Presuppositions – Why They Matter

Presuppositions – Why They Matter Ever had a conversation with someone, and all the while you had the nagging feeling that they didn’t WANT to be convinced by your point of view? Did it seem that they were merely trying to defend their current viewpoint, or even formulating their rebuttal to your argument, before they had even heard or understood your thesis? The fact is, you were probably right. That is almost certainly what was happening. I’ll explain why: Presuppositions. Before we embark on a study, enter a conversation, or begin an activity, we all have preconceived ideas and notions that inform how we engage such an endeavor. There are things that we suppose, or take for granted, without even consciously thinking about it. We all make a priori assumptions about matters, even before we have all of the basic facts (based on our prior experience). These biases or preconditioned notions are called Presuppositions. Presuppositions Shape Our Worldview Presuppositions help to shape our worldview (the lenses through which we see all of life and reality). The older people get, the more convinced they are that their view of the world is correct. When they hear something new, their first reaction, if it is unfamiliar territory for them, and especially if it runs counter to their preconceived notions, is to reject it immediately as being false. They presume that if this new information were actually true, they would have surely heard it before now. Especially if what you are telling them goes against what people they love and respect have taught them, you are almost certainly never going to turn them to your point of view immediately. Sometimes people have too much emotionally invested in their Presuppositions to consider the possibility that they might be wrong. Because of the deeply held emotional attachment that people hold to their ideas (a person’s beliefs are an extension of their personhood), in one sense, there is almost no way for them NOT to be defensive of their Presuppositions.  For many people to question, or attack, their beliefs, is to attack THEM. I hope realizing this will help you to understand these dynamics better, and to cause you not to have too high of an expectation regarding what you are capable of doing in persuading another person to believe something they are not previously inclined to want to believe. In the end, it takes time and patience and a sovereign act of God to see someone change his or her worldview. Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and the...

Why School Vouchers are Bad for Conservatives

Why School Vouchers are Bad for Conservatives For those not familiar with the concept of school vouchers, it is the idea that instead of you sending your child to a local government school that is mandated to you by your school district, you can receive funds from the government (in the form of vouchers) which could be used to pay tuition at a parochial, private or home schools of your choosing. The thought behind this is, “Tax money is my money, and therefore I should be able to spend it however I like.” The whole idea of school vouchers is wrong-headed in many ways. Now granted, the NEA and leftist bureaucrats are against private vouchers, as they see them pulling more children away from “public” education, which they believe is essential for helping children to become good citizens. So anything that the liberal education establishment is against must be a good thing, right? Well, in this case…no. School vouchers are a bad idea for several reasons: 1. To argue for vouchers is to imply that the government has a valid, compelling interest in the education of children. I disagree with this premise on several levels, but you will have to see my previous essay, “A Christian Education Manifesto” for a bit more of the rationale behind that. God has given children to parents, not to the government, to feed, clothe, shelter and educate. 2. Vouchers are confiscatory and amount to nothing less than legal plunder. (For more on the concept of “legal plunder” I refer you to Frederic Bastiat’s excellent book on government and economics, “The Law.”) The concept of taking from the rich (or those who have) to give to the poor (those who have not) may sound good in the Robin Hood fables, but it is nothing less than an immoral breaking of the 8th Commandment of God: “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” It is no less immoral simply because it is the government doing it. In fact, as the agency that is established by God to uphold righteousness, it is that much worse. See my essay, “Robin Hood and the Government Schools” for more on this. 3. Once the government takes your money, it is no longer “your money,” it is now “their money.” This is true of all theft. Unless you can forcibly get it back, it is now in their possession to spend as they see fit. Imagine that you were robbed at gun point by a thug in a back alley....

Christians & Profanity

Christians & Profanity I am an admin for a Facebook group with over 10,000 professing Christians. When we review requests to join the group, it is often disheartening to see the number of profiles that contain lewd pictures, crass jokes, and straight-up profanity on their Facebook walls. Often, there are Bible verses and cuss words randomly interspersed throughout their posts. We also end up having to delete a lot of posts from members who use profane or obscene language in their posted conversations. I believe many/most of these people are actually church-going, professing Christians. What troubles me most about this is that you have to be far more intentional about what you type, or post, than you are about what you say verbally. If you slam your fingers in the car door, something will emit from your vocal chords and your mouth. It’s not premeditated. I am thankful, that because I never started the nasty habit of swearing, for me, it’s not cuss words. If cussing is your background, and/or you were raised with profane language, that may, unfortunately, be your default (until Christ has renewed your mind). But online, you actually have to think about using that curse word, and you have to type it out…and you can even go back and delete it after you typed it. So there is really just no excuse for that kind of behavior whatsoever. Admittedly, sometimes it’s not actually using the word itself, it’s the popular online acronyms (for example: OMG! for Oh My God!). Evoking God or Jesus in everyday, crude references shows disrespect and a lack of honor for what is holy. If you don’t mean to say the actual words, don’t use the acronyms that represent them either. To give the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to assume that perhaps many new Christians have simply not studied what the Bible has to say on this issue, and are ignorant of what God requires of us as His followers. Please allow me to share some Scriptures on this topic for your consideration. Colossians 3:8 ESV: But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Ephesians 4:29 ESV: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. James 3:10 ESV: From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things...

The Need for Hermeneutics

The Need for Hermeneutics A while back, I spoke at an event for homeschooled graduates and asked the audience to respond to the question, “Do you believe that the 66 books of the Bible are, in the original manuscripts, the inspired and inerrant word of God?” 98% of the attendees at this Christian event affirmed their faith in the Bible. That was both comforting and odd, especially since on 91% of the attendees identified themselves as belonging to the Christian faith. However, in conversation with many of these same young adults, they seemed to have no ability to actually apply the Bible contextually to their lives. In discussing an issue, if I quoted a Scripture verse, many would say, “Well, that was in the Old Testament, so that does not apply,” or “That is in the gospels, which was written to the Jews, so that does not apply to us,” or “That was written by Paul, who was a homophobe and a male chauvinist,” or “That epistle was written to a specific group of people at that time regarding specific problems in their culture, so you can’t apply that to us as American Christians,” or “That is just your interpretation,” or “You are taking that out of context,” etc., etc. The question I am often led to ask them is, “”Is there anything at all in the Bible that you believe actually applies to you?!” The problem is, they really don’t know. They are sure something in there probably does, but they kind of randomly pick and choose which parts they like. What this does is essentially strip away their supposed belief in the Authority of Scripture. Christian Apologist, Cornelius Van Til used to say, “The Bible is authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything.” This group of young adults has adopted a Postmodern view of the interpretation of the Bible, which is skeptical about any objective claim of definitive knowledge or certainty. I would encourage you to teach your children about how we got the Bible. Teach them about the compilation of the Canon of Scripture. Teach them about why the Bible is true (as opposed to the Quran or other religious books). Explain to them why the 66 books of our Bible can be trusted, and why the Gnostic “gospels,” the Apocrypha, and other Pseudographical books are NOT included in our Bible. As a family, study some sound books on Biblical Hermeneutics (the study of how we study...

Legal Does NOT Mean Moral!

Legal Does NOT Mean Moral! In much of Western Culture, there is a belief that if something is legal, it must be morally acceptable. Why do people think this way? In a previous post, I talked about how Friedrich Nietzsche shifted our cultural vocabulary away from speaking about morals (which are objective), to talking about “values,” (which are subjective). When morality becomes relativized (the belief that there is no objective moral truth, only personal, subjective opinions), there are only a couple of options left for a civilization to keep itself from being hurled headlong into the abyss of anarchy (making up your own rules), hedonism (living for pleasure), and utter chaos. Civil Law (which restrains society) will either be based on an objective moral law (which can only ultimately come from God), or man’s subjective opinions. Our society has rejected the concept of objective morality because it necessitates a moral law-giver (God), and the notion of a God to whom we owe our allegiance and submission has become reprehensible to many. So that leaves us with human opinions. If a society is detached from an objective moral law, the people will be governed by: 51% of the majority opinion in a country (a Democracy). An monoarchy (rule by a king, queen or dictator) An oligarchy (rule by a small group of elites who control everything) A representative Constitutional republic. Our nation has been, in concept, the fourth of these options. We are to be governed by the Rule of Law, and not by the mere whim of our leaders, or even of the people themselves. We have a couple of written documents from our nation’s Founding Fathers: The Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence. In a so-called “secular” society, that refuses to acknowledge God and be internally governed by His moral law (Self-Government), these documents (and the laws that have emerged from our law-makers since that time, have become, by necessity, a kind of moral plumb-line, or secular Bible for the American people. Therefore, whatever is established by a written man-made law or code becomes in the minds of people the definition of what is right or wrong, or acceptable and unacceptable. The problem with this, however, is that humans can be wrong, and their opinions can change. Today there are many things that are deemed legal. and therefore, at least subconsciously for many, moral and ethical. Abortion and homosexual marriage used to be viewed in our society as moral...

Evil Proves the Existence of God

Evil Proves the Existence of God Whenever something terrible happens on the news, like the murder of innocent people, atheists often rage and say, “This proves that God does not exist, because if God is good and all-powerful, then He would stop all of the evil in the world.” The truth, however, is exactly 180 degrees in the opposite direction. The existence of evil in the world can only be adequately explained within Theism (a system of belief that presupposes the existence of God). If God does not exist, then nothing can ever be called objectively evil. You can say that you don’t like this or that, but you cannot say something is true morally wrong. To say something is evil presupposes the moral categories of good versus evil, which presupposes an objective, universal moral law. Apart from God, there is no objective basis or standard for morality, since any objective moral law requires a universal Moral Law-Giver. If we are simply the result of a big bang, of matter plus energy, evolving through time plus chance, you can never get categories of right or wrong (or really any metaphysical concept for that matter), from molecules that blew up for no reason. Put more succinctly, you can’t get ethics out of a rock. The fact that a certain set of molecules eliminated another set of molecules may be pragmatically inconvenient for your personal, subjective set of values, but it cannot be declared morally wrong in any way. You can say you don’t like it, or you wish it hadn’t happened, but there is no reason to declare that anything truly moral or evil has occurred. If God does not exist then morality does not exist and evil does not exist and stuff just happens for no cause whatsoever, so just live with it and stop complaining. Molecules live, and molecules die. That is your logical and philosophical option if you reject God. Israel Wayne is an Author and  Conference Speaker. He is the Director of Family Renewal, LLC and Site Editor...

Who are the Most Influential Evangelicals in America? (2015)

Who are the Most Influential Evangelicals in America? (2015) Who are the most influential Evangelicals in America? TIME Magazine took a guess at The Top 25 Evangelicals a few years back, but I think things have shifted just a tad since then. I made one of these lists four years ago, and you’ll notice some changes.   Previously listed 4-5 years ago were: James Dobson, Rob Bell, Rick Warren, Charles Colson, Louie Giglio, T.D. Jakes, Brian McLaren, Kirk Cameron, Mark Driscoll & Sarah Palin. For the purposes of this list, by “Evangelical” I mean living, current Protestant Christians and I included the Pentecostal / Charismatic movement. This year I have chosen to exclude famous Christian celebrities like actors, sports heroes and politicians from this list, to focus more on those who are mostly known for their full-time ministry work. Here is my current subjective list of who I think the top 10 most influential Evangelical leaders (for better or worse) may be (in no particular order of importance): 1. Joyce Meyer According to the last data I could find, Joyce’s organization grosses over $116,000,000 per year. She is a mega-star who has a phenomenal global following. She is consistently one of the best-selling Christian authors in America. 2. Joel Osteen Best-selling author, Joel Osteen has become a rallying point for many in the Charismatic movement because of his positive, prosperity gospel message and his southern, friendly demeanor. His mega-church in Houston grosses over $600,000 in local offerings per week, not to mention the millions in donations they receive each year from around the world. 3. Franklin  Graham The son of famous evangelist, Billy Graham, Franklin is having a huge impact on the world through his work with Samaritan’s Purse, a world-relief organization with an annual revenue of $60,000,000. Because of his willingness to speak his mind on cultural issues, he is a frequent Christian spokesman on national television. He is also the President and CEO of his father’s BGEA ministry. 4. Ronnie Floyd When you are the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (the nation’s largest evangelical organization with over 50,000 churches and over 15,000,000 members worldwide), you will likely get the chance to be included on my list. Ronnie has unified both the conservative and more progressive elements of the SBC into a fairly cohesive unit at present, which is no small task! 5. John Piper Founder of Desiring God, Piper has become a rather “hip” face for the Reformed theology crowd and has a tremendous influence on people who don’t...

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