Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: A Case Study

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A Case Study: Harold Netland and the Demand for Neutrality

As we further consider whether reason should be categorized separately from faith as properly functioning independent of it, I cite the example of an article by Harold Netland entitled, “Apologetics, Worldviews, and the Problem of Neutral Criteria.”1 In Netland’s 1991 article we see an able but, I believe, misguided critique of presuppositionalist John M. Frame’s epistemology as set forth in his book The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. The overall burden of Netland’s complaint is clear, there must be some mutually shared neutral criteria that all people, whether Theist, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, Humanist, or whatever, can use to judge each other’s positions.2 It is the possibility of this neutral ground that Frame, in common with other biblical presuppositionalists (including the present writer) denies. Read more about Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: A Case Study

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The Tightrope of Separation: Worldliness

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From Voice, Mar/Apr 2014. Used by permission. Read the series so far.

Worldliness defined

What is a definition of the term “the world” or “worldliness?” Romans 12:2 says, “Be not conformed to this world.” That passage of Scripture really describes the whole matter. In 1 John 2:15 we find, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” In both passages, God is saying there is something out there which we as Christians are not to love. A true Christian is contrary to it. We are not to love the world because we are contrary to it.

Different words are translated “world” in the New Testament. One word refers to the inhabited earth. Another refers to an age or time and it can have a wicked connotation. A third word is the one which is most frequently used. It is the Greek word kosmos.

The world (kosmos) is that system organized by God’s enemy Satan. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer in his theology defined the world as “civilization now functioning apart from God” (Systematic Theology, Vol. II. Dallas Seminary Press, 1971; 77). The unseen powers of spiritual evil, which have Satan as their head, are organized on a vast scale with great efficiency (Ephesians 6:12). This evil organization dominates the lives of unredeemed humanity, and Satan rules this kingdom in opposition to God and everything devoted to God and everyone dedicated to God. As Dr. Chafer expressed it, this civilization is dominated by Satan, functions apart from God, does not recognize God, and has a philosophy of independence (Chafer, 76-90). People of this world’s system say: “I have a right to go my own way, do my own thing, be what I want to be. I don’t owe God anything, I owe no allegiance to anyone.” That is the philosophy of Satan and the world. It is this world system which God says “do not love it, do not be conformed to it.” And so essentially we as Christians are to have no association with the world’s philosophies, ideas, pollutions, or system—because this world is functioning apart from God and in opposition to Him. Read more about The Tightrope of Separation: Worldliness

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Why "Preach the Gospel to Yourself" Is Not Enough

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A battle has been raging for some years now regarding how believers progress in sanctification. It has probably been raging in one form or another for centuries. For those who have not been following it, a few words on why the question is important.

First, by definition, genuine believers want their character and conduct to please the One they call Lord. Second, they also discover quickly by experience (if not by reading the NT) that they do not immediately please Him completely and consistently. Third, they want to know what they should do to improve. In short, “What must I do to be sanctified?” is a question every true disciple is interested in answering correctly.

One school of thought that has made major inroads in the last few years generally reacts negatively to calls to Christian duty and obedience—especially when those calls focus on our nonconformity to the world we live in. Warnings against “legalism” and appeals to “get the gospel right” or to be truly “gospel centered” are typical. To the extent that this perspective offers a clear view of sanctification at all, it often boils down to “just preach the gospel to yourself; that’s all you need to do; God will do the rest.” Read more about Why "Preach the Gospel to Yourself" Is Not Enough

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Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Revelation and Reason

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Having brought into the discussion the necessity of divine revelation as the presupposition of faith, we are faced with the question of how reason relates to this revelation. My answer to this question will have to be provisional for now. I hope to post separately on this subject in the future.

If faith truly appropriates the truth about God then it is clear that it can have no proper function apart from divine revelation. As “faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1), it responds to matters above the reach of the inductive sciences (1 Cor. 2:10, etc). Hence, from a Christian point of view, it is essential for man to have proper faith if he is to know his creational environment fully. Read more about Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Revelation and Reason

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Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Definitions

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It appears to me that one of the first things a faithful theologian needs to do is to straighten out the confusion brought about by the world’s separation of faith and reason. This relationship is so vital to a biblically fastened worldview that to neglect it will involve the believer in a host of conflicting beliefs and practices. For it is just here that the negligent Christian theologue will be attacked.1 To the average man in the street, “faith” is that “I really hope so” attitude that many people employ when their circumstances get tough. It is that blind trust that things will turn out all right in the end. Faith thus defined is the opposite of reason. “Reason” deals with the cold hard facts, so it goes, and is what we have to use in the “real world”—in business, in science, in education.

One Christian writer has put the matter in the form of a question: “Is it rational for us to believe in God? Is it rational for us to place our confidence in Him and his revelation to man? Can a person believe in God without performing a sacrifice of his intellect?”2 Read more about Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Definitions

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Book Review - What’s Your Worldview

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Image of What's Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life's Big Questions
by James N. Anderson
Crossway 2014
Paperback 112

Ideas have consequences. Many beliefs, especially beliefs concerning the big questions of life, impact the way we live our lives. Whether you believe God exists or not will impact how you live. Whether you believe there is absolute truth or not will impact how you live. Unfortunately, many people hold beliefs without considering their logical consequences. Often times, when people are confronted with the consequences of their beliefs they will have a worldview crisis which can lead them to reconsider the validity of their beliefs. Hopefully this crisis can be a venue for the truth to replace their false beliefs. Read more about Book Review - What’s Your Worldview

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The Tightrope of Separation: Separated Unto God

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From Voice, Mar/Apr 2014. Used by permission.

Recently I read an article which began with these words:

Some time ago a man said to me, “I drink beer in the pub in my spare time. Some guys I know go out chasing women. So what’s the difference? Your hobby is Christianity.” To think that a man could look at me and say that Christianity was just a pleasant spare time occupation like collecting stamps or yachting. Is that my definition of Christianity? Do I put it second, or do I put it first?

This quotation points out the fact that if our faith does not change our lives, even the world questions the genuineness of our profession. Read more about The Tightrope of Separation: Separated Unto God

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Answering Richard Dawkins, Part 2

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Dawkins Argument #2

There are of course gaps in the fossil record. In the case of the Turbellaria, a large, flourishing and beautiful group of free-living flatworms, the fossil record is one big gap—there are no fossils—and not even a Young Earth Creationist thinks they were created yesterday. But although there are gaps in the fossil record, it is a very telling fact that not a single fossil has ever been found in the wrong place in the time sequence. To paraphrase JBS Haldane, not a single fossil rabbit has ever been found in the Precambrian.1

Wingnut Response #2

Dawkins’ argument is an abbreviation of an argument that appears in The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, and it is not a scientific argument at all. Rather, it is a logical one. Creationists have critiqued evolutionary theory in part because of gaps in the fossil record, concluding that if evolution were in fact happening there would be a fairly steady fossil record—a predictable trail of bread crumbs, if you will. But there isn’t such regularity. Dawkins admits this inconsistency, but he downplays its significance by emphasizing another fossil anomaly: the absence of a substantial fossil record for the (4000 varieties of) turbellarian flatworms. Read more about Answering Richard Dawkins, Part 2

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