘a lie lived out’—there are no compartments in our lives that are not in Yahweh’s world (Ps 26:2; 90:8;139:7-23).  


In Psalm 17 David prayed that God would protect him from men who lived the lie that reality exists apart from Yahweh’s world.  Arise O Lord, confront him, bring him low; deliver my soul from the wicked with Thy sword, from men with Thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, whose portion is in this life; and whose belly Thou dost fill with Thy treasure; they are satisfied with children, and leave their abundance to their babes (Ps 17:13, 14).


The world says that there are a host of paths and ways to follow.  God’s Word says that in Yahweh’s world, there are but two ways to live—only two paths—only two destinies (Ps 1).  The human soul was created to worship and adore.  Every person was designed to be an enthusiastic spectator of excellence.  In our souls we are always worshipping, drinking, eating, sowing, and building—if not worshipping God, then idols; if not drinking from the water of life, then from stagnant cisterns; if not feeding upon the Bread of life, then eating bogus bread; if not sowing righteousness, then thorns; if not building upon the Rock, then upon sand.  We cannot escape the principle of transformation—we will be transformed into the likeness of what we worship (Ps 115:8).            


All of our soul’s activity amounts to sowing; we are moving toward an inevitable harvest.  It’s a comforting or disturbing thought that a harvest is coming that is far greater in magnitude than what we have sown.  Will it be fruit; delicious, nourishing, beautiful, fragrant, and glorifying to God? Or, will it be thorns; ugly, cursed, painful, and useless?  The wise man loves and reveres God; therefore he lives sensibly and righteously in Yahweh’s world.  At this very moment the character of every living individual is being formed and confirmed—eternal destinies are being fixed and set (Ps 58:11; 109:20). 


In addition to cosmology, what other themes crucial to biblical worldview are taught in the book of Psalms?


The Creator-creature distinction – In secular humanist, postmodern, and pagan circles, this foundational doctrine is under attack today.  God’s ownership of us and claims upon us flow from the Creator-creature distinction.  Biblical theism is anchored in the Creator-creature distinction (Ps 39; 50; 92; 100; 146).


The fiat creation of the universe – “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps 33:6).  God spoke the universe into existence.  Henry Morris states that these verses in Psalm 33 are the strongest affirmation of fiat creation in the Bible.  It was not just by the Lord, but by the word of the Lord that the heavens were made.[xxxi]


The conflict of the ages—between truth and error; sin and righteousness; godly and ungodly; chosen nation and heathen; God and Satan – This present world is filled with groaning, temptations, oppression, conflict, and suffering.  The righteous are ever aware that God is their only refuge and that God will assuredly bring to pass His final victory and purposes (Ps 17; 31; 150).[xxxii]


The linear nature of human history – Increasingly the philosophies of this age are embracing a philosophy of history that is cyclical, “the circle of life” as the song goes in the movie Lion King.  But God’s Word is clear.  All history is moving toward a predetermined end in which God will judge the world in righteousness (Ps 37; 40; 58; 98).  History is the record of the honoring and the dishonoring of God and the consequence of each in time and eternity.  Every person cannot escape the fact that he or she will be an object lesson for ever (Ps 50:16-22; 119:119; 149:4).  


Man was made for God.  Man was created to be a worshipper. God is our only true home – Man is always looking for that which is worthy of his praise—the reason why is because God created man to be an enthusiastic spectator of excellence.  We cannot stop worshipping—it will either be God Almighty or idols that we worship (Ps 135:14-18).   

Regarding God as our home, Tom Wells notes, “A pilgrim feels strange in a foreign land . . . he finds his mind repeatedly returning to home.”  Many of the Psalms emphasize the theme that God alone is our true home.  “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Ps 90:1).  “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God” (Ps 42:1-2)?[xxxiii]


What is the creation?  The creation is a theatre for the glory of God (Ps 19); the ‘stage’ for God’s works – God’s awesome works in creation, redemption, and providence reveal the excellence of the Creator and move the redeemed to praise (Ps 33; 95; 96; 98).  God’s works are diligently studied by believers because the works allow us to ‘see’ and tell of God’s perfections (Ps 66; 67; 105; 145).  It is a sin to forget God’s works (Ps 106).  We study God’s works to know God, to worship God, to be wise, and to fear God (Ps 111).  Creation, God’s ‘general revelation,’ is joined to the written Word, God’s special revelation (Ps 19).  How a person treats general revelation determines how they will treat special revelation. 


What is redemption?  It is the condescension of the Creator of the universe – Salvation is due to the infinite condescension of the Creator in His incarnation (Ps 40) and His crucifixion (Ps 22; 69).  The Son of God is Mediatorial King, installed by God (Ps 2)—He reigns over and represents His people (Ps 110).  Says Chantry, “Psalm 110 exudes tranquility; . . . the writer of the psalm is confident that Messiah reigns. . . [M]ay we too become composed and placid [and patient with the events of our lives as we study] what Martin Luther called ‘the crown of all the psalms.’”[xxxiv]  God shows His redeeming love by bringing His righteousness near and forgiving those who trust in Him (Ps 32; 51; 65; 130). 


God has annexed the honor of His Name to the veracity of His Word (Ps 119:89; 138:2).  His Word is so important—our very faculties were created to receive His revelation (Ps 119) – God’s Word must be the constant occupation of our attention.  The psalmist saw his need to be constantly animated by God’s Word lest he stray, displease, rebel, and distrust (Ps 119:11, 105, 118-119).  The believer is eager to have his life constantly conformed to God’s will.  Therefore he studies God’s Word that he might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.  Ongoing repentance means that our lives are always being ‘aligned’ to God’s Word so that we love His truth and have our affections continually conformed to His truth (Ps 101; 111; 115).  Since God’s reputation is joined to His Word, our response must be unconditional trust in Him (Ps 33-34). 


God is our Sovereign King; He is to be feared – The Psalms convey a supreme vision of God clothed in majesty, reigning, splendor, awesome in holiness.[xxxv]  Says John Piper, “People are starving for the greatness of God.  But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives.  The majesty of God is the unknown cure.  Show me thy glory!”[xxxvi]  God is constantly active in His involvement with the creation.  He rules over the nations—He appoints their time in history as well as their destruction.  No one can thwart His sovereign decree.  He creates, controls, judges, wars, blesses (Ps 47:2-3, 7-9; 98:2-9).[xxxvii]  God does whatever He pleases in the entire universe (Ps 135). 


The Genesis Flood is the single greatest force to shape the earth since creation week – The deluge was a judgment for man’s sin.  Because man is the ‘crown of creation’ and the steward of creation (Ps 8); in the flood the creation suffered for man’s rebellion.  Noah’s flood radically altered the surface features of planet earth—mountains and oceans rose and sunk according to Psalm 104:5-9.  God sat as “King” at the flood (Ps 29:10).   


The Psalms are ‘real to life;’ they speak to every joy and trial – Says Lawson, in the Psalms we find the godly man dealing with the heart-rending crunch of life.  He is chased by enemies, he faces death, and he struggles with depression.  Psalms speaks to every season of life—they are utterly realistic about suffering.[xxxviii]  As Calvin said in his commentary on the Psalms, “[It is] an anatomy of all parts of the soul.”  Psalms takes the attributes of God out of the realm of abstraction and into a glorious interface with the believer (Ps 146).  The believer in covenant with God discovers that God has “harnessed” His own attributes for the welfare of His redeemed child.  God’s dealings with His people are seen in concrete ways such as forgiveness, protection, guidance, provision, refuge, and hope (Ps 78; 103; 147).


The Psalms open up the subjects of the resurrection and the coming Kingdom of God – A day is coming when all of creation will be unified in the praise of God—including the inanimate creation (Ps 147; 148).  Rivers will ‘clap their hands’ (Ps 98).  Trees will ‘sing’ (Ps 96:12-13).  God’s coming Kingdom will be involve a celebration of eternal victory and a restored creation that worships God from one end of the galaxies to the other (Ps 150). 


Regarding the resurrection, Psalm 16 stresses that bodily resurrection is the future hope of the redeemed all because of Messiah’s resurrection.  Says Henry Morris, we are justified in using Psalm 16 to support the resurrection.  The apostles used this Psalm as the keystone of their preaching that the Scriptures foretold Christ’s resurrection (Acts 4:33; 113:5-37).[xxxix] 









[i] Dave Doveton, “Paganism in the Church” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).

[ii] Jay Wegter, “Worldview, Apologetics, and Evangelism, BCW363A” (Newhall: The Master’s College, 2007).

Jay Wegter, “Worldview.”

[v] Vishal Mangalwadi, “From Development to Deconstruction” lecture from Book of the Millennium, 2004.

Ken Myers, “The Problem of Contextualization in a Decadent Culture,” Gheen’s Lectures, Southern Baptist    


James C. Turner, Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins

   University Press, 1985) in Ken Myers, “The Problem of Contextualization in a Decadent Culture.”

Peter Jones, “Framing the Issues; Finding our Voices” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet,    

    think-tank, 2007).

Joel Belz, “Spirits of the Age” (World Magazine: February, 9, 2008) 1.

Peter Jones, “Who Stole our Sacred Canopy?” Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, (www.cwipp.org, newscwipp  

    # 42, ).

Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004) 19.

[xxii]  Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, (Banner of Truth, 1974) 1:104.

  Randy Alcorn, The Purity Principle, (Multnomah Publishers, 2003), pp. 28, 29

  Daniel J. Estes, Hear My Son, Teaching and Learning in Proverbs 1-9, (Eerdmans, 1997), pp. 22-26

Steve Gallagher, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry, (Pure Life Ministries, 1986), pp. 257, 258

[xxx] Ibid., pp. 84, 98

Henry Morris, Sampling the Psalms (El Cajon, CA: Master Books, 1978) 49-50.

[xxxii] Ibid, pp. 11-12.

Tom Wells, Come Home Forever (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 1992) 57.

[xxxiv] Walter Chantry, Praises for the King of Kings (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991) 49. 

Steven Lawson, “Expository Preaching of the Psalms” (2004 Winterim, The Master’s Seminary) Lesson one, pp.

     1, 7

[xxxvi] John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1990) 9, in Lawson, 7. 

[xxxvii] Lawson, lesson one, p.17; lesson. two, p. 62.

[xxxviii] Ibid, lesson one, p. 22. 

[xxxix] Morris, p. 119. 

The Edenic Lie

I. The message of the Edenic lie.

A. What kind of lie, if believed about God, would break fellowship with

God, cause unbelief in the revealed Word of God, flood man’s soul

with darkness and cause eternal death and separation from God?


1. Scripture indicates that the LIE THAT MURDERED OUR FIRST

PARENTS was sown by Satan, the father of lies (Jn. 8:44). He

was a murderer from the beginninghis weapon was the LIE

perpetrated in Eden (GENESIS 3:1-7).

2. The lie was an attack upon the character of God and upon the

veracity and absolute authority of His holy Word. The premise

and conclusion found in the lie may be expressed in the

following expanded paraphrase:

The lie suggested that to make God’s glory one’s highest goal and

obedience to Him one’s life direction, would be to miss out on one’s

true potential for fulfillment, advancement and freedom. The lie

impugned God’s character – it called into question His goodness

and intentions toward mankind. As the lie suggested, if God’s

glory is not joined to man’s highest good, humans have a rationale

or justification for self-determination.


You may choose what you deem is best for yourself and you may

choose right and wrong for yourself – for God is not absolutely

trustworthy. If you choose this path of self-direction, your world

will not fall apart, you will succeed and you will not face death and

damnation in hell. God’s will expressed in His commandments is

not really in the best interest of your happiness. God’s threats are

exaggerated – actually they are idle threats to keep you under His



B. Satan defamed God’s character before he made his offer to Eve.

1. Satan’s question, “Indeed, has God said . . . ?” casts doubt upon

God’s motives. Satan’s question also divorces the original

prohibition from its context.

2. The context of the prohibition was God’s bounty (Gen 2:16, 17).

By removing it from its context, Satan implies that the

prohibition is unreasonable.

3. Satan depersonalizes God into an uncaring abstraction. (It is

the personal covenant-keeping God who judges sin and

rebellion. Those who know God to be personal, revere Him as a

just God who is serious about the retribution of sin. Satan

denies that sin results in judgment.)[i][1]

C. Four aspects of Satan’s temptation:

1. Satan promised instant gratification. The satanic philosophy of

blessing views reward as independent of God’s power and

determination. Eve is to grasp “blessing” immediately through

her own power. The satanic mindset is fulfillment through

disobedience to God’s law, rather than the biblical way of

obedience and submission to God and trust in His providence.

2. The promise of “eyes opened” offered an expanded consciousness

that was not limited in knowledge, understanding and


3. Satan promised dominion through going beyond creaturehood

and finitude. The satanic way cancelled out obedience and

submission. The temptation offered metaphysical advancement;

Eve would be equal to God. She would no longer be dependent

upon Him for meaning, ethics and truth. With “divine” self-

sufficiency would come personal sovereignty; Eve would

determine reality for herself.

4. The promise to be like God involved the knowledge of good and

evil. The first couple would be like God in that they would

determine good and evil for themselves (Gen 3:22). Eve followed

Satan’s lead in that she assumed she lived in an impersonal,

non-determined environment. Based upon this assumption, her

method for achieving truth in a reliable fashion was to exercise

human autonomy.[ii][2]

II. Upon believing the lie, man ridiculed the truth of God. Man’s

reasoning processes became a function of pride.

A. All human pride is based upon ignorance.

1. Once the lie was believed and acted upon, our first parents

became alienated from the life of God. Their thought processes

were no longer capable of thinking correctly about God and

themselves. The lie obscured the true knowledge of God and


2. Self love replaced love for God, for our first parents no longer

believed that God was trustworthy. They also ceased to believe

that God had their highest good in mind and that He loved them

perfectly. (Upon believing the lie, the life of God in their souls

and the knowledge of God in their minds were extinguished –

darkness replaced the light.) (See Rom. 1:22-25.)

B. The lie feeds man’s pride.

1. Satan’s self-deception regarding his creaturehood and

dependence upon God was in essence “passed on” to the human

race when the lie of Eden was believed.

2. Though the lie is based upon gross ignorance, it fuels man’s

pride because it allows man to live as if he is not a creature

utterly dependent upon God.

The natural man sears his conscience (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

The unbeliever is arrogant (2 Tim. 3:1-5).

The natural man is an enemy of God (Rom. 5:10).

The sinner does not seek or understand God (Rom. 3:11).

Man’s problem is ethical and moral, not intellectual (Jer. 9:6;

Luke 13:34).

3. Man’s ignorant pride is demonstrated in his view of creation:

 “It’s not enough to know that cows eat grass. True apprehension

of cows and grass reveals the providential power and care of God

and the task which was given to man to subdue every other

creature to God’s glory (Gen. 1:28). The distance between the

earth and the nearest star is truly to be understood only as its

disclosure of God is recognized, for the multiple light years of

distance is the mere work of God’s fingers ad displays to man his

need for humility before God and thanksgiving for His grace

(Psalm 81:5).”[iii][3]

III. The “Eve theory of knowledge” is now the way that man’s

darkened intellect is used to determine knowledge.

A. The non-Christian’s approach to knowledge.

1. The unbeliever does not want to talk about where he came from.

He avoids the subject of the source of his existence. He is

opposed to God’s moral authority and does not wish to admit

that he is accountable to God.

2. This refusal to retain God in his thoughts directly affects his

approach to knowledge.

3. The unbeliever seeks to answer the question of knowledge

without addressing the question of being. He claims to know

independent of God. (“If the Being of God is what, on the basis

of Scripture testimony, we have found it to be, it follows that

our knowledge will true knowledge only to the extent that it

corresponds to His knowledge.” [iv][4]

B. By believing the lie, Eve placed herself and God on the same level.

1. Eve sought to gain knowledge while ignoring the question of

being. She erased in her own mind the infinite distance between

Creator and creature – she forgot her creaturehood. (God is the

self-existent great “I am.” All existence is upheld every moment

by His thought and power. Eve was dust and clay, taken from

her husband’s side.

2. The lie functioned as Eve’s method of determining what was true

and false. (The lie became her working epistemology – her

method of determining and knowing truth.)

C. Every unbeliever duplicates Eve’s approach to knowledge.

1. Instead of seeing God’s revelation as His unbreakable,

authoritative Word and as life itself for the creature, Eve

accepted Satan’s prevarication.

2. The structure of Satan’s lying “logic” was as follows: there were

two “beings” with two differing opinions. God had one “opinion,”

the serpent had another. Therefore, it was up to Eve to decide

for herself (she would be an autonomous interpreter). She could

decide who was right. She would be the final court of appeal.

Her mind would be the final authority.

3. Eve assumed equal ultimacy of the mind of God, of her mind,

and the mind of Satan. Her reasoning excluded the exclusive

ultimacy of the mind of God. She denied God’s absoluteness


4. By reasoning and experimentation (by eating the fruit and seeing

its effects and reflecting upon those effects), she would

determine what was “true for her.” (Note what a clear picture

this is of modern man’s approach to moral choices.)

5. By being in control of truth and knowledge, she would be

number one,” she would be in the driver’s seat. Thus, the lie

was an offer to rise above creaturehood. It offered independence,

it offered autonomy, it offered omniscience, it offered divinity. In

seeking to have the impossible – what belongs to God alone – the

human race lost the glorious blessings they did have. They lost

their life in God and they lost their unity in God.


D. Through original sin, mankind lost unity in God.

1. By man’s apostasy from God, he has cut himself off from the

source of unity. Man’s unity has been ravaged by the

separations caused by sin.

2. There are four major separations that occurred as a result of the

fall. They are as follows:

a.) Theological – man became separated from God.

b.) Psychological – man became separated from or within himself (there is no unity in his thought nor in the components of his soul – conscience, will and intellect are antagonistic in the unbeliever).

c.) Sociological – man became separated from others.

d.) Biological – man became separated from nature (the curse).

3. Only through the redemptive work of Christ will these

separations be ultimately healed. False religion and manmade

philosophies attempt to find lasting solutions to these divisions

but they all ultimately fail and end in destruction because they

do not look to Christ’s Lordship over the universe.

E. The non-Christian’s god is a false god because he is finite like

himself. Like Eve, the non-Christian in his sin wipes out the

distinction between absolute and derivative thought. He makes

God a corroborator with man. Instead of thinking God’s thoughts

after Him, he, together with God, “thinks out thoughts that have

never been thought by God or by man” (as if God is stuck in time).

1. Non-Christian thought interprets reality in terms of an

existence independent of God (e.g. the non-Christian would

insist that there must be succession of moments in the

consciousness of God in order to think of God as appreciative of

the passage of time in the universe. As if God cannot relate to

time without being subject to it. The unbeliever explains God in

his own way).

2. A sinful conception of God is chosen by man in order to blunt

the truth of man’s utter dependence upon Him.

The unbeliever can’t think of a God who is above His creation.

He cannot conceive of a God who is transcendent and not part of

His creation.

3. By contrast, Christianity interprets reality in terms of the

eternally self-conscious divine personality. Truth and reality

have been eternally joined in the mind of God. By rejecting God’s

authoritative revelation, sinful man tears truth and reality apart

and plunges himself into irrationality.

4. The unbeliever holds to the ultimacy of the created universe and

of the mind of man. He denies the necessity of thinking God’s

thoughts after Him in order to interpret the creation accurately.

In this context, mistakes in the interpretation of God, man and

the creation are thought of as natural and to be expected – not

as sin.[vi][6]

IV. The lie sown in Eden was an expression of Satan’s own

sentiment toward God.

A. The lie was a version of Satan’s own deception.

1. He had tried to sin his way to independence, he had tried to

outgrow his creaturehood by rebellion against God. But the

result was that he corrupted himself, degraded himself and

deceived himself. He cut himself off from the love, light and life

of God.

2. He and his kingdom are now careening (like an accelerating

avalanche or meteor) toward eternal shame, destruction, ruin

and torment. (Jesus warned that those who remained in the

kingdom of darkness would share its founder’s fate, Matt 25:41).

B. Satan’s lie offered independence, but delivered death and bondage

(Gen 3:1-19).

1. In the garden, Adam was denied the fruit of the tree of the

knowledge of good and evil to test his obedience and prove that

he was willingly under God’s command.

2. The serpent contradicted God (“you shall surely not die”) and the

Creator-creature distinction (“you will be like God”).

3. When Adam ate the fruit, his sin was rebellion against

recognizing his dependence upon God. In reality, Adam was no

less dependent, but simply refused to acknowledge his

dependence. – “thinking themselves to be wise, they became

fools” (Romans 1:22; Proverbs 28:26; Ephesians 4:17,18).

4. Through this act, Adam’s sinful condition passed upon all men

(Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22). The human race is

under the influence of Satan (Ephesians 2:2). Judgment day will

expose the great lie; sin did not create a new reality nor did it

produce human independence from God.

V. The lie our first parents believed is now reproduced in the minds

of all of their unbelieving offspring.

Note the passages that teach the present universality of the lie – John

8:32-36; Rom. 1:21; 3:10-18; 2 Cor. 4:3,4; Eph. 2:1-3; 2 Tim. 2:25-

26. (The lie is the darkness spoken of in the Scriptures.)

A. The lie drives the present world system with its philosophies of

human autonomy and rebellion – Col. 2:8; 1 John 2:15-17; 5:19.

(The lie provides the “justification” for loving the world and for

living a self-directed life.)

B. The lie sits enthroned in the sinner’s reasoning processes. The lie

drives the present reign of sin – Romans 5:12, 17, 21. The present

satanic world view bears a close resemblance to the lie sown in


· The Word of God is vague and untrustworthy.

· Man can only achieve truth by forsaking the Word of God and pursuing truth autonomously.

· Freedom and blessing come through casting off God’s law-word.

· The path to power is not by submission to God but by determining right and wrong for oneself.

· Man’s problem is not ethical, but metaphysical. The solution is to become like God and shed one’s finitude.

· Man deserves godhood, blessings, power, enlightenment and salvation by right, not by grace.

· Sin and rebellion against God will be without consequences in history and the hereafter.[vii][7]

C. To repent is to acknowledge that we have been of the lie.

1. Repentance involves intellectual submission to the Word of God

– it is a turning away from self as the authority for our moral


2. Those who die without repenting of the lie shall die in their sins

and be eternally condemned (Mark 16:16; John 8:24). (God will

forever hang error on the gallows. The lie and those who

stubbornly remain subscribers of it will be an eternal object

lesson to the universe.)


VI. No one is delivered from the lie except by the power of the


A. Jesus explained that He was the truth and the life (John 14:6).

Christ is the truth of God incarnate (John 1:1-3).

In Christ, all that was lost in Adam (the knowledge of God, the life

of God, the light of God and the love of God) may be recovered and

more. (Note that the justified believer has a higher status than

unfallen Adam!)

B. Consider the majesty and scope of God’s plan. By His sovereign

grace and power He will take the redeemed from dust to glory and

fashion them into a bride for His Son. In Christ, believers go from

death-bound slaves to free men (John 8:31-36).

C. The power of the gospel is necessary to restore man’s ability to

understand God (John 1:5,14,18).

1. When we see God in our nature, bleeding and dying in our place

that we may be forgiven and go free, we respond with

amazement at such infinite love and compassion.

2. The true knowledge of God comes ONLY through the Person of

Christ and His work on the cross (2 Cor. 4:6). The glorious

gospel of Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection has the

power to dispel the ancient lie.

3. In Christ, God’s glory and man’s highest good are rejoined again

in man’s thinking – one believing look at Christ and a person’s

mind is renewed and he is saved for all eternity. (The enslaving

lie that attacks the character of God and the Word of God is

removed by faith in Christ.)

VII. The Christian view of knowledge.

A. The Bible has to be taken to be the final standard of truth. No

areas of known reality exist that may be compared to the Bible.

1. God is ultimate being and hence ultimate absolute authority. He is the final court of appeal. All we know is rooted in God’s objective truth. Because God knows about His creation, we can know about creation.

2. The question, “How do we know?” – knowledge – is based on “What do we know?” – being. The Christian’s true knowledge is only such as it is based on God’s knowledge. “In Thy light, we see light” (Psalm 36:9). “In Him (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

B. Knowledge with correct interpretation is truth. Things “known”

without God constitute “false knowledge,” – facts without


(e.g. Life flourishes on earth because of the abundance of water.

The unbeliever takes this for granted – even though water is a

precious and rare commodity in the universe. In seeking a

naturalistic explanation, the natural man postulates that myriads

of snowballs (comets) slammed into a cooling planet to make our

oceans. Like the tortoise upon which Atlas supposedly stood, the

unbeliever is always left with a fanciful solution to support his

invention. The non-Christian has a “false knowledge” of the blue

planet, see Genesis 1:1-10; 2 Peter 3:5.)

C. One cannot separate truth from God. To try to separate truth from

God is an attempt to make God dependent upon an external body of

truth existing by itself, outside of God (this would be pantheism –

God existing as one of the parts of the whole universe).

1. The Bible affirms that God’s knowledge of the world is based

upon His knowledge of Himself (Psalm 139). God knows Himself,

THEN He makes a dependent universe. (e.g. a man who writes

an autobiography constructs a piece of literature based upon


2. Our knowledge is cumulative, finite and fallible. God’s

knowledge is of a completely different kind. His knowledge is

determinative – that is, His knowledge determines what shall be

and what is real. By God’s knowledge, we move, exist, reason,

work, plan and play. God has planted every human faculty and

body part that allows us to function.

D. Man can only know and interpret aright when he does so by God’s

revelation. Only in regeneration (the new birth), when man sees

himself as God’s creature does he once again receptively reconstruct

knowledge given him by God.

  1. Regeneration reestablishes the proper order for the standard of knowledge. “Whose knowledge, man’s or God’s shall be the standard of the other.” God’s knowledge must bedeterminative and man’s knowledge must be subordinate. One must be original, the other analogical of the original. The order is obvious.[viii][8]
  1. Man is created by God in His image (Genesis 1:27). Thus, man is like God and is assured of true knowledge of God. We are known of Him and therefore, we know Him and know that we know Him (Heb. 8:11; 1 John 2:3). Regeneration puts an end to speculation about God and man.
  1. The world is ONLY meaningful when it is interpreted by man to the glory of God (Romans 11:33). The whole of man’s environment, as well as man himself, is already interpreted by God. Man must know himself in relationship to his environment which is God.

E. Non-regenerate consciousness cannot know God, creation or self

apart from God’s interpretation.

1. In the anthropocentric world of the unbeliever, man develops his

own sense-perceived-truth in an “a posteriori” manner (inductive

truth – reasoning from particulars to the general or universal. It

is futility because unbeliever because he is committed to an

erroneous world view.)

2. By contrast, Christian epistemology is ultimate rationalism and

sets forth incomprehensible knowledge about man from God.

Non-Christian epistemology is ultimate irrationalism and sets forth

comprehensive knowledge about man and God from man.


3. Only by God’s common grace does man have a residual or

“shadow unity.” Without these remnants of unity, man would fall

into complete disintegration in his world. The sobering warning

from God in Scripture is that when man’s faculties are used to

serve sin, the consequence is disintegration of the image of God.

Complete disintegration follows in hell (Romans 2:1-11).

4. The Christian must recognize the seriousness of the non-

Christian’s dilemma. The unbeliever’s darkness places him in a

situation of total inability. His consciousness will not allow him

to accept the Christian position. Man is NEVER epistemologically

neutral. He either loves God or hates God. He is for Him or

against Him.


[i][1] Brian Schwertley, The Temptation of Eve, (www.reformed.com), pp. 5-7.

[ii][2] Ibid., p. 8.

[iii][3] Richard L. Pratt, Every Thought Captive, Phillipsburg, P&R Publishing, 1979), pp. 14, 15.

[iv][4] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1955), p. 33.

[v][5] Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1998), p. 152.

[vi][6] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, pp. 47, 48.

[vii][7] Brian Schwertley, p. 10.

[viii][8] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 39.



The Gospel in a Postmodern Age

We live in a culture that is humanistic, naturalistic, and increasingly post-modern.  By humanistic, I mean that it is man-centered (man is viewed as the autonomous measure of all things; and interpreter of all things).   


By naturalisticI mean that reality is viewed as the random interaction of matter (as if human life is nothing more than low-level voltage passing through neurons).  (According to philosophic naturalism, he material world is all there is.) 


And by post-modern, I mean that our culture is increasingly pessimistic about the future and pessimistic about the existence of absolute truth.


Each of these three philosophies has a great deal in common with the other two. These philosophies have foundational assumptions that shape the way western culture views life and reality.  (EX. When Madonna sang “Material Girl,” she was not simply talking about buying everything at the mall; she was putting her world view into song.  If the material world is all there is, then there are no morals – and the absence of a divine universal moral code becomes the definition of ‘freedom.’)


A universe based upon chance and chaos cannot have binding universal truth. According to Romans 1, denial of an all-wise Creator is the first step toward opening the floodgates of immorality (Rom 1:18-23).


Unsaved man has an axe to grind – he has accepted the devil’s definition of freedom (2 Pet 2:18, 19).  In order to sustain his immoral liberation from God, he must maintain a world view based upon futile reasoning (that is he imagines that his powers of reason operate efficiently apart from God’s revelation).


In order to crawl out from under the claims of God upon him, man theorizes or postulates that the human race is a cosmic accident. (In that view, whatever god may exist is inconsequential.)


One evolutionary scientist who believes we arose from chemical soup describes it in this way.  Statistically the odds are totally against even the remotest possibility that life arose by chance.  But wonder of wonders, our number came up in the casino – and that number was the spontaneous generation of life – here we are.


If man is merely a wonderfully complex accident of chemical chaos, then life has no real meaning, no purpose, no destiny, no value.  No one can live that worldview – that man is but a complex chemical machine.


Scripture indicates in Romans 1 that men would rather live without meaning than put away their sins.  They would rather be adrift upon a sea of epistemological despair (no certainty about anything) than own the fact that a holy God made them, has an absolute claim upon their lives, rules over them, and has a plan.


Naturalism has become so widely accepted, that one could accurately say that it serves as a state religion.  National parks feature interpretive centers that assume the truth of evolution.  Disney world uses evolution in its educational centers to explain the origin and diversity of life (did you know that Mickey the Sorcerer was an evolutionist?) 


It is the characteristic of sinners that they trust their own minds above the Word of God.  They view their own thinking processes and opinions as authoritative and ultimate – as a legitimate starting point for determining all truth, possibility, and reality. 


Like Eve in her self-deception, prompted by the satanic lie, the unbelieving propose to determine for themselves what is true, false, real, unreal, right and wrong.  This is total rebellion against the Word of God.


 (EX. The natural, or unbelieving man, is so quick to be fooled by a lie when he has rejected the truth of the Bible.  Carl Sagan, former self-appointed TV spokesman for the evolution of the cosmos, rejects God’s self-revelation and interpretation of the universe.  Yet, Sagan wants millions of dollars pumped into SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence).  When asked what he would do if contacted.  Sagan said he would finally be able to have his question answered, “Who are we humans?” Do you understand the tragic humor in this?  Sagan will not place his mind under the mind of God, but he would accept the testimony of an E.T. as authoritative.  Certainly Romans one is bulls eye truth; when man rejects God’s revelation; he is left with nothing but prideful, foolish speculation.


Our Creator has told us what is right and wrong.  He has authoritatively proclaimed to us the purpose of life, the reason there is death and suffering, and the reality of heaven and hell.


When a person repents of sin and unbelief, he repents of intellectual rebellion. He places his mind under the Holy Scriptures in an act of ongoing submission and trust.


We live in a world of blinded sinners who imagine to their own eternal ruin that they have the power to interpret all things by autonomous reason. 


They worship their own minds.  The prevailing philosophy of the day says that absolute truth is unknowable.  The unbeliever’s assumption of a chance universe prevents him from understanding that God’s truth is true for all people in all places at once.


Behind today’s philosophy of pluralism and positive tolerance is the pagan assumption of philosophic naturalism (evolution).  (In naturalism, the material world is all there is, all there ever was, and all there will ever be.  If there is a god, he is part of this vast cosmos – and he, or it, has never done anything of any eternal consequence.)


Having rejected the infallible Word of the living God, unbelievers make sweeping statements about origin, purpose, and destiny that are nothing more than futility and vanity (Rom 1:22).


Pluralism is the notion that all beliefs are equivalent.  Therefore, according to the pluralistic mindset, because no one has a corner on truth, all beliefs and lifestyles are worthy of praise and respect – none are superior to any other.


Since absolute truth cannot be known (they say), anyone who says that he is right implies that everyone else is wrong.  (EX. Our foreign student from Japan who was living with us was counseled by her parents to steer clear of Christians for the very reason that they think they have the answers!)


In other words, in our pluralistic culture, anyone who says he has absolute, universal truth is a bigot, intolerant, arrogant, and dangerous.

To say your truth applies to everyone is viewed as discriminatory and intolerant of the beliefs of others.

(EX. To live devoted to absolute truth that applies universally to all is viewed as a form of religious fundamentalism.  Did you ever think the day would come when conservative Christians would be compared to those who flew planes into the World Trade Towers?)


Into this wasteland of Godless philosophy comes the Gospel.  People have increased their own blindness by assuming that out of chaos and chance came the blue planet with human stewardship over a nearly endless menagerie of life.


What falsely parades itself as knowledge is nothing more than a satanic fortress that closes out the believability of the Gospel. 


God has appointed you to take the words of life in Christ to our culture.  You possess the good news, the message of God’s grace, the words of life and reconciliation in Christ. 


There is value in knowing something of how our culture thinks.  For then we can anticipate their objections to the Gospel.  Many dismiss the Gospel before you have a chance to explain it, simply because they have bought into a naturalistic world view that has no place for the supernatural. 


(EX. So persuasive are these purveyors of error that it is now estimated that 50% of evangelical freshmen entering secular college will abandon their Christian faith by the time of graduation.  It’s shocking not only that the materialistic world view is beaten into the minds of college kids, but also that so many are unprepared for the assault.)


We must keep in mind that although unbelievers dismiss the Gospel intellectually, they cannot escape the witness of conscience and the Holy Spirit.  No matter how vocal their protest, Scripture says that they know they are suppressing the truth of God (Rom 1:18-20).  Romans 2 states that the very moral law of God is written on the conscience of every person.


So let us take heart; their mouths may deny what their hearts cannot escape.  Our preaching of the Gospel is a joyful task.  By God’s grace, some will believe unto eternal salvation.


According to pluralism, the Gospel is merely one religious philosophy among many.  Unbelievers express their rebellion against God by their apathy about His truth.  They might reply, “I am glad it works for you.  Happy to hear that it enriches your life and helps you cope.” 


The source of their apathy and complacency is unbelief; it is commonly unbelief that has ingested the vain philosophy of evolutionary naturalism.  You see if truth is gone or unknowable, then pragmatism is all that remains as the test for any lifestyle or world view.  (Since the absolute truth of God’s infallible Word is not the test anymore; the one ‘litmus test,’ remaining is, does it work for you?)


Into this darkness of satanically induced sleep comes the Gospel like a 9.0 earthquake!  Christianity is not a way to live, it is a Person; the Lord Jesus Christ.  A Christian is not a person who does great things for God.  A Christian is one for whom God has done great things through His Only Begotten Son.


The Gospel is a comprehensive world view.  It is, according to Jesus, an incredibly demanding world view.  It’s an all-encompassing outline of reality.  It answers every ultimate question with absolute certainty. 


God in Christ has authoritatively answered every ultimate question.  Where did we come from? Why are we here? Why is there evil, death, and suffering? Where did it come from? What is man’s purpose?  Is there an existence after death?  What is man’s destiny? Who is God and what is He like?  What is wrong with the world?  Has God told us what the solution is?


God’s authoritative “mouthpiece” is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Apart from His work as revealer of God the Father, man is left to drift upon a shore-less sea of relativity and uncertainty. 


            But the good news of the Gospel is that man may have certainty about forgiveness of personal sin; and man may have eternal life through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and man may know his Creator.  In knowing God as Savior in Christ, the believing sinner is put in touch with absolute reality – for it is God alone who tells us with absolute certainty what is true and what is real.