Inerrancy and Worldview: Modern Challenges to Inerrancy (Part 33)

inerrancyAttempting to live without any religious commitment or any ultimate presuppositions presupposes a commitment against the true God. Jesus said plainly that “He who is not for me is against me” (Matt. 12:30). The person who rejects God as their ultimate commitment has replaced him with a different one. Everyone has ultimate commitments, we can’t escape them. Whatever ultimate commitment we choose, however, will end up informing all our other choices and convictions. The most important issue, then, is for a person to understand the nature of ultimate commitments.

Everyone has an ultimate commitment. In life we develop a scale of values that establishes which commitment takes precedence over all the others. We have to do this in order to be able to conduct life. Ethics alone require presuppositions. We get nowhere without some kind of value, and we have already discussed the philosophic impossibility of neutrality. People come by their ultimate commitments in a variety of ways, but everyone has one. We need to wrestle, then, with what it means to have ultimate commitments and what it means to have ultimate commitments that aren’t God.

An ultimate commitment is “a belief over which no other takes precedence.” John Frame writes:

Non-Christians as well as Christians have presuppositions. Everyone has them because everyone has some commitment that at a particular time (granted, they may change) is “basic” to him. Everyone has a scale of values in which one loyalty takes precedence over another until we reach one that takes precedence over all the rest. That value is that person’s presupposition, his basic commitment, his ultimate criterion. (The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 126)

This commitment becomes the guiding principle of their life, informs their decision-making, and establishes what is of worth and importance based on its relation to this criterion. It is not weighed against some other criterion, for then it would not be ultimate. At the base level this has supremacy and cannot be subject to some other standard. That is not the same as saying it is arbitrary or unsupported, but simply that its verification is going to inevitably be circular. We have discussed the reality of circular reasoning already and acknowledged that no one can escape it. With this definition in mind, though, we must wrestle with what it means for someone to make ultimate commitments that are not God.

To reject God as your presupposition is to make a commitment against God. There is no neutrality in the Christian worldview. If you start with the premise that God does not exist, is not sufficient, is not authoritative, truthful, etc. then you cannot make the leap to an inerrant revelation.  Vern Poythress observes:

When we forsake the true God, we make commitments to ultimates that become substitutes for the true God. In other words, we commit ourselves to counterfeits. We worship them. Worship is an expression of ultimate commitment.

If God is ultimate, he is the standard for testing truth, both in matters of religion and in everywhere else. When we rebel against God, we still must wrestle with issues of truth and certainty. We get nowhere without some criteria. The best criteria derive from the most ultimate allegiance. So the allegiance itself remains unquestioned. People then become gullible in the standards they use to sift truth and to sift evidence with respect to their ultimate commitment. (Inerrancy and Worldview, 223)

This means that the wrong starting place can easily lead to corruption of the truth. And since a person is unwilling to question their ultimate commitments they end up twisting truth to fit their system.

Modern psychology has rejected God. That is, it has made an ultimate commitment against God that says the mind is a biological machine. We have already seen how this presuppositions refutes itself. It’s also important to acknowledge that if we start with this presupposition we can never arrive at a doctrine of inerrancy, at least not consistently. If we start with the presupposition of God, however, not only do we remain internally coherent, but inerrancy makes perfect sense. And this presuppositions allows us to draw better conclusions about cognition and belief in inerrancy. it is not a psychologically weak belief within the framework of a Christian worldview. It’s important, then, that we see cognition through the lens of a Christian worldview, and we’ll explore that next week.

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