“What is the Relationship Between Worldview and Salvation?”

Dear Don,

1) What is the relationship between worldview and salvation? Can you have a predominantly non-Christian worldview and yet accept Christ as your savior? Likewise, can you have a perfectly accurate Christian worldview (perhaps like the demons who shudder) and yet not be saved?

2) What is the relationship between worldview and Christian maturity? How much “accurate Christian worldview” is needed in order to mature as a believer in Christ? Conversely, is there any indication that an increase of worldview data brings about Christian maturity (e.g. fruit of the spirit, characteristics of elders, etc.)?

A quick answer to question 1) is yes and yes. People often come to Christ with a less than biblical worldview. Hopefully they don’t stay there. Fortunately, we aren’t the judge of how much information is necessary for salvation. If someone claims that they have placed their trust in Christ’s work on the cross, God judges the adequacy of their faith. However, we are told to measure someone’s maturity when leadership in the church is the issue.

The issue of having correct knowledge but not being saved is a real problem. Traditionally, faith has been described as having three components.

a) Faith as Knowledge (notitia — Latin, literally: knowledge, from notus, known) Jude 3 “ . . . I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Consists of the propositions or content of the Christian faith. Knowledge is a necessary ingredient to having faith.

b) Faith as Assent (assensus — assent, agreement, belief; approval, approbation, applause) This aspect of faith goes beyond simple knowledge to being in agreement with or accepting the truth of Christian teaching.

c) Faith as Commitment (fiducia — trust, confidence, faith, reliance) In the case of Christianity, it is commitment to both truth claims and to the person of Jesus Christ as indicated by the way one lives his or her life. Christians may experience different levels of confidence in specific truth claims.

Merely having the knowledge of Christ’s saving work is insufficient for salvation.

Regarding your second question, you might want to look at Barna’s book Think Like Jesus. It makes the argument that living a life of righteousness depends upon having a worldview similar to that of Christ. Both Romans 12:2 and the verse below seem to imply that knowledge and the renewing of the mind are important components of living a righteous life.

Philippians 1:9-11 “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

Don Closson

© 2010 Probe Ministries




“Why Do More Educated People Tend to Deny the Existence of God?”

Why do you suppose that the more highly educated a person becomes, the less likely they are to believe in a God?

What a great question!!

In my “wisdom journal,” I have recorded this insight from Dr. Peter Kreeft, professor at Boston College:

Intellectuals resist faith longer because they can: where ordinary people are helpless before the light, intellectuals are clever enough to spin webs of darkness around their minds and hide in them. That’s why only Ph.D.s believe any of the 100 most absurd ideas in the world (such as Absolute Relativism, or the Objective Truth of Subjectivism, of the Meaningfulness of Meaninglessness and the Meaninglessness of Meaning, which is the best definition of Deconstructionism I know).

I loved the timing of your question. My husband just returned from his fifth year of teaching Christian worldview to hundreds of school teachers in Liberia, West Africa. The vast majority of the teachers have no more than a middle school education. When explaining the three major worldviews—atheism/naturalism, pantheism and theism—he has discovered that most of these teachers are flabbergasted that anyone would deny that there is a God. They have lived their whole lives permeated by the spiritual, so when they learned that some people deny the existence of God, that didn’t make sense. Even in their traditional African religion (animism), embracing the spiritual was as natural as breathing.

So glad you wrote.

Sue Bohlin

P.S. I have observed this same phenomenon Dr. Kreeft notes—of higher intelligence, often reflected in higher education—appearing in those who embrace and celebrate homosexuality as normal and natural. It takes a higher degree of mental acumen to be able to do the mental gymnastics it takes to avoid the clear and simple truth that “the parts don’t fit.” Not physically, and not psychologically.

© 2008 Probe Ministries




“What is Sociological Fundamentalism?”

Can you briefly discuss the phenomenon known as “sociological fundamentalism”? What effect has this had on the community and on the non-Christian?

I have run across a couple of possible definitions of “sociological fundamentalism” in my reading. One refers to the belief that Christians should be culturally or sociologically separate from the rest of society. The argument for this belief often comes from 2 Corinthians 6:17 which reads, “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

The other use of the phrase is as a description of those who conform to the social norms of the group often labeled “Christian fundamentalists” but do not believe in what is considered orthodox Christian theology.

Both situations can be problematic for the church. Those seeking to be sociologically separate from a culture often have difficulty being ambassadors for Christ. Being an ambassador implies that you know something about the people to whom you are sent as well as the message given you by your sovereign. It can become difficult communicating with people who you have little in common with or know little about. Christ was sent by the Father, but he also identified with the culture of his day and with its people.

On the other hand, being “Christian” only in outward appearance is a great tragedy. Possessing a form of religion without actually being a member of Gods family would be a horrible mistake.

When the church focuses too much on the behavior (abortion, homosexuality, etc.) of unbelievers rather than on the message of reconciliation offered by the gospel of Christ we can convey the message that the outward appearance of righteousness is all that matters.

You might be interested in an essay that I wrote a number of years ago about the current culture war in America. Perhaps it might add context to my response.

I hope that this brief response is helpful.

© 2007 Probe Ministries




“What is Inductive Reasoning?”

I took an aptitude test, in fact two of them, in which I tested very low in inductive reasoning. Apparently, this is a reasoning in which lawyers, doctors, and scientists, among other people, tend to have very strong aptitudes. What do you know about this reasoning process? What does it look like? If God has not made one strong in it, how should one compensate for it? (In one of the two tests I took, the administrator told me I needed to seek out people who were gifted in this area before I made major decisions.) I figured you may a lot more about this and use it quite often considering your scientific background.

Inductive reasoning uses facts and observations to reason to a general conclusion.

Induction: The reasoning process in which generalizations, laws, or principles are formed from the observation of particular cases; reasoning that moves from the part to the whole, from the particular to the general. Most human reasoning is inductive or empirical in character since it consists of generalizations based on our sense experience.

Ray Bohlin is a person
Ray Bohlin has feelings
Joe Blow is a person
Joe Blow has feelings
Sue Bohlin is a person
Sue Bohlin has feelings
Therefore, probably all persons have feelings.

The conclusion is not certain but likely. The premises provide some support for the conclusion

The conclusion is not itself a fact but a generalization or trend. For instance, Darwin observed that the shapes of the carapaces (shells) of the tortoises on the Galapagos were specific to each island. From this he reasoned (inductively) that perhaps they were all related and the specific differences were due to initial variations present in the first tortoises that occupied each island. His conclusion was just an idea, an analysis of a possible trend or connection. From this he would need to derive experiments designed to gather more specific data from which he would hopefully reason deductively to a specific conclusion. If this is true, and if this is true, and if this is true, then this must be true.

Deduction: The reasoning process in which conclusions are drawn from accepted premises. The premises are more general than the conclusion, so deduction is often defined as reasoning from the whole down to the part or from the general to the particular.

All humans are mortal.    Very general
Aristotle is human.    More specific but still general
Therefore, Aristotle is mortal.    Aristotle will die! Quite specific

If the first two are true, the conclusion must be true. The conclusion is certain.

Deductive reasoning reasons to an obvious conclusion that follows logically from the premises. Inductive reasoning takes the observations (facts) and reasons to a possible or general conclusion that is more tentative. Lawyers, doctors, and scientists need this kind of reasoning to solve problems, to take the available facts and determine which direction to take their investigation next. They then need to collect additional facts to confirm their earlier conclusion or even deductively arrive at a definite, firm conclusion.

Some people have a hard time seeing connections between seemingly isolated facts that others see a clear trend from. The tests you took apparently put you in that category.

In my work I see a lot of evidence for intelligent design in the universe and life but the evidence is not so clear as to be able to draw a certain conclusion. I believe I am right, but not 100% certain. I continue to look for additional evidence to make my conclusion more reliable.

This was perhaps more than you bargained for, but I hope it helps. You may need to take some time and read it several times and come back to it again after a few days to let it percolate a little. I had to do some checking to make sure I got it right so let me know if I can help further.

Respectfully,

Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries




“What Are Some Examples of Historical Revisionism?”

Dear Kerby,

I have heard you discuss the topic of historical revisionism on radio. I told my son about this, and he doesn’t believe it. Do you have some examples of how our history has been revised from the original?

Many historians have wanted to secularize our founders. Take this quote from W.E. Woodward. He wrote that “The name of Jesus Christ is not mentioned even once in the vast collection of Washington’s published letters.”{1}

Anyone who has read some of Washington’s writing knows he mentions God and divine providence. But it isn’t too difficult to also find times in which he mentions Jesus Christ. For example, when George Washington wrote to the Delaware Indian Chiefs (June 12, 1779) he said: “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do every thing they can to assist you in this wise intention.”{2}

Other examples are also available. For example, a well-worn, handwritten prayer book found among Washington’s personal writings after his death had the name “Jesus Christ” used sixteen times. {3}

Often historical revisionism is done by selective omission. Consider this famous quote from a book on American history by Kenneth Davis.{4} In 1775, Patrick Henry asked, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” Davis then picks up the quote again with the final statement by Patrick Henry: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

Technically the quote is correct, but what is missing is very important. The entire quote should read: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

Davis does the same thing when he cites the Mayflower Compact. “We whose names are under-written . . . do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politick, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid.”

Some important points are omitted. The section should read: “We whose names are under-written having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our king and country, a voyage to the first colonie in the Northern parts of Virginia do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politick, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid.”

Some of the best documented cases of historical revision were provided by the work of Paul Vitz and funded by the U.S. Department of Education. He notes that “One social studies book has thirty pages on the Pilgrims, including the first Thanksgiving. But there is not one word (or image) that referred to religion as even a part of the Pilgrims’ life.” {6}

Another textbook said that “Pilgrims are people who take long trips.” They were described entirely without reference to religion. One reference said the Pilgrims “wanted to give thanks for all they had” but never mentioned that it was God to whom they wanted to give thanks.{7}

Historical revisionism is a sad fact of American education today. Students are not getting the whole story, and often references to religion and Christianity are left out.

Kerby Anderson

Probe Ministries

Notes

1. W.E. Woodward, George Washington: The Image and the Man (New York: Boni and Liverlight, 1926), 142.

2. George Washington, The Writings of George Washington (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1932), Vol. XV, 55.

3. Manuscript Prayer-Book Written by George Washington (Philadelphia, 1891).

4. Kenneth C. Davis, Don’t Know Much About History (New York: Avon Books, 1990), 61.

5. Davis, 21.

6. Paul Vitz, Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children’s Textbooks (Michigan: Servant Books, 1986), 3.

7. Vitz, 18-19.

Suggested Reading

David Barton, Original Intent (Aledo, TX: WallBuilders Press, 1996), Chapter 16.

Paul Vitz, Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children’s Textbooks (Michigan: Servant Books, 1986




“Why Is There So Much Acceptance of the Idea That Truth is Relative?”

Thanks for your question about truth. The current pseudo-relativist mindset makes apologetics and evangelism difficult, for the non-Christian is often very happy for us to be Christians . . . as long as we don’t insist or even suggest that what we believe is true for everyone. I call it pseudo-relativism because no one is a thoroughgoing relativist. We ALL have our absolutes. (For more on this you might want to look at William Watkins’ book The New Absolutes. Or for a shorter treatment see my article with the same title on our web site.)

Why is it so widely accepted? There are a few reasons, I think.

1. The influx of Eastern religions in the ’60s introduced a “both/and” mindset with respect to truth. In the West we have recognized the reality of the “either/or” nature of the universe: e.g., either the earth revolves around the sun or it doesn’t. It can’t be “both the earth revolves around the sun and it doesn’t.” Which is it? This is simply how the universe is. This reality is represented in logic as the law of non-contradiction. We presuppose it in our speech constantly. When the doctor says, “Take this medicine; it will help you get well,” he doesn’t also mean “Take this medicine; it will not help you get better.” Eastern philosophies and religions often have a pantheistic view of reality which means that everything is of one nature, and everything is divine. If all is one, then those things which appear to be opposites to us really aren’t.

2. Social realities—Plurality of beliefs: How can all these sincere people be wrong? we ask.

3. Democratic ideal—One person, one vote. Knowledge becomes democratic; everyone’s opinion is equally valid.

4. Science—Quantum theory: Paul Davies said that “Uncertainty is the fundamental ingredient of the quantum theory” (this theory, by the way, is a very significant one in science today). Some people think that if scientists can’t even be certain about empirical matters, why do we think we can know about spiritual matters with any certainty?

5. Religion—No one knows ultimate reality, people think, so one god is as good as another. Some tell us it’s our responsibility to create reality; some say we are gods ourselves.

6. Philosophy—Rationalism has faded away; political power is our basic category of understanding rather than truth.

I think, then, that there are several factors which figure into our postmodern frame of mind. This is the hallmark of postmodernism: a loss of confidence in our ability to know objective truth. Our job is to restore confidence in it, grounded in Jesus, the creator of the universe.

Thanks again for writing.

Rick Wade
Probe Ministries




“What Comes After Post-Modern?”

If this is the post-modern age, what will the next age be?

Wow! What a difficult question. I’m not sure that we can accurately answer such a question. I liken the discussion to trying to define a word that hasn’t been put in the dictionary yet. The jury is still out on what the word will mean. For now, it’s slang. It’ll mean one thing in one setting and may mean another completely different idea in other settings. Postmodernism has been the greased pig of the state fair competitions. No one has captured it yet to fry it up in a pan. How can we define view of a time period that is still being hashed out? It would be like choosing Time magazine’s Man of the Year of 2001 in July. September 11th hadn’t even happened yet. When our children hear 2001 they’ll most likely think of the terrorism and how George W. Bush responded as our leader. So how can we predict a reaction of a way of thinking that hasn’t even tucked itself to bed yet?

Another example would be me trying to determine what my grandchildren will look like before even having my own children. I have no idea even what my children will look like. I have no idea who they might marry. I have no idea what kinds of events may occur to change their appearance: such as fads, accidents, exercise habits, etc. The best I can do is suppose that there will be some kind of resemblance to me.

But let’s give it a try. Who knows? Maybe I can coin a movement or something in my presumptuousness. Many scholars expect some kind of return to pre-modern thinking. Of course, we can’t call the next movement pre-modernism. We already have one of those. Perhaps “neo-modernism” will rise from the ashes of postmodernity. As postmodernism has critiqued the certainty and absolutes of modernity, perhaps “neo-modernity” will seek to find balance between certainty and skepticism. Honestly, I can glean truth from both dispositions. I can also see detrimental holes in both movements. Perhaps neo-modernism will rescue us from the idea that man is the measure of all things while preserving the fact that truth exists. Perhaps it can also harmonize our desire to see the viewpoints of others without giving in to the danger of political correctness. But let’s not be too presumptuous. Modernity is not even dead yet. There are still plenty of folks, in the church and outside of it, that are modernists. Could we or our children live in a day when modernists, postmodernists, and “neo-modernists” all live concurrently? How would that work?

This is more or less a guessing game of entertainment caliber. I have to be honest. Even as I write this I’m shocked by the biblical support for what I just termed as neo-modernity. Isn’t what I said just another way of saying Christian? Perhaps we shouldn’t get too caught up in any movement, but simply seek to remain true to biblical suppositions. I’m not even sure if all these labels are worth their characterizations anyway. Everyone seems so serious about defining ourselves.

If experience serves as a teacher, we may be on the doorstep of still more confusion. I’ve been an Arminian, a Calvinist, a Baptist, a Lutheran, a liberal, a conservative, a pre-tribber, a mid-tribber, a son, a father, a philosopher, and a philo-SELF-er. The bottom line is that Christ and Him crucified has been the only constant in my life. He has seen me through all those days of extremes, and He will be my Lord whether I’m a postmodernist, modernist, or a neo-modernist. The name game is only that, a game.

But on a lighter note, I want to be the guy that started the neo-modernist movement. HAHA.

Kris Samons

Probe Ministries