Worldview 101: Why is there Evil and Suffering?

MS Sans Serif – The Problem
Non-Christians almost always raise the question: If God is good and God is great (all-powerful) then how can there be evil in the world? Since there is evil, there must be no God. Or if there is a God, he must not be good or he must not be all-powerful.
I think we need to deal with a couple of issues:
Is this a good argument against the existence of God?
How do the other world views deal with the problem of evil?
What is the answer to the problem?


The Logical Answer
For many years, the problem of evil was seen as a way to show that Christianity was logically inconsistent. If Christianity could be seen to be logically contradictory, then it had to be false. The atheist is using the same approach that we’ve been using as we discuss the answers the various world views have to our world views questions.
There is no logical fallacy in that statement of the problem of evil-
· God is good.
· God is all-powerful.
· God created the world.
· The world contains evil.
Where is the contradiction? What they really mean is this:
· God is good.
· God is all-powerful.
· God created the world.
· The world shouldn’t contain evil.
· The world contains evil.
There is only an assumption on our part that there shouldn’t be any evil in the world. People assume that God must want to eliminate all evil. One would have to be omniscient (i.e. God) to know that there was actually evil that occurred that had no ultimate good purpose.
Christianity doesn’t teach that there shouldn’t be evil. So there really is no logical problem. All we can really conclude from the argument is that God must have had a good reason for allowing evil and suffering.


Pantheism says:
If everything is God and God is everything, then you can’t have opposites like good and evil. Therefore evil is an illusion.
So, when pantheists try to use the ‘problem of evil’ argument against Christians, they are being inconsistent with their world view.


 Naturalism says:
Since a naturalist doesn’t believe that there is anything that transcends the natural world. They really can’t believe in an objective ‘Good.’ And therefore in a naturalist’s world view there really is no ‘good and evil.’ Evil is relative and just a matter of subjective preference.
The naturalist/atheist is also being inconsistent when he uses the problem of evil as an argument against the existence of God. But few, if any, recognize that they are disqualified from asking the question.
This is a very important point. We’ve talked about how one’s world view must be logical, practical, etc. At every turn in the discussion we need to be able to recognize and point out where they are bailing out of their system and appealing to the Christian system to make their arguments. This the same thing we talked about when we said that if a pantheist calls the police when their car is stolen, they are borrowing from the Christian world view.


A Legitimate Question
However, once we’ve pointed out that they don’t have the right to ask that question, it is a valid question for a someone to ask because everyone has a built in conscience and a concept of good and evil, even if they deny it. So, what are some possible answers/reasons for the existence of evil and natural disasters?
Necessary for free-will to work –
If it was impossible to disobey God, then we’d never have to choose to obey. We would be like robots and that wouldn’t bring glory to God.
And related to this –
Necessary for human growth and virtue –
If there are no dangers, difficulties or disappointments in life, how can we gain character traits such as patience? If everyone is nice to you, then you never have to display selfless love. If life is easy, you don’t have to learn patience, or endurance. Being honest wouldn’t be a virtue if it was impossible to steal.
· Matrix – Morpheus explained to Neo that when life was perfect, mankind rejected that make-believe world, so the computers had to create a world with crime, problems at work, etc.
· The Island – when they tried to grow human clones, they didn’t survive until they gave them a world with conflict and hope (the lottery).
Necessary to promote the greater good
Could God allow a tidal wave or earthquake to kill thousands of people because the disaster will give Christians an opportunity to minister to the victims and as a result many come to faith in Christ? If spending eternity in hell is the ‘ultimate evil,’ then allowing a lesser evil to occur to reduce the ultimate evil is in fact a good thing. But it might appear to some as senseless evil.
It is too complicated for humans to understand.
Even if we can see some possible purpose in some evil/suffering, there are events which we can’t understand and we just have to recognize we are finite creatures who can’t know God’s purpose in allowing those things. As we said before, one would have to be omniscient to know for certain that an ‘evil’ event was so evil that no good could come from it.


The Bible Says:
God created the world and it was ‘good.’
Satan Fell
Satan was created as a good being but with free will to follow God or not. He chose not to. Angels and people were not created as robots. They were created with free will because if they chose to worship and obey God, that would bring Him glory.
John 14:30; 1Thes 3:5 and the story of Job all teach that Satan is the ruler of this world. He causes pain and suffering and tempts man to sin. In Job’s case, Satan caused physical illness, natural disaster, financial ruin, etc.
But we can’t blame all natural disasters on Satan. Our biblical example is of Satan causing disasters on a godly man (Job). I don’t think Satan would cause natural disasters on ungodly people. Why would Satan destroy an group of people who are totally opposed to Jesus Christ?
Man Sinned
Man’s Nature was corrupted
Man’s corrupted nature is the cause of much evil.
James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. 1:15 Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.
Creation was cursed
Gen 3:17-18 shows that there was a curse placed on creation because of the fall. God removed man from the protective garden of Eden and forced him to live in the world where animals now ate people.
Romans 8:22 says, ‘For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now.’
God is in Control
How do we deal with passages like this: Isa 45:7?
45:7 I am the one who forms light
and creates darkness;
the one who brings about peace
and creates calamity.
Amos 3:6
3:6 If an alarm sounds in a city, do people not fear?
If disaster overtakes a city, is the Lord not responsible?
Does this mean God causes it? Or just uses it. The word ‘creates’ and ‘responsible’ in those two verses is a generic word for do, make, act, create, fashion or shape. I think it means that God uses the evil in this world to work out His purposes. God is in control, but He is not controlling. He is in control of events and shapes them to His purpose. We have to reconcile statements like these with the rest of scripture. For example, if God was the cause of evil, then He could not be the judge (Rom 3:5-6).
Examples:
Hardening of Pharaoh’s heart
God predicted that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart (4:21; 7:3). Then during the first five plagues, Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Ex 7:13, 14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7). Then God hardens Pharaoh’s heart (9:12), then Pharaoh and his officials harden their hearts (9:34-35), then God does the rest.
I think the principle here is that just like in Rom 1:18-32, which we’ve read several times in this series. God gives people over to what they want.
Gen 50:20 – God used the evil act of Joseph’s brothers to preserve the family and nation of Israel. He used the Egyptians’ disgust towards shepherds to keep Egyptians from inter-marrying with Israelites to keep the Jewish nation pure.
Rom 8:28-29 – God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him. It doesn’t say that causes all things to work together for good for everyone. So, those people killed in the earthquake that never got around to believing in Jesus don’t qualify. But it would include those that came to faith as a result of the disaster.
So, the Biblical explanation of evil is this:
God created everything good but man rebelled. Nature, Satan, Men were cursed. There was no death before the fall – even in the animal kingdom. God does not cause the evil, but He does control the outcome when evil happens. How He can do this is beyond our understanding, but that doesn’t make it untrue.


Summary
All other philosophies can’t explain the problem of evil in the world. If you don’t have a good creator, and a fall – then what’s running the universe is random chance or an evil being. People in rebellion against a good God explains the evil acts of men. And a fallen creation explains disasters.

Worldview 101: Does God Exist?

Lucida Sans – How can we know if God exists?
Do we just have to accept the existence of God by faith, or is our belief in God based on evidence too? It’s that old presuppositionalism and evidentialism thing again.
The Bible assumes the existence of God and mostly focuses on proving that Yahweh is the true God. God gave Moses signs to prove to Israel that God had sent him and to prove to pharaoh that the God of Israel was the one true God (Ex 4:1-9). Thomas needed proof (Jn 20:25). Also compare Isa 40-48. But I think Rom 1:18-23 makes it pretty clear that God has given mankind evidence that He exists.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 1:19 because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 1:20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.
So, we see that the Bible assumes that evidence is sometimes required for belief.
In light of Romans 1, I think we see that we are really combining experience (such as the observation of nature) with logic when we conclude that there must be a God. Today I want to focus on the logical arguments:



Sensus Divinitas Argument
The argument is that the vast majority of people through the ages have believed in God or gods. There is a god-shaped void in man that causes him to search for God or to replace him with something.
However, even though it is true, I suspect you aren’t going to win any arguments with this one. And I might mention that “Everybody is doing it” is a logical fallacy.


Pascal’s Wager
If you say there is no God, and there is, then you are in big trouble when you die.
Not a very good argument. It doesn’t seem to me to cause true belief. It seems to me to cause intellectual assent and legalism.


Ontological Argument
The Greek word “ontos” means being.
This argument states that since we can conceive of God, he must exist because we can’t conceive of things that don’t exist.
For example, you might say that you can imagine a giant octopus or King Kong and they don’t exist. But octopuses and gorillas exist and big things exist and you’ve simply combined two things that exist.


Cosmological Arguments
This comes from the Greek word “cosmos” which means an apt and harmonious arrangement. The word was used of the universe because of its orderly arrangement.
The basic cosmological argument is that everything has a cause, and since the universe exists, it must have a cause. We discussed this last week under our topic of “Where did everything come from?” I don’t want to repeat our discussion from last time, but I would like to add a couple points:
We often hear that the universe was caused by “Chance,” but there are two problems with this:
1. Chance can’t cause something. Chance is not a being. It is just a mathematical probability.
2. When you look at the odds (what the chances are), it becomes evident that it is not a probability – it is an impossibility.
To try to get around this, some say that the universe is eternal. Carl Sagan said, “The universe is all there is, and was and ever will be.” That is not possible.
There are two problems with the view that the universe is eternal:
1. Scientists have discovered that the universe is expanding and if you go back far enough, the expansion had to have started some time in the past.
2. There is a logical problem with this. One variation of the cosmological argument is called the Kalam cosmological argument.
The Kalam argument stresses that the universe had to begin to exist a finite time ago. You can’t get to “now” if you start from infinity because “now” never arrives. Only if you have a finite beginning can you arrive at “now.” You can have infinity going on into the future forever, but you can’t have infinity going into the past forever.
To get around these arguments, you do have some people, like atheist scholar Quentin Smith, claiming that “the universe…both caused itself to exist and caused the later states of the universe to exist.”29
The universe couldn’t have “caused itself.” In order for the universe to cause itself, it would have had to exist before itself to cause itself. And that is logically impossible. Therefore, that first cause must be something outside of time and space – i.e. God.
This argument fits with Gen 1:1 which says, “In the beginning…” God, who was outside of time and space created the universe out of nothing and time began.


Teleological Argument
Comes from the greek word teleos which means end, goal or purpose. The argument is that since the world is so complex and so ordered, it had to have been designed/created by some intelligent being. This the foundation of the Intelligent design argument. Since we’ve already dealt with that, I’ll just summarize the argument:
Although there are variations, the basic argument can be stated as follows:30
1. X is too (complex, orderly, adaptive, apparently purposeful, and/or beautiful) to have occurred randomly or accidentally.
2. Therefore, X must have been created by a (sentient, intelligent, wise, and/or purposeful) being.
3. God is that (sentient, intelligent, wise, and/or purposeful) being.
4. Therefore, God exists.
According to Carl Sagan, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was based on the thought that if they could find a transmission with information in it, that would prove intelligent life existed in the universe. Well, scientists discovered DNA. That has as much information in it as a library. It seems to me that what would have been proof for the astronomer would be enough proof for the biologist. It is obvious that there is intelligence behind DNA and that it was not the result of random chance.


Moral Argument
Since everyone has a conscience and a concept of right and wrong, this must reflect some higher conscience or higher moral absolute.
Rom 2:14 says,…
2:14 For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves. 2:15 They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them,
C.S. Lewis points out that when someone quarrels, they are not just saying that something the other person did displeases only them. They are appealing to some standard of behavior that says what that other person did was wrong. Where does this sense of fairness come from?


Pantheism Says:
Good and Evil are illusions. Morality is an illusion.
since everything is one thing, you can’t have opposite things like good and evil. They just appear to be different. It is an illusion. However, you must live in that illusion for your accumulation of good or bad karma and your status in your next life. So, although good and evil don’t exist, your good and bad deeds affect your karma. But eventually, you rise above individualism and morality and achieve the ultimate goal of non-existence.
He’s basically saying the same thing. We are all one big spiritual being, and when we recognize that, we will treat others as we would treat ourselves, because they are us.
The pantheist basically has to deny the existence of good and evil.


Naturalism Says:
Survival of the Fittest
According to the naturalist, survival of the fittest is what guides morality.
Survival of the fittest promotes selfishness, but as C.S. Lewis, says, “Selfishness has never been admired.”
But in this case, origin is everything! If you start with a naturalist philosophy, you never get any morality. According to the Naturalist, humans are nothing special. We are the result of chance plus survival of the fittest. There is nothing more valuable about humans than earthworms. And when something better than us evolves, they will be justified in enslaving us, killing us, eating us, or whatever.
If you press a naturalist with some examples that show the “survival of the fittest” explanation does not work, they will usually say that morality is determined by the culture. That leads us to the next view.
Social Contract Theory
Morality is decided by the culture, by the group.
The U.S. Declaration of Independence says that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. The United Nations declaration simply states that humans are born free and equal in dignity without making any reference to where that dignity comes from. This is basically the social contract theory of morality. Morality is decided by the culture. It’s not very binding. If you don’t want to be a part of the social contract, you don’t have to play by the rules. And we’ve seen plenty of examples of that in recent history.
What’s to say that something is “really wrong” just because a bunch of people got together and said it was wrong. If a certain denomination gets together and says dancing is immoral, does that make it immoral?
Let’s say we all agree that morality is relative, but we all decide that we can come up with a list of standards which will be good for society. How could we impose our rules on others who don’t want to abide by them? We are being inconsistent.
Dualism
One popular view of good and evil is dualism. Dualism is the belief that there is a good power and an evil power that battle for control. We see this in movies like Star Wars. The question is, how do you decide which is the good power and which is bad? There has to be some law or standard above them that decides which is good and bad. So dualism doesn’t satisfactorily answer the question.


Pluralism/Postmodernism
The predominant view of the postmodern is that morality is relative. It’s up to the individual. The way to deal with this is to ask them some question like, “Is it ok to murder someone or torture babies.” Probably no one will agree to that. Since that is a universally agreed upon bad thing, then we can agree that there must be some moral absolutes. There is no middle ground. Morality is relative or it is absolute.
And the next question is where does the absolute come from? You can’t say culture, because if all cultures agree, then there is something above culture.
And thus the discussion of where morality comes from ends up being a good argument against the naturalist worldview and should allow a person who claims he doesn’t believe in God because he doesn’t believe in anything he can’t see .
All the theories of how we come up with a moral standard fail the tests of logic, experience and practice.


The Bible says:
God created man, God made the rules, He revealed them in scripture and He placed them inside us. Our conscience tells us that we do bad things. It causes feelings of guilt. We can either rationalize away those feelings, or cry out to God to save us. Once we are saved, we want to live a life pleasing to God by loving Him and loving people.
The reason theism makes more sense is because moral values are rooted in personhood. If we are just animals (naturalism) then there is no such thing as personhood. If we are created in the image of a personal God, then that would explain why we have personhood.
I think the bottom line is this: It is only because we live in a society with God-given morality that the pantheist, naturalist or pluralist can believe what he believes. He really can’t explain how we as a society operate on moral principles.


Conclusion
Different types of people will respond more to different arguments. I think the Cosmological, Teleological and Moral arguments are the best. But all of these put together make a strong case for the existence of God.
When people deny the existence of God, whatever reason they give is just an excuse under the real reason, which is “I don’t want to be responsible to God. I want to do whatever I want.” Remember our Aldus Huxley quote from lesson two? His philosophy was a means of liberation from God so that he could do what he wanted. At least he was honest.
Ps 14:1
Rom 1:20

Worldview 101: Why is there Something Rather Than Nothing?

LetterGotLMed – What is the starting point? What is the ultimate reality? There are three major views:
– Theism = God
– Naturalism = Evolution
– Pantheism = There is nothing
Whatever it is, it is above man and cannot be observed. It has to be taken by faith.


Pantheism
Pantheism teaches that nothing is real. It’s all an illusion. The ultimate reality is a spiritual force. It’s very difficult to explain something that doesn’t make any sense (I guess that would mean I’m not enlightened), so I opted for a long quote which explains it better than I can:
The oldest and simplest form is Pantheism, which asserts that God is, and unfolds himself in, everything there is. In other words all that there is God. God is not a Creator from outside, but the sum total of all the reality of which we are a part. That being the case, the ‘way of salvation’ for man is to become one, or feel one, with nature. He must avoid artificiality, ignore man-made rules of right and wrong, and be as true to nature as he can.
At the other extreme from Absolute Pantheism, a view which might be called Illusionism, but we will call it Absolute Monism or Non-Dualism. It holds that the only reality is God, and all this world is imagination. The way of salvation in Absolute Monism is to realize the dream nature of all we think we know and get through to perceiving God or the Absolute, which is identical with one’s deepest self. This way is called the way of knowledge, and Yoga meditation is prescribed to attain this realization and unity.
So, for the pantheist, the answer to the question, “Where does everything come from?” the answer is, “It doesn’t.” It doesn’t exist.
Remember our discussion about tests of reason, experience, practice? Does this fail any of those tests?
This guy says that pantheism is logically unanswerable, but here’s a logic question: Why would the pantheist need to come up with a theory for the evolution of the universe when it doesn’t really exist.
Does it match your Experience?
How does it fail the Practice test? Can you live with the idea that everything is “one”? We’ll get into this in more detail when we discuss good and evil, but for the pantheist, if everything is one, then you can’t have opposites like good and evil. So, what do you do if something evil happens to you? Deny it?
Remember that the New Age Movement is really just Hinduism/Pantheism repackaged in western terminology. That’s a good example of becoming enlightened and realizing that she was god and the entire universe was just a product of her imagination.
 
Naturalism – Everything evolved… from goo to the zoo to you.
It’s Not Science
I think the best way to approach the argument is to emphasize the limitation of science. Science is based on empiricism – what you can observe and measure. If you can’t repeat it, measure it, falsify it, it’s not science. It’s speculation. It’s philosophy. It’s religion.
So, when scientists make statements about the reason for the extinction of the dinosaurs, they are guessing. When they make claims about the origin of the universe, they are guessing. They can’t repeat it, they can’t observe it, etc.
The Naturalist’s assumption is that there is no God. Matter is all there is. For example, in Physics Today, someone wrote, “The first criterion is that any scientific theory must be naturalistic.”19 In other words, if your belief is that God created everything, that’s not “scientific.” But somehow assuming that a supernatural being did not create everything is scientific. Do you see how they’ve stacked the deck and set the rules so that a Christian scientist can’t play in the game because he breaks the first rule. But their first rule is an assumption. It’s not scientific. It is philosophical, it is religious, and taken on faith. But because for years we’ve been beat over the head with the idea that there is a religion-versus-science dichotomy, people believe that if a scientist says it, it must be a scientific fact.
We could say the first rule of science is that God created everything, and created an orderly universe and then use science to figure out how God made it all work. And the more we learn, the more we can marvel at His ingenuity, His greatness, etc. Our first rule would be just as scientific as theirs. In fact, that was the assumption of most scientists for the first 300 years after the Renaissance.
When Darwin came up with evolution as a hypothesis to answer the big question without any need for God, those that wanted to do away with God welcomed his theory with open arms, and they assumed it was true even without proof. They assumed the proof would follow. They wanted it to be true.
Here are a couple of quotes from scientists/evolutionists that show that evolution really is a religion and not science.
Richard Lewontin, an American evolutionary biologist says,
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
Michael Ruse, professor of history and philosophy and author of The Darwinian Revolution (1979), Darwinism Defended (1982), and Taking Darwin Seriously (1986), acknowledges that evolution is religious:
Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion–a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit in this one complaint. . . the literalists [i.e., creationists] are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.
So, at least some well known scientists are being honest about the fact that their views on origins are not scientific.
The test of reason is probably the most important one to apply here, especially since “reason” or science is what naturalism holds out as most important.
So, what are some logical problems with evolution?


No supporting evidence
But the truth is that evolution is not supported by an enormous body of evidence. In 1980 at the Macroevolution conference held in Chicago, the paleontologists told the biologists that there was zero support for evolution in the fossil record.
So, the fossil record doesn’t support evolution — they never found the missing links. So scientists came up with punctuated equilibrium as new model. Since they couldn’t find any transitional forms, the conclusion was that the changes happened all at once. But again, they have no explanation of how that would happen.
Let’s look at some of the evidence that has been used over the past 100 years:
Finches — during the dry season, the finches’ beaks grew longer to enable them to dig deeper into the seeds to get at the food. This was heralded as proof of evolution. What’s not usually reported in biology textbooks is that the change in beak was only thickness of fingernail, and the beaks changed back when it started raining again. When it was all over, they were still finches.
Moths — It’s probably true that the light colored moths got eaten by birds and so the dark ones had dark offspring. When the pollution went away, the light colored ones came back. But when it was all over, they were still moths. Both of these are illustrations of micro-evolution – which no one denies. But there are no examples of macro-evolution, so they keep using these examples.
Haeckel’s Embryo chart — One of the early theories was that the embryo goes through the steps of evolution as it develops. In 1876 a German scientist named Haeckel drew a chart that showed how a fish, salamander, tortoise, chick, hog, calf, rabbit and man all looked the same in the early stages of development. His drawing showed how they all had gills and other similarities. A couple years later it was discovered that he made it all up. But even though it was known to be a fraud, it was still used in high school and college biology textbooks for the next hundred years.
All the examples we’ve grown up with in high school text books are either of micro-evolution or have been proven to be fakes, but they continue to use them. Why? Because they don’t have anything else. Because they really aren’t concerned with the truth. They have their agenda and will do anything to promote it.
If they don’t have any proof, and they still believe it, then one needs to recognize that their belief in evolution is really just faith. And it takes just as much faith, and one could argue that it takes more faith, to believe in evolution with all of its problems than to believe in the supernatural.


Cause Effect
Scientists have discovered that the universe/galaxy hasn’t always just been there. It is expanding – like the ripples in a pond when you throw a rock in it. This means it started at one point. What caused it to start?
When you press a scientist about where Z came from, they say it was from Y. When you ask where Y came from it was X. Where did X come from? From W. Eventually you get back to a point where there was nothing. And you can’t have something come from nothing.
Now, if there is a God who is eternal, above space and time, and was the first cause – who created everything out of nothing. Then that would explain it.


Intelligent Design
As science advances technologically and is able to see smaller and smaller cells, it discovers that even the smallest cells are extremely complex. This doesn’t fit with the theory that things evolve from simple to complex because they haven’t found anything that is simple. Even when you get down to single cell organism you find that they have a flagellum for moving about that is more complex than the motor on my bass boat. They have DNA that contains millions of pieces of information. Darwin had no idea how complex a single cell was. If he had, he would never have come up with the theory of evolution.
Intelligent Design is a phrase coined by creationists to argue against evolution. It states that since even the supposedly simple organisms are still complex, or that since organs like the eyeball have to have all their pieces working together before you have sight, these things indicate that they were designed by some intelligent being. It is an argument from empirical observation and logic that says design means there has to be a designer.
There were a series of articles in the Dallas Morning News (Oct 2005) about intelligent design. One of the evolution supporters made the statement that Intelligent Design as a system fails to answer the questions of origins and had no scientific validity. That is kind of a silly accusation. This guy was either very confused or more likely is just trying to misdirect people. Intelligent Design is not a system with the answer, it is really the question which points us to the only logical conclusion. It is a scientific inference based on empirical evidence – complex molecular structures in a single celled organism are best explained as the product of an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process like natural selection. Of course the scientist is going to say ID has no answers since it points us to God as the answer.


Uniqueness of Man
We’ll take a whole class to discuss this, but in short, man’s conscience, intelligence, and love separate him from the animals. In every culture there is a belief in some higher being. Naturalism can’t explain the that. It can’t explain the inner world because it can’t see it, can’t measure it, etc.


Conclusion
I find it interesting that the scientific assumption is that there is no supernatural creator because there is no supernatural. But at the same time, if you look at our society it seems that there is an infatuation with the supernatural. If you look at the TV lineup – there are shows like Heroes, Supernatural, The Dresden Files, Charmed, etc. I believe most of the shows are about demons and not about God which is probably significant. But it’s sort of amazing to me that everyone goes with the non-supernatural explanation for the origin of the universe, but is obsessed with supernatural phenomenon.
The logical answer leads us to the existence of a Supernatural being who created everything. That is why there have been several books released lately by scientists who were taught the “system,” bought into the system, but once they started studying biology, astronomy, etc. they realized that the system didn’t explain things. Some of those books are Reason in Balance, Darwin on Trial, Darwin’s Black Box, The Evolution of a Creationist.
Brian Jones says in a review article on Darwin’s Black Box:
As a recent creationist committed to presuppositional apologetics, I can recommend Darwin’s Black Box as a potentially powerful agent for disequilibrium. That is, if one is convinced that Darwinian evolution is a proven fact, Behe’s work can be used to show the fallacious nature of a materialistic worldview. What one cannot do is prove the existence of God using Behe. This book fits into a presuppositional approach in that it may be able to move the debate from Darwinism to the philosophical worldview behind it, namely a chance universe. If the believer is able to show the unbelieving Darwinist that his worldview cannot account for reality in the realm of science (or logic, morality, human freedom, or human dignity) but that the Christian-theistic worldview can account for such reality, then the believer can silence objections of unbelief and demonstrate biblically to the unbeliever the truth of the gospel and his need to repent.


The Bible Says:
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Biblical Studies Press.
Rev 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!
Col 1:16 for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him.
Ps 33:8-9 8 Let the whole earth fear the Lord! Let all who live in the world stand in awe of him! 9 For he spoke, and it came into existence, he issued the decree, and it stood firm.
Acts 17:24-34 Paul’s discussion with the Greek philosophers…
John 1:1-3, 14-15 – Jesus was in the beginning with God. He is fully God. He created all things.


Conclusion
Why does evolution continue to be promoted when it has been disproven? Why do high school and college textbooks still use finches, moths, embryo chart to teach evolution when scientists have known for years that they are fakes?
Answer: Because the only alternative is to recognize that God created everything. And if there is a God, then man is accountable to Him. Rom 1:18
Once people have made the philosophical commitment that there is no God, they can be persuaded by relatively minor evidence to believe in evolution.

Worldview 101: For the Bible Tells Me So

IsonormD – Last week we discussed the various sources of knowledge.
Reason, Tradition, Experience, Emotion, General Revelation, Special Revelation.
We concluded that unless there was such a thing as special revelation from a Sovereign God, then all our sources of truth are relative. And if all our sources are relative, then truth is relative. So, the big question is whether or not there is any special revelation from God. This week we are going to discuss whether or not the Bible is in fact true. Is it Inspired? How do we know?


Apologetic Systems
I first want to introduce a couple of concepts that I think are important to understand before we get into the details of how we know the bible is inspired. Usually apologetics systems are divided into two camps:


Evidentialism
Also known as total rationalism
This is the view that one can come to the truth without having any prior commitment to a system or world view. Pure reasoning can arrive at the truth. For example: You can prove the existence of God through observation of nature and rational arguments. You can prove the Bible is the Word of God by historical and logical arguments.


Presuppositionalism
Also known as Biblicism
In this methodology the revelation-claims of the Bible are not merely hypothetically assumed and later rationally validated, much less arrived at by independent reasoning. Instead, divine authority is accepted unconditionally and wholeheartedly by supernaturally-endowed faith. This system rejects all attempts to independently verify the Christian truth-claims because sinful, rational man has no legitimate canons by which to test God and His revelation.


Semi-rationalism or semi-biblicism
This view recognizes that we have presuppositions, but seeks to verify whether or not those presuppositions are valid through the evidence. It promotes Christianity but subjects it to analytical testing or rational tests.
In our context of doing evangelism, it involves breaking up the soil (by poking holes in the other world views) and preparing it for the seed (i.e. the gospel).


Which one are you?
What do you think about these three systems?
Presuppositionalism puts its emphasis on faith which is good. We know that the Bible makes sense because we believe. 1 Cor 2:14 says, “…the unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him…” But there are also those who believe because it makes the most sense. After all, Jesus said to Thomas, “You believe because you see… blessed are those who believe and do not see.” I think this same verse shows that some, like Thomas, do believe because of the evidence.


Is the Bible Inspired?
Does the Bible authenticate itself?


Self-attestation
Over and over again, the OT writers/prophets say, “Thus says the Lord,…” Hebrews 1:1, etc. So, the Bible says it is God’s word.
What’s wrong with this argument?
First of all it’s a logical fallacy. It is begging the question, or circular reasoning. It’s no proof – but it is a criteria that is needed.
If the scripture never claimed that it was the Word of God, then we wouldn’t be trying to decide if it really was.
It looks to me like he is measuring his ultimate authority (the Bible) against the tests of practice, experience and logic that we discussed last week. So, I guess we can proceed with this class and discuss the logical and practical reasons why the Bible is inspired Word of God.


Uniqueness
66 different documents, different genres, different authors, different continents, written over 1500 year period, etc. And all the books fit together to tell a unified story. There is nothing else out there like that. It has been critiqued more than any other document. And it has stood up to all the criticism and continues to be the most read, most translated, best selling book.


Honesty
It records the successes AND failures of it’s heroes. From the beginning to the end of the Bible we see that man is a failure. We are going through Genesis with our neighbors and just finished studying the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The thing that stands out the most is that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had lots of character flaws and made a lot of big mistakes. One of the things we discussed was why didn’t God choose to work through Melchizedek or Job to carry out His plan. They seemed to be much better candidates. The answer is because the truth is that man is unworthy and it is only because of the grace of God that He blesses us. We do not get what we deserve.
When we evaluate the Bible as a historical document, you have to ask why they would make up such a terrible story that makes man look so bad? Because it is true.
The biblical authors wrote these open ended books that tell a piece of the story. It is not until you put all the books together, that you understand the whole story.
Why would you introduce a theme, but never complete it if you were writing a book?
Differences in the Gospel accounts – shows authenticity. If they all had the same exact details, then that would indicate that they collaborated.


Prophecy
Another aspect of it’s uniqueness is all of the prophecy contained in the Bible. No other religious book contains prophecies of specific future events. The Bible not only contains numerous prophecies, many of them have already come true.
God says this is a pretty good argument. Isa 41:21


Preservation
There are over 5500 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament which we can compare and come up with what the original manuscripts said. There are only a few places where we aren’t certain and none of those are significant theologically.


Archaeology
Over the years critics of the Bible have claimed that the Bible was not true because it referred to nations or places that didn’t exist.
For example, they used to say that there was no such nation as the Hittites. But then Archaeologists discovered that they existed for over 1200 years.
They used to say that Ninevah didn’t exist, but then they found it.


Historicity
We must first see the bible as an historical book. Not as a religious book.
We’ve already discussed how the Bible is ruthlessly honest, and that archaeology has verified the facts of the Bible over and over. Another thing that supports the fact that the Bible is an historical book is that it records a lot of irrelevant details. They are irrelevant as far as the theological content is concerned. That is a sign that an historical document is true. If it’s just a theology book, then what is the point of all the irrelevant details?
Christianity would not fall if the bible was not inspired. It would fall if it was not historical.


Extra-biblical attestation
Related to the historicity of the Bible itself is the fact that there are numerous extra-biblical sources attesting to facts about Jesus.
People say you can’t use the testimony of believers – like the New Testament authors, or the church fathers – because they are biased. What’s the problem with that? If someone sees the evidence, and believes because of it, then you can’t trust his testimony?
Fortunately, for those who believe that way, we do have evidence from those who didn’t believe – like Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Tactitus, Thallus.
‘On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.’ written by either Tacitus or Thallus about the day of Jesus’ death on the cross


Testable extraordinary claims
But with the events of scripture, 5,000 people witnessed the feeding of the 5,000, etc. The resurrected Jesus appeared to 500 at one time.
When Peter was talking to the people of Jerusalem at Pentecost, notice what he said:
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know
Also compare Acts 26:24:
24 As Paul was saying these things in his defense, Festus exclaimed loudly, “You have lost your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane!” 25 But Paul replied, “I have not lost my mind, most excellent Festus, but am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and I am speaking freely to him, because I cannot believe that any of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner.
Peter and Paul were appealing to public knowledge, to what the people had witnessed or had heard from numerous witness.
Even though opponents of the gospel had everything to lose, we have no documents from them that say that the events didn’t happen. Instead, as we saw earlier we have historians verifying the events.


No motivation for fabrication
What’s the motivation for the fabrication? When you look at Mohamed, Joseph Smith, Anne Rand, and other religious leaders, it’s easy to see that they all benefited from their new made-up religion and gained prominence and a large following. But that’s not true of Biblical authors. Eleven of the twelve disciples were killed for teaching what they taught.


Conclusion
The main purpose for today’s lesson was because as we discuss the different world view questions there is going to be an appeal made to “what the bible says” is the answer. If one thinks the bible is just another religious book, then it is easier to dismiss the bible’s answers.
All the evidence points to the fact that the Bible is true. If you don’t believe it, you just need to admit that you either don’t believe in the supernatural or just don’t like what it’s saying.

Worldview 101: How do you know that you know?

Hobo Medium – What is Truth?
Is there such a thing as absolute truth, or is truth relative? How do we choose between all the options?
We mentioned this last time, but it’s worth reviewing so that the terms like modernism and postmodernism become second nature to you.….During the modern era (1500-1960’s) it was believed that there was an objective, absolute truth that could be known through scientific method. In our postmodern society the predominant view is that truth is relative. What’s true for you is true for you, and what’s true for me is true for me. Evidence doesn’t matter any more. We go by our feelings. We are tired of cold, hard facts.


Sources of Knowledge
Question: What are our sources of knowledge? How do you know what you know?
Tradition: things that were taught to you by your parents, school, church.
Reason: We are logical creatures. Things make sense or they don’t. When we hear contradictory statements, we recognize them and should reject them, but we don’t always do that. We are all hypocrites in certain areas.
Experience: If someone tells you that there is no such thing as evil, but in the past, you’ve been the victim of some crime, your experience tells you that there is something wrong with his statement.
Emotion: How do you feel when you hear that there is no point to life?
General Revelation: what we observe in nature.
Special Revelation: specific information that God has revealed in the Bible.
The first five are subjective sources. The last one is objective.


Question: What are your sources of knowledge/truth? Are they all subjective?
If you deny special revelation, then all your sources are subjective. And truth becomes relative.


Question: If truth is relative to you, then what causes you to change your opinions?
You change your opinions because there is in fact an absolute truth that you are adapting to. That doesn’t mean that every time you change your mind you are making a move in the right direction. But if truth is relative, then you wouldn’t need to change your mind at all.
The bottom line is this: If you deny special revelation – the Bible – then truth is relative. When you examine the logical and practical consequences of truth being relative, one has to recognize that it’s not possible for truth to be relative. Therefore, there is an absolute truth. And that brings us back to the only objective source of knowledge – the Word of God. I realize that’s sort of circular logic, but if our list of sources of knowledge is exhaustive and we don’t like relative truth, then we are faced with no other option.


Faith versus Reason
People usually have the idea that the issue is Faith versus Reason. Either you believe science or you have “blind faith” in some religion. What you must recognize is that even science is not based solely on observation. None of us were there when the universe and life began. So, scientists speculate and come up with theories—like the theory of evolution, or the big bang theory. There are basic assumptions that science rests on. The Naturalist’s basic assumption is that there is no God. There is only matter. That is not a scientific assumption. That is a religious assumption.
 The proper question is, “How reasonable is your faith?”


The Bible mentions in several places the role of reason in trusting in God.
Matt 4:17 says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The word repent means to “change your mind.”
2 Cor 4:4 “…the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe…” So we see that the mind is involved in believing.
2 Cor 10:4-5 We tear down arguments (5) and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.
Act 17:23 – Paul reasoned with the philosophers.
So, since we’ve concluded that reason is involved in the process. How do we evaluate things to see if they are true? There are several tests we can make on the claims of the various world views:


The test of reason
Is the explanation consistent and coherent? Is it comprehensive in scope? Does it really explain the world around us?
When talking about a world view system, the whole system should hang together logically and not be full of contradictions.
You need to recognize that the law of non-contradiction is only a negative test. If something is inconsistent, then it must be wrong. However, if something is consistent, then that doesn’t prove that it is right.


The test of experience
Does the explanation match the facts of our experience? Does it match what we know about our world and ourselves?
Outer World: Some people misinterpret or ignore their senses. That takes us back to the point that experience is a subjective source of truth.
Inner World: Our world view also needs to explain why it is that we are beings who think, hope, feel, believe, desire, are conscious of right and wrong, feel guilt, etc. Rather than just responding to stimuli, we can will to do something and do it.


C.S. Lewis points out that naturalism doesn’t have a good explanation for “ought” – as in you ought to be brave. How do you explain noble acts in a survival of the fittest world view? You can’t because ought is evidence of transcendent moral values. We mentioned earlier that the Bible is God’s special revelation to us. What does it primarily deal with? The outer world or the inner world? What is more important to us as humans?


The test of practice
Does it work? Can the person who professes that world view live it? Or does he have to borrow pieces of other world views in certain situations?


Why Are There So Many Philosophies?
Someone said to me the other day that there are so many different philosophical systems because either there is no absolute truth or at least it is unknowable. How would you answer that?
If relativism is so obviously not possible, why do so many people believe it? One reason is because nobody can agree on anything. But just because people don’t agree, that doesn’t mean there is no right answer. Some folks may not have enough knowledge of the issue. Or they may have different world views/assumptions that cause them to come to different conclusions. Or they just may not like the correct answer and refuse to accept it. But none of these reasons means there is no correct answer or that there is no absolute Truth.
Let’s put it another way… if the truth – the “correct answer” – is that God created the universe, and man is responsible to him in the end – and you don’t like that answer – because you don’t want to be responsible to God, then you have to come up with another explanation. Since your answer isn’t the correct one, although it may contain some truth, it’s going to have some holes. Others are going to spot those inconsistencies (because of their reason or experience) and try to come up with a new answer that fixes the problems with your philosophical system. Their new answer is not THE right answer either, so they will have problems, and so others will come up with new explanations, and on and on we go. And that is why there are “so many” philosophical systems. People suppress the truth, but they can’t live with believing nothing, so they make something up.


Ps 111:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; (NIV)


Prov 1:7; Fearing the Lord is the beginning of moral knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.


Prov 9:10; The beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord,
and acknowledging the Holy One is understanding.


Prov 15:33 The fear of the Lord provides wise instruction,
and before honor comes humility.


These verses say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning or foundation of wisdom. When your philosophical system does not have God as the starting point, then your philosophical system will fail to explain reality.


Conclusion
Well, we’ve had another lesson that’s heavy on the theoretical. But these principles of where we get our knowledge and how we validate whether something is true or not are foundational to the rest of our discussion. As we look at each of the world view questions and how each world view answers them, hopefully we will be better prepared to determine if it meets the test of logic, experience and practice.
I said this before, but since our lesson was heavy on logic principles, I think it’s worth repeating. I don’t think that we can reason someone into believing in God and the Bible. Even if you answer all of their arguments and show their world view to be flawed, and the Christian world view to be more reasonable, it still comes down to the issue of faith. There is a built-in resistance to submitting to God. Rom 3:11 says that “there is no one who seeks God.” John 3:20 says, “everyone who does evil deeds hates the light…” and in Acts 17:17-34 some scoffed, some wanted to hear more, some believed.
So, while reason is extremely important, it is not enough. There is a supernatural and spiritual element to adopting a world view. But let’s not conclude that it is a waste of time to study all this. We need to know what we believe and why we believe because it will strengthen our own faith and it will help us to defend our beliefs to others.
Since one of our conclusions today was that without special revelation from God, truth is relative. I think we need to spend some time on how we know we have special revelation from God. So, next week we’ll talk about how we know the Bible is inspired.

Worldview 101

Greeting Monotone – Your world view is your concept of reality. It is your assumptions or presuppositions about what makes the world go around. Everyone has a world view even if they cannot explain what it is. But a world view is not just some academic, abstract, philosophical construct. It describes our search for answers to life’s most important questions.


The World View Questions:
1. Why is there something rather than nothing? or What is the Origin of the Universe?
Does anything really exist? Is it all a figment of our imagination? If it does exist, did it always exist? Is everything that exists just result of time + chance? Or is there a supernatural being out there who created the universe?


2. Is there a God?
Is there a supernatural being that is above time and space? Is that supernatural being just a force, like in Star Wars, or Mother Nature? Or is there a personal God? If so, what is he like?


3. What is the Nature of Man?
Is man just an animal that has evolved differently? Or is he something special? Another part of the question is this: Is man basically good but society makes him do bad things? Or is man’s badness built in?


4. What is the Basis of Ethics and Morality?
We can’t really talk about man being good or bad without having some sort of personal opinion about what is good and what is bad. Where do we get our ideas of good and evil? From ourselves? From nature (survival of the fittest)? From society? From God?


5. Why is there evil and suffering?
The occurrence of evil in the world causes some to conclude that there is no God. The argument is that, if there is a God, then he must not be good or he must not be all-powerful, or he would not let all these bad things happen.


6. What happens after we die?
Do we just cease to exist? Do we get reincarnated and come back to earth as a cow or another person? Do we get absorbed into the cosmic consciousness? Or do we face God and judgment?


This is a hard one to “prove” to someone since we are talking about the future. So


7. What is the meaning of history?
Is history a meaningless series of events that just happen? Or is there some purpose to history? Why are we here?


8. How do you know that you know?
We have a truth problem in our society. Anyone who claims to know the truth is criticized as trying to impose “his view” on others. Our society preaches that there is no “truth.” Is there such a thing as truth? How do you know what is true? Do you know stuff because of reason, experience, supernatural revelation, etc.?


The Major World Views
1. Theism
Theism is the belief that there is a personal God outside of time and space who created the universe out of nothing and is involved in events (supernaturally). He reveals himself to man through nature and through the Bible (Christians) or the Torah (Jews) or the Koran (Muslims). He sets the rules for mankind. And there will be eternal consequences for breaking the rules.


Deism is similar to theism. God created everything, but is no longer involved in creation. There is nothing supernatural going on. Praying is a waste of time. Famous people who believed this were Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. It’s not real popular these days because folks who would normally be deists have substituted evolution as an explanation of the origin of the universe.


2. Pantheism
Everything is god. Everything material is an illusion. Humans are gods. Knowledge is getting in touch with the cosmic consciousness. One of the favorite terms you’ll hear from pantheists is “enlightenment.” History is cyclical and men are reincarnated until they realize their own divinity. This world view is the basis for Hinduism, Buddhism, Christian Science, and New Age teaching.


3. Naturalism
There is no God. The world and mankind just evolved. Men are just the product of their environment. Morality is decided by man. There is no purpose to history; it just happens. When you die, you cease to exist.


4. Pluralism
Naturalism has undergone a major change in the past 50 years. Enough of a change that it deserves its own category—Pluralism. Pluralism is very similar to Naturalism, but it’s sort of a cafeteria style world view. People mix and match various aspects of the other world views. It is extremely inconsistent, but that doesn’t seem to matter in a postmodern world.


The shift from Naturalism to Pluralism corresponds to the shift from Modernism to Postmodernism.


I’ve used the terms modernism and postmodernism a couple times already and some of you may be wondering what in the world I’m talking about. So, let’s define them.


Modernism: Prior to the Renaissance everyone believed in God and the supernatural. But around 1500 several things happened. Gutenberg developed the printing press which made books available to the masses and learning grew exponentially. Martin Luther began the Reformation, the Renaissance began with the whole new emphasis on art, science, humanism, etc. Reality was what you could see and measure. The myth of progress captivated the world. Man came to believe that science would solve all the problems of mankind. Science would discover the cure for all diseases, control the weather, end poverty, bring about world peace, etc. There were World Fairs touting the marvels of the modern age. This period, called “Modernism,” lasted from the 1500’s to 1960’s. Incidentally, lots of folks believed in post-millennialism as a direct result of this. They thought we were in the millennium and Christ was coming back at the end of it. But that’s another lesson.


Postmodernism: But after the Second World War, people were disillusioned. (Including the post-millennialists) The war to end all wars (WWI) didn’t. WWII and the holocaust happened. It was obvious we weren’t going to bring about world peace. Science wasn’t curing very many diseases. In fact, cancer was becoming more and more prevalent. People recognized that science wasn’t solving man’s problems. Science hadn’t brought about a utopia of progress uniting the human race like it promised. In fact, modernism was rather weak on relationships. People were just cogs in the machine. So, society began rejecting modernism (science) and moving toward something we call “postmodernism.” The name “post”-modernism means “after”-modernism. People are now looking for something else to explain reality. Since naturalism has rejected the existence of God, we have moved from science (with its truth/facts) to existentialism which is basically experience, spirituality, and pragmatism (whatever works).


This chart is a simple breakdown of what each group believes about the major worldview questions.
































































 

Theism


Pantheism


Naturalism (Modernism)


Pluralism (Postmodernism)


God


Personal


Impersonal


Non-existent


Non-existent


World


Creation


Spiritual


Evolution


Evolution


Man


Like God


Is God


Like Animals


Like Animals


Immortality


Resurrection


Reincarnation


Annihilation


Annihilation


Reincarnation


Destiny


Glorification


Absorption


Extinction


Extinction


Authority


Divine Revelation


Spiritual Enlightenment


Human Reason


Culture


Truth


Absolute


Personal


Objective/Science


Relative/Cultural


Evil


Rebellion/Sin


Illusion


Ignorance


Culturally Defined


History


Linear


Cyclical


Chaotic


Re-Defined


But the Bible does have something to say about why there are so many world views. Let’s read Romans 1:18-32.


· Does it sound like our culture?
“Not only do they do them, they approve of those who do.” Stuff that was unthinkable or only done in secret 50 years ago is now done in public and even paraded as a badge of honor.
· What does this passage say about why there are so many world views?
Answer: Man is trying his best to deny the existence of a Creator to whom he is responsible.
· According to our passage, Is truth knowable?
It says that “God’s attributes can clearly be seen through creation.” So truth is knowable. Just because people “suppress the truth” doesn’t mean there is no truth.

Lessons from the Learner: A look at the result of a disciple’s life

Goudy Old Style – Throughout the Bible, we see the greats spend much of their time teaching. Elijah taught Elisha, Moses taught Joshua, Paul taught Timothy, and Jesus taught the twelve disciples and then some. I looked at what the Bible had to say about Timothy.


Timothy lived in Lystra. He was born with three strikes against him, meaning that he would never be allowed to participate in some traditions of his society. His grandmother and mother, Lois and Eunice, were believers who did their best to raise him. They must have done something right because of all of the brothers there spoke well of him. Paul decided to take Timothy as a disciple.


Timothy’s life took an interesting turn, from a boy who was excluded from all the important goings on, to an accepted brother and a good student. One day, several brothers escorted Paul to Athens. They left instructions for Timothy and another disciple to make their way there on their own. The mentor and the disciple may have the same destination, but they won’t always take the same road to get there.


As Timothy learned more, he gained more responsibility. Sometimes he was sent ahead and at other times he was left behind. I wonder if he realized that his Mentor had already gone before him and was waiting for him to come to Him. What a truth this is! As was recently pointed out, if we truely believed in God’s omnipresence, we would not do some things we ought not to do and hurry up about the things we ought to get done. Timothy got into a fair amount of trouble, probably by just being associated with Paul. We aren’t doing our jobs if we aren’t assocated with Jesus.


One last thing, discipleship isn’t sitting and learning. There’s a fair amount of grunt work involved. Perhaps that is to assist in the humility aspect of it. Why bother teaching a student who refuses to learn? So what happens to a disciple who passes the test? One day, he becomes the mentor. Can you imagine what information can be learned when a chain of discipleship is not broken through the years?


First of all, making disciples necessitated ‘going.’ Baptism in the New Testament is a rite of initiation. It does not save anyone, for it is a work of man. Thirdly, ‘teaching,’ capsulizes the continual obligation of the church to instruct the new convert in the way of the Lord.


Please note with me that the eleven did not go. So far as we are told in Scripture, the eleven did not ‘make disciples’ in the same fashion as the Lord worked with them. Discipleship is the corporate responsibility of the church.


Timothy was invited to become a member of the team because he was proven faithful, not primarily to be taken along to be made useful.


Discipleship is not for the elite in Christianity, but for all Christians. Salvation is the first step, commencing a life of discipleship. Some have neglected discipleship in evangelism, tending toward an easy believism. We have erroneously applied our Lord’s relationship with the twelve and Paul’s relationship with Timothy to discipleship. We have made the matter of discipleship primarily an individual enterprise rather than a collective command to the corporate church. We have placed the emphasis upon finding a person to be our leader and guide, rather than developing a dependence on Christ Himself.


 The applications of the principles of discipleship are far too numerous to list. Essentially, we must restructure our thinking in terms of discipleship. We should challenge every formula, every practice, every program, no matter how spiritual or biblical it appears on the surface, to see if it can be substantiated by a careful handling of the Scriptures.


May God give us the desire to continue along the path of discipleship. May God deliver us from devotion to anything above the Savior, and from dependence on anyone save Him alone. May God use us, our gifts and calling, to encourage others on the same path.