When Fundamentalists Do It, It’s not Sexy

It in this case is separatism. Back in grad school days the historiographical truism about evangelical Protestantism was that they were not separatists. Fundamentalists were. And so, evangelicals were good (broad minded) and fundamentalists were bad (intolerant). The dividing line was particularly the question of whether conservative Protestants could cooperate with the mainline (read liberal) Protestant denominations. When Billy Graham did reach out to mainline Protestants during his 1957 New York City Crusade (hee hee), fundamentalists like Bob Jones (harumph) broke with Graham’s evangelism. Thus you have separatism and the difference between an evangelical and a fundamentalist. The latter is an evangelical who is angry. Or, an evangelical is someone who likes Billy Graham (thank you George Marsden).

You wouldn’t know it, but separatism is rearing its poorly groomed head again and its not fundamentalists’ fault. Consider the following forms of separatism. First, the Benedict Option (as stated by Ken Myers):

The recovery of the culture of the people of God will make us look profoundly different from our neighbors. In a post-Christian society, all faithful people begin to look a little Amish. But we must remember that we are always against the world for the world.

Bob Jones didn’t withdrawal either. He didn’t even look Amish.

Then consider the academy’s moralism in the case of Yale professor, Thomas Pogge, allegedly guilty of sexually harassing female students:

To some students, responding means boycotting Pogge’s classes. A closed Facebook group called Students Against Pogge asks supporters to stand in solidarity with Lopez Aguilar “and the other foreign women of color targeted by [Pogge] by, at a minimum, not taking any of his classes in the fall.” The page notes that it’s also “a place to brainstorm other means of pressuring the university into making student voices heard and removing Pogge from the classroom,” according to the popular philosophy blog Daily Nous.

Other academics have said they won’t participate in conferences where Pogge is present. Most controversially, some professors have said that responding means eliminating Pogge from their syllabi.

James Sterba, a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, for example, told The Huffington Post that he’s no longer including Pogge’s work in exams for graduate students. “You don’t need him,” Sterba said. “He carries too much baggage — he doesn’t have to be cited anymore. … He’s a negative image and we don’t need that. Maybe if he was Einstein we’d have to cite him, but he’s not.”

That sounds like shunning.

But fundamentalists still bear the burden of separatism:

Thus, by the mid to late 1950s, the heirs of anti-modernist “second phase” fundamentalism were divided. An organization such as the American Council of Churches and separatists such as Rice and Jones Sr. and Jr. understood themselves as continuing in the historic line of militant, anti-modernist fundamentalism with a new emphasis on ecclesiastical separation. On the other hand, more open-minded heirs of second-phase fundamentalists, who would lead the neo-evangelical surge, sought to return to the era associated with the nineteenth-century evangelical scholarship of The Fundamentals.

On the verge of the tumultuous sixties, the fundamentalist movement had become deeply divided. Those who affiliated with the positive agenda of the non-separatist faction took the name neo-evangelical (eventually simply evangelical) and the separatists militantly clung to the label fundamentalist. Neo-evangelicals often repudiated the term fundamentalist, and fundamentalists did the same with the neo-evangelical moniker.

What if separatism is basic to what all humans do? We identify with some things and reject others. None of us are tolerant all the way down. We are all fundamentalists.

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113 thoughts on “When Fundamentalists Do It, It’s not Sexy

  1. See?

    This article provides absolutely zero context for what is happening geopolitically. It is patently a hack piece driven by an agenda and doesn’t even attempt to cover the story objectively. NBC gets a journalistic ‘F’.

    It also ignores the tricky definition of ‘Separatism’. The United States itself is confused on this point. 1776 was deemed a legitimate episode of separatism, but in 1861 it was called Civil War. This is not to say that I support the South, but I also don’t embrace the propaganda that has come down to us since the conclusion of that war.

    Sometimes separatism is deemed moral and noble and at other times it’s viewed as treacherous and destabilising. There’s not a lot of honesty when it comes to these issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The issue of whether we are all separatist is as important as some saying they were born gay. It’s not important because we are all born sinners. And so being a separatist or being gay can very much be part of being a sinner.

    The problem I see is that when fundamentalists are known by traits other than the tenets they adhere too, they have stolen the spotlight from what they believe.

    Yes, there is a place for separatism. But to take an all-or-nothing approach to it leads us to either producing too many stumbling blocks to effectively share the Gospel or to compromising the Gospel and God’s Word. In either case, we cause God’s Word to be dishonored.

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  3. Couldn’t resist, I’ve been watching Whit Stillman films this summer since his Austen “adaptation” came out.

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  4. Seems like there should be a good joke to be made about “fundies in their undies” not being as sexy as it sounds…

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  5. There is, I think, a thread here that touches on the Trinity/subordination imbroglio, but it seems someone else is becoming adept at spotting tribalism:.

    ” . Why did it take the strong Reformed crowd’s strong rebuttals of Ware, Grudem, and Strachan to get their attention? These things have been said by others for more than a decade, and they ignored and brushed the folks aside. What this shows once again is the tribalism at work. It took someone closer to them to jar them into rethinking what they have been saying for a long, long time.”

    From http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2016/08/11/cbmw-denny-burk-and-aimee-byrd/

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  6. Should we come out and be separate from worldview thinking, or is separation only another worldview?

    Why do people like to define death as “separation from God”, even though so many living sinners are already separated from God in this world?

    http://pilgrimunderground.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-bankruptcy-of-grudem-and.html

    Proto—Worldview thinking in reality is syncretism. Grudem’s Calvinism is exposed as something of a joke… it is in reality a form of lip service masking a pragmatism subjugated to a philosophical outlook and expectation. Grudem’s analysis of law, government and history are laughable if not tragic. He is a shill for a political faction which represents an amalgam of philosophies and beliefs, some packaged with a Christian veneer. His assessments do not represent the present state of things (like identifying Clinton as a Leftist!)….The New Testament condemns not only his views but his very method of reasoning.

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  7. If enough Christians stopped voting, that separation would not prevent Clinton from becoming the next bramble, but it would be a step away from natural law antinomianism. We do not yet need to hide in caves to avoid voting.

    https://www.dbts.edu/pdf/shortarticles/insidelook.pdf

    Judges 9: But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, survived, because he hid himself. 6 Then all the lords of Shechem gathered together and proceeded to make Abimelech king…. 7 When they told Jotham, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim, raised his voice, and called to them:
    Listen to me, lords of Shechem,
    and may God listen to you:
    8 The trees set out
    to anoint a king over themselves.
    They said to the olive tree, “Reign over us.”
    9 But the olive tree said to them,
    “Should I stop giving my oil
    that honors both God and man,
    and rule over the trees?”
    10 Then the trees said to the fig tree,
    “Come and reign over us.”
    11 But the fig tree said to them,
    “Should I stop giving
    my sweetness and my good fruit,
    and rule over trees?”
    12 Later, the trees said to the grapevine,
    “Come and reign over us.”
    13 But the grapevine said to them,
    “Should I stop giving my wine
    that cheers both God and man,
    and rule over trees?”
    14 Finally, all the trees said to the bramble,
    “Come and reign over us.”
    15 The bramble said to the trees,
    “If you really are anointing me
    as king over you,
    come and find refuge in my shade.
    But if not,
    may fire come out from the bramble
    and consume the cedars of Lebanon

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  8. markmcculley says: Should we come out and be separate from worldview thinking

    Mark, reminder. since we THINK, one has to view the world with some kind of thinking…. for Christians =Christian (biblical) worldview

    ..and here’s an aspect of worldview thinking we are (only) informed about from the bible, which I’m reminded of with ‘separation’ (from God, that is) discussion (3 minute) http://onecry.com/national-revival/dr-tony-evans-the-judgment-of-god/

    “But we do see Romans 1. In Romans 1, three times we’re told that “God turned them over.” That is, He released them to life independent of Him; He released them to themselves. That applies to individuals and to nations.”
    “When God’s passive wrath is expressed, which is what we’re experiencing in America right now, the net result is that God pulls away His manifest presence, leaving a vacuum where the consequences of sin and rebellion and dismissal of God fill that void.”

    “The Bible says, in Romans 1, that that kind of judgment would reveal itself in how people relate to one another, in how people relate to themselves, in the decadence that will take over a culture—and He says in the third stage of this passive wrath, you know you’ve reached the bottom when people not only do things that are unrighteous, but when they validate and okay them.”

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  9. @ Ali:

    You are correct that we have to view the world in some way.

    An important question is then “Do all Christians have to view it in the same way for all areas?”

    For doctrinal matters (“invariants”) it is clear that the answer is Yes: The Trinity is not optional.

    What about for health care? Can Christians disagree without either being in sin?

    If so, then it follows that there is not a unique Christian view on healthcare.

    And if you’re still with me, then it follows that a “Christian worldview” is either not unique or does not encompass the entire world.

    If the first, then it should not be tagged as “Christian” since it does not normatively speak for Christianity. If the second, it should not be called “world”view.

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  10. Ali, have you considered that Evans is merely making up a category called “God’s passive wrath” in order to prop up a politicized Christianity and give religious sanction to his mere pious opinion about the state of western world? But God’s judgment was already poured out on Christ (“it is finished”) and the only other judgment coming will be on the last day. Whatever is happening between those two instances, it’s not God’s judgment. More like providence. But for Christian culture warriors, those distinctions are just so much hooey. I wonder if you guys understand how undermining your take is on the actual two judgments of God? #irony #rakealert

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  11. Jeff Cagle says: @ Ali:You are correct that we have to view the world in some way. An important question is then “Do all Christians have to view it in the same way for all areas?”

    Morning Jeff, How do you even know how to answer that question? For answer to that question, and all questions, see the bible, by the Spirit, right?

    Jeff Cagle says: And if you’re still with me, then it follows that a “Christian worldview” is either not unique or does not encompass the entire world.

    Jeff, if you want to operate in the world with something other than the mind of Christ, that is your prerogative.
    As for me, since God says: the world is Mine, and all it contains. (Ps 50:12), and God says all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Rom 8:14), I’m going to believe Him.

    And speaking of freedom, it is only by His mind that we have the right ‘worldview’ about freedom- that it was for freedom that Christ set us free; that we are called to freedom; and the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

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  12. For answer to that question, and all questions, see the bible, by the Spirit, right?

    No. Not all questions are answered by the Bible. That’s the point. Where is the bug in my code? That’s not answered in the Bible. Should I itemize my taxes or take the standard deduction? That’s not in the Bible either. Should I go with the low carb diet or vegetarian diet to lose weight? Not in the Bible either. Most of the active decisions we make every day require answering questions whose answers aren’t in the Bible.

    The fact that we answer these questions by the light of nature does not entail that we do not have the mind of Christ. Indeed, Christ pointed out that even unbelievers love their own. Paul tells believers that on matters of indifference that “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” In other words, believers walking in the Spirit with the mind of Christ may come to different conclusions on a matter of conscience. If “worldview” (as Sire et al. define it) is determinative, then two believers walking in the spirit with the mind of Christ can have different worldview. If by both having the mind of Christ and walking in the Spirit they have the same “worldview” but come to different convictions then “worldview” is not determinative. In other words, the concept of “worldview” as described by neo-evangelicalism is not consistent with the teaching of the Bible.

    I have never seen an attempt to exegetically ground the idea that one’s philosophical belief about the ultimate nature of reality determines one’s moral outlook and behavior. Noting that God is sovereign over all of creation and that we are adopted Sons of God does not entail that there is a unique philosophical system that guides *all* of our choices.

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  13. Sdb, lo-carb as a baseline, then a heavier feed on heavy compound movements days followed with a high GI meal right after the workout to maximize/utilize the insulin surge to fill the muscle bellies and ‘feed’ the regenerative process. Pretty sure it’s in Leviticus.

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  14. Zrim,

    But God’s judgment was already poured out on Christ (“it is finished”) and the only other judgment coming will be on the last day.

    I’m pretty sure Ananias and Sapphire would differ with you on that.

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  15. But, Robert, we live in the post-apostolic era where God doesn’t strike dead his betrayers. Or are you suggesting pastors should advise believers tithe on the pain of possible supernatural death?

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  16. Zrim says: Ali, have you considered that Evans is merely making up a category called “God’s passive wrath” in order to prop up a politicized Christianity and give religious sanction to his mere pious opinion about the state of western world?
    -No, I didn’t consider that. I know you like you to imagine others motives, but what I considered was how what he said agreed with the bible.

    Sdb says No. Not all questions are answered by the Bible.
    -The point is only by knowing God’s word can you say if a question is answered or not or if there is a principle to consider and apply. And therefore I know to say amen to sdb says believers walking in the Spirit with the mind of Christ may come to different conclusions on a matter of conscience.

    Zrim says: sdb, maybe Ali has swallowed the Holy Spirit, feathers and all. There’s a biblical diet.
    -Zrim, you ought really consider a biblical worldview before you make comments like that. And letme too – in fact could you let me know where he is a deacon so I can never go there.

    Zrim says: But, Robert, we live in the post-apostolic era where God doesn’t strike dead his betrayers. Or are you suggesting pastors should advise believers tithe on the pain of possible supernatural death?
    -Zrim, biblical world view – there no reason to think the Lord may not still do this: For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep, if He want , that is. (1 Cor 11:30).
    Even the kids in my Sunday school class know that “GOD RULES-The Bible tell us God created everything, including you and me, and He is in charge of everything”

    And speaking of kids, I wonder how the Caglets are taught, say this, for example: Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

    Would it be, but remember the Lord didn’t really mean ALL your ways, nor did He mean not to really trust in your own understanding, wisdom , paths – it’s just sortof a metaphor.

    And re: Q1 , All I can conclude, is that we each have an opiinion on the best outworking of the way to best: glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

    Love, TPOAli [either meaning the-only- pesky one or the- (very) peskiest-one]

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  17. Ali, all (sorta) metaphors are figures of speech but not all figures of speech are (sorta) metaphors. But not it sounds like you’re making plenty of room for intermediate knowledge and understanding. So what did it mean previously to say that all answers are found in the Bible?

    And if God strikes down those who hold back their tithes in the post-apostolic age, how are we supposed to discern that to be so in particular cases? Ouji board? White smoke?

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  18. @Ali

    Sdb says No. Not all questions are answered by the Bible.
    -The point is only by knowing God’s word can you say if a question is answered or not or if there is a principle to consider and apply. And therefore I know to say amen to sdb says believers walking in the Spirit with the mind of Christ may come to different conclusions on a matter of conscience.

    I agree that only by knowing what’s in the Bible can we know what’s in the Bible. That is not the same thing as saying that the Bible answers every question.

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  19. Zrim,

    But, Robert, we live in the post-apostolic era where God doesn’t strike dead his betrayers. Or are you suggesting pastors should advise believers tithe on the pain of possible supernatural death?

    If you mean that in the post-Apostolic era that we can’t know for sure when God strikes His betrayers dead, I agree. To say that He doesn’t do that, however, seems a bit strong and unwarranted. Where is the indication that He’s stopped doing such things?

    Seems like we need to avoid the extremes of Pat Robertson “This hurricane is a sign from God because of sin X” and “God doesn’t judge people anymore.”

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  20. Robert, fair enough. My only point was to be more clear on just what God’s judgment looks like in light of the cross. The j-word seems too easily bandied about by those who seem to have political agendas and want to enlist heaven for them, as well as by those who want to worry the faithful that perhaps God’s judgment was only mostly poured on their Savior–mess up and the rest is coming your way. In those cases, chastisement is a much better word than judgment.

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  21. Zrim,

    In those cases, chastisement is a much better word than judgment.

    I agree. Because of the negative connotations, chastisement or discipline is better, especially when we are talking about Christians.

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  22. JRC: You are correct that we have to view the world in some way. An important question is then “Do all Christians have to view it in the same way for all areas?”

    Ali: How do you even know how to answer that question? For answer to that question, and all questions, see the bible, by the Spirit, right?

    Do you mean “all questions” in a literal sense, as in “Are the Fritillaries more closely related to Heliconians or Checkerspots?”

    Or is there some subset of questions that you have in mind?

    JRC: And if you’re still with me, then it follows that a “Christian worldview” is either not unique or does not encompass the entire world.

    Ali: Jeff, if you want to operate in the world with something other than the mind of Christ, that is your prerogative.

    Did I say that? Your dig assumes that the “mind of Christ” of Corinthians is the same as “a Christian worldview” — which is really the point under discussion. Defend that assumption from the Bible!

    Ali: As for me, since God says: the world is Mine, and all it contains. (Ps 50:12), and God says all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Rom 8:14), I’m going to believe Him.

    No disagreement there. I do deny, however, that these verses give reason to believe in a comprehensive, unique “Christian worldview.”

    Ali: And speaking of freedom, it is only by His mind that we have the right ‘worldview’ about freedom- that it was for freedom that Christ set us free; that we are called to freedom; and the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

    This is interesting. Clearly, you do believe that there is some place for Christian liberty. Say more. In what areas are Christians free to have different opinions without being in error?

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  23. Presbyterianism IS sexy:

    Baptist pastors (1%) are the least likely to say they were asked to perform a same-sex wedding. Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (26%) are most likely. Lutherans (19%), Methodists (9%), Christian/Church of Christ (7%), and Pentecostals (6%) fall in between.

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  24. Jeff Cable says This is interesting. Clearly, you do believe that there is some place for Christian liberty. Say more. In what areas are Christians free to have different opinions without being in error?

    well, for one, in the negative, – not in the one DG mentions above

    Also, don’t know if you saw the short clip I sent last week, but I’ll just say I appreciate the definition of worldview provided by RC Sproul and others there. Perhaps one day you will provide you defintion:
    “ Worldview, as the word suggests is how we look at the world around us. How do we understand life as it hits us in the face”…Nobody is without a worldview…Worldview is a set of basic assumptions about reality. It is like a lens through which you see things. On the basis of that worldview, you make your momentary judgements in life. Everyone has a worldview. It is the grid that frames the nature of reality for you and the judgments that you make for yourself and others in life….God wants us to see the world the way He told us it is.”

    Further they said – “All of the non-Christian worldviews, whether they are atheistic or religious are alternatives. They are basically a refusal to bow to the truth as God sees it….And when we do not understand or know the truth claims of God, we take the truth claims of the world as if they were true. And when we live according to the lies and the illusions of the world, then we suffer deeply.”

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  25. …and dear Jeff (cont.)

    Biblical worldview:
    Christ purchased liberty for believers
    The definition of liberty is provided by God
    God alone is Lord of the conscience
    God is delivering believers that they might serve Him always.
    God knows all liberty pretense and/or error perfectly; man knows imperfectly
    [gleaned from WCF Chapter 20]

    Any other worldview: liberty is ?

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  26. @ Ali:

    I wonder how far apart we really are. For example, I would call the items you cited above (which I all agree with) “Christian doctrine”, which is a more biblical term. I would also add that liberty includes that “we are free from the commands of men that are in anything contrary to Scripture, or beside it in matters of faith and worship.” Would you agree also to that?

    You say (quoting Sproul),

    Ali: “ Worldview, as the word suggests is how we look at the world around us. How do we understand life as it hits us in the face”…Nobody is without a worldview…Worldview is a set of basic assumptions about reality. It is like a lens through which you see things. On the basis of that worldview, you make your momentary judgements in life. Everyone has a worldview. It is the grid that frames the nature of reality for you and the judgments that you make for yourself and others in life….God wants us to see the world the way He told us it is.”

    Let’s thoroughly examine that definition and see whether it makes sense to speak of a “Christian worldview” as something different from (and broader than) Christian doctrine.

    Here are two basic assumptions about reality that I have and that I suspect you have also.

    * God exists, and exists in three persons yet one substance.
    * Matter is made of atoms.

    One of those assumptions I get from the Bible. The other, I don’t. Would you agree so far?

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  27. “Matter is made of atoms”
    Don’t do it Ali. Don’t agree. Jeff is leading you astray…most matter is *not* made of atoms (or baryons for that…ahem…matter)! Though I agree that the Bible doesn’t tell us what matter is even if it what it tells us matters more than anything else!

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  28. Ok, fair enough.

    My first attempt was “green is a different color from blue.” (Too complicated — may not be true for Japanese, some shades blur the boyndary)

    My second was “hot things hurt to touch.” (Vague, possibly a conclusion instead of assumption)

    My third was “visible matter on earth is made of atoms” (too specific)

    So I settled on an oversimplification. Not the best choice.

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  29. Ha! Defining an empirical fact about the world that we can all agree on and doesn’t reduce to a tautology isn’t so simple. Perhaps we could say that matter interacts gravitationally?

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  30. Jeff Cagle says: @ Ali:I wonder how far apart we really are.

    that’s what I keep wondering 🙂 still waiting – your worldview definition please

    worldview: the way someone thinks about the world (Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary)

    Biblical world view:
    -God created everything (out of nothing)
    -God is uncreated
    -God gave man the ability to discover some things about the way He made things
    -Whatever man has discovered, God has allowed and enabled
    -God knows exactly, perfectly how He made everything; man knows inexactly, incompletely, imperfectly
    -The purpose of any discovery of anything God has done is to glorify God.

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  31. @ Ali: Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be coy.

    I can live with “worldview” as “How we look at the world around us.” However, it is not a precise term (weirdly, one’s worldview determines one’s specific definition of the term “worldview” — yuck).

    So having established what worldview means, what is next?

    I certainly agree with the points you made above, although I think one of them will give Greg and Mermaid heartburn (“God knows exactly, perfectly how He made everything; man knows inexactly, incompletely, imperfectly”).

    You wish to call those points part of a Biblical worldview. I would prefer to call them Christian or Biblical doctrine. Is that a problem?

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  32. ” Is that a problem?”
    I would say so. While precise definitions of ideological terms are notoriously difficult to pin down, there is a cluster of ideas descending at least from Kuyper (and popularized by Schaeffer and Sire) commonly referred to as worldview that is regularly criticized here. To redefine the term to mean something else (e.g. Christian doctrine) and then criticize critics of ww for rejecting that thing is unhelpful.

    It is like saying, ” I define fundamentalism as believing the gospel is true” and then lambasting ongoing conversations about the merits of fundamentalism as tantamount to rejecting the gospel.

    In the last thread, gtt claimed that the rejection that everyone necessarily has a singular comprehensive philosophical opinion about fundamental reality that determines everyone of our actions is the epistemology of unbelief (if I follow him correctly ). This is the path to legalism.

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  33. Zrim,

    Ali, none of that helps me with my yellow jacket problem

    Sure (and that made me chuckle), but are w-w advocates claiming that the Christian worldview helps you with your yellow jacket problem in any specific way?

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  34. @Robert
    Here is GTT’s definition of worldview:

    A system of Theology, philosophy and ethics that governs one’s every thought, word, and deed. Whether they like it, or even recognize it, or not, everyone lives according to one of two and only two. God’s, and all the rest that reduce to versions of the same thing. (emphasis mine)

    In the w-w view thread, I summarized Sire’s description of w-w:

    Sire describes what most evangelicals have in mind when they think of worldview – our presuppositions about the nature of reality as evidenced by our answers to:
    1) what is the fundamental reality
    2) what is this reality like
    3) how do we know come to know about this reality
    4) what is a person
    5) where does morality come from
    6) does human history have a grand arc
    7) what happens at death

    In his book, “The Universe Next Door” (which was promoted by a number of leading lights of the evangelical movement c. 1980), he goes on to claim that the answers to these questions are determine our behavior.

    The point of asking about the implications of the Christian w-w for dealing with yellow jackets, plumbing problems, and sartorial choices is to point out that our worldview is decidedly not all-encompassing. Our views are much more particular and our behavior is dependent not just on rational thought, but on habit, temperament, and circumstance. This is why we need to cultivate good habits, transform our temperament, and carefully consider our circumstance (i.e., flee evil). The question isn’t whether our Christian beliefs have implications for how we live, the question is one of scope.

    Now one might want to make the case that we are attacking a straw man. Of course, no one really believes that there is a Christian way to deal with yellowjackets after all. But this admitted hyperbole highlights an important distinction. Namely that the Christian belief does not “govern one’s every thought, word, and deed”. Many w-wer’s make the claim that the scope is unlimited as Greg does above. He describes challenges to his view as the “epistemology of unbelief”. If you look at guys like the Bayly brothers, you see folks who make really strong claims about the status of believers with different priorities regarding the pro-life movement, we hear certain members on the religious right (and left) make claims about how we should vote, Christian authors feel free to invoke a “biblical world and life view” to mandate particular approaches to handling one’s finances, work arrangements, quiet times (the tract I have from church tries to make the case that the true believer will rise early to read the scripture first thing – evidently reflecting on scripture at lunch time or to end the day is a sign that personal bible study is not your first priority). Quite frankly, these admonitions sound a lot like Paul’s opponents as he is writing the Colossians – there is a patina of piousness on what is really just a new form of legalism. The message that follows is that to be a “real Christian” you must submit to these extra biblical commandments that follow from our philosophical perspective. Thus w-wism dilutes the gospel, distracts the church from her central task (not to build culture but to spread the gospel), and encourages legalism. “Worldview” and the underlying concept described by Sire et al. was borrowed from the continental philosophers. We should give it back and say good riddance to it.

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  35. SDB,

    No doubt the claims that a w-w is the governing principle of all of life are a bit overstretched. The fact is that people are inconsistent and don’t always live in a way that reflects their professed fundamental commitments. But to play devil’s advocate:

    This is why we need to cultivate good habits, transform our temperament, and carefully consider our circumstance (i.e., flee evil).

    Sure, but why do we need to do this? Isn’t the w-wer going to say it’s because God commands us to do these things and the secular person is going to say it’s because it will help us be successful? There’s a, broadly speaking, understanding of the nature of reality that leads to different motives for doing these things and different understandings of what good habits are, etc.

    The question isn’t whether our Christian beliefs have implications for how we live, the question is one of scope.

    Sure, but I still don’t see why the claim that one’s religion should influence all of their life is inherently problematic. Yeah, you’re going to have people like the Baylys start using it as a recipe for legalism. But the better w-w advocates are going to be far less specific. They’re going to say things like there is no one Christian way to do plumbing, but all Christian plumbers should do their work unto the Lord.

    Now, one might argue that becoming so general may not be all that helpful, and I’m sympathetic to that, but that’s different than saying the idea is inherently wrong or legalistic.

    Christian authors feel free to invoke a “biblical world and life view” to mandate particular approaches to handling one’s finances, work arrangements, quiet times (the tract I have from church tries to make the case that the true believer will rise early to read the scripture first thing – evidently reflecting on scripture at lunch time or to end the day is a sign that personal bible study is not your first priority).

    Sure, and that’s a problem. W-wers need to be more circumspect about making applications. But I will say from my personal experience that legalism in those areas and several others has come from people who wouldn’t even know what w-w thinking is. At least it has in my Christian experience.

    Maybe what people call W-w would fit better under “theology,” as Jeff has said. But it seems to me that there is something to the idea that everyone operates based on a fundamental set of assumptions that govern their life. Call it what you want. Often we are not consistent with those assumptions, but the experience of regret at least in part shows that we know we should be living up to some set of professed commitments, that our behavior should be governed by something, but that it fails to occur and so we should be remorseful, try to do better, etc.

    And I’d also say that you could classify 2K as a w-w.

    The biggest issue, I think, is defining what the Christian w-w is apart from say, the Nicene Creed. The Christian “world and life view,” whatever it is, allows for far more variety in application than some people think it does (not the best w-w advocates, however). This, I think, is where 2K really helps.

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  36. @ SDB, Ali:

    Sorry to be confusing. My snark above clearly muddied the waters.

    Let me play my whole hand right here. My aim in this conversation is to argue as follows.

    (1) First, I want to show that any proposition that Ali would wish to call “Christian worldview” is in fact simply Christian doctrine.

    Proof: Christian worldview ought to consist of those and only those propositions the Bible teaches. But this is precisely the definition of Biblical doctrine.

    (2) I want to also show that any individual Christian’s worldview (as defined by Sproul, Greg, Sire, or Naugle) contains propositions that are NOT taught in Scripture.

    Eg: Sufficiently hot things hurt to touch. The logical negation of “A and B” is “not A or not B”. 1+1 = 2

    (3) From these two facts, we conclude that an individual Christian’s worldview is necessarily larger than “Christian worldview”, whence

    (4) The “Christian worldview” fails to meet the definition of worldview.

    In short: Christians have a worldview. That worldview includes Christian doctrine as normative. But that worldview is not a “Christian worldview” because the Bible is not sufficiently comprehensive to provide an all-encompassing worldview.

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  37. Robert: Sure, but I still don’t see why the claim that one’s religion should influence all of their life is inherently problematic.

    How about this: Worldview advocates have not captured the right way in which that influence happens.

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  38. Jeff Cagle says: Let me play my whole hand right here.
    Jeff Cagle says (from yesterday) However, it is not a precise term (weirdly, one’s worldview determines one’s specific definition of the term “worldview” — yuck).So having established what worldview means, what is next?

    Jeff, Still waiting for your definition – that unique, precise, specific different definition of worldview -different than dictionaries, scholars, biblical definition “ that is determined by your worldview.”

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  39. Jeff,

    How about this: Worldview advocates have not captured the right way in which that influence happens.

    I think that is a good way of putting it. One of the difficulties I have with the whole conversation is that sometimes the more hardcore 2K advocates come off as meaning that one’s commitment to Christ shouldn’t influence everything. That doesn’t seem quite right to me.

    Seems to me that the commitment SHOULD influence everything, but how that influence bears itself out cannot be prescribed in the vast majority of cases in day to day life.

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  40. Robert, the better w-w advocates are the Dutch Reformed—world affirming and not as prone to legalism. But their worldviewry has still seriously distracted them from the institutional task of the church and sustained a Christian sub-culture (bubble, ghetto?). If only they’d put as much vigor into their confessional heritage as they do their educational tradition. You’re playing devil’s advocate for a serious category mistake (faith vs. worldview). The Dutch Reformed are racing for the anemic mainline and w-w is a vital part of that insofar as it’s a quest to be culturally relevant but religiously quaint. You can push the theory of w-w all you please but this has some resemblance to the discussion with the CtC apologists and their category of paradigm—in practice it’s a shambles.

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  41. @ DGH: and yet, you have previously agreed that in any area of life, we may not sin. So the commands of God are not suspended in any area of life, even if they do not necessarily cover every question in life, yes?

    So that’s influence: boundary-setting.

    And there’s more. Let’s talk yellowjacket problems. Although we agree that there is not a normative, binding command concerning proper handling of yellowjackets, it is also the case that doctrine — man is ruler over creation, norms about the behavior of rulers — will shape (but not uniquely determine) the individual Christian’s beliefs about what is a wise way to handle the yellowjackets.

    So that’s influence also: the shaping of wisdom.

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  42. Jeff, perhaps better to say that the Bible speaks to every believer wherever he goes (i.e. you can’t sin when addressing your yellowjacket problem), but not every area of life.

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  43. Right, I know that’s your candidate for candidate for cutting the cake properly.

    But it strikes me that in the area of sins of omission, your view is still going to have the believer asking, Does the Bible have any norms that apply here?

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  44. Jeff, and while I can appreciate the conscientiousness, I can’t help but wonder if said believer is just trying too hard. After all, if Paul can say that some things are simply up to one’s conscience without sweating about applicable norms then maybe we tell our inquirer the same thing?

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  45. Zrim,

    First, what Jeff said.

    Robert, the better w-w advocates are the Dutch Reformed—world affirming and not as prone to legalism. But their worldviewry has still seriously distracted them from the institutional task of the church and sustained a Christian sub-culture (bubble, ghetto?). If only they’d put as much vigor into their confessional heritage as they do their educational tradition.

    Maybe, but the w-w advocates I have been influenced by haven’t been the Dutch. And I’m not sure you are being fair here. Maybe there has been a separation since the founding, but wasn’t the original impetus of the Dutch educational tradition to maintain their confessional heritage? IE, keep the kids out of the public school so they won’t lose their faith?

    You’re playing devil’s advocate for a serious category mistake (faith vs. worldview). The Dutch Reformed are racing for the anemic mainline and w-w is a vital part of that insofar as it’s a quest to be culturally relevant but religiously quaint. You can push the theory of w-w all you please but this has some resemblance to the discussion with the CtC apologists and their category of paradigm—in practice it’s a shambles.

    You are painting with a huge brush here. Plenty of w-w advocates I know don’t care if they are culturally relevant or not. They might look at the culture to understand the questions culture is asking, but I don’t know any that are advocating changing doctrine in order to make us hip. You have some advocating changing worship styles, and that can be problematic, but there are also some that are against that as well.

    But here’s a fundamental question: Should your commitment to Christ cause you to think about the nature of your work and who it is for in a way different than a non-believer? If not, why?

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  46. Darryl,

    Robert, why should Christian commitment speak to everything when the Bible doesn’t?</i.

    The Bible doesn't speak to everything in at least a general way? The Bible doesn't tell us how to do plumbing, but certainly it tells the plumber to do his work to the glory of God, right?

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  47. I think the strongest point that some of you guys have against w-w is your question of its practical relevance. When you start getting down to at least certain specifics, there is a question as to how helpful w-w categories are.

    Kill that wasp to the glory of God, but there are perhaps many different ways you can kill the wasp in a manner that will glorify Him.

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  48. Maybe there has been a separation since the founding, but wasn’t the original impetus of the Dutch educational tradition to maintain their confessional heritage? IE, keep the kids out of the public school so they won’t lose their faith?

    Robert, it’s a little like the socialism discussion—the theory or intention may look good on paper but it never works out well in the real world. That may have been the original impetus, but insofar as they are the best advocates for w-w I think looking at the Dutch Reformed and see what actually happened is instructional. The Dutch Reformed aren’t exactly the confessional stalwarts these days (see “Always Reformed” and DVD’s chapter on neo-Calvinism). Whatever the educational project meant to do, it sure didn’t keep them confessional. But “keep kids out of public school so they keep their faith”? Even on paper, that doesn’t strike you as incredibly naïve?

    You are painting with a huge brush here. Plenty of w-w advocates I know don’t care if they are culturally relevant or not. They might look at the culture to understand the questions culture is asking, but I don’t know any that are advocating changing doctrine in order to make us hip.

    To be a worldviewer is to be inherently culturalist; if you’re not discerning a quest for cultural relevance then sorry, but you’re not paying close enough attention. And it’s not about changing doctrine, it’s about setting it aside and relegating it to a quaint, by-gone era and taking up one side or another in the cultural quests.

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  49. Jeff, as you’re imbibing the category of ‘wisdom’-yellowjackets, doesn’t proverbs put that kind of wisdom squarely in the category of common(hard earned and on every street corner). Even the animals are portrayed as having it or not-dumb ox, misstepping deer? Not sure how that necessarily works out into a category of sin of omission.

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  50. @Jeff & Robert
    We are on the same page about the fact that Christianity is not comprehensive, so it is not a candidate for worldview. But I disagree here,

    In short: Christians have a worldview. That worldview includes Christian doctrine as normative. But that worldview is not a “Christian worldview” because the Bible is not sufficiently comprehensive to provide an all-encompassing worldview.

    The metaphor that many use for w-w is one of “lenses”. I see what they mean, but I don’t have a single set of lenses that I use for all of life. One might have one set of reading glasses, another for the computer, and another for distance. Then there are the shaded variety when you are in the sun. We have lots of different lenses through which we view the world depending on our context. So just as not everything I know comes through lenses, I have different lenses for different contexts. Finally, we can share glasses. I can look through yours and you can look through mine. We can try on ways of viewing aspects of the world and gauge their usefulness. I wonder if a better term for worldview is just ideology. As wikipedia would have it,

    a collection of beliefs held by an individual, group or society. It can be described as a set of conscious and unconscious ideas which make up one’s beliefs, goals, expectations, and motivations.

    I think if one has discomfort thinking of Christianity as an ideology, one can’t escape the same implications for a worldview. It is interesting to note that conservatism is a revolt against ideology. Thinking of conservatism as a disposition (akin to van Franssen’s “stance”) is helpful. Linking worldview to ideology helps to clarify the third problem I have with the concept of worldview (in addition to our relation to reality being through particulars and our experiences with reality through a plurality of lenses). Namely that it is speculative and theoretical. Books often go from principle –> application. But we usually go the other way. We learn by observation and induction. We don’t learn about God’s holiness and then conclude from that insight that idolatry is wrong. Rather we read that idolatry is wrong and work from that particularity to the general principle that God is Holy.

    So, Robert, I am unconvinced that,

    everyone operates based on a fundamental set of assumptions that govern their life.

    To be sure we have assumptions, but these assumptions almost certainly do not cohere into a unified system of belief about the world, these assumptions do not govern our life, and these assumptions are unlikely to be static.

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  51. Robert, I write books just as a non-Christian academic does — to make a dent in the field, to write for other academics, to challenge sacred cows. I am like some non-Christians more than others.

    I do write to glorify God (or I try). But writing for neighbor is different. And non-Christians and Christians both do that.

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  52. sdb says: the Bible is not sufficiently comprehensive to provide an all-encompassing worldview.

    Chapter I Of the Holy Scripture
    VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

    sdb says We have lots of different lenses through which we view the world depending on our context. We can try on ways of viewing aspects of the world and gauge their usefulness.
    -like?

    sdb says We don’t learn about God’s holiness and then conclude from that insight that idolatry is wrong. Rather we read that idolatry is wrong and work from that particularity to the general principle that God is Holy.
    -says who? not the bible

    sdb says to be sure we have assumptions, but these assumptions almost certainly do not cohere into a unified system of belief about the world, these assumptions do not govern our life, and these assumptions are unlikely to be static.
    -That just sounds truly ridiculous for a Christian to say sdb, and God dishonoring. sorry. opinion…who really needs God for everything- who really need to acknowledge God about some things, and who really needs to see all of the world the way He says it is – cause there are other lenses and assumptions out there right?

    Jesus :” I am the way, and the truth, and the life” Jesus, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

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  53. @ Ali: Not sure what you’re waiting for. I’m not an expert on “Weltanschauung studies”, so rather than hand down a definitive definition, I’m content to go with a working definition such as “How we look at the world around us.”

    Is that definition unacceptable to you? Is it important that my definition be different from the one you offered?

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  54. @Ali

    sdb says: the Bible is not sufficiently comprehensive to provide an all-encompassing worldview.
    ali says to look at WCF 1.VI

    I believe agree with the reformers that some things we do are to be ordered by the light of nature. The Bible doesn’t tell us what to believe about quantum mechanics, vaccinations, indoor plumbing, the problem of induction, underdetermination in science, what kind of seats we should have in the sanctuary, what time the worship service should start, or whether we should have Sunday School before or after Sunday worship. The right answers to these things are evidently not necessary for God’s glory, man’s salvation, or faith &life, or they would be expressly set down in Scripture or could be deduced from scripture by good and necessary consequence. They belong to the common realm. Of course, scripture provides rules we must always obey (I am required to submit to the governing authorities as it relates to vaccinations for example). But that isn’t the same thing as saying there is a Christian perspective on vaccination.

    We have lots of different lenses through which we view the world depending on our context. We can try on ways of viewing aspects of the world and gauge their usefulness.
    -like?

    When I am trying to fix my lawnmower, I still believe that God is sovereign over everything, so the ultimate reason that my battery won’t charge is that it isn’t God’s will that it should. But when I am sweating in the heat of that August Sun with foot high grass all around me, I’m less interested in the ultimate reason why it won’t start and I put on my materialist lens and look for a mechanism for why the battery keeps draining and won’t hold a charge, and eventually discover that I have a bad diode.

    sdb says We don’t learn about God’s holiness and then conclude from that insight that idolatry is wrong. Rather we read that idolatry is wrong and work from that particularity to the general principle that God is Holy.
    -says who? not the bible

    Pretty sure that is exactly the pattern we see in the Bible. We learn a lot about God’s Holiness from the narratives in the text before he comes out and explicitly declares himself the Great I am to Moses and finally makes the declaration of his holiness such a central theme to his revelation to Isaiah. We learn start to see what his holiness means based on how he reveals his sovereignty over all of creation, how he consecrates his day of rest, his interaction with Adam, Eve, and the serpent, his grieving over the sinfulness of mankind prior to Noah, his treatment of mankind at the tower of Babel, etc… we have the particularities that come first – the general principle comes much later.

    sdb says to be sure we have assumptions, but these assumptions almost certainly do not cohere into a unified system of belief about the world, these assumptions do not govern our life, and these assumptions are unlikely to be static.

    ali says That just sounds truly ridiculous for a Christian to say sdb, and God dishonoring. sorry. opinion…who really needs God for everything- who really need to acknowledge God about some things, and who really needs to see all of the world the way He says it is – cause there are other lenses and assumptions out there right?

    Who says we don’t need God for everything? The question is what is the scope of His revelation. Of course, we need to view those aspects of the world he has revealed to us in his word the way he describes them in his word. But his word is not comprehensive. He doesn’t tell us everything about the way the world really is…we are also guided by the light of nature as you pointed out earlier. You might find J.I. Packer’s chapter on God’s hidden hand of providence helpful here. But perhaps not – perhaps you already have that complete, comprehensive, and coherent set of philosophical first principles in place that totally determine all your actions and beliefs about the world. Perhaps you can tell me whether nature is fundamentally causal or local? Does the Christian w-w demand a realist picture of particle physics or is an instrumental perspective OK? What about history? Does the Christian w-w require that we be legal positivists? What does the Christian w-w have to say about the role of rationality in economic analysis? If you are going to defend the necessity of a comprehensive, cohesive, unified set of assumptions that are uniquely Christian and govern our life, you should be able to show how we get from scripture to Bell’s inequality theorem.

    I don’t think we can, and recognizing that is a statement that we don’t need God, we don’t need to acknowledge His, or that we don’t need to see those aspects of the world the way he has revealed them to us. It is the acknowledge meant that God has not revealed everything to us, so some aspects of human experience are underdetermined and are revealed through the light of nature to believer and unbeliever in common. I don’t see why that recognition should be worthy of ridicule and God dishonoring in your opinion.

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  55. SDB: I see what they mean, but I don’t have a single set of lenses that I use for all of life. One might have one set of reading glasses, another for the computer, and another for distance. Then there are the shaded variety when you are in the sun. We have lots of different lenses through which we view the world depending on our context.

    This is just an analogy, but one might read into it that you hold certain beliefs to be true in one context, but false in another.

    Your followup seems to indicate rather that you mean that certain beliefs are specifically relevant or helpful in one context, but not relevant (while still true!) in another. Am I reading that correctly?

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  56. JRC: it strikes me that in the area of sins of omission, your view is still going to have the believer asking, Does the Bible have any norms that apply here?

    Zrim: Jeff, and while I can appreciate the conscientiousness, I can’t help but wonder if said believer is just trying too hard. After all, if Paul can say that some things are simply up to one’s conscience without sweating about applicable norms then maybe we tell our inquirer the same thing?

    Does Paul actually say that? It seems to me that he does sweat about applicable norms even in cases of liberty (we’re talking Rom 14, right?) while not sweating about non-norms.

    But also — is there such thing as trying too hard wrt the Law? I thought a large part of the point of the Law is that we sin daily in thought, word, and deed, and that the Law’s obligations are far too large to be met.

    Seems to me that living under grace doesn’t mean ignoring norms, but accepting that our failures under said norms are covered.

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  57. LMSS: Jeff, as you’re imbibing the category of ‘wisdom’-yellowjackets, doesn’t proverbs put that kind of wisdom squarely in the category of common(hard earned and on every street corner). Even the animals are portrayed as having it or not-dumb ox, misstepping deer?

    Why did the squirrel cross the road?

    To get back to the same side. Ba-dump.

    But seriously. Proverbs and Psalms also attribute wisdom to the fear of the Lord generally and to meditating on the Law of God specifically.

    So it appears that wisdom is multi-sourced?

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  58. But, Jeff, I didn’t say ignore norms. If you and I have a meal out together and we go Dutch and you leave a gratuity based on principles of generosity and I based on principles of prudence, I don’t sweat where your conscience has led you and I’m betting vice versa because gratuities are liberty. Bills aren’t, so what neither of us would allow of the other is to not pay his bill.

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  59. I figured not. But your expression is confusing: “without sweating about applicable norms.”

    Sounds like “there are applicable norms, but don’t sweat [i.e. ignore] them.”

    Clearly not what you have in mind.

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  60. Wisdom is multi-sourced. Certainly typologically and interpretively as the Christ, even, but as you utilized it it’s a shared trait of redeemable(eschatological achievement/enthronement) and non-redeemable( solely temporal use((good but not holy)) creation. So, not an outcome necessarily subject to eschatological judgement but rather an evaluation more suited to categories of temporal evaluation; excellent, middling, poor. If so, then, not a sin of omission as much as, or instead, an evaluation of ability, skill, capacity, cultural expectation, even training?

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  61. morning sdb, thanks for the discussion w/ Jeff also -just a final comment on this particular:

    sdb says We don’t learn about God’s holiness and then conclude from that insight that idolatry is wrong. Rather we read that idolatry is wrong and work from that particularity to the general principle that God is Holy.
    -says who? not the bible
    sdb says Pretty sure that is exactly the pattern we see in the Bible. We learn a lot about God’s Holiness from the narratives in the text before he comes out and explicitly declares himself the Great I am to Moses and finally makes the declaration of his holiness such a central theme to his revelation to Isaiah. We learn start to see what his holiness means based on how he reveals his sovereignty over all of creation, how he consecrates his day of rest, his interaction with Adam, Eve, and the serpent, his grieving over the sinfulness of mankind prior to Noah, his treatment of mankind at the tower of Babel, etc… we have the particularities that come first – the general principle comes much later.

    God says: Romans 1: 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse

    His divine nature –including His holiness – קֹדֶשׁ – His complete set-apartness, separateness- no one is like Him -is known to all since the creation of the world, all are without excuse?; that knowledge demonstrated even this early ? Gen 3:8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

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  62. Jeff, I see how it’s confusing. Go back to your original comment: “But it strikes me that in the area of sins of omission, your view is still going to have the believer asking, Does the Bible have any norms that apply here?”

    Now come to my gratuity example and switch you with said inquirer, who wants to know what he should do with the gratuity, what does the Xian worldview say he should do. I’m not being flippant and suggesting he ignore norms or principles. I’m saying I’m not worried about sussing it all out for him and trying to discover the Xian worldview on tips. I’m comfortable with his conscience sorting it out, even if it comes to a different conclusion than mine.

    And this is what much of worldview discussions seem like to me, amped up versions of my dinner partner wanting to figure out what the Christian worldview is on something where there is none. And we all know it. Do Christian dining partners ever really sit around after the meal trying to conclude what each one should do with his respective gratuity? No. So why do we do this with other provisional things like politics, education, arts, race relations, etc.? Granted those things are at the high end of the spectrum of temporal concerns compared with the trivial end of the spectrum like gratuities, but the example is meant to show how it’s all temporal and not eternal.

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  63. Darryl,

    Robert, I write books just as a non-Christian academic does — to make a dent in the field, to write for other academics, to challenge sacred cows. I am like some non-Christians more than others.

    Sure. You have many motivations. As do we all. But I wonder if you press a non-Christian far enough, how adequate it is not to have a transcendental reason to do scholarship. I mean, if this all just a cosmic accident, who cares about challenging sacred cows. It might make you feel good now, but we’re all just cosmic dust. Why care about being honest as a historian if at the end of the day, it’s not going to matter at all?

    I think that is where a lot of the w-wers are trying to get to. At least it is what I am trying to get to. Why love your family? Because it makes you feel good. Okay, but why should you care about feeling good. And why should your feeling good be a reason why the state should outlaw the axe murderer when feeling good for him entails killing your family? Go far enough and it all reduces to brute instinct without any kind of transcendence. I suppose that is enough for some people, but nobody really lives according to that conviction and those that do, we call sociopaths.

    I do write to glorify God (or I try). But writing for neighbor is different. And non-Christians and Christians both do that.

    I’m confused by this statement. When you write for your neighbor you are not also writing to glorify God?

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  64. Zrim,

    Now come to my gratuity example and switch you with said inquirer, who wants to know what he should do with the gratuity, what does the Xian worldview say he should do.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Live a life of quiet godliness that will make others take notice (Let your light so shine before others).

    I’m not being flippant and suggesting he ignore norms or principles. I’m saying I’m not worried about sussing it all out for him and trying to discover the Xian worldview on tips. I’m comfortable with his conscience sorting it out, even if it comes to a different conclusion than mine.

    Okay, but I’m not sure why that is contrary to w-w thought. If you are upset that certain w-wers are too specific in their applications and don’t take good account of specifics or the relative silence of Scripture on a great many matters, than I agree.

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  65. Namely that it is speculative and theoretical. Books often go from principle –> application. But we Usually go the other way. We learn by observation and induction. We don’t learn about God’s holiness and then conclude from that insight that idolatry is wrong. Rather we read that idolatry is wrong and work from that particularity to the general principle that God is Holy.

    I think you are confusing your work as a scientist here with general life, but be that as it may:

    To be sure we have assumptions, but these assumptions almost certainly do not cohere into a unified system of belief about the world,

    No? Maybe your issue is that w-w thinking is not specific enough to be practically helpful in many cases. I can sympathize with that.

    But my assumption that God is Creator gives me a unified belief that He made the world and rules over it even though the specifics of how that works out are not necessarily always spelled out for us.

    these assumptions do not govern our life,

    If they don’t, then why do you care when you having lived up to various standards you have set for yourself? Why do you feel guilty when you have been cruel to a family member?

    and these assumptions are unlikely to be static.

    Well this is true, but I’m not sure how its relevant to the point at hand. Some assumptions are more static than others. And observation can cause some of them to change.

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  66. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Live a life of quiet godliness that will make others take notice (Let your light so shine before others).

    Robert, ok, and you conclude that this looks like a 15% gratuity and I determine it’s 9%. Do we impugn one another’s conclusions as being a violation of the above imperative?

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  67. biblical worldview: Each (believer) must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor 9:7

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  68. Robert, H. L. Mencken wrote 10 million words and Woody Allen has made at least 40 movies without a transcendental reason. If only all believers (especially mmmmeeeeeEEEEE) had that work ethic.

    I’m not sure when I write for neighbor that I glorify God. What if glorifying God is not part of your self-consciousness? My cats glorify God and are unaware. Can’t I do human things and glorify God without sticking a “I glorify God” bumper sticker to it?

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  69. D. G. Hart says:Ali, ah yes, the Bible quote that resolves all questions.

    amen DG. the willing heart (for which we cannot boast (except in Christ for it is a gift) and no, not yet willing to shell out $ (or is it $$$ ) for your book because God (only) loves a cheerful giver 🙂

    morning sean, gotta go for now – but quick reminder…
    Biblical worldview:
    -In JESUS are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
    -where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
    -it all about the heart

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  70. Yesterday a car pulled out in front of me such that I had to brake and then proceeded to go well below the speed limit. As I caught up to the car I noticed a bumper sticker plastered on the trunk in a plain-to-see location. It read, “Love is my religion.” The irony almost caused me to lose control for a few seconds.

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  71. Letmesplainsean says: Ali, I have no heart. Or at least the one I have is a real S.O.B. Thank goodness for Jesus.

    oh thanks for the info. I just assumed you were born again.

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  72. This is just an analogy, but one might read into it that you hold certain beliefs to be true in one context, but false in another.

    Your followup seems to indicate rather that you mean that certain beliefs are specifically relevant or helpful in one context, but not relevant (while still true!) in another. Am I reading that correctly?

    Well I guess it depends on what you mean by “true”. If we are talking about simple facts, then sure. My initials are always sdb. But if you mean that realism is always “true”, then I have to disagree.

    For example, one can be a realist when it comes to history and an instrumentalist when it comes to particle physics. I might be a socialist when it comes to economic analysis of utilities and a capitalist when thinking about restaurants. What I oppose is thinking that if I find capitalism useful for understanding one market, I have to be a Capitalist as it relates to every transaction. This extends to the problem with w-w thinking. It assumes a singular vantage point, but because we have the capacity for empathy, we can look at a problem from different perspectives. We aren’t locked into a singular view. And we may find that different approaches are more or less helpful given the context.

    While there may be some singular, comprehensive, coherent overarching metanarrative that makes sense of all aspects of human experience, we have access to that.

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  73. Darryl,

    Robert, H. L. Mencken wrote 10 million words and Woody Allen has made at least 40 movies without a transcendental reason. If only all believers (especially mmmmeeeeeEEEEE) had that work ethic.

    I’m not saying you have to have a transcendental reason to work hard. I’m saying that without a transcendental reason I don’t see how you answer the question of “why” or what’s the point?” beyond “It makes me feel good.”

    I’m not sure when I write for neighbor that I glorify God. What if glorifying God is not part of your self-consciousness? My cats glorify God and are unaware. Can’t I do human things and glorify God without sticking a “I glorify God” bumper sticker to it?

    Sure. And in fact I recommend not sticking the bumper sticker on it. But you get up in the morning and do what you do because you have a set of assumptions that include things such as “God says Let Him who does not work, let Him not eat” and that God forbids murder (suicide), etc. Transcendental reasons.

    Most people, I think, go through life unaware of why they do what they do. And because of that, I do think some claims of w-w are overblown. But get people to ponder it, and it’s going to finally boil down to: I do it because I love God and He commands it (or, the corollary, I should do it because God loves it and commands it but I’m not doing it and I should repent for that) or because it makes me feel good, I don’t want to go to jail, etc.

    Some assumptions are better than others and explain the human condition better than others. In part, at least, that is what the w-wers are trying to say.

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  74. Zrim,

    Robert, ok, and you conclude that this looks like a 15% gratuity and I determine it’s 9%. Do we impugn one another’s conclusions as being a violation of the above imperative?

    Not necessarily. Depends on a lot of factors.

    If you get exceptional service and know that your waitress is earning $1.15 an hour and can’t live without tips and you don’t tip her, then I would question your love for your neighbor. Call me a legalist, I guess.

    I think where some w-w thinking falls down is where it gets too specific. All the Christian w-w tells me in the above gratuity example is to do unto others, etc. It doesn’t tell me that in one particular context, the broader society might view a 9% tip as perfectly acceptable, generous, and loving because of the service you received or other factor. In other words, we have to concede that w-w principles are far more broad and generic than we might like in many circumstances. That’s different than saying w-w thinking leads to legalism and unnecessarily binds the context. Maybe sometimes, but you could say that about just about anything.

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  75. Robert, you’re helping make my point. My question was mainly rhetorical because I thought it rather obvious how silly it would be to parse the question of a gratuity. Yet you plod ahead with it. I don’t see how you can maintain any criticism against worldviewry for its quest on specificity in general life and yet hold out the possibility that I’m being impious with my tipping. Seriously? But my charitable guess (as I said to Jeff above) is that you really wouldn’t outside this combox. My guess is that you’d leave me to my conscience in the real world. Soooo…?

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  76. Letmesplainsean says: Oof Ali, maybe your heart is a real S.O.B. too.

    you can say that, sean, and you are probably just trying to be mean to me, but that’s not what the Lord says about me, nor you either, if you are a believer, and He is in charge of reality, so that’s what matters.
    (not that I don’t act like one (alot, according to you, I’m sure).

    Reminder: biblical worldview
    -reminder: when you forget biblical worldview, renew your mind (if you are believer) to the mind of Christ
    -one can think anything he/she wants but that does not change reality
    -believers are new creations
    -believers have been given a new heart
    -believers are plagued still with corruption (old heart remnant/flesh) until glorification
    -the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh-they are in opposition to one another
    -believers are to ‘put off’ the old and ‘put on’ the new
    -believers are being transformed, from glory to glory, to Christ’s image

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  77. morning sdb, thanks for the discussion w/ Jeff also -just a final comment on this particular:

    sdb says We don’t learn about God’s holiness and then conclude from that insight that idolatry is wrong. Rather we read that idolatry is wrong and work from that particularity to the general principle that God is Holy.
    -says who? not the bible
    sdb says Pretty sure that is exactly the pattern we see in the Bible. We learn a lot about God’s Holiness from the narratives in the text before he comes out and explicitly declares himself the Great I am to Moses and finally makes the declaration of his holiness such a central theme to his revelation to Isaiah. We learn start to see what his holiness means based on how he reveals his sovereignty over all of creation, how he consecrates his day of rest, his interaction with Adam, Eve, and the serpent, his grieving over the sinfulness of mankind prior to Noah, his treatment of mankind at the tower of Babel, etc… we have the particularities that come first – the general principle comes much later.

    God says: Romans 1: 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse

    His divine nature –including His holiness – קֹדֶשׁ – His complete set-apartness, separateness- no one is like Him -is known to all since the creation of the world, all are without excuse?; that knowledge demonstrated even this early ? Gen 3:8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

    Exactly, they experienced a particularity (revealed in nature) and concluded from that particularity that God is Holy. They didn’t adopt a principle that God is Holy (or adopt a worldview that entailed that God is Holy) and then interpret nature to declare God’s holiness. Nor were they only able to identify God’s holiness after adopting the proper worldview. Worldview-ism turns the Christian faith into an ideology and is a breeding ground for legalism as explained above.

    biblical worldview: Each (believer) must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor 9:7

    That’s not a worldview.

    Biblical worldview:
    -In JESUS are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
    -where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
    -it all about the heart

    No doubt that Jesus is omniscient. Nor is there any doubt about the connection between what we treasure and what we will. The phrase that “it’s all about the heart” is meaningless. What is “it”? God’s glory? How I view the world? God’s grace? Christ’s redemptive work? It sounds really spiritual, but the phrase is devoid of meaning. Apropos to this discussion, these statements do not comprise a worldview (as described by the neo-Calvinism, characterized by guys like Sire, Schaeffer, etc… and criticized on this blog).

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  78. Namely that it is speculative and theoretical. Books often go from principle –> application. But we Usually go the other way. We learn by observation and induction. We don’t learn about God’s holiness and then conclude from that insight that idolatry is wrong. Rather we read that idolatry is wrong and work from that particularity to the general principle that God is Holy.

    I think you are confusing your work as a scientist here with general life,

    But my work as a scientist is my general life! I know, I know, booorrrrrinnnng… I have two teenagers who don’t mind reminding me.

    but be that as it may:
    To be sure we have assumptions, but these assumptions almost certainly do not cohere into a unified system of belief about the world,

    No? Maybe your issue is that w-w thinking is not specific enough to be practically helpful in many cases. I can sympathize with that.

    But my assumption that God is Creator gives me a unified belief that He made the world and rules over it even though the specifics of how that works out are not necessarily always spelled out for us.

    Ok. I think we may be converging. I too believe that God is Creator and sustainer of all of creation. But my belief that this is so does not make my measurements and interpretations of data different than (and certainly not better than) that of my unbelieving colleagues. Further, the philosophical perspective that guides my understanding of one branch of knowing need not be consistent with the philosophical perspective that guides my understanding of some other branch of knowing (e.g., astronomy). People who adopt a particular philosophy and then try to force all the facts they encounter into it have a name – ideologues. There are Christian ideologies as well as secular ones. We notice for example, that dispensationalists are notorious for trying to cram every text of scripture into their system – they have a singular biblical view. This isn’t helpful. I have a hard time seeing how w-w isn’t just another name for ideology.

    these assumptions do not govern our life,

    If they don’t, then why do you care when you having lived up to various standards you have set for yourself? Why do you feel guilty when you have been cruel to a family member?

    Well I suppose that there are two ways to answer that. Ultimately it is because the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. It isn’t because I’ve adopted a particular worldview. An atheist, pantheist, agnostic, muslim, polytheist, and deist may all feel guilty when they are cruel to a family member. Jesus tells us that even unbelievers know to love their own – it doesn’t matter what your worldview is. Of course, some people are incapable of empathy – we call them sociopaths. At another level, there is likely a biochemical explanation for why we feel guilt when we are cruel to a family member. Perhaps there is the release of some hormone that causes that empty feeling in your gut, etc… There is probably an evolutionary reason as well – early human groupings that didn’t exhibit empathy were wiped out and groups that did flourished giving rise to modern humans who exhibit these traits. So it may be simultaneously true that ultimately we feel guilt for doing wrong because of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit works through biochemical process to affect that response, and God worked through evolutionary processes to get us to the point where we have the biochemical machinery to respond in such a way (similarly to how we know that not a hair falls from my head apart for God’s will, but God may use gravity to get it from my head to the ground, and a biochemical process to loosen the hair from its follicle).

    and these assumptions are unlikely to be static.

    Well this is true, but I’m not sure how its relevant to the point at hand. Some assumptions are more static than others. And observation can cause some of them to change.

    But if our assumptions can change from context to context, then I’m not sure what a worldview is. It doesn’t have much of the world in view. right?

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  79. sbd says biblical worldview: Each (believer) must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor 9:7
    Sdb says That’s not a worldview.
    sdb says The phrase that “it’s all about the heart” is meaningless.

    RC Sproul :“ Worldview, as the word suggests is how we look at the world around us. How do we understand life as it hits us in the face”

    -Q. 1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever (only possible from His heart, a 2 Cor 9:7 heart (for one))
    -His has children and they are predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son (with a heart like His)

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  80. Ali, I’m not trying to be mean to you, but against all wisdom, I do try and get away with as much snark as possible in a combox. Blame my upbringing. How about if you shift away from organic, transformative overlays when speaking of the new person in Christ and lead instead with a legal, declarative, forensic foot. The declarations of who I am in Christ is first a legal opportunity and it’s why you can make claims contrary to your organic/innate character. Now, the unionists and puritans would like to reverse that opportunity and join their RC brethren in focusing on the ‘change within you’ and not that that isn’t going on, but like all movements of the Spirit among men, I/we are largely oblivious to it. So, faith rests on the promises and person outside of me, not the ‘new heart’ within me( can we talk about the entire monastic movement and retreats!). Scripture says my heart is unknowable and been declared guilty of offense and every time I check it, which I try to avoid, it proves better than other people’s but is still not tracking well against God’s evaluation.

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  81. Sean says Ali, I’m not trying to be mean to you, but against all wisdom, I do try and get away with as much snark as possible in a combox. Blame my upbringing.. So, faith rests on the promises and person outside of me, not the ‘new heart’ within me (can we talk about the entire monastic movement and retreats!).

    oh, sean , you’re funny and you remind me alot of another one of your denom brethen who never wanted to acknowledge the reality – the reality that God says is reality – that believers are changed and being changed. Maybe he was your pastor. The ‘new creation’ proclamation doesn’t fit in very well with those who want to continue in sin; but Your ,” I have no heart. Or at least the one I have is a real S.O.B.” does fit in much better.

    Phil 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

    Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.

    Romans 5 Therefore, having been justified by faith,]we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

    Have a good rest of day.

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  82. Ali, I acknowledged the reality. The fact that the Spirit’s work is mysterious to you and I doesn’t make it any less a work. But, yes, I sin because I like the sin. I’m getting something from it. What’s your excuse?

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  83. Or to put it another way.
    What if a Joe Biden type of dissenter, goes to Catholic Church and believes in his heart that the RCC is seriously wrong about ssm and to show his protest he conducts a wedding, all the while confessing that he doesn’t believe other things in Catholicism either, but simply believes in Jesus and not a sacramentmental treadmill…?
    What if he says he sides with Luther and is really more of a JFA kind of guy, but stays a Catholic even though he knows that some Lutheran and Presbyterians denominations would welcome him, because his family has always been Catholic?

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  84. ” Worldview, as the word suggests is how we look at the world around us. How do we understand life as it hits us in the face”
    @Ali The excerpt you have taken from an excerpt of Sproul that was part of a more extended description of what neocalvinist/evangelicals mean by worldview is not a complete definition. Do you agree with my criticism of Greg’s definition and Sire’s definition (which are more or less congruent)? I thought the video you linked was pretty consistent with this as well but I can’t find it at the moment to double check. Perhaps you can highlight the difference?

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  85. @ Ali: Or to put Sean’s point another way, it is an important point of Christian doctrine that God does not sanctify by reforming the sin nature, but putting it to death.

    The new nature in Christ, empowered by the Spirit, does not remove the love of sin from the old man (per Rom 7).

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  86. Susan, “What if he says he sides with Luther and is really more of a JFA kind of guy, but stays a Catholic even though he knows that some Lutheran and Presbyterians denominations would welcome him, because his family has always been Catholic?”

    Actually, that’s what I’ve been asking you for a while. Lots of RC’s don’t follow church teaching and nothing happens. Lots of RC’s write things that don’t follow church teaching and nothing happens.

    Well, something does happen. You and Mermaid and James keep beating your chests about how great Roman Catholicism is.

    As I say, huh?

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  87. Jeff Cagle says: @ Ali: Or to put Sean’s point another way, it is an important point of Christian doctrine that God does not sanctify by reforming the sin nature, but putting it to death.The new nature in Christ, empowered by the Spirit, does not remove the love of sin from the old man (per Rom 7).

    and how Jeff? definitely not by.. Letmesplainsean says: Oof, Ali. Back away from the bible.
    and Letmesplainsean says:the fact that the Spirit’s work is mysterious to you and I doesn’t make it any less a work.

    definitely ‘mysterious’ in that we don’t understand so much, but definitely not a ‘mystery’ in that it has been revealed He primarily accomplishes it via…
    1 Thess 2:13 the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
    James 1:21 receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

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  88. @ Ali:

    But also mysterious in the sense of not fully visible to the outward eye. When God sanctifies, He often does not see fit to make sanctification a dramatic or always increasing progress in holiness.

    Instead, He allows His children to be beset by persistent sin for long periods of time. He works on heart attitudes that outside observers might not think are the most burning problem in a believer’s life.

    So if we’re going to talk about Biblical doctrine, we must include

    – The heart is *desperately* wicked above all things.
    – I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is my flesh.
    – We have the treasure [of the gospel] in earthen vessels so that its glory may be seen to be God’s and not our own.

    I know that you agree to these things on paper, but in conversation, you sometimes seem offended or dismayed by people’s frank acknowledgement of the desperate wickedness of their hearts.

    Which raises the obvious question: Do you know the desperate wickedness of your own sin nature? Or do you believe that God made that go away when you converted? If the latter, let me encourage you to do some further reflection on Peter’s experience as a disciple.

    Liked by 1 person

  89. Well, that escalated quickly.

    Perhaps we can move back to more profitable ground. Earlier you asked for definition of worldview. I said that I was content to have a vague definition: “How one looks at the world.” Is this satisfactory?

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  90. @ SDB: If I’m understanding you, you’re taking a more radical approach. You seem to deny not only that there is such thing as a “Christian worldview”, but you also deny that “worldview” is a meaningful concept. Yes?

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  91. @ Zrim: What about scope? I suggested that the individual should still consider relevant norms when tipping (or plumbing, or managing Hymenoptera. Is waspherding a thing?). You respond by not being worried about telling said individual how to tip.

    Sure! The role of doctrine is to normatively bind the conscience based on good and necessary inference from Scripture; the scope of doctrine is the church. There, the church actually has business telling individuals what to do.

    But the role of wisdom is to guide the conscience as informed by norms; the scope of wisdom is the individual.

    Or put more simply: The real reason you don’t tell Robert how to tip is that it’s none of your business. But over in your corner, you’re still trying to figure out what the right amount for the Zrimec family is going to be.

    Losing track of scope makes this much more complicated than it needs to be.

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  92. LMSS: If so, then, not a sin of omission as much as, or instead, an evaluation of ability, skill, capacity, cultural expectation, even training?

    Yeah, but it’s funny how my unskilled lane changing looks like selfishness.

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  93. you just got to hold something back for your self, like free will and having an immortal soul that will live somewhere forever.

    Fundamentalist Robert Sumner, former colleague of John R Rice— The Word of God teaches that, while man is totally depraved and totally unable to help himself, our Lord draws every man sufficiently and enlightens every man as much as necessary for that individual to make a decision of his own free will. . Five-point Calvinism points to the total inability of a man physically dead. They argue that such a man cannot speak, cannot hear, cannot move a hand or a foot. cannot do anything at all. Since man is dead in sins, they reason, he is hopeless to act upon the gospel. .

    Sumner—The deadness envisioned by the Word of God is a “separation” deadness. For example, physical deadness is the separation of the spirit and the soul from the body. It is true that the dead corpse cannot hear, speak, or move. But the corpse is not the man! Our Saviour clearly stated that the rich man, after departing this life, was able to lift up his eyes, he saw, he cried, he prayed, and was apparently in full possession of all his faculties.

    Sumner— Paul was describing spiritual deadness when he wrote to Timothy, saying, “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth” (1Tim.5:6). Those outside of Christ are spiritually dead, yes; but they eat, talk, think, move, act, work, play, sleep and react in every way j

    Sumner—The second death is eternal separation from God in the lake of fire (Gehenna) because because of rejection of Christ. Sinners in Hell will think, move, act, and otherwise manifest full sense of their faculties. The Holy Spirit draws every man (John 12:32), giving man enough light so that he is, as Romans 1 :20 says, “without excuse.” And John 1;9 says ‘’That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world”

    http://heraldofhope.org.au/…/12/T.U.L.I.P.-Examined.pdf

    mark mcculley–There you have it. We will all go on living, even if “all of us” need some “separation” in our lives.

    if you don’t take thought for tomorrow, there might not be any tomorrow

    therefore have the right attitude and pretend that you have not protected yourself
    against the consequences of today

    not holding anything back for tomorrow only makes us anxious

    capitalism—you can always get help if you save enough to pay for it

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