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December 8, 2009

By Dr. Gary S. Day

Presuppositions are the foundational truths or assumptions upon which the building blocks of knowledge in a particular field are arranged, such as theology or science.  Some presuppositions are self proven positions and need no further proof or clarification, such as all sides to equal distant triangle are the same.  These are axiomatic presuppositions.

Opposing presuppositions should be tested to verify the truthfulness of their position.  When a subject is developed for some time a Consistency Test can indirectly test the veracity of the presuppositions.  Essentially presuppositions are viewed next to observed facts, which are established truths.  If a presupposition conflicts with these facts, it is to be rejected.  This method is powerful “for discrediting false philosophies that underlie many branches of science.”

Evolution is an example.  One of the most important foundational presuppositions of evolutionary theory concerns the role played by chance phenomena.  By definition a chance event is random and unplanned.  Evolution asserts that the order and complexity seen in the Universe, when matter and energy interact with each other, produces a net increase in order and complexity through the randomness of chance events.  However, Dr. Johnson C. Phillip of Trinity Seminary says, “Developments in the Theory of Probability, Information Sciences, Computer Technology, Thermodynamics, and the study of biological mutations have shown conclusively that the net result of randomness and blind chance is decrease and destruction of order and not the other way around.”

This is a powerful defeat of the basis of evolutionary theory.

Radical theologians also form attacks against the Bible based upon false presuppositions. 

The way this group should be handled is to undermine their presuppositions, not their conclusions.  In any debating class you will learn that the first fundamental principle of debating is to undermine the presuppositions of your opponent, if possible.  Knowing what are the major presuppositions a group hold helps the Christian Apologist to formulate leading questions that will expose those presuppositions.  Some of the leading presuppositions of the radicals theologians are: 1) Supernatural events and miracles are not possible because all historical events must be explained naturalistically.  For example, a strong wind dried the Nile delta Reed Sea waters and not the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross over the Nile during the Exodus, if indeed the Exodus ever took place.  A leading question here might be, “Do you believe that the Israelites actually crossed over the Red Sea by the power of God?”  2) A personal God probably does not exist.  3) The Bible is no different than any other ancient book.

The Christian Theological Conservatives’ presuppositions are four in number. Sola Scriptura , Only the Bible is the Spirit breathed Word of God, the authoritative source of doctrine and revelation.  Sola Gratia,, Grace is God’s unmerited favor and is the only basis of our salvation.  Meritorious good works can not obtain our salvation.  Sola Fide, It is only by faith that we receive the God’s free gift of justification, not by anything that we do.  Solas Christus, There is only one mediator between God and man, the savior Christ Jesus the Lord.  There is none other.  Any who would not adhere to these fundamental presuppositions of the conservative Christian faith are considered heretics.

Although I believe wholeheartedly in these four fundamental presuppositions, there is a tendency to fear the experiential-emotional aspect of a personal God.  Experiencing God is the ideal difference between having a heart of flesh rather than stone.  To be sure, the subjective emotional-experiencing of God can be manipulated and extreme, but Christian spiritual life must include the emotions.  Love and compassion are emotions that we are to express in our spiritual lives.  Fear of extreme emotional-experiencing of God is throwing the baby out with the bath water.  If God is experienced scripturally, that is to say within the bounds of the Word of God, the Bible; it still is subjective or personal.  The balance between the subjective and the objective experiencing of God calls for spiritual wisdom, not extremism.  Jesus’ admonition, “Do not lean to the left or to the right” would be the Biblical principle to follow when dealing with the subjective-objective theological-nexus. 

Evangelicals are a synonym for Conservative Christianity, but some under this name have strayed into the philosophy of the emerging Church, or even neo-evangelicals, which are radical in their theology.  Their stand on evolution creation and normative revelation show their unbiblical presuppositions. Often times the Church events of the 1950’s and 1990’s are viewed with general pandemic assumptions.  But in general a low view is Scripture is one of the Neo-evangelical presuppositions.  Another is the belief in Theistic evolution.  Salvation without the knowledge of Christ and doubt about Biblical miracles are two other presuppositions. 

Liberal Christianity falls into two groups, the Christian radicals and the Extreme radicals, who accept same sex coupling and homosexual clergy, among other non-biblical stances.

The extreme radicals groups take on many forms, such as anti-governmental, conspiracy theorists, and militia groups.  However, theses groupings would also incorporate both the religious right and the left of Christianity.  Whenever a Bible believing Christian is dealing with worldly instruments, like governments, the military and the United Nations it should be remembered that “there is a time and season for everything under heaven.”  Knowledge of the timing for such things calls for spiritual discernment, for God’s word sanctifies no form of government or secular organization, but God has used all to his glory.  And there is an evil agenda that God allows to operate that will lead to the coming of Christ Jesus again, which is told in the Bible.

The Neo-orthodox began after WWI with the claim that both traditional and liberal Protestantism have lost the meaning of faith.  The Neo-orthodox uses the same words as conservative Christianity, like sin, hell and word of God, but they define the terms differently.  For instance, the Bible contains the Word of God, but is not the Word of God.  Karl Barth, the major proponent of Neo-orthodox theology states their view of scripture as God’s Word in his tome, Church Dogmatics (I, 2, p. 123), “The Bible is God’s Word so far as God lets it be his Word.”

Christian mystics can be found in both Roman Catholicism and in Protestantism.  Their central concern is about the spiritual transformation of the person to actualize their human potential, a transformation found most perfectly in Jesus..  There are three general paths to achieve this state, the Purgative, the Illuminative and the Unitive path. These groups are usually communal in nature.  A list of their presuppositions would include: the rejection of Sola Scriptura; the denunciation of doctrine and theology; mystical experience equals revelation; salvation is through a mystical experience as is spiritual joy.  An example of this group would be the Quakers.  Though they travel too far internally in an effort to experience God, it is true that the regenerated heart is involved in true spirituality.  The place of the heart, and thus emotional experience, is seldom satisfactorily understood or theologically explained clearly in traditional Christianity. The balance is somewhere between the two extremes of total intellect and total emotion.

Christian Spiritism uses the same props in worship as does the church in general, the Bible, pews, hymns, prayers, etc., but they add Biblically forbidden practices like trances, psychic readings, divination and necromancy.  This sacrilege is “an abomination to the Lord” (Deut. 18:12).  Their presuppositions are: No virgin birth, redeeming cross, resurrection, second coming, and no heaven or hell; Jesus was a man and not God, but now is a primary spirit who can be communicated with in the spirit world; God is an infinite and impersonal spiritual intelligence that controls the universe; life continues in the spirit world after physical death; and the rejection of Sola Scriptura, for they also elevate and use the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Oahspe bible, and their Spiritualistic Manual. 

Christian Cults claim to be Christian, but often use the Bible with other writings which are elevated to the authoritative level of the Bible or even above it.  Many of these cults will claim that they are the true church.  There are literally dozens of these cults that call themselves Christian.  A few of the presuppositions that run through each of these cults include the rejections of: the Bible as the only authoritative Word of God; Salvation by grace through faith; the uniqueness of Jesus Christ; normal hermeneutics; and one or more biblical doctrines that relate to sin and salvation, etc.

Christian occultists, though an oxymoron, are actually advanced students of occultism, which is the study of hidden wisdom or truth.  Christian occultist uses magic, numerology, and astrology to gain knowledge, in order to produce false miracles.  These occultists also believe that God, and not evil spirits, are giving the power and skills to perform their deceptions.  As such they reject most of the Biblical teaching on Satan and his angels, and believe that occultism brings people closer to God. 

Non-Christian cults study hidden wisdom as the Christian occultist above, using the same methods, and using facts obtained only through the mind or spirit, and not physical obtained facts.  Though many of these cults say they have affinity with the Christian faith, vast differences can be readily seen.  Hinduism and Buddhism would fall into this category.  They reject Sola Scriptura, salvation by grace through faith, Jesus as the only savior and all major Christian doctrines.

The New Age groups have the same presuppositions as the Non-Christian cults.  This movement has no single holy text, central organizations, membership, clergy, etc. but is an association of people with similar general spiritual philosophy, falling into seven groups.  The New Age movement was birthed by the teachings of Alice Bailey of the Lucifer Trust in the nineteen thirties (now called the Lucis Trust).  The demonic occult called the Theosophical Society is connected with the Lucis Trust. The practice and beliefs of the new age movement include monism, pantheism, panentheism (God is part of the universe as well as transcending the universe), Karma, reincarnation, personal transformation, universal religion, and ecological responsibility for earth which is to them a living entity.

Rationalistic Groups embrace the philosophical belief that truth is found only by reasoning and analysis of factual data, and not by faith or religious teaching.  Though similar to humanism, rationalism does not need a strong ethical component in its philosophy, nor is there a need for God.  Not all of these groups necessarily negate the existence of God, for Deism would fall into this category.  However, open immorality and pornography is often encouraged by these rationalistic groups.

There are at least eight forms of Humanism: Christian Humanism; Cultural Humanism; Literary Humanism; Philosophical Humanism; Modern Humanism; Renaissance Humanism; Religious Humanism; and Secular Humanism who are essentially atheists, and who endorse humanity as the gauge of all things, by envisioning man as the Supreme Being in the universe.

Other groups of interest to the Christian Apologist would be the New Prajapati Movement in India, Secular cults and Occultic Cults which are satanic movements that elevates Satan as a positive figure while seeing God as a negative light.  There are at least thirteen groups associated to the satanic movement.

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