Sunday, August 10, 2008

Questions and Answers

For my studies, I am currently working on answering important historical, theological and philosophical questions in essay form, such as the following. It's an excellent exercise in learning how to articulate precisely what I believe and why I believe it.

Describe the moral and presuppositional shift that occurred in the 20th century

Before the World Wars, most people assented to the idea of transcendent truth, derived from God’s Word alone, and believed in the continuing relevancy of Scripture as the foundation for law and society—thus the codes and principles of Christendom, which were themselves founded in the moral Law of God, were upheld and assumed to be binding. On the heels of the wars, however, the monumental worldview shift that had been seething beneath the crust for years, reared its ugly head. No longer was truth considered to be transcendent or objective; with a rejection of God, man rejected His authority and placed his own autonomous reason in the place of God, adopting positive law, and subjective morality, determined by consensus and pragmatic motivations. Modernity completely rejected the Biblical family, and devoted itself to the deconstruction of Christian chivalry and morality. The state supplanted God as the arbiter of justice and the savior of mankind, and being left with no moral compass or source of absolute truth man cut himself adrift on the sea of relativism, bloodshed and despair.

Discuss how Christianity faded into cultural inconsequence in the 20th century.

The early church was not ashamed of the faith. (Acts 2) Peter, when he stood in the midst of the assembly, did not retreat into a shell of personal opinions regarding the power and deity of Christ, but stood up and boldly confronted the crowds with their guilt. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36) The reformers did not flinch in the day of battle, but firmly defended their doctrines from Scripture against all opposition. Sadly, however, the modern church has nearly lost all confidence in the power of God’s Word. The preaching of solid doctrine has been replaced by sentimentalism and emotional, man-centered worship. Christians, for the most part, have retreated into a mindset of cultural relevancy which demands that they conform to the humanistic standards of society, morality, and ethics—the church has acquiesced to the pressures of our godless culture, and thus has ceased to be “the church,” set apart and distinct from the world. No longer do Christians find sole satisfaction in the Word of Christ. No longer do they seek to take every thought captive to His will. There is no desire to stand steadfast on the Law of God, or assert the sufficiency of Scripture for all of life. The church has stepped off the Rock of Ages into the shifting sands of a relativistic, pragmatic, worldly philosophy of life, and thus Christians have been guilty of “holding to a form of Godliness but denying its power.” (2Tim. 3:5)

Humanism has been taking over steadily ever since the church abandoned its “first love.” The world is not a vacuum. When the church surrenders, something else must take its place. Evolutionary science has become the SS of the tyrannical, intellectual elite, leaving no room for rival philosophies—especially anything derived from the Bible. Marxist totalitarianism is the new vehicle for the salvation of mankind. Pragmatic ethics and arbitrary law have run rampant in our courts. Darwinian, statist, age-segregated indoctrination programs dominate education. Aberrant sexual behaviors are commended and endorsed in the name of “liberation” and “freedom.” The nuclear family comprises only half of America’s families today.

Anyone who would dare to question, who would have the audacity to proclaim the absolute authority and almighty power of God, is immediately subjected to a host of hateful censures. So much for “freedom.”

Sadly, the church has not yet been rekindled from the ashes of defeat, but continues in vain to imagine that God will bless their double-standard. They have sought to avoid the antithesis between the children of God and the children of men, and because they refuse to acknowledge this ever-present conflict these people are impotent. Christ’s kingdom on earth will only be advanced by men and women who have surrendered their lives to His service alone, who are willing to stand strong on the Word of God against the hypocrisy and evil of our day, who recognize the antithesis, and dedicate their most fervent efforts to knowing Christ and defending his Name. May God make it so.

What are the three basic philosophies? Who were their proponents?

There are three major schools of philosophy, especially in relation to apologetics. First there is presuppositionalism, which asserts that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and we must presuppose God’s existence in our apologetic method. This view, as propounded by such as Cornelius Van Till, Greg Bahnsen and others, recognizes that man’s mind is cursed by sin and plagued with impediments to right thinking, that he is entirely unable to “reason his way to God.” It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit that anyone comes to faith. Man’s rational faculties are finite, whereas God’s are infinite—He is the predicate for intelligibility—therefore Christianity is inescapable true because belief in God is the prerequisite before a man can claim to rationally deny His existence.

The very opposite of presuppositionalism is rationalism, which claims that man possesses an autonomous mind, and therefore he is a law unto himself. Men such as Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates believed that “God” (if indeed there is a God) is natural, and subject to the laws of nature. Therefore they, and all that have followed in their footsteps, feel that anything which cannot be proven to their mind is not believable. If God would have them believe in Him, they reason, He must subject Himself to their infallible judgment. Fundamentally, this view denies the Fall, and usurps God with human reason.

In between these two philosophies, there are those who try to espouse Christianity but make concessions to humanism. Aquinas was a great student of Aristotle, and he reasoned that in the Fall, man’s mind had escaped the curse and was thus untainted by sin. Therefore, man may—without the divine aid of the Holy Spirit—reason his way to saving faith, if he is simply convinced in his own mind that Christianity is reasonable. Classical Apologetics, or “Thomism” is the direct outcome of Aquinas’ thinking. This method appeals to the mind of man through a variety of evidences and arguments, instead of striking at the root of unbelieving thought—presuppositions. It claims that anyone, regardless of their a priori assumptions, may be swayed to change their views if the evidence is convincing enough.

Truth be told, there is only one distinctively “Christian” apologetical method. One that starts with the Scriptures—God’s revelation—as the sole foundation for right reasoning and belief. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

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