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September 28, 2006


But is there A "biblical framework"? Is there no possibility of a multiplicity of views between authors? Furthermore, can we honestly say that today, in our capitalistic technological society, share much with a society that was pre-Aristotle, pre-Descartes, pre-mechanical clock, etc.? There are so many cultural norms that shape and inform our society that would have been unintelligible to any "biblical" author, one of which is the "worldview." I just wonder how useful Carson's claim is.

Hi Kevin, haven't seen you around for a while. Welcome back.

On the contrary, I think Carson's claim is both entirely accurate and extremely useful. While perhaps the specific term worldview (please understand me, I’m not using "word" but rather "term" in the philosophical sense) may not have entered Paul's thoughts, the functional equivalent of the concept was certainly in play. The Athenians Paul was talking to had certain foundational concepts about what the world was, where it came from, the nature of humanity and the divine, etc., that Paul had to challenge first from a distinctly Jewish (and hence Christian) way of seeing these things before he could talk about Christ and even be coherent. What you see in this passage of Acts is Paul deftly building conceptual bridges with his Hellenistic audience (which doesn't necessarily work across the board, as evidenced by many of the Athenians' reactions to his rustic and “intellectually inferior” ideas).

In regards to a biblical framework, it certainly is POSSIBLE that there is a multiplicity of views between authors, but that is not a pertinent question, it seems to me. The real question is: is there a multiplicity of views between Biblical authors on the specific points Paul makes in this passage that Carson then identifies as a "biblical framework"? The answer I would submit is - no. The different Biblical authors do indeed seem to speak with one voice on the transcendent, sovereign and personal nature of God, the finite nature of man and creation, and the impending judgment of God upon his "offspring," mankind. THIS is the context in which the message about who Jesus is and what he has done MUST be given for it to be both coherent to the listener and faithful in content to the original. One does not need to presuppose divine inspiration of the Bible to see that, on these issues, the various authors are distinctly unified and do indeed see the world, at least in these foundational regards, in the same way (i.e., they share the same worldview). This may not be useful to YOU (i.e., very practical) if you are not a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, but for those of us who are, it has powerful implications for how we go about faithfully fulfilling the commands of Christ.

Lastly, though I don’t have the time right now to elaborate, I would say that, on the whole, we are more like our 1st Century Athenian counterparts that we are different. While there are broad shifts and changes in society, culture, ideas etc. throughout our history, what I am struck with as I read ancient texts is how – often surprisingly – *fundamentally* consistent we humans are down through the ages. Further, it is as we examine the differences in worldview, as Carson has done (and Paul before him), that we are able to accurately get at the concepts in question.

To my fellow believers out there, I cannot agree more with Carson’s point. In fact, it is much the same point Nancy Pearcey makes in “Total Truth” – that any presentation of the gospel today must first START with Creation (nature of God and Man) rather than falsely assuming an understanding of these things by your audience BEFORE getting to the Fall (we are sinners culpable before a moral God) and Redemption (Jesus died to save you from your sins). I know I’ve said this before, but – read this book! It is rife with incredibly profound insights.

Where to begin? I think that is really one of the most interesting questions when approaching the gospel or an apologetic defense. Even though for Paul the resurrection was certainly the crux of his argument, it was interestingly enough not his starting place. He first sought to establish the basic tenets of the Judeo-Christian understanding, that there is one God and he is the omnipotent, transcendant creator and sustainer of all things. In a discussion of whether or not the biblical authors had differing views, I really don't see where these basic understandings come into play. As far as establishing the existence of God in a Classical apologetic sense, I think this is a great proof text. It is difficult to begin with the atonement or the resurrection if dealing with a group of people with pantheistic presuppositions, as the Athenians. One great resource in dealing with this question is Classical Apologetics by RC Sproul...a great read.

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