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Six Tough Questions Answered
by Richard B. Keyes
Dick Keyes is director of L’Abri, a residential study center in Southborough MA – one branch of an inter-national ministry founded in Switzerland by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer in 1955. Keyes in also an author and lecturer. Since 1997 he has served as an AIIA Resource Associate for world-views. The following article is original.
L’Abri may be contacted at: 49 Lynbrook Rd Southborough MA 01772.
What do you suppose will be the leading (predominant) worldview in the new millennium?
The only reliable prediction is that most predictors will be wrong. Having said that, present trends point to greater fragmentation and more extreme pluralism. Designer religion looks like the order of the day, but there are too many factors to allow prediction. For example, what will make an enormous difference is whether or not the present economic prosperity continues along with relative social order. If not, our exuberant American idols will turn nasty. This is already happening with the idol of sexuality.
Why should I care who believes what if I’m already convinced that religion is totally irrelevant?
If you believe that religion is totally irrelevant, then it is irrelevant compared to something else, which is more relevant, maybe even true. What could that be? My hunch would be that in order to eclipse the relevance of religion, it is another religion – like money, upward mobility, technology, progress, fame, expertise…
How can one individual’s presuppositions be any more “right” or “wrong” than that of another?
Only by corresponding more closely to the real world. If I were to tell you that the presidential election in November had been between Bradley and McCain, you might want to take me aside and persuade me that I was wrong. Are our religious presuppositions so private and subjective that they are a completely different kind of knowledge, allowing us all to be “right” no matter how much the teachings of different religions contradict each other? If that is so, nobody’s language about God corresponds to who God actually is. Okay, it’s a free country, but then we must acknowledge that most of the people in the world are wrong about their religion, if only because they believe that their words can and do correspond, at least in some limited way, to who God is. Everyone who has taken the trouble to think about it honestly believes that most of the people in the world are wrong when it comes to their religious presuppositions. So, we are all in the same boat in that our beliefs exclude some of the beliefs of others.
If the Christian God is truly sovereign, how is Christianity anything other than just a glorified, theological form of mechanistic determinism?
God’s sovereignty is not a simple mechanical determinism, like the relationship of one end of a seesaw to the other. Strong statements of God’s sovereignty are side by side with strong statements describing or assuming significant human choice and effort (Matt. 11:27-28; Acts 2:23; Phil. 2:12-13). These are two giant themes in the Bible. Christians wanting a certain intellectual comfort end up reducing one theme to the other and so domesticating God down to the contours of their minds. God is greater than that.
How do you explain the fact that I feel so perfectly content and happy in my theologically-agnostic frame of reference?
The Bible tells of many people who are perfectly happy without being in a right relationship to God. Plenty of people feel happy if they believe just what everyone around them believes. Perhaps you are happy because you fit in, and experience no dissonance with your neighbors. Jonah was so peaceful that he would have slept through a hurricane at sea if the sailors had not awakened him-though he was going exactly in the opposite direction from what God had commanded. The prodigal son was perfectly happy while he still had daddy’s money in his pocket. Wait a while. But keep thinking.
What course of action would you recommend for an individual trying to settle on a wise worldview in the midst of the plethora of views and confusion of thought that is out there these days?
Don’t be daunted by the number of options. Be ready for some hard work. Start by asking, “What are the most important aspects of life and human existence?” Then ask what worldview accounts for those most central things of existence. James Sire’s The Universe Next Door (IVP) is not a bad place to start. Read the Bible. Look at the worldviews that are the most likely contenders in your mind. Be as critical of them as you are of the Bible. Pray, “God, if You are there, please show Yourself to me in some way.” Come to a L’Abri study center, communities set up for this very purpose.