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Category Archives: Theology

Little-Faith: Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”

According to my blog is seems like we were reading through Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as a family four years ago. I can’t actually remember how many times we’ve read through this book together as a family, but we are again!

A section that really struck me this time through is the story of “Little-Faith”. I found his story such a wonderful encouragement. Here it is in full.

THE STORY OF LITTLE-FAITH

Then said CHRISTIAN to his fellow, “Now I call to remembrance that which was told me of a thing that happened to a good man hereabout. The name of the man was LITTLE-FAITH; but a good man, and he dwelt in the town of Sincere . The thing was this: at the entering in of this passage, there comes down from Broadway gate a lane called Deadman’s Lane; so called because of the murders that are commonly done there. And this LITTLE-FAITH going on pilgrimage, as we do now, chanced to sit down there, and slept. Now there happened, at that time, to come down the lane from Broadway gate three sturdy rogues, and their names were FAINT-HEART, MISTRUST, and GUILT (three brothers); and they, espying LITTLE-FAITH where he was, came galloping up with speed. Now the good man was just awaked from his sleep, and was getting up to go on his journey; so they came all up to him, and, with threatening language, bade him stand. At this, LITTLE-FAITH looked as white as a clout; and had neither power to fight nor fly. Then said FAINT-HEART, ‘Deliver thy purse;’ but he making no haste to do it (for he was loth to lose his money), MISTRUST ran up to him, and thrusting his hand into his pocket, pulled out thence a bag of silver. Then he cried out, ‘Thieves! thieves!’ With that, GUILT, with a great club that was in his hand, struck LITTLE-FAITH on the head, and with that blow felled him flat to the ground; where he lay bleeding, as one that would bleed to death. All this while the thieves stood by; but at last, they hearing that some were upon the road, and fearing lest it should be one GREAT-GRACE, that dwells in the city of Good-confidence, they betook themselves to their heels, and left this good man to shift for himself. Now, after awhile, LITTLE-FAITH came to himself; and getting up, made shift to scrabble on his way. This was the story.”

Hope. But did they take from him all that ever he had?

Chr. No; the place where his jewels were they never ransacked, so those he kept still; but, as I was told, the good man was much afflicted for his loss, for the thieves got most of his spending money. That which they got not (as I said) were jewels; also he had a little odd money left, but scarce enough to bring him to his journey’s end;

“And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1 Peter 4:18

nay (if I was not misinformed), he was forced to beg as he went, to keep himself alive (for his jewels he might not sell). But beg, and do what he could, he went (as we say) “with many a hungry belly” the most part of the rest of the way.

Hope. But is it not a wonder they got not from him his certificate by which he was to receive his admittance at the Celestial Gate?

Chr. ‘T is a wonder but they got not that, though they missed it not through any good cunning of his; for he being dismayed with their coming upon him, had neither power nor skill to hide anything: so ‘t was more by good providence than by his endeavour that they missed of that good thing.

“That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” 2 Timothy 1:14

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” 2 Peter 2:9

Hope. But it must be a comfort to him that they got not his jewels from him.

Chr. It might have been great comfort to him, had he used it as he should; but they that told me the story, said, That he made but little use of it all the rest of the way; and that because of the dismay that he had in their taking away of his money: indeed, he forgot it a great part of the rest of the journey. And besides, when at any time it came into his mind, and he began to be comforted therewith, then would fresh thoughts of his loss come again upon him; and those thoughts would swallow up all.

Hope. Alas, poor man, this could not but be a great grief unto him.

Chr. Grief! Aye, a grief indeed; would it not have been so to any of us, had we been used as he, to be robbed and wounded too, and that in a strange place, as he was? ‘Tis a wonder he did not die with grief, poor heart! I was told, that he scattered almost all the rest of the way with nothing but doleful and bitter complaints. Telling also to all that overtook him, or that he overtook in the way as he went, where he was robbed, and how; who they were that did it, and what he lost; how he was wounded, and that he hardly escaped with life.

Hope. But ’tis a wonder that his necessities did not put him upon selling or pawning some of his jewels, that he might have wherewith to relieve himself in his journey.

Chr. Thou talkest like one upon whose head is the shell to this very day; for what should he pawn them? or to whom should he sell them? In all that country where he was robbed his jewels were not accounted of, nor did he want that relief which could from thence be administered to him; besides, had his jewels been missing at the gate of the Celestial City, he had (and that he knew well enough) been excluded from an inheritance there; and that would have been worse to him than the appearance and villainy of ten thousand thieves.

Hope. Why art thou so tart, my brother? Esau sold his birthright, and that for a mess of pottage; and that birthright was his greatest jewel:

“Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” Hebrew 12:16

and if he, why might not LITTLE-FAITH do so too?

Chr. Esau did sell his birthright indeed, and so do many besides; and by so doing, exclude themselves from the chief blessing, as also that knave did. But you must put a difference betwixt Esau and LITTLE-FAITH; and also betwixt their estates. Esau’s birthright was typical; but LITTLE-FAITH’S jewels were not so. Esau’s belly was his god; but LITTLE-FAITH’S belly was not so.

“And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” Genesis 25:32

Esau’s want lay in his fleshly appetite; LITTLE-FAITH’S did not so. Besides, Esau could see not further than to the fulfilling of his lusts: “For I am at the point to die,” said he; “and what good will this birthright do me?” But LITTLE-FAITH, though it was his lot to have but a little faith, was by his little faith kept from such extravagances, and made to see and prize his jewels more than to sell them, as Esau did his birthright. You read not anywhere that Esau had faith, no, not so much as a little: therefore no marvel, if where the flesh only bears sway (as it will in the man where no faith is to resist), if he sells his birthright, and his soul and all, and that to the devil of hell; for it is with such as it is with the ass, who in her occasion cannot be turned away.

“A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her.” Jeremiah 2:24

When their minds are set upon their lusts, they will have them, whatever they cost. But LITTLE-FAITH was of another temper, his mind was on things divine; his livelihood was upon things that were spiritual, and from above: therefore, to what end should he that is of such a temper sell his jewels (had there been any that would have bought them), to fill his mind with empty things? Will a man give a penny to fill his belly with hay? or can you persuade the turtledove to live upon carrion, like the crow? Though faithless ones can, for carnal lusts, pawn, or mortgage, or sell what they have, and themselves outright to boot; yet they that have faith, saving faith, though but a little of it, cannot do so. Here, therefore, my brother, is thy mistake.

Hope. I acknowledge it; but yet your severe reflection had almost made me angry.

Chr. Why, I did but compare thee to some of the birds that are of the brisker sort, who will run to and fro in trodden paths with the shell upon their heads; but pass by that and consider the matter under debate, and all shall be well betwixt thee and me.

Hope. But, CHRISTIAN, these three fellows, I am persuaded in my heart, are but a company of cowards: would they have run else, think you, as they did at the noise of one that was coming on the road? Why did not LITTLE-FAITH pluck up a greater heart? He might, methinks, have stood one brush with them, and have yielded when there had been no remedy.

Chr. That they are cowards, many have said; but few have found it so in the time of trial. As for a great heart, LITTLE-FAITH had none; and I perceive by thee, my brother, hadst thou been the man concerned, thou art but for a brush, and then to yield. And, verily, since this is the height of thy stomach now they are at a distance from us, should they appear to thee, as they did to him, they might put thee to second thoughts.

But consider again – they are but journeymen-thieves, they serve under the king of the bottomless pit; who, if need be, will come in to their aid himself, and his voice is as the roaring of a lion.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8

I myself have been engaged as this LITTLE-FAITH was; and I found it a terrible thing. These three villains set upon me; and I beginning like a Christian to resist, they gave but a call, and in came their master: I would, as the saying is, have given my life for a penny; but that, as God would have it, I was clothed with armour of proof. Aye, and yet though I was so harnessed, I found it hard work to quit myself like a man; no man can tell what in that combat attends us, but he that hath been in the battle himself.

Hope. Well, but they ran, you see, when they did but suppose that one GREAT-GRACE was in the way.

Chr. True, they have often fled, both they and their master, when GREAT-GRACE hath but appeared; and no marvel, for he is the King’s champion: but I trow, you will put some difference between LITTLE-FAITH and the King’s champion; all the King’s subjects are not his champions; nor can they, when tried, do such feats of war as he. Is it meet to think that a little child should handle Goliath as David did? or that there should be the strength of an ox in a wren? Some are strong, some are weak; some have great faith, some have little: this man was one of the weak; and therefore he went to the wall.

Hope. I would it had been GREAT-GRACE for their sakes.

Chr. If it had been he, he might have had his hands full: for I must tell you, that though GREAT-GRACE is excellent good at his weapons, and has done – and can do, so long as he keeps them at sword’s point – well enough with them; yet if they get within him, even FAINT-HEART, MISTRUST, or the other, it shall go hard but they will throw up his heels. And when a man is down, you know – what can he do?

Whoso looks well upon GREAT-GRACE’S face, shall see those scars and cuts there, that shall easily give demonstration of what I say. Yea, once I heard that he should say (and that when he was in the combat), “We despaired even of life.” How did these sturdy rogues and their fellows make David groan, moan, and roar? Yea, Heman and Hezekiah too, though champions in their day, were forced to bestir them when by these assaulted; and yet, that notwithstanding, they had their coats soundly brushed by them. Peter, upon a time, would go try what he could do; but, though some do say of him that he is the Prince of the Apostles, they handled him so that they made him at last afraid of a sorry girl.

Besides, their king is at their whistle, he is never out of hearing; and if at any time they be put to the worst, he, if possible, comes in to help them. And of him it is said, “The sword of him that lays at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteems iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee; slingstones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as stubble; he laughs at the shaking of a spear”.

“The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.” Job 41:26-29

What can a man do in this case? ‘Tis true, if a man could at every turn have Job’s horse, and had skill and courage to ride him, he might do notable things. For “his neck is clothed with thunder; he will not be afraid as the grasshopper; the glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paws in the valley, rejoices in his strength, and goes out to meet the armed men. He mocks at fear, and is not affrighted, neither turns back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him; the glittering spear, and the shield. He swallows the ground with fierceness and rage; neither believes he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smells the battle afar off, the thundering of the captains, and the shouting”.

“Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.” Job 39:19-25

But for such footmen as thee and I are, let us never desire to meet with an enemy, nor vaunt as if we could do better, when we hear of others that they have been foiled; nor be tickled at the thoughts of our own manhood, for such commonly come by the worst when tried. Witness Peter, of whom I made mention before. He would swagger, aye, he would: he would, as his vain mind prompted him to say, do better, and stand more for his Master, than all men; but who was so foiled and run down by these villains as he?

When, therefore, we hear that such robberies are done on the king’s highway, two things become us to do; first, to go out harnessed, and to be sure to take a shield with us; for it was for want of that, that he that laid so lustily at Leviathan, could not make him yield. For, indeed, if that be wanting, he fears us not at all. Therefore he that had skill hath said, “Above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked”.

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:16

‘Tis good also that we desire of the King a convoy, yea, that he will go with us himself. This made David rejoice when in the Valley of the Shadow of Death; and Moses was rather for dying where he stood, than to go one step without his God.

“And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.”Exodus 33:15

Oh, my brother, if he will but go along with us, what need we be afraid of ten thousands that shall set themselves against us? but without him, the proud helpers fall under the slain.

“I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” Psalm 3:5-8

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.” Psalm 27:1-3

“Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” Isaiah 10:4

I, for my part, have been in the fray before now; and though (through the goodness of him that is best) I am, as you see, alive, yet I cannot boast of my manhood. Glad shall I be if I meet with no more such brunts; though I fear we are not got beyond all danger. However, since the lion and the bear hath not as yet devoured me, I hope God will also deliver us from the next uncircumcised Philistine.

Then sang Christian:

“Poor LITTLE-FAITH! hast been among the thieves?
Wast robbed? Remember this: whoso believes,
And gets more faith, shall then a victor be
Over ten thousand, else scarce over three.”

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A brief reply to Mark Keown’s, Should Women Lead Churches and Preach?

Recently a friend sent me a link to Mark Keown’s blog post “Should Women Lead Churches and Preach?”

In general, Mark’s post didn’t state anything significantly new and revolutionary in the world of egalitarian/complementarian debates. What he writes, for the most part, has been stated by many others who hold an egalitarian view.

Let me state at the outset there are many who would use the term complementarian to describe themselves who are really patriarchy and from whom I would have no fellowship. They say stupid things about what the Bible supposedly claims about woman, the home, the church and society. Their views and practices are unbiblical and harmful.

However, Mark’s post is very unhelpful as well. For, at least three reasons.

  • Due to his lack of reference to and interaction with the best of complementarian representatives, one could sadly conclude that Mark’s arguments here have never been addressed from Scripture by anyone and therefore you’d be an idiot to think differently than he does. I know it is only a blog post. Yet, one should, at least show an awareness of the literature and give some indication that there are Christians who love Jesus, the Bible and woman who have come to different conclusions.

Here are just a few examples of excellent books which address every argument raised in Mark’s post:

Neither Complementarian Nor Egalitarian : A Kingdom Corrective to the Evangelical Gender Debate

Different by Design : God’s Blueprint for Men and Women

God’s Good Design : What the Bible Really Says About Men and Women

Notice the above three books are all written by woman, each solidly exegetical, each familiar with the historical arguments and current debates.

Marriage and Family in the Biblical World (a collection of essays, one written by a female scholar)

Here are a few items written by the husband/wife duo of Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger:

God, Marriage, and Family : Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation

God’s Design for Man and Woman : A Biblical-Theological Survey

Women in the Church : An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15

Jesus and the Feminists : Who Do They Say That He Is?

Notice that none of the above authors, as far as I am aware, are connected to CBMW. I say that simply to point out that there are solid, robust, complementarian authors and scholars from a variety of sources. I haven’t even included Amiee Byrd and Carl Trueman, who are both complementarian, yet who stirred up a hornet’s nest last year in critiquing CBMW and others in how they often defend their complementarian views.

  • Mark makes this statement near the beginning of his post, “However, for women who are called to ministry, this is essential to their identity in Christ, and it cannot be treated as a secondary issue. It is a primary issue where Christian identity is concerned.”

I find this statement concerning on a number of levels which have nothing to do with gender.

As a Christian my identity is in Christ. It’s not in my vocation, my role as husband, father, etc.

As someone in full-time Christian ministry it is critical that they never begin to think that their identity is tied up in their ministry or their ministerial role.

For someone training future ministers it would be critical to constantly remind them of this. To send anyone out into ministry where they are thinking that their ministry or ministerial role is where they find their identity is to set them up for great disappointment, frustration, and failure.

  • In the last few sentences, just before Mark’s concluding paragraph he makes the following statement, “We may be standing in the way of the Spirit if we block women from ministry. We may be like the Pharisees who thought Jesus was ministering under the power of Satan. Jesus warned them that a sin against the Spirit is the ultimate sin for which there is no forgiveness. That is worth thinking about.”

To give credit where credit is due, this is certainly an original contribution, as far as I am aware, in the whole egalitarian/complementarian debate.

Essentially all of the authors above, and everyone who has ever been a part of Jesus’ church who place some limits on when and how woman can serve in the church may be guilty of the “unpardonable sin”! Wow!

I’ve read some strong statements by both egalitarian and complementarian authors before. I’ve read statements by complementarians that embarrass me. I’ve never read anywhere such an unfounded and frankly ridiculous statement by contributors to this debate on either side.

There is no possible way one can defend this conclusion exegetically. If one handles such an important part of the Gospel’s teaching – “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” – with such a casual and indefensible approach, why on earth should anyone listen to how they handle the rest of Scripture?

To be frank, Mark, suggesting that brothers and sisters in Christ whom you disagree with as potentially guilty of committing the “unpardonable sin” is a serious matter. I obviously have quibbles with the rest of your post, but this kind of statement is beyond excuse. I would beg you to reconsider your words.

 

Charles Spurgeon’s Down-Grade Controversy and the Church Today

The more I consider the issues being debated in most church denominations in New Zealand (and elsewhere) today, the more I find myself thinking, “this is Spurgeon’s ‘Down-Grade Controversy’ all over again!”

If you are not familiar with this controversy of Spurgeon’s day, you will find a great collection of primary source materials here.

If you were to only read three items, I would recommend these:

  1. Another Word Concerning the Down-Grade
  2. The Case Proved
  3. Attempts at the Impossible

As you read them think about the current theological and culture debates raging in most of today’s denominations. There is nothing new under the sun.

Like Spurgeon I can’t understand how one can stay in “fellowship” with those who deny even in practice the authority, sufficiency, and inspiration of Scripture.

 

Charles Spurgeon Writes to a Child

Late in life & very unwell, Spurgeon models for us true pastoral care as he sits down to write to a child. More than that, he models for us the type of gospel love and pleading all Christian parents and pastors ought to have for the children in the care.

Written on July 1, 1890, Spurgeon was said to have been sick, tired and very busy. His hand “was swollen and probably painful as he held the pen.” (Dallimore, p 225)

My Dear Arthur Layzell,

I was a little while ago at a meeting for prayer where a large number of ministers were gathered together. The subject of prayer was “our children.” It soon brought tears to my eyes to hear those good fathers pleading with God for their sons and daughters. As they went on entreating the Lord to save their families my heart seemed ready to burst with strong desire that it might even so. Then I thought, I will write to those sons and daughters, to remind of their parents’ prayers.

Dear Arthur, you are highly privileged in having parents who pray for you. Your name is known in the courts of heaven. Your case has been laid before the throne of God.

Do you not pray for yourself? If you do not do so, why not? If other people value your soul, can it be right for you to neglect it? See, the entreaties and wrestlings of your father will not save you if you never seek the Lord yourself. You know this.

You do not intend to cause grief to dear mother and father: but you do. So long as you are not saved, they can never rest. However, obedient and sweet and kind you may be, they will never feel happy about you until you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and so find everlasting salvation.

Think of this. Remember how much you have already sinned, and none can wash you but Jesus. When you grow up you may become very sinful, and no one can change your nature and make you holy but but the Lord Jesus, through His Spirit.

You need what father and mother seek for you and you need it NOW. Why not seek it at once? I heard a father pray, “Lord, save our children, and save them young.” It is never too soon to be safe; never too soon to be happy; never too soon to be holy. Jesus loves to receive the very young ones.

You cannot save yourself, but the great Lord Jesus can save you. Ask him to do it. “He that asketh receiveth.” Then trust in Jesus to save you. he can do it, for he died and rose again that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.

Come and tell Jesus you have sinned; seek forgiveness; trust in Him for it, and be sure that you are saved.

Then imitate our Lord. Be at home what Jesus was at Nazareth. Yours will be a happy home, and your dear father and mother will feel that the dearest wish of their hearts has been granted them.

I pray you think of heaven and hell, for in one of those places you will live forever. Meet me in heaven. Meet me at once at the mercy-seat. Run upstairs and pray to the great Father, through Jesus Christ.

Yours very lovingly, C.H. Spurgeon. (Dallimore, p 224,25)

 

Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – 10 Years Later

This Sunday, we begin a new series at Rolleston Baptist Church through Proverbs.

Proverbs Series

I love the book of Proverbs.

Nearly 10 years ago, I spent a month blogging through the book of Proverbs, one chapter per day. I called my simple blog series, “Pondering Proverbs as a Parent“.We were still living in the States at the time. My children were 1, 2, & 4!

Our lives have changed dramatically in the years since. Yet the timeless truths of God’s Word never change.

These blog posts are rough & unedited. I share them here as they may still prove helpful to some family.

You can download a PDF of the whole series – Chapters 1-30, Diagram for Chapter 31, Chapter 31.

 

Tackling the “isms”: Worldview Overview

I will be presenting a couple of seminars as part of two of the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Conferences in the coming weeks – 21/03 in Auckland, 28/03 in Christchurch.

One of the seminars I will present twice on each Saturday. Once for the parents and again for teens.

Here is an outline of this particular seminar…

Tackling the “isms”: Worldview Overview

  1. What is a Worldview?

Your worldview is your general theory of the universe. It’s comprised of your fundamental beliefs about yourself, the world, and God. Your worldview answers fundamental questions about yourself–

*What am I?
*How can I be truly happy?
*What’s morally right and wrong?

—and about the world:

*Why does anything exist?
*Why does anything happen at all?

*How do I know anything?

*How do I know what is real and true?

Everyone has a god that they worship. The only distinction between worldviews is whether the object of worship is God the Creator, or this world, the creation.

“A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or unconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”

James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2004), 17.

“A worldview is a way one views the whole world. A worldview is a way of viewing or interpreting all of reality. It is an interpretive framework through which or by which one makes sense out of the data of life and the world. A worldview is like a set of colored glasses. If one looks at the same object through green colored glasses he will see it as green, while another looking at the same object through red glasses will see it as red.”

Norman L. Geisler and William D. Watkins, Worlds Apart: A Handbook on Worldviews. 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989), 11.

“A worldview is not the same thing as a formal philosophy; otherwise, it would be only for professional philosophers. Even ordinary people have a set of convictions about how reality functions and how they should live. Because we are made in God’s image, we all seek to make sense of life. Some convictions are conscious, while others are unconscious, but together they form a more or less consistent picture of reality.”

Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2004), 23 

Everyone Has a Religious Worldview

In an important sense, all worldviews – even atheistic ones – are religious. Herman Bavinck says that, “The denial of the existence of God includes, in the same moment, the elevation of the creature into the place of God”[1]. In other words, everyone has a god that they worship. The only distinction between worldviews is whether the object of worship is God the Creator, or this world, the creation. If these claims seem exaggerated, consider a contemporary example.

In the opening chapter of his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins notes that “A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists” who do not believe in a supernatural being. Dawkins writes that his awe of the universe is so similar to religious awe that some people have called him “A Very Religious Non-Believer”. Dawkins virtually concedes then that he and many fellow atheists have subjective responses which very nearly approximate worship; the main difference lying only in the worship of the creation rather than God, the Creator.

Corrupt worldviews are based on false gods, and humans adopt false gods because of their sinful resistance to the true and living God. In Romans 1:18-32 Paul argues that all human beings know God but at the same time don’t know God because they suppress the truth that they know, and that they do this by worshipping the creation in place of the Creator. They exchange the truth about God for a lie. Because everyone knows the true God deep inside, they cannot help but be religious, even if they claim to be agnostics or atheists. But because humankind is corrupted, religion always defaults to take the form of worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. Fallen people are on the one hand idolatrous (Rom. 1:18-32), and at the same time altogether godless (Ps. 14/Rom. 3:9-18).

  1. What is a Christian (or Biblical) Worldview?

“A biblical worldview is a worldview that is shaped and tested, formed and reformed by the Bible. More specifically, a biblical worldview would be a fundamental perspective on life that is based upon the ‘pillar points’ (as I like to call them) of creation, the fall, and redemption. The story of creation is told in Genesis 1-2 and answers such important questions as where are we, who are we, and why are we here? Genesis 3 tells the story of the fall of humanity into sin and addresses the issue of what has gone wrong with the world and how we should account for the tragic human condition. The rest of the Bible from Genesis 3:15 all the way to Revelation 22 presents the narrative of redemption, which informs us about the divinely provided remedy to sin and the tragic human condition. God promises redemption in the Old Testament, and He fulfills His promises in Christ in the New Testament. This redemption that Christ has accomplished is both ‘already; present but is ‘not yet’ fully complete. When Christ returns, He will consummate His redemptive task and usher in the new heavens and earth.”

(David Naugle, author of Worldview: The History of a Concept (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002) in an interview with T.M. Moore, editor of Findings, in October 2003.)

Paul says that the idolatry of mankind has created futile thinking and darkened foolish hearts (Rom. 1:21). If this is true, then the gospel is the only hope for the restoration and renovation of all human thought. It is only possible to come to truly know God through Jesus Christ, which will result in a complete transformation of your mind and worldview.

The Bible makes the radical assertion that it is necessary to know and fear God before arriving at any true conclusions about yourself and the world. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7); “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Prov. 9:10). God himself provides the answer to all key worldview questions—

*What am I? An image-bearer of God, Gen. 1:26-27.
*How can I be truly happy? By knowing God, John 17:3.
*What’s morally right and wrong? What God commands—loving him and loving your neighbour.
*Why does anything exist? God willed to create it out of nothing, Gen. 1:1.
*Why does anything happen at all? God has predestined it to happen and brings it to pass by his providential power.

“God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). In this light, we see everything else differently—we see everything else truly—for the first time.

  1. The Limbs of A Biblical Christian Worldview

Theology: Affirmation of the existence of an intelligent, powerful, loving, just, and awesome God. This same God took upon Himself human form in the person of Jesus Christ and died for our sins. Thus, in addition to being theistic, Christianity is Christus Nexus, Christ at the centre. “Christianity is Christ. The person and work of Christ are the rock upon which the Christian religion is built. If he is not who he said he was, and if he did not do what he said he had come to do, the foundation is undermined and the whole superstructure will collapse. Take Christ from Christianity and you disembowel it; there is practically nothing left. Christ is the center of Christianity; all else is circumference.” (John Stott, Basic Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 21. (Gen. 1:1; Colossians 2:9)

Philosophy: The single most important philosophical truth in the Bible is that Jesus Christ is the Logos of God. Christian philosophy, especially metaphysics, is grounded in John 1:1-4. Christ the Logos is the explanation for the universe and all things therein. (John 1:1-4, Col. 1:17, Rev. 19:13)

Sociology: Both the individual and the social order are important to God, mankind and society. Christ died and rose again for each person as an individual; God ordained social institutions to teach love, respect, discipline, work, and community. God ordained certain social institutions. Family, church, and state are three of the most important. (Gen. 4:1; Luke 1:30-31; Is. 9:6)

Law: Christian or Divine Law consists of both natural and Biblical law originating in the very character of a righteous and loving God. Divine law is eternal, and will be used one day to judge the world in a judgment based on natural and revealed law. God established human government and the rule of law primarily to keep in check man’s sinful nature (Romans 2:12ff; 13:1-4). Human rights involves the Biblical doctrine of man’s creation in the image of God. (Gen. 3:11; 49:10; Rev. 5:5)

Ethics: God’s moral nature is absolute, eternal and unchanging. God created the world with a specific moral order revealed to man via both general (natural law) and special revelation (Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ). Ethical standards transcend the relativistic whims of society. (Gen. 2:9; John 1:9; John 3:19,20) 

Biology: Christianity trusts the Genesis model of creation above and beyond the theories of modern science. However, Christianity is not anti-science, requiring only that science begin from a Christian theistic presupposition. Science and Christianity are compatible in that the universe when properly studied reflects that God created all things. (Gen. 1-3; John 1:4; John 11:25; Col. 1:16)

Psychology: Only Christianity, with its emphasis on the spiritual and its understanding of man’s fallen nature can truly address the innermost concerns of the individual. Humans may truly get in touch with themselves by realizing their own sinfulness and consequential status before God, as well as the grace of God which removes all sin and guilt. Self-esteem is realistic only as it follows a true statement of who we are with and without Christ. (Luke 1:46-47; I Thess. 5:23; Titus 2:13)

History: The Christian worldview, unlike many other religious (especially transcendental) worldviews, is firmly rooted in historical events such as the events of the nation of Israel and the life, death, and resurrection of the historical person Jesus Christ. The Bible is an historically accurate book, describing events that actually occurred and are continually being vindicated via archaeology and other historical proofs. (I Cor. 15; John 1:14; Gal 4:4)

  1. Biblical Christian Worldview Presuppositions

GOD (theology): Does God exist? What is his nature? Is he personal or impersonal? One or many? 

REALITY (metaphysics): What is the universe? Who or what created it? Is the universe an open or closed system (Closed: Matter is all there is and nothing from “outside” the universe intervenes, e.g. God. Open: “outside” forces such as God interfere with the natural order)? What is its purpose?

KNOWLEDGE (epistemology): How do we know something/anything? Can we trust our senses? How far will reason take us? Is there such a thing as revealed truth? Can we know something for certain? Is knowledge different from faith?

MAN (anthropology): What is man? Is man basically good or basically bad? Are we free, or the pawns of deterministic forces? Are we only bodies or bodies and spirits? What happens at death? Are there are rewards and/or punishments after death?

  • The “…isms” we face
  1. Islam
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Secular Humanism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Marxism-Leninism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Cosmic Humanism/New Age
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Post-Modernism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. “Practical” Materialism
    • What I have/own defines who I am.
    • “Lust of the eyes”
  1. Consumerism
    • The freedom to chose what I want based on my personal desires and preferences from a variety of options is the greatest good.
    • “Lust of the flesh”
  1. Narcissism
    • Narcissismis the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from the Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.
    • “Pride of Life”

Bibliography

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Clapp, Rodney. A Peculiar People: The Church As Culture in a Post-Christian Society. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Clark, Kelly James, Richard Lints, and James K. A. Smith. 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox, 2004.

Colson, Charles W., and Ellen Santilli Vaughn. Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages. Ann Arbor, Mich: Vine Books, 1989.

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Cowan, Steven B., and William Lane Craig. Five Views on Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000.

Craig, William Lane, and Paul M. Gould. The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar: Redeeming the Soul, Redeeming the Mind. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2007.

Dembski, William A., and Jay Wesley Richards. Unapologetic Apologetics: Meeting the Challenges of Theological Studies. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

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Feinberg, John S., Paul D. Feinberg. Ethics for a Brave New World, 3nd edition. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2010.

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Hoffecker, W. Andrew. Revolutions in Worldview: Understanding the Flow of Western Thought. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub, 2007.

Keller, Timothy J. Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters. New York: Dutton, 2009.

Keller, Timothy J. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Dutton, 2008.

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Koop, C. Everett, and Francis A. Schaeffer. Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1983.

LaHaye, Tim F. The Battle for the Mind. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1980.

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Lennox, John. God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Oxford: Lion, 2009.

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The Battle for Truth. Eugene, Or: Harvest House Publishers, 2001.

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My Father’s World: Meditations on Christianity and Culture. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub, 2002.

What Is the Christian Worldview? Basics of the Reformed faith. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2006.

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Art and the Bible. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2006.

Back to Freedom and Dignity. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972.

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A Christian View of Spirituality. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

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A Christian View of the West. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

The Church at the End of the 20th Century. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970.

The Church Before the Watching World; A Practical Ecclesiology. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1971.

The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview. Vol.1, , A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1994.

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Escape from Reason. London: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1968.

, and James Montgomery Boice. The Foundation of Biblical Authority. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978.

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Genesis in Space and Time; The Flow of Biblical History. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972.

The God Who Is There; Speaking Historic Christianity into the Twentieth Century. Chicago: Inter-varsity Press, 1968.

The Great Evangelical Disaster. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1984.

He Is There and He Is Not Silent. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 1972.

How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. Old Tappan, N.J.: F.H. Revell Co, 1976.

Introduction to Francis Schaeffer; Study Guide to a Trilogy: The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Plus “How I Came to Write My Books “. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1974.

Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1975.

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The New Super-Spirituality. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972.

No Final Conflict: The Bible Without Error in All That It Affirms. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter Varsity Press, 1975.

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Sherman, Richard B., and Francis A. Schaeffer. Reclaiming the World: Conversations with Francis A. Schaeffer. Los Gatos, Calif: Schaeffer, 1982.

Thomas, Derek. What Is Providence? Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub, 2008.

Walsh, Brian J., and J. Richard Middleton. The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1984.

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Online Resources

Summit Ministries – http://www.summit.org (particularly http://www.summit.org/resources/worldview-chart/)

Stand to Reason – http://www.str.org

Monergism-Directory – http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Worldviews

Worldview Series on my blog: https://joefl.wordpress.com/preachingteaching-materials/young-adults-home-group-at-howick-baptist-church/

Ethics Series on my blog: https://joefl.wordpress.com/preachingteaching-materials/im-a-christian-i-live-in-the-real-world-thinking-through-ethics/

 

When Drunk with Sin We Lash Out Against Those Who Seek to Help

Most mornings I go for a bit of a bike ride around Rolleston. It is generally uneventful. Other than sore muscles and an occasional truck passing too close at 100 km/hr there is generally nothing to report.

This morning was very different. About 15kms into my ride I came across a very distraught lady. She was in the middle of the road, it was raining, and she was calling for help. I immediately stopped thinking there must have been a car accident, though I didn’t see any cars. The first words I heard were, “help, he’s after me, I need help!” I looked down the empty rural road and about 500 metres away I could see a man standing looking in our direction. The lady said she needed me to ring her Dad. I asked for the number. This is when I realised she was very intoxicated. She couldn’t remember the number, she couldn’t find her phone, and she was increasingly making less sense.

I rang the police (111). As soon as I did this she began yelling and screaming at me, cursing me, telling me to hang up… “she didn’t want no cops here”!

Once she realised I wasn’t going to hang up she sat on the ground and said nothing more, though she was clearly still angry.

I stayed on the line answering a series of questions, standing in the rain waiting until the police arrived. They arrive in good time, spoke with me briefly and immediately dealt with the situation. I then rode the rest of the way home in more rain and wind!

In the providence of God, I don’t think the lady had actually be attacked or anything very serious. There had clearly been a threat and a serious argument. It is very likely things would have gotten worse if help had not arrived. This is what I thought about on my ride home…

How similar this lady’s reaction was when I rang the police to my reaction to those who try to help me when I am drunk with my own sin.

Proverbs speaks to this:

Proverbs 9:7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. 8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Proverbs 15:5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

Proverbs 17:10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.

Proverbs 17:12 Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly.

Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.

Proverbs 26:11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.

Proverbs 29:9 If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.

How often I have been the fool. So intoxicated with my own sin that when a person tries to help me I lash out against them as though they are the problem!

Oh for the grace of Christ which works a work of humble repentance. I pray the next time I am lovingly (or not) rebuked I will respond with humility and repentance showing a hatred toward sin rather than being intoxicated with it!

 
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Posted by on 06/03/2015 in Family, Teaching, Theology

 
 
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