Establishing the Boundaries of a Biblical Worldview
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Those who read the Bible regularly soon come across this verse: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18, KJV). But as is often the case, people read the text and think no more about it. But there can hardly be a more important verse in Scripture. And as is also often the case, they read the first half of the verse and ignore the remainder.

Management guru Peter Drucker picks up the theme of vision in his book, Managing the Non-Profit Organization.[1] In a section entitled “Planning For Performance” Drucker observes, “unless you integrate the vision of all constituencies into the long-range goal, you will soon lose support, lose credibility, and lose respect.”[2] When this happens, the doors will close real fast, because people will abandon the organization. “No reason to be here,” they’ll say. I saw this in action just recently when a congregation had difficulty accepting a proposed budget. Some wanted money for a sound system; another wanted an upgraded car park so people didn’t have to park in mud when it rained. What was missing? The purpose of the budget had not been established throughout the organization.

Thus the passage in the Bible referring to Scripture is a very practical issue. But in a local organization, it needs to be remembered that where there is no united or shared vision, the organization will stumble, and stumble badly. It may limp along for quite a while, but it will die an agonizing death eventually. People will be burned, their hopes and aspirations for the organization will not be achieved, and they’ll leave disgruntled, unhappy and unfulfilled.
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Footnotes    (↵back returns to text)
  1. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1990.↵back
  2. p. 84.↵back

What is Logic?

A Street-Preacher does not need to be on his podium for long before an atheist will suggest that religious belief is irrational, mystical, a belief in the unknown, or just plain fantasy. “It is not logical,” it will be asserted without argument, “to believe in the existence of God.”

How, then should the Street-Preacher deal with the question of logic? Is the atheist on strong grounds when he asserts biblical belief is ‘illogical’? What, however, is logic?

Logic has been described as the science of necessary inference. Logic is the use of propositions in a particular manner. Propositions are statements that are either true or false. Syllogisms, the use of propositional statements, on the other hand, are either valid or invalid, sound or unsound. An argument may be logically valid, but unsound because of the nature of one of the premises. A sound argument is one that is both valid and the premises are true. It is the combination of these concepts that allows logic and logical arguments to take place.

To address the question “What is logic?”, however, the Street-Preacher will find it necessary to have an argument not so much about logic, but about the philosophy of logic. What is logic? What determines whether certain propositions are logical or not? What determines that an inference is necessary? And in order to find a philosophy of logic, the Street-Preacher need search no further than his doctrine of God.

Logic is the claim that certain ‘facts’ stated as propositions fit together in some kind of relationship and the correct relationship is “logical” while the incorrect relationship is a ‘fallacy’.

All wisdom and knowledge find their resting place in the concept of God as the absolutely self-attesting, or self-determinative, God. To understand what this means, consider the competing worldviews of atheism and biblical theism. The atheist is adamant that the ‘facts’ of the universe came into existence by chance. Having denied a Creator who is a person, the atheist is left with no intelligent designer behind the ‘facts’ that came into existence. All facts to him are impersonal. Their existence and their place in the cosmos is the result of randomness.

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green smiling snakeSome people say snakes don’t talk.  But they follow the advice of a snake they say cannot speak.

Atheists in a crowd heckling the Street-Preacher will eventually pull an argument out of their basket of comments that goes something like this.

“You believe in talking snakes.  There is no evidence that snakes can talk.  Your religion is ridiculous.”

Now the Street-Preacher has a simple response.

“It is true that the Bible refers to a talking snake, the ‘whisperer’.  In its context, it refers to the serpent’s temptation to Eve that she could ‘be like God’ determining for herself what is good and evil.

“Now an atheist who has rejected God’s definition of good and evil has simply followed the snake’s advice and decided to ‘be like God’ making up his own rules of good and evil.

“So there are those who say snakes can talk and who refuse to follow the suggestions of a snake to ‘be like God’ and make up their own morality.

snake_01“And then there are others who don’t believe in talking snakes, but adamantly follow the advice of a talking snake they say doesn’t exist.

“The Bible indicates that those who think they can determine for themselves what is right or wrong are the ‘fools’ who follow the talking snake. It makes more sense to follow God than a talking snake. But some choose to do it — follow the snake, that is.

“Everyone’s a believer in something. Some believe it is smart to follow the ideas of a talking snake.  Some don’t.

“The followers of the ideas of the talking snake appear to be the genuine believers in the talking snake.  Why follow the snake’s advice otherwise?

“The Bible also speaks of a talking ass who heard the word of the Lord and acted accordingly.  The world needs more people who will heed the words of a talking ass, and fewer people who prefer to follow the advice of a talking snake — even though they say they don’t believe that snakes can talk.”

In the ongoing debate between atheism and Christianity the moral argument is a persuasive defense of the Christian position. Transcendental morality outstrips any moral standard located in the created universe. The transcendental argument for God (TAG) is thus an excellent argument in the defense of Christianity because the answers to metaphysics, morality and epistemology are all located outside the created universe — in God.

Yet Christians are not united on what their moral standard might be. While they recognize its origin, it is the details of that standard that remain elusive for many. There is a very simple reason for this: Christians cannot agree on how the Bible should be interpreted. So all kinds of views are presented along with their proof texts. But it is worth remembering that a text out of context is a pretext.

In this essay, I’ll explore one presentation of Biblical morality and how it fails the test of consistency — consistency to the whole counsel of God. Instead, what it does is create contradictions by suggesting some verses of the Bible supersede or replace what other verses teach. In other words, there is a failure to use the laws of logic, especially the law of non-contradiction, as the rules of engagement.

The laws of logic are the rules that allow meaningful presentations of ideas. But it is surprising how much biblical interpretation breaks the rules of logic by offering one verse at the expense of another. In effect, the interpretive ideas make the Bible contradict itself. And so this kind of contradiction is a healthy indicator that the idea presented perhaps is not what the Bible actually teaches.
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I call this the “Eucharist Challenge” because, as a Protestant raised Baptist, eventually turning Presbyterian, I never did get to hear of the meaning of the Eucharist from other perspectives.

But as I’ve been improving my knowledge of philosophy, especially Greek philosophy, Aristotle eventually comes into view. And there is no denying that Aristotle is an important figure in the development of Christian theology. It is often stated how Aquinas attempted to combine Aristotle and Christ into a single theology, a combination that results in failure.

But, the Roman Catholic Church continues to rely on Aristotle’s metaphysics and ontology as the basis for its view of the Eucharist. In this view, the bread and the wine ‘become’ the blood and body of Jesus Christ.

For many Protestants such as myself, this view is illogical, to say the least. Attend a Mass and you do not see any visible change in the elements of the Eucharist. And the reason we do not ‘see’ the change is because we do not understand Aristotle.

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“The primary cause of financial struggle is simply not knowing the difference between an asset and a liability.”

SSo says Robert Kiyosaki in his book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Economic categories are no longer what they were. It is now common to hear government officials say that the revenue they did not receive was a “cost” to the government.

Imagine going to the company accounting system and entering an amount in the costs of the company for revenue that was not obtained. “Let me see, we should have had another $10 million this year. Let’s put that in as a cost to the business. Better still, make it $10 billion.”

And you think corporate fiscal accountability is bad.

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Descartes’ Philosophical Revolution

philosophy mascot education and life character design series

In the history of Christian philosophy, Anselm stands as one of the key figures.  His idea that one must trust God (i.e. believe) in order to understood, was a high point in the Middle Ages.

But in the 16th century, Rene Descartes turned the world upside down. In trying to establish what he thought would be an indubitable starting point for human thought, his answer was the opposite to that of St. Anselm.

Cogito ergo sum—I think, therefore I am—placed the human mind as the unquestionable starting point in all human predication. Now, God and everything else would have to be proven by the mind of man that was now unlinked from everything. The mind of man was now autonomous.

Now the problem with this statement seems hidden from Descartes. And the problem is this. His idea of cogito ergo sum is not logical. It assumes what it is supposed to prove. Consider this syllogism:

P1. I think
P2. In order to think I must exist
C. Therefore I exist.

The problem is that the conclusion ‘I exist’ is assumed in the first premise: ‘I think.’ The moment the ‘I’ word is used, it assumes existence. In order to not beg the question, therefore, the first premise ought to be: ‘There is thinking going on,’ and you cannot get from there to ‘I exist.’ So, you can’t know that ‘you think’ because you have not justified that you exist. Consider the revised syllogism:
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When a Dad Worries His Son, The Father Better Have Some Good Answers

I have four sons and a daughter, the firstborn being Matthew. He’s a thinker. And he’s trying to give his father a hard time over some of my comments. Matt’s worried that I’m putting the Torah as a higher authority than the Person of Jesus Christ as revealed in the gospels. Here’s his question:

“What role does the person of Jesus Christ play in all of this?”

Now Matthew is concerned that his father might be going off in a wrong direction, so he’s checking up on his old man to make sure. He comments further,

” Shouldn’t it be Jesus Christ that we look to as the central revolving point of the Scriptures rather than the Torah?”

Good questions. Here’s my reply:
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What is the relationship between man and the ‘helper’ God gave him?

I did not have to be married for very long to realize that married life was going to present its challenges. I had a wife who was not only a source of comfort and encouragement, but one who often opposed some of my most cherished ideas. Such activity did not sit well with my idea of good wifely behavior. Whatever happened to submission?

Submission, as it is generally understood, means a person hands over his/her will to the will of another. He/She is to align his/her will with the will of another in perfect union. Thus, in the illustration of St. Paul, there is mutual submission of husbands and wives. But as he explains this in detail he describes the husband’s submission as love for his wife as Christ loves his church. A wife, on the other hand, is to submit to her husband in the same way the church is to submit to Christ. (Eph. 5:21ff)

However, it is possible to read too much into these texts if they are abstracted from everything else Scripture teaches you about man-woman relationships. And the Bible starts in Genesis 2:18 with a recognition that although God created everything ‘good’, it was not good for man to be alone. So God made him a helper. The word in the older English translations is helpmeet. But neither ‘helper’ nor ‘helpmeet’ capture the not-so-subtle connotation of the Hebrew, `ezer kenegdo (עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ). This literally means ‘help against’, or ‘the help that opposes’, and has also been translated ‘the helpmate opposite him’. Or, in many translations, it appears as ‘helper suitable’ for him.

You can immediately see why ‘helpmeet’ and ‘helper’ are really inadequate translations, neither of which capture the “opposition” contained in the word kenegdo which means against, or opposite. It is suggested by some scholars that the ‘opposition’ can be likened to left hand be opposite to right hand. This connotes some kind of complementary relationship, but I don’t think ‘kenegdo’ in the sense of ‘opposition’ denies the complementary relationship. It seems to be tring to sharpen the meaning of the relationship.

And if the answer is negative, then men have substituted repression for love.

But you can also see why so many husbands get opposition from their wives. They were designed by God to oppose him. But their opposition is to be when he strays from the Word of God and begins to falter in carrying out the God-mandated activities in his life. “Have dominion”, said God. And here’s your helper to oppose you every time you steer away from this.

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