Worldview

Are We Living in a Simulation?

Is the Universe a Simulation?

Have you ever wondered if the world around you was actually an illusion? It might seem silly to even entertain the idea, but believe it or not this is a very hot topic in some philosophical (and pop-philosophical) circles right now. Everyone from Elon Musk, to Joe Rogan, to Neil deGrasse Tyson have publicly wondered aloud about whether we are living in some kind of computer simulation. 

It makes for some very interesting podcast listening, but the question, Are we living in a simulation, actually turns out to be harder to answer than it might appear at first. So, are we living in a simulation?

In this episode, Joel and Parker dive deep into the question and bring out resources to help you find the answer. Like all questions of reality and how the world works, believers must approach this question in a biblical way. Ultimately, the Sons of Thunder conclude that we are not living in a simulation. 

Park introduces the formal form of the Simulation Argument (as opposed to Simulation Theory, which is something slightly different) developed by philosopher Nick Bostrom, and the brothers lay out different versions of possible simulations we might be living in. Are we Sims? Are we living in a matrix? Are we brains created by a computer? After examining the alternatives through a scriptural lens, they officially pronounce Simulation Theory debunked. 

It might seem hasty to make such a definitive pronouncement to such a vexing question, but when God’s word is in the mix, answers do tend to become more definitive (if not easier to arrive at). 

To learn more about this subject, keep reading. 

Show Highlights

  • Parker is studying Hebrew, but (maybe) not to one-up Joel

  • Descartes posed a similar question to Simulation question, centuries ago.

  • There are cultural memes that deal with this issue (movies, internet trends, etc.)

  • Historical philosophy has asked whether the world is primarily mental or physical

  • Three possible simulation scenarios: sims, matrix, and computer-created brains

  • We are not possibly sims or in a matrix (though the Matrix theme needs extra unpacking. 

  • If we were in a simulation, we would not be able to tell. 

  • The third option, that we are digitally-created beings, is similar to Tron.

  • Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Argument proposes three alternatives, one of which (he claims) must be true. 

  • Simulation Theory argues that it is far more likely that we are living in a simulation than that we aren’t. 

  • Phillip K. Dick thought that Deja Vu was an indication that we are living in a simulation (an idea picked up by the Matrix). 

  • Bostrom himself believes it is less than 50% possible that we are living in a simulation.

  • There is actually no positive argument for Simulation Theory. 

  • Simulation Theory does not disprove God, because it just pushes the need for a Creator back one step. 

  • The biblical worldview is one that says our world is real (call this Biblical Realism)

  • Christians can confidently lay their heads on their proverbial pillows at night, reassured that we live in the real world, not a simulation.

People, Resources and Articles Mentioned in this Podcast Episode


Take your study to the next level with these resources from TheThink.Institute

Connect with Joel and Parker

Parker Settecase on Twitter

Parker’s Pensees (blog)

Joel Settecase on Twitter

Joel Settecase on Instagram

Listen to the Think Podcast (and remember to leave us a review!)

The Think Podcast on Apple Podcasts

The Think Podcast on Stitcher

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How do you explain Christianity?

Get resources, articles and more podcast episodes at the Think Institute website, Truthinconversation.com.

What Should Bible-Believing Christians Think About Jordan Peterson?

By Joel Settecase / 6-minute read

Who is Jordan Peterson?

“Adulting is hard,” or so goes the popular Millennial saying. Can you relate? Millions can, and many of those millions have become followers of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. If you are a Christian familiar with Dr. Peterson, it is probable that you have asked questions like, “Why does he matter?” “How biblical is his message?” And “Is he a Christian?” If you are one of the millions he has helped with “adulting,” these questions are even more urgent.

In this episode, the Sons of Thunder (Joel and Parker) expound on the Jordan Peterson phenomenon, in order to answer those questions once and for all. 

Jordan Peterson is a Jungian psychologist and professor from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He rocketed onto the (inter)national scene first in a dust-up over the Canadian government (allegedly) mandating that Canadians use the so-called transgendered people’s preferred pronouns. Once people started listening to him, many found that he had other ideas that they found appealing. 

What is Jordan Peterson Known For?

Today Dr. Peterson is known across the English-speaking world as a thinker and commentator on how to live a fruitful and productive life. His ideas often land him in the crosshairs of those on the political and cultural left, and therefore he is followed by significant controversy. That controversy, by the way, seems to have only helped his star to rise (remember the “catastrophic” Cathy Newman interview?).

Controversy and all, Peterson has garnered a massive following of young men, who view him as something of a father figure. Peterson’s message is simple: he calls people (again, especially young men) to personal responsibility and self-respect. 

He matters, especially to those keeping track of ideological trends, because of the prominence of his ideas as well as the controversy that surrounds him. He is a psychologist, but he is not content to stay within the field of psychology, likely because he recognizes the necessary overlap between disciplines. He dabbles in theology and philosophy as well. 

Where is Jordan Peterson From?

Geographically, he comes from Toronto. Ideologically, however, he is notoriously difficult to locate. Where is he coming from? Bible-believing Christians, in particular, have grappled with what to think of him in terms of his message, and whether believers can (and should) listen to him and learn from him. 

What Jordan Peterson Believes

This is a key question. It is one that many Christians want to answer, because of the warnings in Scripture about believers partnering with nonbelievers. It is especially pertinent, given Jordan Peterson’s common causes with conservative, Bible-believing Christians. 

The appropriateness of Christians partnering with non-Christians on social issues is one believers have been asking for years (see this “Ask Pastor John” episode from 2016, “Should Christians Partner with Non-Christians on Social Issues?”). So it would really be a lot easier, many believers may be thinking, if Jordan Peterson were just a Christian. Then partnering with him would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately it is not that easy. 

In this podcast episode Joel and Parker analyze Peterson’s own statements about his beliefs. Specifically, Dr. Peterson refuses to say he believes in God, expressing his own failure to live up to the moral expectations of a believer. It seems he understands a form of law, but has no meaningful conception of grace. 

By comparing what he says to the biblical Gospel, the Sons of Thunder conclude that Jordan Peterson is not a Christian. They then discuss the value of “eating the meat and spitting out the bones,” and how much of what Jordan Peterson gets right is found in the Bible anyway. 

To learn more about the Christian message that Peterson approaches but does not quite fully embrace, read the Think Institute’s series on the biblical worldview, especially “The Biblical Worldview, Part 4: What Is Man?” and “The Biblical Worldview, Part 7: Who is Jesus

Show Highlights

  • Jordan Peterson rose to prominence as a psychology professor at the University of Toronto

  • He got into a brouhaha over the Canadian government’s alleged enforcement of compelled speech

  • He has been no stranger to controversy since then

  • It turns out Dr. Peterson has a lot more to say, especially about archetypal heros and concepts supposedly genetically engrained into humanity. 

  • He even analyzes Disney movies psychologically.

  • One interesting idea he discusses is the so-called Matthew principle.  

  • Dr. Peterson plays in the theological and philosophical sandboxes

  • Jordan Peterson gives good advice that resonates with many young men

  • He has expressed sympathy with Christian ideas and professes to be some kind of Christian

  • He will not expressly say he believes in God, due to ethical concerns

  • He also promotes evolution, deriving lessons from lobsters

  • Given his statements on God and whether he believes in God, it is unlikely that Jordan Peterson is a Christian

  • Christians are free to (cautiously) appreciate the good things Jordan Peterson says, without wholesale adopting his worldview (eat the meat; spit out the bones). 

  • We should recognize that, while Jordan Peterson has many good things to say, the things he gets right are really restatements of truth from the Bible we already have

  • He prompts Christians to ask new questions, which is valuable. 

People, Resources, and Articles Mentioned in this Podcast Episode

Connect with Joel and Parker

Parker Settecase on Twitter

Parker’s Pensees (blog)

Joel Settecase on Twitter

Joel Settecase on Instagram

Listen to the Think Podcast (and remember to leave us a review!)

The Think Podcast on Apple Podcasts

The Think Podcast on Stitcher

The Think Podcast on TuneIn

The Think Podcast on Anchor

How do you explain Christianity?

Get resources, articles and more podcast episodes at the Think Institute website, Truthinconversation.com.

12 Rules for Life book cover - Source: jordanbpeterson.com

12 Rules for Life book cover - Source: jordanbpeterson.com

How to Explain Who God Is (Blogcast)

By Joel Settecase / 2-minute read

God is the infinite, personal, Triune Lord, who is higher than everything yet present everywhere, and who has exercises authority and control over all things. There is much we could say about the biblical view of God. However, whatever we say about him, we must do so in a way that both agrees with what the Bible says, and is understandable (which means avoiding unnecessary theological jargon). Knowing God is life’s greatest privilege, and it is our privilege as believers to share that knowledge with others.

This episode is an audio recording of the Think Institute article, How to Explain Who God Is.

Show Highlights

  • It is vital for Christians to be able to answer the question of who God is.

  • Conversations with non-Christians are opportunities to share your faith, and explaining God is a big part of that. 

  • So we need to be able to do it well.

  • “Who is God” is the first question in Catakids!

  •  God is infinite, personal, and diverse. 

  • He is one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  • He is transcendent, immanent, and sovereign. 

  • Christians derive our view of God from the Bible alone. 

  • The name of God is Yahweh, which is translated “the LORD” in English Old Testaments

  • Jesus is called Lord.

  • The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Christ. 

  • The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is the pre-incarnate Son of God.

  • The three divine Persons are one in essence, thinking, and purpose.

  • God is important to Christianity (duh). 

  • Joel gives a concise summary of who God is.

Resources and Articles to Take Your Study to the Next Level

Listen to the Think Podcast

(and remember to leave us a review!)

The Think Podcast on Apple Podcasts

The Think Podcast on Stitcher

The Think Podcast on TuneIn

The Think Podcast on Anchor


How to Explain Who God Is

By Joel Settecase / 7-minute read

Who is God in the Christian View?

Naturally, if you are already a believing Christian, then the question of who God is might seem like a no-brainer. However, a moment's reflection will reveal to you how vital it is for you to think about this question. After all, you do not live in a world filled only with other Christians. You live in the real world. 

The real world is filled with non-Christians, and even if you are in somewhat of a Christian bubble (as I often seemed to find myself when I was a local church pastor), it is inevitable that you will often find yourself in conversation with someone who believes differently than you (again, this too happened frequently when I was a pastor). 

Each of these instances represents an opportunity to testify about who God is and what Jesus has done in your life. And the last thing you would want to have happen, when that happens, is to be stuck for words when it comes to how you describe who God is. When the time comes, you will want to be confident you can do this in a way that is clear, concise and accurate (that is, biblical). 

The question of who God is is foundational. This is why the very first question-and-answer of Catakids, the New Covenant Catechism for Little Ones, reads like this: 

Q: Who is God?

A: The Lord is God!

To be sure, you  could begin there with your discussion partner. However, you will eventually want to go deeper and explain just who “The Lord” is in the Christian view. In the Think Institute resource, Think: The Biblical Worldview, we describe God’s Lordship. That description could be summarized as follows: 

What Are the Characteristics of God?

God is that Someone who is greater than ourselves, who explains our existence. He is infinite (meaning unlimited in his nature), personal (we can know him), and diverse within himself. That is, the Lord is “Triune,” meaning one God in three Persons--Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If you have more time, you may give the Scripture references for each of these points:

  • God is infinite: “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). “I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but me” (Isaiah 44:6b).

  • God is personal: “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent—Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).

  • God is diverse: “yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him” (2 Co. 8:6). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:13). 

If you have even more time, you can mention that God is the Creator of all things, and he relates to his creation in certain ways. 

  • God is transcendent (above creation) (Isaiah 40:22).

  • God is immanent (immediately present everywhere in creation) (Psalm 139:7-12). 

  • God is sovereign (exercising authority, control and presence over creation). 

There is much more you could say about who God is, including that God is love (1 John 4:8), perfectly just, amazingly merciful, etc. 

All of the above attributes make up the Christian view of God. It is important to keep in mind that, as Christians, these are not what we think God ought to be like. We derive our conception of God not from our own wishful thinking but rather directly from holy Scripture. We did not write the Bible; we inherited it as a sacred trust, and we cannot go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).  

What Is the Christian God Called?

While we often refer to God simply as “God,” the word God is really more of a title than a proper name. 

In the Old Testament, God introduces himself to his people as “I am” (Exodus 3:14), and he is properly called “Yahweh,” the personal-name form of “I am.” In our English Bibles “Yahweh” (YHWH in the biblical Hebrew) is rendered, “The LORD.”

In the Greek of the New Testament (especially in the writings of the Apostle Paul), the word God (ho Theos) is typically used to refer to God the Father. 

God the Son, being manifested on the earth as a man named Jesus, is rightly referred to as either Jesus or “the Lord.” It is notable that Paul so often uses “Lord” (Kurios in the Greek) to refer to Jesus, given that that is the word used in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) to refer to Yahweh. 

In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is called the Holy Spirit or simply, the Spirit. He is also referred to as the Spirit of Christ, the Advocate, and with reference to other various functions that he carries out (the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of life, etc.). 

Who Is God and Who is Jesus? 

In the Old Testament, there are times when an “angel” speaks to the people of Israel, yet this “angel” is called Lord and worshiped as such. It is the opinion of this writer (as well as many scholars) that, while there are many angels who are infinitely lower than God (being creatures), these depictions of the Angel of the Lord, who acts and speaks as God, are actually depictions of God the Son, the Creator himself, before he became a man. 

Jesus is not identical to God the Father, nor to the Spirit. And yet the three are one, meaning perfectly unified in their essence, thinking, and purpose (John 5:19). As Jesus himself said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). 

Why Is God Important to Christianity?

Like the question of God’s identity, the question of God’s importance may also seem like a no-brainer, but how well can you answer it?

A correct understanding of God is vital because he is the perfect standard of goodness and truth, kindness and strength. He is the holy and just judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25). We have to know who he is in order to begin to understand our world. 

On a more personal level, God is a Father to believers, and he loved us while we were yet sinners and sent his Son to die for us (Romans 5:8). He chose us to be his children before he created the world. God the Son is Jesus, our Savior, King and closest friend. God the Holy Spirit is our Advocate and life-giver, who gives us faith in Jesus, strengthens us for good works and makes us persevere in the faith.

What Is God and Who Is God?

To summarize, when asked who God is, say, “God is the infinite, personal, Triune Lord, who is higher than everything yet present everywhere, and who has exercises authority and control over all things.” And then get ready for a great conversation as you unpack what all that means.

There is much, much more we could say about the biblical view of God. However, whatever we say about him, we need to say it in a way that both accords with Scripture and makes sense to our discussion partners (which means avoiding unnecessary theological jargon whenever possible). Knowing who God is, and knowing him personally, is life’s greatest privilege, and it is our privilege as believers to share that knowledge with others.

Want to take your study to the next level? Check out this resource:

  • Think: The Biblical

What Does the Bible Teach About Education?

By Joel Settecase / 13-minute read

While Christians approach the subject of education from different perspectives and come to diverse conclusions, the Bible does present clear answers to questions like whose responsibility it is, what the curricula should center around, and the desired effects and goal of education.

With home education growing worldwide and about ten percent of American students enrolled in private, non-governmental schools, this seems like a good time to talk about education from a biblical perspective.

The endeavor of entering a discussion of how Christian parents ought to educate their children is one fraught with peril. Inevitably any discussion or teaching on the subject is going to step on toes and aggravate raw nerves of Christians with strong convictions on the matter. Even those of us who ostensibly consider themselves “Bible Centered” (which, according to the Barna Group only amounts to a paltry 5% of Americans) have undoubtedly had our views on education shaped by both Scripture as well as external influences, including memories (good and bad) of our own childhood education. If we were to listen to the voice of God through the cacophony of voices speaking about this issue, what would we hear him saying?

In a (now postponed) episode of The Think Podcast, my guest and I enjoyed a robust conversation about Christian approaches to education, although we did not answer the question many want to jump to: “Should Christian parents put their children in the public (government) schools?” This is the question many want to jump immediately to answering. However before we can answer that we need to see what God tells us in his word about three vital elements: the responsibility of education, the focus of the curricula and the goal or desired results of education.

I want to close this introduction with two quick thoughts.

First, note that just now I did not say we are going to look at the goal or desired results of education “for Christians,as though there were separate norms for believers that unbelievers would be free to accept or reject. Of course anyone may accept or reject whatever the Bible says (and we reject it to our peril), but if Christ really does possess all authority in Heaven and on Earth (and he does according to Matthew 28:18), and if the Bible is his word (and it is according to Luke 24:27 and John 5:39, etc.), then the Bible’s prescriptions for education apply to the whole of humanity, not just those who accept them. So there’s that.

Secondly, in terms of defining what education is, I roughly have in mind the definition expounded upon by Douglas Wilson when he speaks about the paideia of God (quoting the Apostle in Ephesians 6:4), which I loosely summarize as:

A system of teaching and enculturation that transcends (though not excluding) the formal schooling happening typically between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., and that is built upon the foundation of, and in support of, a robust biblical worldview.*

I want the rest of the article to serve as a resource for parents and other Christians who are thinking (or want to begin to think) biblically about their children’s education. Under each of the three headers, I will list the answers and supporting biblical passages. Feel free to leave any comments in the appropriately-marked “comments” section below.

Who “Owns” Your Children’s Education?

Whose responsibility is it to education our children?

Fathers and Mothers

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

—Deut. 6:6-7

You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

—Deut. 11:19

Note: as a good New Covenant Theologian (as I am, which was pointed out by Joe and Jimmy on a recent episode of the podcast Doctrine and Devotion), I recognize that these commands were given to Old Covenant Israelite parents, that they would teach their children the commands of the Mosaic Law. Believers are not under that covenant or law, but the O. T. Law is instructive for us (Romans 15:4) and the pattern of parents teaching their children persists throughout Scripture into the New Testament, as we shall see.

Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching

—Prov. 1:8

O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth

—Prov. 4:1-5

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

—Eph. 6:4

Interestingly, the same verb (ektrepho) Paul uses for how fathers are to “bring up” their children is also used in Ephesians 5:29, when Paul commands husbands to “nourish” their wives as their own bodies. Husbands and fathers therefore have a special responsibility to oversee the educative environment of their homes (see also 1 Cor. 14:35, Eph. 5:25-26).

God Directly

God may directly impart wisdom or knowledge to people. Because Christians enjoy a personal relationship with God through Christ Jesus, we enjoy the benefits of God teaching us (often through his word, and always in direct agreement with his word, when the instruction comes by way of other means).

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

—Psalm 25:4-5

As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

—Daniel 1:17

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

—James 1:5

The Church

Just as parents are to foster the household of the immediate family as an educational environment, so also is the “household of God” a place where teaching and learning take place. In fact the leaders of each local church, the elders, are required to be men who are “apt to teach” (2 Tim. 2:24). Education is a mission of the church given by Christ himself in the Great Commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

—Matthew 28:19-20

And elsewhere, the Apostle Paul instructs the church to teach:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching

—Romans 12:6-7

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,  and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

—Titus 2:3-5

In that Titus passage, Paul essentially tells Pastor Titus to commission the older women to facilitate a kind of practical-theology-meets-home-economics-meets-marriage-counseling program.

The State (in the right circumstances) may provide some facilitation

Again, this deals with Old Covenant Israel, however it is instructive:

David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals...And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike.

King David, as head of state, set up a worship music arts teaching program for temple worship. Note that David was not doing the teaching, nor were any of his governmental officials leading the department. Rather David set it up and entrusted it to faithful and gifted instructors, under God’s leadership.** Translated to modern times this may look like a government giving a public award or even a tax break to an arts program that seeks to instill the love of truth and beauty in its students, which would be in line with the responsibility of government (cf. 1 Peter 2:13-14) to sanction good behavior.

What Should the Content or Curricula of Education Be?

Education should found its foundation in the worship and reverence of the Lord:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

—Proverbs 1:7

As for the subjects to be covered, anything good, true and beautiful is fair game. Classically, students were taught according to the Trivium of subjects, namely Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. This format is followed by classical schools today. In my own perusal of Scripture I found support for inclusion of the following subjects. The list is not certainly not exhaustive but may be instructional.

  • Natural sciences. Adam’s first job was to classify the animals. Proverbs 6:6-8 encourages entomology as a source wisdom.

  • Biblical Hermeneutics. Jesus says one who has mastered the Old Testament and is also trained in the New Testament is like a man who “brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52).

  • Philosophy and poetry. The Apostle Paul quotes from pagan poets and philosophers when he needs to demonstrate a point, indicating the value in this study (cf. Ti. 1:12, Acts 17:28).

  • Literature. Jude (1:14) quotes from the Book of Enoch, even citing the passage he quotes as an authority. Paul asked Timothy to bring him his books (2 Tim. 4:13).

  • Cosmology and Astrophysics. Psalm 19 says that the heavens declare the glory of God. The study of the heavens ought to aim to find out what the heavens are saying.

  • History. Scripture is itself a historical text and is filled with commands for God’s people to “remember.”

  • Christology and Theology. Jesus tells his followers to teach disciples “All that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20), just as Paul tells Timothy to pass on “What you have heard from me” (2 Tim. 2:2) and to “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:13) .

What Is the Biblical Goal of Education?

Ultimately, the goal is that the student would own his own learning and be able to test doctrines and studies himself, to discern truth from error. For example, the author of Hebrews admonishes the Hebrew Christians for their inability to have achieved maturity, calling them children in need of “milk” (Heb. 5:12).

The Berean Jews, on the other hand, took ownership of their own education and searched the Scriptures as soon as they heard the new teaching of the Gospel; Luke (the author of Acts) calls them “noble” (Acts 17:11).

Good instruction is life-giving (Prov. 4:13); as parents we ought to seek to educate our children in such a way that, when they are older, we will be happy if they stick with it (as they most likely will according to Proverbs 22:6). We want our children to become the kind of learners who intertwine their righteousness with their learning and become wiser still (Prov. 9:9).

Ultimately our goal is to ensure that our children are provided with the tools to become mature and complete through their studies, studies which are rooted in Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17) but which branch out into every area of God’s world, and studies which are supplemented by rigorous testing, which produces maturity (cf. James 1:4).

There are many more passages we could have cited and dissected, but this should at least provide parents with a framework for thinking robustly, from a biblical worldview, about these three pertinent questions as they seek to pursue their children’s education in a way that honors the Lord.

Notes:

*Wilson sees full-orbed Christian education as not being fully possible to achieve apart from a Christian civilization, but as a Postmillennialist he believes we are on our way there. As an Amillennialist I disagree with him. However, I do consider myself something of an “optimistic Amillennialist, to which, when I told that to Doug Wilson in a recent phone conversation, he replied, “Well, that works.”

**King David, the man of God and prophet, was himself “apt to teach,” and apparently enjoyed teaching children the fear (worship and reverence) of the Lord (Psalm 34:11).

This article by the Institute for Faith, Works & Economics helped me find the 1 Peter passage about government praising good behavior: Dr. Art Lindsley, “What Does the Bible Say about the Role of Government?”, tifwe.org, accessed on July 30, 2019, at https://tifwe.org/bible-role-of-government/.

Who Is Jesus?

By Joel Settecase / 7-minute read

Is Jesus merely a man, a created, divine being, or God? What did Jesus claim about himself and are those claims true?

The Most Important Question In the World

There is perhaps no historical personage whose identity and significance is debated more than Jesus Christ. Of course, this is appropriate given of what is at stake in answering the question. 

Christians teach that Jesus is the Messiah (or “Christ,” the “Anointed One”) who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). If  this is true, then correct belief about him (and in him) is a matter of eternal life and death. In that case, every human being on earth owes him complete allegiance and submission.

Because we humans are none too willing to surrender our autonomy to just anyone, and because (due to our broken and sinful human nature) we naturally rebel against God, it is to be expected that the identity of Jesus would be highly controversial. The unbeliever has literally everything to lose (and, the believer would add, everything to gain!) by believing in the biblical identity of Jesus. Below, we will briefly look at a few of the ways that adherents of different worldviews answer this question, before we examine the biblical data. 

The Most Interesting Man In the World

At this point, you might be thinking, Wait, I thought we were talking about seven questions that every worldview must answer! Belief in Jesus is a Christian thing. Why should other worldviews need to answer this? This is a valid question. So then, is the identity of Jesus really a vital one for all worldviews? 

The answer is yes, for two reasons. First, Jesus really is who the Bible teaches he is, and therefore his identity is of the utmost, cosmic importance. Secondly, as it turns out, all the major worldviews really do have an answer to the question of Jesus’s identity. This First-Century carpenter-turned-rabbi from Judea has been so influential that, when it comes to thinking about life’s biggest issues, he turns out to be unavoidable. 

In a 2015 article for Relevant Magazine, apologist J. Warner Wallace said, “Every religion makes some effort to account for His existence and teaching… This ought to give seekers a reason to pause and consider the life of Jesus seriously.” It is amazing to see how nearly so many adherents of different worldviews try to explain Jesus and even roll him into their own system.

Different Answers

So how have other worldviews explained who Jesus is? Let us now consider five alternative versions of Jesus, from Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Rabbinical Judaism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Bible’s Answer

We could continue and list the versions of Jesus from other worldviews, such as Atheism, Postmodernism/Intersectionality, Mormonism, and more. Such a list would be fascinating. However, it suffices to say that every worldview other than biblical Christianity views Jesus as less (far less!) than what he truly is, according to Scripture. Now, what does the Bible really teach about Jesus? 

Whole libraries could be, and have been, written about the biblical Jesus. In fact the Bible itself is a library of 66 volumes, all testifying to his future coming (Old Testament) and his life, work, and ongoing presence with his people through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (New Testament).

His Identity

Remember that the Bible’s presentation of the Godhead (the divine nature) is that he is triune (three-in-one), and that the three divine Persons are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Son, the second Person of the Trinity. He is also called the “word” in John 1:1, who is said to have existed at the beginning of creation, and through whom all things were created (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17). In all, there are at least 102 different names or titles for Jesus in Scripture, including Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8), Bread of Life (John 6:32), and Captain of Salvation (Hebrews 2:10).

His Work

For Christians, Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God in the world (Colossians 1:15), and the only way to God (John 14:6). He is God in the flesh (John 1:14), and during his earthly ministry he presented himself as a sinless sacrifice to God on behalf of all his people (2 Corinthians 5:21). All who repent of their sins, confessing Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead (validating his claims about himself, about which more below) will be saved from God’s wrath (Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). 

His Roles

To believers, Jesus is king, defender and best friend. And he will be the judge of the world. These are just a few of his roles, and we could discuss many more. Yet there are three roles (or “offices”) in particular, which Jesus carries out in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, in which all the other roles are bound up. These are the roles of Prophet, King, and Priest. Jesus fulfills all three roles simultaneously (it is not like he is a Prophet on Monday, a King on Tuesday, and a Priest every third Sunday). Each of the three roles is perfectly summed up and unified in him. 

Each one also gives meaning to, and provides a basis for, certain elements of the biblical worldview we have been discussing. In other words, the whole system we have been studying together all orbits around Jesus. He is the rock upon which our whole worldview is built. In fact, Scripture tells us as much:

  • “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

  • “...God’s household… with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19b, 20b).

  • “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Luke 20:17, citing Psalm 118:22). 

  • “For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Each of the three roles also corresponds to the three “Lordship Attributes” we discussed earlier. Let’s look at these three roles of Prophet, King and Priest. 

Who is Jesus graphic (1).png

Do you see how Jesus gives meaning to the whole biblical worldview? In this course we have truly been saving the best for last. Jesus is the best; he has the final word on the previous six questions we have been examining. 

To know Jesus is to know the unifying principle of the biblical worldview. Think about that. If a worldview is the “network of presuppositions… through which one interprets all human experience,” and the biblical worldview is the true worldview, then the person, work and story of Jesus is the fundamental proposition by which we must filter all reality--and truly, all reality is all about him! 

This means that our investigation of the Christian perspective ought to lead us closer to Jesus, the “source and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).\

Notes:

For comparative views on Jesus in world religions see, J. Warner Wallace, “What Other World Religions Think About Jesus,” RelevantMagazine.com, March 12, 2015, accessed June 26, 2019, https://relevantmagazine.com/god/what-other-world-religions-think-about-jesus/.

Rabbinic Judaism is based on a combination of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the Talmud, the tradition of the Rabbis written in the early decades after the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. and is distinguished from biblical Judaism, which was based on the Tanakh alone. Cf. “Question: What is the difference between Messianic Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism?” Bethadonai.com, accessed June 26, 2019, http://bethadonai.com/?page_id=511. See also, “Extra-Biblical Historical Evidence for the LIFE, DEATH, and RESURRECTION of JESUS,” WestarkchurchofChrist.org, accessed June 26, 2019.

Official Jehovah’s Witness teaching on Jesus drawn from, “Lesson 4: Who Is Jesus Christ?” JW.org, accessed June 26, 2019.

For the names of Jesus see,  Betty Miller, “All the Names of Jesus,” BibleResources.org, October 10, 2005, accessed June 27, 2019.



What Is Our Destiny?

By Joel Settecase / 6-minute read.

The biblical worldview teaches that the story of the world is linear, that it is headed somewhere, and that it is ultimately God’s story. History is neither purposeless nor is it ultimately determined by human choices. While our decisions and actions are morally significant, the ultimate flow and shape of history has been predetermined by God.

Before we begin this section, I need to include an important caveat. When it comes to the details of eschatology (the study of “last things” or the End Times), there are many conflicting views across Christianity. The eschatological details over which orthodox Christians disagree are secondary ones. That is to say, two individuals can both be Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, Holy Spirit-having believers and still disagree on when Jesus is coming back and what specific events will occur immediately before and afterward.

This cannot be said when it comes to primary doctrines, such as the Trinity, the Incarnation of Jesus, or the Gospel.

However, while the boundaries of orthodoxy (which simply means “straight teaching”) allow for broad divergence in the secondary details of eschatology, that is not to say that all of eschatology is secondary. There are some must-believes, some essential teachings, about the future taught clearly in Scripture.

We could turn to any number of passages to derive a biblical view of history and destiny. However, there is one verse in particular that is especially instructive:

Isaiah 46:10: “I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: my plan will take place, and I will do all my will.”

From this single verse we learn three things about the destiny of our world. We learn that the story of the world is linear, that it is headed somewhere, and that it is ultimately God’s story.

History Is Linear

To clarify, we are using the word “history” to mean the whole story of the world, not just the events of the past.

Eastern worldviews conceive of history as circular. Just as the seasons rotate through spring, summer, autumn and winter, so all the life of humanity and the cosmos is a series of repetitions. Even human souls are reincarnated over and over in a cycle of life, death, and reincarnation (until, perhaps, they achieve release from the cycle through Moksha and become unified with the cosmic reality (Brahman in Hinduism).

Not so in the West, shaped as it has been by a long history of biblical teaching. In Western worldviews, even including Western forms of atheism, history had a beginning and will have an end.

The Bible teaches that history had a beginning when God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing by his word (Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 11:3). From that moment, in which natural time itself was created, the story of the cosmos has been progressing toward an inevitable conclusion.

History Is Heading Somewhere

Isaiah 46:10 (with Scripture as a whole) teaches that history will have an end. Things will not continue on infinitely into the future.

At the end of this age, Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead by their words and their deeds (Hebrews 9:27; Matthew 12:36-37). Those who have been rescued by Jesus during their earthly lives (there is no recourse after death) will be judged not by the record of their misdeeds but rather by the inclusion of their names in the book of life (Revelation 20:11-15).

Our current world will not last forever but are being reserved for fire (2 Peter 3:7), after which a new heavens and earth will be created (Isaiah 65:17), the dwelling of God and his redeemed people forever (Revelation 21:4).

History Is “His Story”

Our passage in Isaiah says that history is ultimately the unfolding of God’s holy will. What he wants to happen will happen. So it is appropriate to say that history is actually “his story.” Isaiah 14:24 similarly records God as saying, “As I have purposed, so it will be; as I have planned it, so it will happen.”

The theological center point of history--the most important event ever--was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the heart of the Christian message and worldview. The Apostle Paul called this the matter of “first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3). The Gospel, then is the key to understanding history. In one sense, all the events prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus are pointing forward to it, and in some sense every event since then is pointing backward to it. In another sense, the cross points both forward and backward to all the events before and after it, giving them all meaning.

So history is neither purposeless nor is it ultimately determined by human choices. While our decisions and actions are morally significant, the ultimate flow and shape of history has been predetermined by God (Genesis 50:20). This is a great comfort to believers, because this means that we are never outside of God’s plan for us, and that he is always working our situations together for good and to make us more like his Son (Romans 8:28).

At this point we could get into a discussion of the divergent views Christians hold on the Millennium (the thousand years of Christ’s reign with his saints mentioned in Revelation 20:4) and whether Jesus will physically return before or after that reign (or whether it is currently happening now). We could discuss the Rapture, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Beast, and the Harlot mentioned in Revelation, as well as the 70 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy (9:24-27) and the destruction of Jerusalem in the year A.D. 70. However, we will not get into these questions now, not because they are not important (all biblical teaching is important!) but because they are not essential to the biblical worldview.

Godly Christians disagree on these matters, but we all agree on the important issues. Jesus is Lord, Jesus is coming back, and the story of the cosmos is ultimately about him.

What Is the Meaning of Life?

By Joel Settecase / 4-minute read.

Is there a point to all this? Does God have a purpose and how do we discover it?

“What is the meaning of life?” has almost become a rhetorical question nowadays. It is often asked flippantly, as though the person asking doesn’t really expect to get an answer, or that there even is an answer.

Another way of asking this question--maybe one that seems easier for us to answer, is “What is the good life?” Certainly, the prevailing view at the popular level of our society today seems to be that there is no meaning to life--at least no objective one--and therefore that each of us ought to do our best to define the “good life” for ourselves, to make our own meaning.

Many answers are given from the various worldviews, including (but certainly not limited to),

MEANING OF LIFE GRAPHIC.png
  • To be good.

  • To follow your heart.

  • To love and be loved.

  • Seeking pleasure now.

  • Self-improvement.

  • The pursuit of self-interest.

  • Making authentic decisions.

  • To be oneself (or to be true to oneself).

  • Establishing or carrying on a family legacy.

  • To do the most good for the most people.

While all of the answers reflected in this graphic may very well be good, there is a question we must answer before we can answer the question of life’s meaning, and that is this: “Who are we to say?”

In Romans 9:19-24, human beings are compared to pots, and God to a potter. The upshot of the passage is summarized in verse 20: “But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” God is the Author of creation, and as such he has authority (author-ity) to define the meaning of our lives.

If God has defined the meaning of life, then, it is his definition alone that matters. As it turns out, he has defined it, and the definition is found in Scripture.

First, mankind shares its meaning with all creation, which exists to glorify our Creator (Psalm 19:1; 100:3). Beyond that, human beings are specially created to bear God’s image in the world, exercising dominion and creativity in like fashion to his own (Genesis 1:28). As God’s image bearers, all human beings are responsible to worship God and obey his commands with reverence (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In fact, when mankind fails to do this a sorry state of affairs results, in which our thinking becomes futile and we spin out into moral relativism and wickedness (Romans 1:18-24).

Yet there is another level of meaning to human life, beyond showing God’s glory as creatures and even beyond bare obedience. This level of meaning is only available to followers of Jesus Christ. This is true, not because Christians are inherently “better” than anyone else. Rather it is only possible for Christians because of what it means to be a Christian.

The highest level of meaning for a human life is found in deep communion with God, when we experience God as Father, the Son of God as Lord and Friend, and the Spirit of God as Counselor and Helper, living within us. This situation, which is definitional of the Christian life, is enjoyed only by God’s chosen people, those he has redeemed by grace through their faith (Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:8-9). Salvation and reconciliation to God is only a reality in the lives of Christ’s people, those whom he saves (Matthew 1:21), and there is no other means by which we may attain those blessings (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

What is truly awesome, is that restored status with God is not the finale of the “good life” for Christians but rather the beginning. Every follower of Jesus is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), (re)created in the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:24), intended by God for the accomplishment of good works--works of significance and value that God himself has prepared for us in advance (Ephesians 2:10)!

So while the culture at large may not be able to objectively answer the question, “What is the meaning of life?” (and how could they, unless they recognize the authority of God himself to answer that question!), God has answered it for us in his word.

We might distill the answer to something like this:

“The meaning of life is to know, glorify and enjoy God, through Jesus Christ, and to live for him by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Note:

For the various answers to the question of life’s meaning, I drew from this info graphic, by Anna Vital, available at the article by DrNicoRose, “The Meaning of Life according to different philosophers [Infographic) [sic], January 23, 2016, mappalicious.com, accessed June 20, 2019, https://mappalicious.com/2016/01/23/the-meaning-of-life-according-to-different-philosophers-infographic/.

What Is Man?

By Joel Settecase / 8-minute read.

Man’s nature is best described as fundamentally broken. While having been initially created good, mankind has gone astray and is in desperate need of restoration, forgiveness and redemption.

Why This Question Matters

We start this section by asking why we need to ask this question at all. That is, why do we need a definition of man at all? After all, we are human beings. Shouldn’t it be obvious to us what we are?

The fact is, the answer to “What is Man?” is not obvious. Or at the very least, there is no shared definition of humanity across all worldviews. Therefore, if we want our thinking to be shaped by the Bible, we must ask this question and see how the Bible answers it. (It is also important to note here that we are using the term “man” in an inclusive way to refer not just to adult males but to male and female human persons of all ages. This usage is biblical and theologically significant in ways which we won’t expound on here, but which will perhaps become clear as we go on).

Some Alternative Views

worldview views o f man.png

We mentioned above that there is no unified way that all worldviews answer the question of mankind or human nature. Here are a few samples of the various answers out there:

  • Materialism: Man is a complex machine or evolved animal, the product of an unguided process of evolution by natural selection over millions of years.

  • Mormonism: Man is a spirit child of Elohim, the Heavenly Father, who himself is an exalted or deified man. As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may become.

  • Hinduism & New Age: In Hinduism, “Atman” (man) is “Brahman” (ultimate reality or the cosmic soul). Man is one with the universe, though he may not be aware of this. New Age thought is similar, in that the self is god.

  • Postmodernism & Intersectionality: Man’s nature is debated, but generally seen as being without any objective definition or essential nature (a Postmodernist would likely object to my use of “man” to describe humanity!). Neil Shenvi says, “As a non-theistic worldview, critical theory believes that our identity is not primarily found in our vertical relationship to God but in our horizontal relationships to other people and other groups.” On this view, individuals define themselves and relate to one another and society according to an intersecting network of sub-groups, each with various levels of “privilege” and “oppression.”

Then there is the question of the moral status of human nature: is man basically good, basically bad, more good than bad, more bad than good, or fundamentally broken? There are diverse answers to this question as well.

The Biblical Teaching

So what does the Bible teach? What does man’s Creator have to say about his creation? According to the Bible, man is:

  • Persons bearing God’s own image (Genesis 1:27).

  • Designed as an expression of unity-in-diversity, male and female each with their own roles and both equal in value and personhood (Genesis 2:18; 5:2).

  • Created to procreate and exercise dominion over the animals and the natural world (Genesis 1:26).

  • Valuable and possessing of dignity from the moment of conception (Psalm 51:5; 139:13; cf. Exodus 21:22-25; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:41).

The first humans were a married couple, specially created by God (the husband from the soil and the wife from the side of her husband) (Genesis 2:7, 21-22). All humans since that time are descended from the same married couple (Genesis 3:20; Acts 17:26) and so are rightly considered a single race.

Man is the only “animal” given personality, and as such people are more like God than anything else in nature and enjoy a status infinitely higher than animals, plants and machines. However, unlike God, who is infinite, man is finite. As such, he is infinitely lower than God and is dependent on him (Matthew 4:4).

Adam, our first father, sinned, an event we refer to as the Fall, recorded in Genesis 3:1-7. As the father of all mankind, Adam was also our representative. As a result of his Fall, sin and its consequences (death and hardship) spread to all mankind, who all became sinners (Genesis 3:16-19; Romans 5:12).

So man’s nature is best described as fundamentally broken. That brokenness is both given to us (by virtue of our shared ancestry, according to Psalm 51:5) and chosen by us (by virtue of our own individual sins). We should not think of ourselves as victims but rather as villains. In man’s natural state he is utterly sinful (“totally depraved,” as the Reformers put it) and enters this world under God’s judgment. Ephesians 2:3 describes our state apart from God’s grace as living “in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts,” and being “by nature children under wrath.”

Sin broke all human relationships--to God, to society and the world, and even to oneself. Although man was originally created to exist in perfect relational harmony (similar to how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit relate to one another), since the Fall man’s default is interpersonal strife and jealousy (action that the Apostle Paul calls “merely human” in 1 Corinthians 3:3). Left to our own devices, we would become more and more sinful, and earn more and more of God’s wrath and judgment. The final state of an unrepentant, sinful person is everlasting punishment in Hell (Matthew 10:28; Revelation 21:8).

Yet while man’s nature is broken, his dignity as being God’s image bearer has not been completely destroyed. Human life is still valuable and dignified (Genesis 9:6; James 3:9-10). Furthermore, mankind is not a lost cause. It is possible for sinners to be reconciled to God and reborn, given new life and adopted into God’s family as his children (John 1:12; 3:7).

So we see that man, while having been initially created good, has gone astray and is in desperate need of restoration, forgiveness and redemption.

There has only ever been one human being who did not sin, namely Jesus Christ, who is both fully human and fully God (Philippians 2:6; Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, Jesus both flawlessly exemplifies what it means to be human, and perfectly provides the means by which broken and sinful humanity may be “fixed” and forgiven.

Notes:

For a comparison of different worldviews’ answers to the question of humanity, cf. the “Theory Comparison Chart (Santrock Chapter 2)” Christinao.wordpress.com, accessed on June 18, 2019, https://cristinao.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/sire-cristinao.pdf.

See also: James Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic World View Catalog (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 156-209, especially page 200.

On the issue of ethnicities and race: although the Bible recognizes many ethnicities, it presents only one “race.” That is, human beings of every ethnicity share the same primeval parents, Adam and Eve. However, biblically speaking there are really two “races,” the race of Adam (unregenerate sinners still under Adam’s headship) and the race of Christ--those who have been reborn and brought into God’s family (John 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9), who have Christ as their representative or head.

What Is True?

By Joel Settecase / 9-minute read.

Reason, science and intuition are invaluable truth-seeking faculties, but each one is insufficient on its own. We need a unifying principle tying them all together and giving us epistemological warrant for using all three. Moreover, we need a basis for trusting them in the first place. Scripture provides that unity and basis.

The question, “What is true?” is one of the seven questions we have identified as being essential to every worldview. This question is best addressed in two parts. I’ve already discussed the nature of truth here, so this article will focus exclusively on knowledge.

The Study of Knowledge

The study of knowing, or the theory of knowledge, is called epistemology. Epistemology deals with the questions above. While we take the fact that we know things for granted, we really should not. After all, why should we think that we can know anything? Why should we think that we can have knowledge? Come to think of it, what is knowledge?

Knowledge is classically defined as “justified, true belief.” The word “justified” has led to much debate, and in recent years philosopher Alvin Plantinga has offered the definition “warranted, true belief.” We may say that Bob has knowledge when he believes a true proposition to be true, and his truth-seeking faculties (his mind, his reason, his five senses, etc.) are functioning properly and in a favorable environment. In this case there is alignment between the truth of the proposition, the belief that Bob has, and the warrant that Bob has for believing it.

Three Views of How We Come to Know Things

So how do we arrive at knowledge? How do we come to know? And how do we know that we know?  

Philosophers (and others who spend their days pondering such questions) have developed many epistemologies, but these can be roughly divided into three categories.

  1. Empiricism: knowledge is based on the five senses. True knowledge begins with the scientific process of collecting data from the world, analyzing it, and drawing conclusions based on those observations. Man’s reason can be deceived, but cold, hard facts don’t lie. Example: William Clifford said, “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

  2. Rationalism: knowledge is based on certain principles, which we know apart from what we experience through our senses. These rules govern our thinking. Laws of logic are examples of these rules. When we know these rules, we can reason our way to all true knowledge. This view places high value in human reasoning and distrusts sense data, because after all, our eyes may deceive us! Example: René Descartes started with the maxim, “I think, therefore I am,” and developed a system of knowledge from there.

  3. Subjectivism: knowledge of any absolute truth is impossible. All we can know is what is true “for ourselves.” We come to know these truths through processes that are completely internal and not necessarily verifiable by reason or science. Reason can be muddled, and our senses can deceive us, but there are some things, perhaps the most important things, that we “just know.” Example: Walt Whitman said, “Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.” Intuition relies heavily on experience. One example of intuition is when we assume that the future will be like the past. This is not a conclusion based on reason (there’s no logical requirement that the future be like the past) nor sense experience (we have no sense data of the future!), but it “makes sense to us” to believe it.

False Epistemologies.png

Philosopher and theologian John Frame has pointed out that no one has really been able to consistently hold completely to any of these three perspectives. Instead, the very best philosophers and thinkers have rather tried to combine these three approaches. This is because, at the end of the day, it is obvious that each one has merit.

As Christians we can affirm aspects of all three. We agree with the Empiricists that science is a valid way of gaining knowledge (in fact the first scientists were all Christians!). We further affirm with the Rationalists the importance of logic and sound reasoning. And we join with the Subjectivists in saying that, by golly, there are some facts that we just know to be true, even if we can’t verify them scientifically or account for them logically (though they do not contradict science or reason.

Each of these three epistemologies focuses on its preferred truth-seeking faculty to the (unsuccessful) exclusion of the other two. While each one fails on its own, if there were a way of unifying them, we could approach a holistic view of how we really arrive at knowledge. As it turns out, God’s revelation is the key to that unification. In fact, as believers we can look at all three of these epistemologies as perspectives on the truth.

The Role of Revelation in Epistemology

The world does not interpret itself. God, the Creator of the world and everything in it, is the Creator who speaks. He has spoken to us in an authoritative way, and by that speech he has revealed to us the truth about himself, the cosmos, and ourselves. He has not given us exhaustive knowledge, but the knowledge he has given us is true. True knowledge begins with a proper attitude toward God and a willingness to hear what he has to say. As Scripture says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).

God reveals himself in two ways: by his works and by his word. We call the former “General Revelation” and the latter “Special Revelation.”

General Revelation is accessible to all men, through observing the “outer world” of the cosmos and analyzing the “inner world” of the self (Romans 1:18-20). For example, both the law of gravity governing the movement of physical objects, as well as the laws of logic governing our thoughts, point to the existence of God.

Special Revelation is God’s supernaturally revealing truth to us, which today is recorded in Scripture, the Bible. The Bible is “breathed out by God,” and was written by men who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).

The Bible provides the basis for certain knowledge, and validates the three ways of knowing we referenced earlier. When we think biblically, we see that Rationalism is a false view, but the use of reason is good (Isaiah 1:18; 1 Peter 3:15). Empiricism is false, but empirical science (based on sense data analysis) is good (Psalm 111:2; Isaiah 40:26; Psalm 94:9). Subjectivism is also false, but God has given us intuition, and truth is very personal (Job 38:36; Romans 2:14-15).

Epistemology united by Scripture.png

When unified by God’s revelation, the core truth-seeking faculties of each of the three epistemologies are not in conflict but work together. We have a basis for using all three—reason, senses and intuition. This article examined three perspectives on knowledge, but it would equally apply to any others that could hypothetically be brought up. So we have seen that knowledge is possible and uniquely accessible to those who hold to the biblical worldview, because of our faith in the Bible, which unifies our truth-seeking faculties and provides the basis for trusting them as reliable, when used appropriately.

Of course, the same Bible that validates these three methods of gaining knowledge also warns us about the effects of sin on our ability to know. We will discuss this in a future article, when we talk about the nature of man.

Notes:

Francis Schaeffer poses the question, “How do we know that we know?” and discusses its implications in Chapter 3 of his book, He Is There and He Is Not Silent (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1972), 37-60.

For the three approaches to epistemology I’m drawing heavily on the work on John Frame and specifically from his article, “Epistemological Perspectives and Evangelical Apologetics,” Frame-Poythress.org, May 17, 2012, Accessed June 12, 2019, https://frame-poythress.org/epistemological-perspectives-and-evangelical-apologetics/. In this article he also points out that no one has been able to hold consistently to any one of the three epistemological positions discussed here, i.e. Rationalism, Empiricism and Subjectivism.

John Frame has written extensively about “Triperspectivalism,” the concept that three ideas seemingly in conflict are actually perspectives on the same reality. For more see, Frame, John, “John Frame on the Trinity,” Frame-Poythress.org, November 21, 2016, Accessed June 14, 2019, https://frame-poythress.org/john-frame-on-the-trinity/.

To the point that God has given us true—yet not exhaustive—knowledge, James Sire describes Francis Schaeffer as having made this point. Cf. James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door (Wheaton: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 130.
I credit Dr. Jason Lisle with the insight that intuition relies on experience. He makes this point in The Physics of Einstein: Black holes, time travel, distant starlight, E=mc² (Aledo, TX: Biblical Science Institute, 2018), 61-62.

Introducing a New Catechism for Kids

The New Covenant Catechism for Little Ones, AKA CATAKIDS!, which has been (and still is) available on this website, is now available in e-book and print form via Amazon.

Parents, here’s what you need to know about this resource.

The Story

I had been catechizing my children since the spring of 2014, starting with my son Jakob, when he was two. I searched high and low for an age appropriate, theologically sound catechism, and found some that were very good. However, the ones I found were problematic in at least one of three ways: First, they were mostly from a Covenant Theological (CT) background, and I ran into problems when they got to some of the CT distinctives (such as the Christian’s relationship to the Ten Commandments, the supposed extra-biblical covenants, etc.). Second, they were theologically in agreement with my beliefs, but they were aimed at adults and not age appropriate for young children. And finally, they were antiquated in their language.

Goals

My goal in creating this catechism was to create a religious primer to help parents teach their young children the essential and primary doctrines of biblical Christianity, in the hope that the Lord will use it as a means to bring our children to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus, and equip them to walk in the Spirit and love the Lord their God with their whole selves.

I wanted to lay out a comprehensive overview of the Christian worldview that is in accord with what Scripture teaches. As much as possible, it was my desire to correct some of the errors that exist in children’s catechisms. And to make this seem doable for parents, I wanted to do it all in 100 questions.

With Catakids/The New Covenant Catechism for Little Ones, I want to draw on what’s excellent in the old catechisms while making adjustments to fit what I believe to be the more biblical interpretive strategy of New Covenant Theology.

Sources & Inspiration Behind CATAKIDS!

I drew on the following sources, which you can find links to within the catechism itself.

  • “Catechism for Babes”

  • “First Catechism”

  • “A Puritan Catechism”

  • “A New Covenant Theology Catechism”

  • “New City Catechism”

  • “The New Covenant Confession of Faith”

  • “The 1644/1646 First London Baptist Confession of Faith”

Theological Distinctives

I believe the Bible to be the inerrant, infallible word of God, containing all we need for godly faith and practice. I do not consider myself confessional, but I intended this document to be in agreement with the 1644/1646 First London Baptist Confession of Faith, insofar as it agrees with Scripture.

As the title indicates, CATAKIDS!/The New Covenant Catechism for Little Ones is in line with New Covenant Theology, which some have called a midpoint between Covenantalism on one side and Dispensationalism on the other. Additionally, the hermeneutic reflected here is Redemptive-Historical, interpreting the whole Bible as pointing to Jesus and His redemptive work. Further, I am working from a viewpoint that is Baptistic (believing only professing believers should be baptized), Presuppositionalist (with respect to apologetics), Calvinistic (regarding soteriology), Young-Earth (as a view of creation), Amillennialist (eschatologically), and somewhere between Continuationist and Cessationist (in terms of Spiritual gifts).

If none of the above paragraph makes much sense to you, don’t worry about it. It is all just to say that my own theology will undoubtedly be reflected in this catechism. However, it is not necessary to hold to these positions to use and find agreement with this catechism.

The reader will find my theology best expressed in the “Five Solas” of the Reformation:

  • Sola Gratia - We are saved by grace alone...

  • Sola Fide - Through faith alone...

  • Solus Christus - In Christ alone...

  • Sola Scriptura - According to the Scripture alone...

  • Soli Deo Gloria - To the glory of God alone!

How To Use This Resource

Try to ask the questions, and give the answers, in a sing-songy, rhythmic way, in order to aid in memorization. The goal is rote memorization, not total comprehension. However, the head of the family should talk through the answers with the children after the answer is memorized. Feel free to work through one question each week or tackle up to five questions per week— one each week day, and then review and discuss on Saturday. You can track your child(ren)’s progress using the Progress Tracker in the back.

I pray this resource will bless you, as you join with other Christian parents the world over in raising the next generation of disciples of Jesus Christ.


What Is Good?

By Joel Settecase / 5-minute read.

The Bible, and the God who has revealed himself in its pages, provides the only adequate basis for morality.

In Part 1, I explained that there are only three possible answers to the most basic question any worldview must answer, “What is real?” We saw that God is both ultimate (or infinite, a world which I might like even better) as well as personal, and that in relation to his creation he exercises the “Lordship Attributes” of Authority, Control and Presence.

Now we are close to having a basis for answering the second question every worldview must answer, “What is good?” I say we are close, but not quite there yet, because there is one further attribute of God’s nature that we must consider, the attribute of being relational, about which more in a minute.

There are various fields of study bound up with this question, from morality (right and wrong thought and action), to axiology (values), to aesthetics (judgments of beauty). These are all concerned with the question of absolute goodness (if such a thing as absolute goodness does in fact exist).

When we have answered the ultimate question of goodness, we will know if it is possible to also ask, “What are our moral duties and how do we know?” as well as, “What does it mean to violate the absolute standard of goodness?” Is beauty objective or merely in the eye of the beholder?” If there is an absolute standard by which we may make sense of morality, then we may also make sense of related fields of study.

Absolute, Relationsl Moral Standards Need an Absolute, Relational Basis

Morality cannot be subjective. If it were, we would only be talking about preferences, not morality. There would only be what is, meaning there would be my preference, and your preference, and their preferences, but no bridge between them and no scale on which to weigh them, no way to judge between them.

So morality must be objective, which is to say it must be absolute. Absolute morality requires a basis in an absolute prime reality. This prime reality must be absolute as well as personal. This is because moral duties are laws, and laws require a lawgiver. A lawgiver cannot be an impersonal force (e.g. gravity) or abstract object (e.g. the number four) but must be personal, someone who can make the pronouncement, “This is how things ought to be.” Absolute, unchanging laws require an absolute and unchanging Lawgiver. Certain non-biblical worldviews, which present a concept of God that is unitarian (absolute oneness) could perhaps account for absolute, unchanging laws, if they merely applied to an individual person interacting with himself.

Yet moral principles do not just deal with individuals but also govern relationships between individuals. Much of morality covers how people ought to treat one another. In the study of morality we are concerned not merely with unity but also with diversity. We are concerned with how individuals ought to treat one another in their relationships and interactions with each other. This is a question not merely of absolute unity but of diversity too.

In order to account for the existence of absolute moral standards that govern interpersonal relationships, the prime reality in which they are grounded must also be absolute, personal and interpersonal. There must be a relational attribute to God, or else any of moral standards for interpersonal relationships would merely be arbitrary.

For example, if God were a monad, as the unitarian religions (Judaism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, etc.) believe, then prior to him creating, there would have been no interpersonal relationships at all. Any moral requirements such a God would have decreed would be the creations of his mind, but would not have been rooted in God’s own relational nature, since prior to creating God would have had no relationships.

It follows that, for absolute interpersonal moral standards to be absolute, they must be rooted in a prime reality (God) who is infinite without division (unbroken oneness), personal, and yet also interpersonal or diverse in itself. God’s nature, as revealed in Scripture, is such a prime reality.

There are many worldviews, religions and philosophies in the world, yet only one worldview that has such a concept of God, and that is biblical Christianity. As Francis Schaeffer has said, the Christian answer is not merely a good answer, it is the only answer. This Venn diagram shows a sampling of the world’s religions and worldviews, and how they account for (or fail to account for) unity, diversity and personality:

Worldview Comparison Venn Diagram - Metaphysics FINAL FINAL!!! properly categorized WITH THINK INSTITUTE LOGO.png

Only biblical Christianity accounts for all three.

God’s nature is the basis for absolute morality

The God who has revealed himself in the Bible is absolute unity, absolute personality, and absolute diversity. He is one (united) in his essence and yet is three (diverse) Persons—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

These three share a name (meaning they share authority and Lordship), and yet each one is distinct from the others. These three have known and loved one another perfectly forever in perfect, infinite oneness, so it makes sense when Scripture says that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). His very nature is love. His loving nature is the basis for how the three Persons of the Trinity relate to one another, and it forms the basis for his moral commands to his creatures.

Therefore God’s moral commands are not arbitrary, nor does he appeal to some standard beyond himself. The Greek Philosopher Plato wrestled with this, because he only knew the gods of mythology. Yet God is not like those “gods.” God’s very nature is the definition of goodness. He is magnificent, glorious and eminently praiseworthy, and he commands that his creatures live by his glorious standard (Mark 10:18). God’s goodness was reflected in his creation as he originally created it (Genesis 1:31).

Only the biblical worldview can account for absolute morality

Recall that God’s nature is personal, infinite, and diverse within himself (we might say “tri-personal”). This provides the basis for absolute morality. Because he is personal, he has a will. Because he is infinite, his will applies to all people, everywhere and at all time. And because he is tri-personal, it is in his nature to communicate; he has communicated his will to his creatures, in the Bible.

We may say confidently that the biblical worldview is totally unique in this regard, because it is the only one that can sufficiently account for unity, diversity and personality in its concept of prime reality. God, the infinite, tri-personal, relational God who is love, is perfectly moral, infinitely valuable, and gloriously beautiful. All the fields of study related to goodness find their basis and ultimate reference point in him; things are good, valuable and beautiful insofar as they are like God, who is all good, valuable and beautiful to the nth degree.

God has revealed mankind’s moral duties in two ways

God’s creation communicates his glory (Psalm 19), to the extent that men have enough knowledge about God to glorify him and give him thanks, and therefore we are without excuse for failing to do so (Romans 1:18-24). Failing to fulfill even this basic requirement, man goes on to sin in various ways throughout life, falling short of God’s glorious standard in every area of life (Romans 3:23). Although man was originally created good, the first man sinned, and all his children have been sinning ever since, suppressing what can be known about God from the world without and the moral sense within. However the moral sense, the conscience, does remain. The Bible says the “works of the law” are written on the heart of all people, and their, “competing thoughts either accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:15).

The second way God communicates his absolute moral standards to us is by the Bible. The Bible teaches that creation’s greatest purpose is to praise God (Ps. 148:1-14), and man’s highest moral duty is to love God (Mt. 22:38; Jn. 14:15), followed by the command to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Mt. 22:38-39). The Ten Commandments were a baseline summary for the nation of Israel, and Jesus Christ deepened and expanded God’s moral teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and elsewhere.

The teachings of Christ are impossible to fulfill in man’s current sinful condition, which is bleak indeed. Because God is good, he must give sin what it deserves.

Immoral man’s predicament

The “wages” of sin, the Bible teaches, is death (Romans 6:23). Man’s predicament, then, is that by living life in disobedience to God, he is choosing death. There there is such a deep disconnect between God’s perfectly good nature and law, and man’s current immoral state, that it would be completely impossible for man to be restored to a right relationship with God apart from divine intervention. He is in the predicament of having an inner moral sense which drives him to desire moral goodness, while at the same time being morally incapable in his nature of choosing the good and pleasing God (Romans 8:8).

We will get into the solution to man’s predicament later in the series. However, before we do that, we must address the question of truth. After all, we are drawing our answers to life’s biggest questions from the biblical worldview—the perspective taught by the Bible. How can we know that the Bible is the best place to get those answers?

What Makes Christianity Unique?

Pastor Brandon Cooper joins Joel Settecase to discuss what makes the Christian worldview stand out from all the rest. The two old friends get into metaphysics, the exclusive claims of Christianity and Pluralism, Hinduism, eschatology, and why the biblical Gospel is truly unique.

If you're a Christian, this will help you articulate and defend what you believe. If you're not, it will challenge your assumptions and encourage you to entertain new ideas you perhaps hadn't considered. Either way, we hope it makes you think.

Brandon Cooper is the Senior Pastor at Cityview Community Church in Elmhurst, Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @FollowAfterMin or on Facebook.

What Is Real?

By Joel Settecase / 6-minute read.

In my previous article, I presented seven questions that every worldview must deal with. However, I did not go into how the Christian worldview answers the questions. In this article I want to deal very briefly with the first of the seven worldview questions, namely, “What is real?”

My goal is not only to explain what the Bible teaches, but also where in the Bible you can find it, so that you can not only test what you read here for yourself like a good Berean (Acts 17:11), but also to encourage you in the knowledge that the Bible really does give the important answers, and to help you become more comfortable locating those answers.

Only Three Possible Answers to the Question

Now, on the question, “What is real?” To ask it is to deal with metaphysics, the study of “definite” or “prime” reality. We want to look at what’s “really there” behind the universe as we experience it. The world’s religions and systems have answered this question in many ways—God, the gods, the universe, Brahmin, all-is-nothing, all-is-one, etc. But in point of fact all possible answers fall into three categories.

The first is that prime reality is ultimate, but impersonal. Instances of this kind would include Brahman (the world-soul of Hinduism), the cosmos (atheistic worldviews), and the Force from Star Wars. Each of these examples portray prime reality as being unlimited in scope, yet also ultimately unknowable and without personality or self-awareness of any kind.

The second is that prime reality is personal, but not ultimate. Examples would include the ancient Greek and Norse gods and the Mormon god “Elohim,” an exalted man who dwells within our universe near a physical location called Kolob. These deities are personal, relational and knowable, but they are finite. They don’t account for the whole of the physical and spiritual universe.

The third option, which in a sense combines the first two, is that God is prime reality, and he is both ultimate and personal.

God is Ultimate and Personal

Genesis 1:1 declares God to be the uncaused author of all that exists, and Scripture is clear he is one (Deuteronomy 6:4), meaning there are no other authors rivals to his author-ity.

Yet in God’s very nature he is personal; in fact the one God, who is one in essence, is also a community of three divine Persons. It has been said that God is “tri-Personal,” and this divine community of three Persons has been existing since before creation in harmonious relationship to one another. Scripture names these three as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

Unlike “the universe,” who is impersonal and does not have a plan for your life, God is personal and knowable. Unlike the so-called gods of ancient Greece and modern-day polytheistic religions, God is unlimited and infinite in his nature.

God’s Relationship to His Creation

Of course if the Lord alone is God, then it stands to reason that no one and nothing else is God. The cosmos is God’s creation, and while it reflects his nature it is not equal to God. Creation is not a part of God (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 66:1). God’s creation includes the physical and the spiritual realms (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), and all his creation is dependent on him (Hebrews 1:3).

Corresponding to God’s ultimacy discussed above, God is transcendent over his creation, meaning he is outside of it sovereign over it; he retains the right to declare creation’s purpose, outcome and guidelines (Isaiah 40:22).

Similarly corresponding to his personality is his immanence—meaning he is present everywhere in the universe (Psalm 139:7-12). It is because of his immanence that he can have a relationship with us. He can hear our prayers. And he is all-knowing, witnessing everything that happens in the cosmos firsthand.

What It Means to Be Lord

Christians call our God “Lord” so often that we might be a little too comfortable with this term, and perhaps not aware enough of the implications of the word. To be Lord is to be Master. Theologian John Frame has defined God’s “Lordship Attributes” as Authority, Control and Presence.

God has authority.

He is the creator and retains his rights as creator of the universe. He can rightfully declare what actions are right and which ones are wrong for his creatures, and he may—and does—decree what events shall happen in the future (Isaiah 46:9-10).

God is in control.

Man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), so he exercises control in a certain sense. Man may freely act in accordance with their natures. Yet Scripture says that even the freely-chosen actions of mankind are subject to the control of God, who plans people’s good and evil actions to occur and ultimately work together for a good and righteous outcome (Genesis 50:20). And this is also true about seemingly random occurrences (Proverbs 16:33). The fact that man is so abundantly sinful, earning God’s wrath, and yet God, having complete control, restrains our punishment and patiently endures and redeems sinners like us, is a testament to his astonishing grace.

God is present everywhere.

While it is true that God is present and active at every location in the cosmos, his special, personal empowering and encouraging presence is to be found with his people (Exodus 33:14) by his Holy Spirit. This God has promised to draw near to those who draw near to him (James 4:8), and to save all who draw near to him through Jesus (Hebrews 7:25). For the Christian, therefore, it is equally true to say, “God is everywhere,” and “God is with me and will never leave me” (Hebrews 13:5).

The most foundational understanding of the biblical worldview is that God is real. Both words, “God” and “real” need to be defined and explained by Scripture, so that our mindset will be thoroughly biblical rather than a hodgepodge of our own reasoning and emotions.

When we derive our concept of prime reality from the Bible, we see that the definite reality behind the world we experience is, as Francis Schaeffer put it, “the God who is there.” He is an ultimate, tri-Personal Lord who transcends his creation and yet is intimately present everywhere and especially, graciously so, with his people he has redeemed.

7 Worldview Questions

By Joel Settecase / 9-minute read

A Quick Test of Your Confidence

Quick, on a scale of one to 10, how confident do you feel, right now, in your ability to teach a non-Christian what the Bible teaches about life’s most important issues? Do you have your number? Is it less than 10? Less than 7? Less than 5? If that is the case, and you desire to improve that number, don’t feel bad. Everyone has to start somewhere.

If, however, your number was less than 10 and you simply leave it there and don’t seek to improve it, well then maybe you should feel at least a little bad. After all, doing so would indicate that you either (A) think the Bible has nothing to say about life’s big questions, or (B) don’t think it worthwhile to learn what those answers are. However, if you are a follower of Jesus, then the Bible is your book. That is, it’s God’s book for you, given to make you “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).

There is, of course a third option: (C) you feel as though the Bible is so complex that you could never master what it says about life’s biggest issues to the extent that you would feel fully confident to teach those answers to others. After all, the Bible is a big book, and isn’t that what pastors and church elders are for, anyway?

True, pastors and elders do need to know their stuff. And yet the fact is this: whether you can articulate them or not, you already have answers to life’s biggest questions. For example, if I asked you, “Who is Jesus?” I’ll bet you could give me an answer right now.

If you’re a Christian, your answer would probably include facts like his virgin birth, his sinless life, his miracles, death, burial, and resurrection. You might mention that he is the Jewish Messiah and the Savior of the world, or that he returned to the right hand of the Father to reign. If you wanted to get more in-depth, you might bring up the truth that Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity.

Now if I asked you any number of different worldview questions, your answers might be in agreement with Scripture, or they might be way off. To the extent that your answers were in-line with what the Bible teaches, you would be communicating the biblical worldview accurately.

So what is a worldview?

In his quintessential worldview primer, The Universe Next Door, James W. Sire calls a worldview, “a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic make-up of the world.”

Jefferey Ventrella defines a worldview as, “a network of presuppositions… through which one interprets all human experience.”

Your worldview is like a pair of sunglasses. Just as sunglasses color everything you see, so your worldview affects your interpretation of everything you learn and experience. Your worldview provides you with the filter through which you would answer any question about the world. Sire says worldviews are, “generally unquestioned by each of us; rarely, if ever, mentioned by our friends; and only brought to mind when we are challenged by a foreigner from another ideological universe.”

Why Worry About Worldview?

Now the biblical worldview, just like every worldview, must answer certain questions. And if we are going to be faithful disciples of Jesus, who commanded us to, “make disciples… teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you,” then we need to know how the biblical worldview answers those questions.

Doing this, and doing it faithfully to Scripture, is a way of honoring God with our minds (Luke 10:27), and, because the heart of the biblical worldview is the Gospel that saves (Luke 24:27; Romans 1:16), it is a way of loving our neighbors as ourself.

If we desire to effectively communicate the Gospel and the biblical worldview, we need to prepare. One way to do that is to prep biblical answers, in advance, to the questions every worldview answers.

Questions for Worldviews

This Spring, I have been writing a curriculum to equip Christians in what we might call Biblical Worldview Competency. A major part of building that curriculum has been to determine just what are the questions that every worldview must answer. You might think this list would be fairly easy to determine. However, if you researched the subject, what you would quickly find (as I have) is that the major authors and thinkers who teach on worldview competency all have their own lists:

Ravi Zacharias

  • Origin

  • Meaning

  • Morality

  • Destiny

    Ravi is the president of RZIM.

Albert Mohler

  • Where do we come from?

  • What’s wrong with us?

  • Is there any hope?

  • Where are we going?

    (I heard him list these on his daily podcast, “The Briefing,” during the week of May 13, 2019. I remembered them because I have used the exact same list in my own teachings. However, I did not remember hearing them from Dr. Mohler; I thought I made them up myself. That being said, it’s a lot more likely that I stole them from him than the other way around.)

James Sire:

  • What is prime reality?

  • What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?

  • What is a human being?

  • What happens to a person at death?

  • Why is it possible to know anything at all?

  • How do we know what is right and wrong?

  • What is the meaning of human history?

Barry A. Warren

  • The nature of God?

  • The meaning and purpose of life?

  • Human nature?

  • Jesus is?

  • Source of spiritual truth?

    Warren is the creator of the Perspective Cards.

As you can see, there are various questions we could use, and no two authors completely agree. So then, I feel as though I am at liberty to draw from what I perceive to be the best of each of the aforementioned, combining and rewording as needed, in order to create a comprehensive list of seven questions that every worldview must answer (each one followed by a couple or three clarifying questions). They are:

  1. What is real?
    What is the nature of prime reality?
    What is ultimately real?
    What is God like?

  2. What is good?
    What is good and how do we know?
    What does it mean to sin or contravene the standard of goodness?
    What is beauty?

  3. What is true?
    What is truth and how do we come to know it?
    Is truth universal or subjective?

  4. What is man?
    What does it mean to be human?
    What’s wrong with humanity?
    How do we fix what’s wrong with us?

  5. What is the meaning?
    Is there a point to all this?
    Does God have a purpose and how do we discover it?

  6. What is our destiny?
    Where are all things headed?
    Will justice finally prevail?
    Is history more like a Greek comedy or a tragedy?

  7. Who is Jesus?
    Is Jesus merely a man, a created, divine being, or God?
    What did Jesus claim about himself and are those claims true?

How to Answer the Seven Questions

I contend that every Christian ought to be able to articulate at least a modest response to each one of those seven questions, and to do so in accordance with what the whole Bible teaches. I am not going to answer them right now. However, I want to leave you with two things to think about.

First of all, as Christians our final authority is holy Scripture. This means that our worldview thinking must progress in a biblical loop. It has to begin with a biblical foundation, progressing outward into the world (all the while maintaining biblical categories and filtering our observations and reasoning through Scripture), and culminate back upon the Bible, as we test our conclusions by what the Bible says.

In order to think in this robustly biblical way, it is necessary to know Scripture thoroughly. We have to be committed to studying what the Bible says about life’s most important subjects and to submitting our reasoning to God’s own reasoning, revealed in the Bible.

A fantastic website to help you learn what the Bible says about any given subject is the Bible verse aggregator, OpenBible. Go there, type in the subject you want to research, and it will pull up a list of all the verses that people say are relevant to that subject.

The second thing to think about is this: maybe it is time to pursue training in this area for you or your congregation. If you are leaning in that direction, there are many solid ministries who can help you and your church think biblically and develop Biblical Worldview Competency.

Humbly, the Think Institute is one such ministry. We are here to equip believers with knowledge, encourage believers to share and defend their faith, and engage believers together in meaningful conversation. Contact me if you would like to know more about partnering with the Think Institute or would like access to any of Cru Church Movement’s vast library of resources. To come to one of our trainings in your area, keep an eye on the Get Engaged section of this website.

You might not be fully confident to articulate the biblical worldview today, and you might not get all the way there tomorrow. However, by learning a little more about what the Bible says about the seven most important questions of life, you can strengthen your Biblical Worldview Competency and become that much more prepared to make disciples for Jesus Christ.