Authority Matters

When you were in high school, did you choose which parent to go ask for certain events or privileges? Which of your authority figures would provide the greatest freedom?

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Determining your authority in matters of worldviews and ultimate truth are not much different today. People tend to choose the authority that would grant them the greatest perceived amount of freedom. The choices seem to be limited to scientism or revelation from God. Can science be the ultimate arbiter of truth? Can science answer all of the questions of matter, energy, laws of logic, morality, mathematics, origins, biology, chemistry…? Scientism falls short in explanatory power in many of those categories

The other option is God’s revelation. The omnipotent Creator has revealed himself through the prophets (scripture) and most recently through Jesus (Hebrews 1). The One who perceives reality perfectly has revealed history in a trustworthy manner such that we can know his revelation to be true. The writers of the old and new testaments (including the recorded words of Jesus) believed the scriptures to be a true recording of history.

Today, many scientists have assumptions and present models that require interpretations of evidence which are in direct conflict with the history revealed by the Creator. When those conflicts arise, which authority determines truth?

Many Christian apologists take the view that scientism is the ultimate authority and should determine how to interpret God’s special revelation. William Craig is such an apologist. In his most recent blog post, Dr. Jason Lisle reveals the inherent contradictions with Christians upholding scientism as the ultimate authority.

Dr. Craig: But YEC as a hermeneutical hypothesis is quite another matter. I want to approach the text with an open mind, despite the terrifying prospect that YEC might actually be correct as a hermeneutical hypothesis. In that case, we would face some very hard choices. Given YEC’s failure as a scientific hypothesis, we should have to conclude that the Bible teaches scientific error and therefore revise our doctrine of inspiration to accommodate this fact. That is a route one would prefer not to take.

Dr. Lisle’s response is critical for us as faithful Christians to understand and preach with regards to authority and the gospel:

What do you do when the Bible clearly teaches something that is at odds with the opinions of the majority of scientists?  Craig’s answer is clear: you accept that the Bible is wrong!  Such an answer is very revealing.  What is the ultimate standard for Craig’s faith?  It cannot be the Bible…Therefore, when there is a conflict between God’s Word and the popular opinions of man, the presuppositional Christian says, “Let God be found true though every man be found a liar!” (Romans 3:4)…From this, we conclude that Craig is strongly motivated to interpret Scripture in a non-exegetical way in order to accommodate his unjustified presupposition of the big bang.  May I humbly suggest the reverse?  I advise Craig (and everyone else) to let God be true, to take His Word as written, in grammatical historical context, and then use God’s Word to discern which of man’s ideas are virtuous, and which are fallacious.  Why not base our thinking on the infallible, and use this to evaluate the fallible?

His closing remarks highlight the critical issue:

Do we interpret the Bible to align with our view of the world, or do we adjust our view of the world to align with the Bible?  How you answer that question will reveal the true standard of your faith.

William Craig seems determined to give his apologetic in defense of a general theism that has the backing of naturalistic scientific assumptions. From this foundation, He feels free to interpret the Bible on the latest interpretation of evidence and cultural preference. What will happen to his apologetic when the latest assumptions are changed to accommodate new interpretations of evidence?

Dr. Lisle encourages Christians to uphold God’s revelation as the authority, and letting that authority control the assumptions held for interpreting evidence.

Scientific interpretations of evidence change over time:

  • Prior to the 1500s, scientists believed and modeled that the earth was the center of the solar system. – Falsified
  • Prior to the 1600s, scientists believed in alchemy and phlogistonFalsified
  • Prior to the 1700s, scientists believed that bloodletting and leeches removed bad blood from sick patients. – Falsified
  • Prior to the 1800s, scientists believed in spontaneous generationFalsified
  • Prior to the 1900s, scientists taught that the universe eternal (steady state theory) – Falsified
  • Prior to the 2000s, scientists taught impending contradictory catastrophes would destroy humanity in the subsequent decades: ice age and unstoppable heat wave. – Falsified

 

Have people misinterpreted the Bible to justify terrible things? Yes, and each time, it is scripture itself that has revealed the false understanding and correction.

Will you put your trust in the ever-changing assumptions that guide scientific interpretations or can we trust the unchanging nature of God’s revelation to guide our thinking and behavior?

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10 thoughts on “Authority Matters

  1. Pingback: Late November 2018 Presuppositional Apologetics’ Links | The Domain for Truth

  2. You and I subscribe to differing perspectives about creation yet we both maintain faith and trust in our Lord. I have no doubt at all about your sincerity and I respect you as a fellow Christian brother. I’ve read enough of your posts to “see” your heart. I also, ultimately believe that God’s Word is the truth. I love His Word, it draws me closer to Him. And I also or at least I think I do, comprehend some of the implications that differing perspectives about God’s creation can infer. I just can’t help but wonder where the differing perspectives all end. We try so hard with our limited mental capabilities to hammer out our chosen path. Could my perspective be wrong, absolutely. I believe God searches my heart and understands far better than I do, the limitations I am subject to. You’re correct in this post how scientific interpretations have changed over the years and I suspect they will continue to do so. When I sit down in front of God’s Word to study and to contemplate the truths that He reveals to me by His Holy Spirit, which seem to continually broaden and get deeper in understanding, I marvel that He continually breaks it down for me, so that I can really begin to understand how truly holy and just He is and how grateful I am that we have His Word. Jesus told us that He would not leave us orphans, that He would always be with us. Paul told us that now we know in part. Short story is my trust is in Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God that our loving Father sent to us, so that we might be in union with Him. I love God’s Word. I cherish it. God speaks to me through it, He draws me closer to Him through it. I don’t have a clue on how much of God’s Word I thoroughly understand. It just never ends and I strongly suspect that will continue until the day I leave this world. I also strongly suspect that I don’t have all my ducks in a row and I suspect that you don’t either. I know where you stand and I respect your right to articulate your perspective and yes I know, your perspective may be more in line with how you perceive God’s truth, than mine. Key words being “how you perceive God’s truth”. I could say likewise and it is possible that we both could be wrong. I don’t put my trust in science, I trust my Savior. I am aware of how the dots of creationism connect and some of the implications. I believe that God created the world. I believe that He created Adam and Eve and I believe in the fall, where sin became a reality for mankind. I believe that I am a sinner and I need a Savior and Jesus is that Savior. I doubt very much that the Apostle Peter understood about DNA. Somehow I don’t think God holds that against him. Grace and blessings my brother.

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    • Thank you, Bruce for the kind words. You have demonstrated clearly how Christians should humbly communicate. May the Creator bless me with such humility.

      God’s Holy Name and his Word ARE so beautiful, and bring both peace and salvation. I am so thankful that God has preserved His Word through generations and has blessed me with education, so that I can read. He deserves all praise for these gifts.

      When I read His Word with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is understandable and consistent. When what I read in the Bible is in conflict with those scientists who assume biological evolution, I choose the Bible as the authority to guide my understanding of evidence. When what I read in the Bible is in conflict with those scientists who assume there was no worldwide flood, I choose the Bible as the authority to guide my understanding of evidence. When what I read in the Bible is in conflict with those scientists who assume the earth is billions of years old, I choose the Bible as the authority to guide my understanding of evidence.

      While there are Christians who believe in human/biological evolution, local flood, and billions of years; my understanding of what I read in scripture prohibits such things. My understandings of the arguments of the Christians who hold those positions is that they rely on naturalistic interpretations of evidence as the authority over God’s Word instead of choosing God’s Word as the authority. We should be interpreting the evidence in light of the Bible.

      When scientism, culture, social justice, or anything else guides the interpretation of God’s Word, heresies abound. My goal in this blog is to bring glory to God’s holy Name by trying to teach the faithful interpretation of His Word. While I am imperfect in this task, I can do no other than to be obedient.

      May God bless you, brother!

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      • And I certainly can’t knock you for that! For some reason I always seem to feel a warm spot in my heart for you, I’m assuming that’s the Holy Spirit at work. God bless you too and just in case our paths don’t cross before the New Year, MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an excellent post but there is one error in it. You said that prior to the 1600s many scientists believed the world was flat. People knew the world was round long before this. If you want evidence of this read Dante’s Divine Comedy, which was written early in the 14th century. In it Dante travels all the way through the earth and comes out on the opposite side of the earth.

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