Do we think we “have all the answers?” Do we think its really “as simple as that?” We hear these kinds of expressions a lot when talking about apologetics and philosophy in general. And while we would definitely answer, “certainly not” to both of these questions, the implicit attitude represented by them as well as explicit formal objections to apologetic arguments, boil down to, “what’s wrong with just saying ‘we don’t know?’” Listen to Glen and Joey talk about it as they take their show on the road on this installment of Think Between The Lines.
Do we think we “have all the answers?” Do we think its really “as simple as that?” We hear these kinds of expressions a lot when talking about apologetics and philosophy in general. And while we would definitely answer, “certainly not” to both of these questions, the implicit attitude represented by them as well as …
Everything you ever wanted to know about Theistic Evolution (but were afraid to ask.) On this episode, we continue talking about the relationship between science and religion in the area of origins. Definitely a central issue to both science as well as religion is the story of our ancestry. One of many positions on the …
There may or may not be a conflict between science and religion, but there is a little bit of conflict between Glen and Joey over the issue of Intelligent Design. Is this a question of legitimate, useful science, or does I.D. underscore conflicts between science and religion? Listen to two guys who are fans of …
It has come up recently on our forums and on our podcasts the question of what apologetics is really about. I have perhaps confused a lot of people on both sides because I assert that I am definitely an apologist and in the same breath say that there can be no objective proof for the …View full post
Its difficult to have a worldview of any kind that does not take both science and religion into account on some level. Some worldviews value one much more highly than the other, resulting in the perception that the principles contained in each, if not incompatible, are at least difficult to resolve with each other. But …
You’re probably familiar with the popular poem titled, “Footprints” (sometimes called “Footprints in the Sand.”) The authorship has been disputed through the years, so more often than not, is simply credited as “Author Unknown.” Here is the more popular version:
One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.
It is a very beautiful and inspiring story for sure, but I have to say that the longer I am a Christian, the more I find myself unable to relate very well to the story itself. This is not at all how I would describe my experience of the reality of God’s love. I can still see the metaphor of Jesus and me walking along a beach and looking back, seeing two sets of footprints. But that is where the story changes.
For me, the two sets of prints are not missing during the low, heartbroken and defeated points of my life. In fact, those are the ONLY times that I see two sets of prints. The rest of the time, when things are going relatively well and I am the most at peace in my life, there is only one set of prints.
I’ve learned that it is actually in the easy moments that the Lord is carrying me. When he allows me to suffer and to experience pain and despair, those are the moments he is teaching me to walk.
If you’ve been to church more than twice in your life, you’ve undoubtedly heard about tithing. It’s the practice of many Christians in modern culture to give 10% of their incomes to their local church. For years, our family meticulously observed the practice and month after month, year after year, we took our paychecks every month, when they came in, and drafted our own check to the church where we attended, moving that decimal point over one place. Christian duty done… check! …but was it really?
These days things are a little different. We still participate in giving out of our resources, but it looks quite different than it used to. We never give out of a sense of obligation or discipline, but because we make the decision (2 Corinthians 9:7) that we want to give to something that we want to see grow, and we decide how much we want to give. When that ‘want’ falls on our church, we give to them. When it falls somewhere else, we give it there.
So to answer the title question from above, there’s nothing wrong with tithing. I think it is a good and healthy practice for Christians to observe, even if it is done simply to satisfy modern cultural customs. There is something to be said for that.
However, I have a huge problem with churches and church staffs manipula…. er ‘teaching’ that Christians giving 10% to their local church is in any way supported, required or even mentioned in the Bible. I find that level of disrespect for God’s inspired revelation offensive, self-serving, and disingenuous.
You will not find such a concept anywhere in the Bible. If you don’t believe me, go try to find it. You won’t be able to. It’s not there. What you will find in the New Testament, is mention (not in any way a mandate to the reader) of the Jewish custom of giving “tithes” which is always plural in the NT, and speaking of 23.3% of the individual’s income. Notice how those facts are conveniently left out when they try to make the case for tithing having New Testament support.
And why is so much of the case built upon New Testament support, which would be sparse and weak anyway when compared to the Old Testament support? Does that not indicate that without NT support there’s no basis for cherry picking the OT practices of tithing away from other ones like stoning, ritual sacrifice and ceremonial cleansing?
In conclusion, the exegesis is important, and we can agree to disagree on how best to interpret the texts. But the truly troubling part of this issue for me is that in so many churches today, the pursuit of money and power has so blatantly and severely overshadowed discipleship, the Bible, and God’s truth. Sorry but I’m never going to be okay with that part of it.
I came across this article by John MacArthur a while back on this subject. It’s brief but very insightful. http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA144/does-god-require-me-to-give-a-tithe-of-all-i-earn
How would you answer someone who came up to you and asked how they can be saved? Back when I considered myself to be an “Evangelical” brand of Christian, I eagerly anticipated hearing this question and even sought out souls “ripe for the plucking.” I remember the handful of times I actually experienced someone asking the question to me and the different learned ‘techniques’ I applied and how ‘effective’ they were in those situations.
When asked the question today, a lot of Christians will respond with something like, “Invite Jesus into your heart,” “Repent from your sins,” “Let’s get coffee and talk about it,” or “Come to our church on Sunday and you will find out.” So what would your response be if someone asked you the question today?
There are a handful of Bible characters that stand out to me and I find very intriguing. If you’ve read many of my blogs or listened to the podcasts, you might know that Thomas is one of those characters that truly fascinates me because history remembers him as “Doubting Thomas” even though nothing recorded about Thomas in the scriptures justifies the indictment of him being a ‘doubter.’ Peter, however, constantly doubted the Lord and IMHO should bear the scarlet letter “D” instead, but that’s for another blog on another day.
Today, I want to bring up the Rich Young Ruler, who is also another Bible charter that’s on the top of my list as being a truly intriguing individual. He actually brought this exact same question of “how can I be saved?” to Jesus one day. The interesting thing is that Jesus’s response is not something you would probably ever hear a Christian give today. He told the man to “Keep the commandments.” If a Christian today gave that response he would be charged with legalism and a complete ignorance of the gospel that teaches salvation by “faith” and not by “works.”
To be honest, I wouldn’t give Jesus’s response either, not because I think he was wrong, but because I’m simply not as clever as Jesus. It’s obvious that Jesus was not even attempting to offer practical advice to the man because the man did not do what Jesus said. Skipping ahead in the story for a moment, at the end of the discussion, the man did not do what Jesus said was required of him, which meant that Jesus’s intent was not to convince him to do so. Remember that if Jesus fails to do anything he attempts to do, he couldn’t possibly be God. I don’t think Jesus failed. I don’t think Jesus intended to prescribe salvation for the man, but to point out the absurdity of the question in light of the root message of the gospel, which is that there is NOTHING we can do to be saved. Unless we are absolutely, completely, 100% perfect, we are doomed to death and hell by what we are (Yes that is a critical part of the gospel, If you don’t understand the cold hard truth of the bad news, you can’t understand what’s so ‘good’ about the good news.)
So Jesus did answer the man truthfully, even if perhaps a hint of sarcasm was present, because if we had absolutely no sin in our lives whatsoever, we would deserve eternal life by our own hand and God would be justified in granting it to us with no work on his part. (Actually, in this scenario, we would actually and necessarily BE God if we had no sin at all… but that too is another topic for another day.)
The bottom line is that there is a big difference between “how we are saved” and “what we must do to be saved.” We are saved by the work Jesus did on the cross; that and nothing else. There is nothing we can or will ever do to earn it or gain it. Despite the abundance of Bibles, Churches and Christians in the world, particularly in this country, and even more particularly in the Bible Belt today, the concept that we cannot do anything to gain our own salvation is still inconceivable to most people. We have to believe it is in some prayer that ‘I’ prayed, in a decisions that ‘I’ made, in ‘my’ baptism, or in an experience that ‘I’ had. All of those things are important for those of us who have been saved, as we walk in obedience in keeping with our salvation. But none of them are prerequisites for our salvation. The only requirement there is… is on Jesus alone… to go to the cross. That’s clearly what the Bible teaches.
So how are we saved? We are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Period.
So what can we do to be saved? There’s nothing we can do. We’ve already blown it. We are at God’s mercy. Period.
A Little More About The Rich Young Ruler:
I set up this man as one of the most intriguing characters in the Bible, but for the purpose of my points above, I didn’t really need to explain why I personally find him so fascinating. So as a little addendum here, I thought I would explain what I mean by that.
This story appears in Luke, Mark and Matthew. All three record the words of Jesus very similarly, which is somewhat unique as the exact dialogue throughout the synoptics tends to vary quite a bit in most places, especially in Luke, heavily paraphrasing many conversations. Here, however, all three record Jesus as saying this man only needed “one thing(en)” to be “perfect(teleios.)” Now I stated earlier that I think Jesus had a different motive than prescribing salvation to this person, and also that he was employing a bit of sarcasm, both of which are justifiable things for God to do. However, I don’t for one second think that God would tell an out and out lie or say something that was directly untrue… misleading perhaps, but never a bold-face lie. So if Jesus said the man was only one sin away from perfection, taking into account his entire life up until that point, that’s pretty impressive. Most people I know, myself included, screw up constantly… every day… I know I’ve made some choices that disappoint God just since I started writing this blog. Here’s an individual that, by Jesus’s own words, confirmed by three highly credible witnesses was as close to perfect as any non-God human being could ever get. So here in this brief moment in history, the two most sinless people ever to walk the earth, cross paths and have a conversation with each other. I just find that fact very fascinating.
The word “cult” sends shivers down our spines. It triggers thoughts and images of things like Jonestown, Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate and the like. These are definitely some extreme examples of the dangers associated with cults, but on a little larger scale, these are examples of the dangers associated with religion, and on an even slightly larger scale, these are examples of the dangers associated with human beings.
Not withstanding my belief that all human beings are totally depraved by nature, I don’t think the world would be better off without humans. I also don’t think the world would be better off without religion, and yes, I also do NOT think the world would be better off without cults.
Cults play a major roll (bigger than you might think) in all religious belief and especially in religious organizations. Every church and every mainline religion on the planet today started out as a cult. A cult is simply a (typically smaller) unorthadoxed religious group. By unorthadoxed, I mean a set of beliefs and practices that were not the status quo at the time. So whatever belief systems, creeds, worship styles, observed by your church or other religious group is, the first people who practiced it, were participating in a cult, even if by today’s standards it is commonplace. Christianity itself began as a Jewish cult, and some today would still identify it as such. Protestant churches started out as a cult in the Christian (Catholic) Church. Again, many still consider them to be cults today.
So a “cult” in and of itself can be either good or bad. Sure, the abhorrent nature of human beings and religion in general means that most cults are probably going to be bad, but chances are, if you are part of any kind of religious group, technically you are part of a cult, or at least the remnants of one.
Sounds like a fairly easy question and a pretty straight-forward answer, right? I mean, of course God still loves us? It’s silly to think that God woke up one day and “lost that loving feeling” wouldn’t you say?
I agree that is a silly idea, but I also have a problem with the way we twist the meaning of love, especially the Biblical idea of God’s love(agape) around to make it make sense when used in the present tense. There is certainly an underlying misunderstanding about the nature of God’s love going on if we think it is possible for God to “agape” us today. The Bible defines agape as the sacrifice he made for the sins of his people. That is a work that was finished on the cross when Jesus died for our sins. It doesn’t say that agape was the “motivation” for the sacrifice, but that it WAS the sacrifice. The sacrifice is done. It has been completed. He is not being continually put to death for our sins, therefore the work of his love has also been completed. There is nothing left that needs to be done. His love is finished.
God is the same yesterday, today and forever, so whatever his feelings and affections have been towards us will continue into eternity, but those things are not agape… they are not “love” in Biblical terms.
The gospel message is not that God love”s” us (whatever that’s supposed to mean,) but that God love”d” us, just like the Bible says he did, by taking our sins and the consequences of our choices upon himself and paying the price for them in their entirety. The last word of the most important person to ever walk the earth was “tetelestai!” popularly translated as, “It is finished!”
Glen & Joey continue the discussion about epistemology, discussing terms like “objective” and “faith” and how to recognize when they are being used in different ways in different conversations about knowledge. We also examine some alternative models to understanding the relationship between “knowing,” “thinking,” “believing,” and “doubting.” I think I know why you doubt what I believe.
You’ve heard us talk about the theories of knowledge before. The time has come for us to dive deep into this issue and look at what it really means to “know” something. Turns out we had so much to say that this became a two-part show. In this first part, we start looking at the way certain terms (The Big Eight!) work their way into most conversations we have about worldviews.
It has become a dirty word in Christianity. Those of us who basically agree with the doctrines it contains still seem to want to shy away from the label for a variety of reasons. But Calvinism, otherwise known as Reformed Theology, Doctrines of Grace, Augustinianism, deals with the issues that are really at the core of Christian beliefs, and have been throughout the course of church history.
Even if you disagree with it, if you are a Christian, you have to recognize the historical significance it has played in the development of the doctrines you DO hold.
But really, why does Calvinism get such a bad rep? It may not exactly be a secret to our frequent listeners, because you’ve probably guessed from listening “between the lines” of our previous shows, that Glen and Joey both pretty much both fall into the Calvinist camp. This time, we are also joined by our good friend David Jordan to discuss some of the soteriological prinicples, and some of the common objections to Calvinism.
Be sure to let us know what you think on our forums (link below!)
This is an area most Christians typically don’t like to think or talk about too much. Questions like, “what’s wrong with the Bible” and “how can we fix it?” tend to make a lot of us feel pretty uncomfortable. But is the assumption that the Bible itself is sacrosanct a reasonable one? A lot of us like to say that the Bible stands up to scrutiny. But what do we do when it does not? On this show we give a little insight into what we know about how the Bible came to be and how it has and has not held up to scrutiny over time. This is a controversial topic for sure and if you are a Christian who hasn’t studied much in this area, you will be challenged by some of the things we talk about on this episode.
This time on Think Between the Lines, we have a special guest, Emery Wang, creator of achrsitianandanatheist.com, an awesome podcast and online forum which was much of the inspiration for Think Between the Lines. Emery has lots of experience finding and addressing problems with the moral argument for the existence of God on his show. Listen and decide for yourself if Glen and Joey are able to defend the argument in light of these objections. Then let us know what you think on our forums!
We’re going to take a couple of episodes to really look at the moral argument for the existence of God. Do objective moral values really exist? If so, how does their existence point to God and the nature of God’s character? Listen to Glen walk through the basics and Joey bring up some of the common challenges to the argument.
Next to our view of God, our view of free will has serious repercussions for many other areas of our worldview. On this show we look at the impacts of a deterministic worldview where free will simply does not exist, and then Glen and Joey have a great debate on two opposing views of free will, Compatibilism vs Libertarianism. *plus a special treat for RUSH fans*
November 17th – Hermeneutic moment:
The Heart (Ezekiel 11:19) “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh”
When the Bible talks about the “heart” it’s not referring to our emotions or passions. Those things are more appropriately associated with the “flesh.” That’s actually the opposite of what the heart really is.
Instead the Bible uses the word “heart” (both Hebrew, “leb” and Greek “kardia”) to refer to the core of our being, our nature and our will. It is essentially the choices that we make. A “heart of stone” is not one that is calloused and unfeeling, like we might be inclined to interpret it to be, but rather it’s a heart that is inflexible from its most basic selfish and sinful nature.
Likewise a “heart of flesh” is not one that is necessarily empathetic and emotional, but rather one that is pliable and can be molded by God from its inherently sinful nature, to make choices that are in line with his nature and will.
Up until now, we’ve pretty much looked exclusively at Christian worldviews, trying to point out things that some Christians say they believe, but is actually inconsistent with the worldview they try to maintain. Since we are both Christians, it stands to reason that this would be our starting point, and we don’t ever anticipate being ‘done’ with it; however, on this show, we will start branching out and looking at other worldviews, and pointing out where they are also inconsistent in many areas. We begin by looking at the most fundamental question of theism vs atheism.
This episode follows up on the topic of the meaning of life by exploring what it really means to know God and to have relationship with him. This is one area where Christians seem to be quick to abandon their worldview and embrace other philosophical ideas.
It’s time for the big reveal! On this show, we tell you what the real meaning of life really is according to the Christian worldview. You might be surprised at the answer. Listen as Glen and Joey discuss ultimate meaning and purpose. Then comment on our forum.
What do you expect to find when you open a Bible? Especially within the Christian worldview, how one reads and interprets the words of scripture is a critical component of his/her theology and daily walk. On this show, we’ll look at some of the most common ways that we interpret the Bible and see how well they stack up.
One of the things I’d really like to do on the Think Between the Lines podcast is have on guests who disagree with our worldview. Whether they call themselves skeptics, atheists, free-thinkers, agnostics or infidels, I want to dialogue with articulate representatives of opposing worldviews. But that’s proving to be a whole lot harder than I expected.
It’s not that skeptics are hard to find. The internet is swarming with atheists who are more that happy to share their opinions. There are whole communities of “internet infidels” available to engage in intelligent conversation about matters of faith. The problem is that for the podcast, we need an atheist who can come on the show and interact with us in real time. After all, anyone can find internet blogs where people discuss these issues. But you usually are hearing only one side of the discussion. It’s easy to make the other side sound foolish when they are not around to defend themselves. Who benefits from that kind of criticism? Not the reader, who gets more propaganda than information.
You can also find two-way discussions on the internet. You can find very high-level interactions between well-informed opponents, and you can find meaningless insult wars between hot-headed neophytes. But responding to each other in print is something very different from an actual conversation. What I want more of is real-time debate between believers and skeptics at a level that most listeners can understand.
I have to admit, I used to get this kind of interaction listening to formal debates about atheism, or from a podcast called Unbelievable out of the UK. The problem with both of these formats is that there is never enough time. Just as the discussions start to get interesting, they get cut short. I am always left feeling like I’d like to hear just one more response from both sides.
So, that brings me to my search for a Nashville-based free-thinker who could join us on the podcast to discuss the issues. Any ideas where I can find one? Finding Christians is easy — we get together in big buildings with crosses on top. But where do I start looking for a skeptic who knows how to defend his views?
It’s time for the big reveal! On this show, we tell you what the real meaning of life really is according to the Christian worldview. You might be surprised at the answer. Listen as Glen and Joey discuss ultimate meaning and purpose. Then comment below or on our Facebook page.
Download: EP 5: THE MEANING OF LIFE PART 2
Thanks for listening to the podcast and for participating on our blog/forums.
Alright, so we are digging deeper into the Christian worldview this week as we examine Biblical hermeneutics, or the methods of interpreting the texts of the Bible. While there are a number of different approaches out there, we really look to discern the good way(s) from the bad. Give this one a listen and be sure to tell us what you think here on the blog!
Also, you can subscribe to the podcast iTunes.
This week’s show can also be downloaded here:
Episode #3: Reading and Interpreting Scripture
I found the chart I was talking about in the 7/18/11 podcast. This shows the variety of interpretations of the Genesis creation days in the early period of church history. The source comes from Davis A. Young, Christianity and the Age of the Earth. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982)
|Philo||c.20 BC- c.AD 50||X||Creation 13|
|Josephus||AD 37/38- c.100||X||Antiquities 1.1.1 (1.27-33)|
|Justin Martyr||c.100 – c.165||X|
|Theophilus of Antioch||c.180||X||Autolycus 2.11-12|
|Irenaeus of Lyons||c.115-202||X|
|Clement of Alexandria||c.150 – c.215||X||Miscellanies 6.16|
|Tertullian||c.160 – c.225||X|
|Hippolytus of Rome||170-236||X||Genesis, 1.5|
|Origen||185-253||X||Celsus, 6.50, 60|
|Victorinus of Pettau||d. c. 304||X||Creation|
|Eusebius of Caesarea||263-339||X|
|Ephrem the Syrian||306-373||X||Commentary on Genesis 1.1|
Epiphanius of Salamis
|Basil of Caesarea||329-379||X||Hexameron, 2.8|
|Gregory of Nyssa||330-394||X|
|Gregory of Nazianxus||330-390||X|
|Cyril of Jerusalem||d. 387||X||Catechetical Lectures 12.5|
|Ambrose of Milan||339-397||X||Hexameron, 1.10.3-7|
|Augustine of Hippo||354-430||X||Literal, 4.22.39|
We mentioned briefly in the podcast about how the definitions of “faith” as used in scripture are very different from how the term is frequently understood in modern cultures. A lot of times we use expressions like “take it on faith” or “leap of faith” to imply that we are accepting something to be true without having adequate evidence for it. I think this is where the idea comes from that faith is the antithesis of reason. Now when you define faith in such a way, then it actually does make it the opposite of reason. Unfortunately it’s an all too common misconception about orthodox Christianity, most likely the result of influence from other religions whose epistemology is rooted in fideism, or faith apart from reason.
But that’s not how the Bible talks about faith, and that’s not how faith has been understood throughout the majority of church history. Like I mention in the podcast, you will never find the expression or even the concept of, “take it on faith” anywhere in the Bible. Instead one of the things you will find is the idea of faith being the commitment to act on what one already has the evidence to believe is true.
Let’s look at Hebrews 11. This is one of the most popular chapters in all of Scripture that deals with the issue of faith (pistis.) It presents a lengthy Old Testament hagiography, of those who acted on their faith. Note that in each and every instance, an ‘act’ of faith is preceded by an ‘evidence’ of proof. For example, it says in verse 7 that “by faith Noah, being warned by God (evidence)… constructed an ark (act of faith.) Again in verse 8 it says that Abraham, “when he was called” (evidence) went out to the “place he was to receive as an inheritance” (act of faith.) The important thing to note in Abraham’s case is that although he didn’t know where he was going, he did know exactly who had told him to go. He didn’t have to guess or wonder if he was hearing from God since God spoke plainly to him.
Verse 1 is very popular and you probably already have it memorized, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (ESV.) Many Bibles translate the word “conviction” (elenchos) as “evidence.” This does not mean that faith takes the place of evidence for believing in something, but rather that it is the reciprocation of what one already believes being put into action. When you read all of Hebrews 11, you will notice that the focus is on the demonstration of things already believed in and hoped for. It’s putting what you believe into action that’s what faith is all about. This idea is echoed in James 2:17-18, specifically when the reader is challenged (somewhat sarcastically) to “show me your faith apart from works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” The point is that if there is no works, there is no faith… there is no ‘evidence’ for what is ‘hoped for’ therefore there really is no hope present.
Perhaps James is making a subtle play on words as he talks about faith, alluding to another Biblical definition we often read. Scriptures like those mentioned in Hebrews and James refer to faith in conjunction with works, but in other places, like Romans and Philippians, faith is presented in contrast to the law. In Philippians 3:8-9, Paul says that he has “suffered the loss of all things” in order to “gain Christ,” not having a “righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Again, here the emphasis is on the righteousness that comes from God (faith) in contrast to something that originates from man(law.)
Paul goes on to paint a picture of pressing toward the goal for the prize, and in verse 16 gives a very powerful, yet simple charge which exemplifies the true meaning of Biblical faith, “let us hold true to what we have attained.”
Does embracing faith and religion mean rejecting science and reason? Do we come to a crossroads where we must choose one or the other? Hear Glen and Joey talk about it on this episode, then post your comments here.
You can subscribe to Think Between The Lines through iTunes or you can download this episode directly from the link below.
Welcome to Think Between the Lines, a blog and podcast about worldviews. I’m Glen Veltum and my co-host is Joey Hodge. For the benefit of those visiting the page for the first time, I thought it might be a good idea to explain what TBtL is and why you should check us out.
Joey and I are Christians. We are both interested in exploring what it means to believe in Jesus of Nazareth and follow his teachings in a modern world. In particular, I wanted to do a podcast that looked in detail at what is called the Christian worldview. Understanding worldview means understanding that ideas have consequences. If you believe that Jesus was the unique Son of God, that’s an idea that changes everything. If you believe that all religions point to the same higher Truth, that idea changes everything. If you believe that this life is all there is, that there is no eternity, that idea changes everything. Ideas like those have consequences. But sometimes we don’t see what the implications of a belief might be. We hear an opinion expressed so many times that we begin to agree. Our thinking makes the tiniest shift, changing our course by just a few degrees. We sail on for months or years, passing no landmarks, and eventually find ourselves adrift in unfamiliar waters. Suddenly what we thought we once believed no longer makes sense to us. All our cherished notions of faith and meaning, which were once our guiding stars, have faded, and we stare in dismay at strange new skies.
Why does this happen? Because we are not thinking about the implications of ideas. Because we’re not looking beneath the surface of a slogan to find out what it really means. We aren’t familiar with the mindsets that drive the major events in our world. We’re not thinking between the lines, so we can’t understand the points of view around us. And what’s worse, most of us don’t really understand the implications of our own point of view.
On Think Between the Lines, I’m hoping to spend some time unpacking what happens when different worldviews come into contact. We are planning to make the podcast accessible to anyone — you don’t have to know a lot about philosophy or apologetics to follow the conversation. Let’s take a look behind the curtain, and discover why people think the way they do.
If you search for “Think Between the Lines” in iTunes, you can subscribe to the podcast. We have a Facebook page here, and it would really help us if you would “like” that page when you visit. And finally, you can follow our blog by pressing “Sign me up!” to the right.
Post your comments here or on the Facebook page, either about the first podcast or about the concept of Think Between the Lines in general.
In the first podcast, we said that the worldview Joey and I come from is called Christian Theism. We said that a worldview consists of five basic beliefs, but we didn’t actually go into what our views are in those areas. The reason we didn’t go into that is because it would have basically involved us throwing out a bunch of philosophical terms without having time to explain them in depth. Still, I think it’s only fair for us to put our cards on the table and define our worldview in detail for those who are interested. I will speak for myself in each of the five categories, and Joey is free to post later if he wants to distinguish his own views from mine.
God (Theology proper): Trinitarian Monotheism, which has been the orthodox view for centuries, afferms all the usual attributes of the Christain God.
Being (Ontology/Metaphysics): The core understanding in Christian metaphysics is what is called the creator/creature distinction. God exists by necessity, his being is eternal, and without his existence, nothing else could ever have come into being. He is by nature distinct from everything else that exists, and he sustains all other things in their being by an act of his will. I think R. C. Sproul said it best when he remarked that only God really exists, all other things subsist on him.
Knowledge (Epistemology): The field of epistemology is a very deep one, and great Christian thinkers have disagreed enough in this area that I don’t think one can say that there is a single orthodox view. For our purposes, the important thing to keep in mind is that Christians should believe that we can know all kinds of truths. If I say that slavery is wrong, I don’t have to say that it is my opinion, or that it is just “what I think.” I don’t have to wimp out and say “I feel like Jesus was more than just a human teacher.” If you have good reasons to believe something, you are justified in claiming to know it. If a sceptic says that it’s only your opinion, then they have to give you reasons to doubt your conclusion. We will go into this more in future episodes of the show, because it really is an important idea.
Ethics: Graded absolutism arising from divine commands is the technical description of my view. The important thing here is that orthodox Christians everywhere believe that there is a real difference between right and wrong. We also believe that every human being is aware of the moral law in a basic way because God has imprinted it on their hearts. We hold that when anyone blurs the lines between evil and good, they do so by suppressing the testimony of their own conscience. This is important because we believe we can awaken their inner sense of moral truth by appeal to their intuitions about justice, decency and human worth.
As the show goes forward, we will show more and more why it is so important to interpret the world through a consistent worldview, and how understanding the worldviews arround you will help you talk intelligently about the things that matter most.