The Place Of Faith In Shaping Political Views • Part 3

Lance Ralston| Calvary Chapel In Oxnard

Building on the momentum of Parts One and Two, in this installment, we’ll consider how the Judeo-Christian Worldview helped shape the modern world.

As is well-documented in numerous works, it was the blending of the Judeo-Christian understanding of reality with the Greek philosophical tradition of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.[1] The Judeo-Christian worldview provided the concept of an objective reality centered on an eternal, all-powerful Creator-God Who created the universe for a reason. Humanity’s original mandate was to have dominion over Earth and in our submission to God to participate with Him in the goal (teleos) of creation. Far from that original dominion being an excuse to misuse and abuse the Earth, it was a mandate to study and use what was learned to advance toward its beneficent goal. In short, Humanity’s original dominion assignment was a mandate for science and technology.

Greek Philosophy provided the intellectual tools needed in the pursuit of that mandate, things like Socrates’ deduction and rigorous inquiry, Plato’s forms and attention to language, Aristotle’s logic and classifications. This blending of Jerusalem with Athens produced the intellectual climate of Medieval Europe and gave birth to the Renaissance. The Renaissance then moved in two directions, Reformation and Enlightenment.

While the Reformation liberated the Church from man-made traditions, returning it to its source material in Scripture, the Enlightenment liberated human beings from religion.

Step One in the Enlightenment’s wedge between faith and reason was taken by Oxford professor John Locke. In 1690, Locke published his Essay on Human Understanding, in which he contended all knowledge is derived from the experience of ours senses and the working of our minds. That working of the mind produced a kind of knowledge he called “probability.” Probability works like this; We repeatedly experienced someone’s existence; we’ll call him “George.” George is a friend we see a couple of times a week. When George isn’t standing in front of us, we still have reason to believe He exists, even though at that moment, we have no purely empirical basis to believe in his existence. Still, sound judgment gives us reason to discern the probability of George’s existence. Probability allows us to get on with the practical affairs in life.

Faith, Locke maintained, is assent to knowledge derived from revelation rather than reason. Therefore, although highly probable, knowledge derived by faith can’t be certain. Reason must be used in order to measure the degree of probability of what we believe by faith. Using this criterion, Locke remained a Christian. In 1695, he published a treatise, The Reasonableness of Christianity, in which he claimed Christianity is the most reasonable of religions. But Locke didn’t believe the Christian Faith had added anything of importance to what could have been known by the proper use of reason.

Others came along after Locke and drove a wedge between faith and reason, divorcing them. In the settlement, Faith was left impoverished while Reason drove off with all the goodies. We’ll consider who drove the wagon in our next installment.

[1] cf. Seven Revolutions, Aquilina, James & Papandera, James L. Image; New York
Faith & Reason, Searching for a Rational Faith Nash, Ronald H. Academie-Zondervan; Grand Rapids
The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great by Ben Shapiro Broadside Books

Lance Ralston Is the  Founding and Lead Pastor Calvary Chapel in Oxnard. He is the author of  “The Place Of Faith In Shaping Political Views” which will be published in installments every Saturday at 5:00pm. 2 Timothy 1:12


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William Hicks

Thanks Pastor Ralston. A great series you’re providing.