Christian Integration and Worldview: An Overview, Part I

It has been about 35 years since both my conversion to Christianity and reading a life-changing book on Christian worldview, entitled Idols for Destruction by Herbert Schlossberg.  It was this book that began my intense interest in integrating my Christian faith with the disciplines with which I interacted.  My deep interest has never disappeared and in fact has grown, along with a better understanding over time of what it means to integrate and what it is we integrate.  What I would like to offer below is a rather extended discussion of what I have gleaned since Schlossberg and others.

Definitions

Several definitions could be appropriate for a worldview.  I have come to define it as the set of answers to the crucial questions of life.  Together, the questions and their answers make up a worldview for any individual.  Of course no individual’s worldview will be perfectly consistent with the answers.  But one can measure his or her worldview by those answers, assuming, as we will, that they are in turn consistent with the Scriptural data.  I will enumerate the questions below.

But first, we need a definition for integration.  This I define as the application of the Christian worldview (defined more fully below) to any discipline or sphere of knowledge.  A worldview in this sense then is primarily an intellectual construct and integration is an intellectual endeavor.  This is not at all to slight the more practical aspects of worldview thinking, but only to limit the scope of this treatment to make it more manageable and to get at the issues often ignored.

What is a Christian worldview?

I defined a worldview.  Now I will define an explicitly Christian worldview, based on the answers to the relevant questions.  The questions are, among the most important:

  1. What is real? (Ontology)
  2. How do we know what we know? (Epistemology)
  3. What is right and wrong? (Ethics)
  4. What is human nature like? (Anthropology)
  5. What is our summum bonum (highest good) or purpose in life?
  6. Does God exist and what is God like?
  7. Does history have a pattern?

There may be more such questions, but these represent a core of crucial ones.  The task now is to answer these in a Christian way.  To do this I make some foundational assumptions, one of which is itself part of the worldview framework above: How do we know what we know, if we can know at all?  I will assume without proof or demonstration that the Christian Scriptures (special revelation) are the source and boundary condition (that is, limiting condition) for any other answer to any other crucial question of life.  I can of course be criticized for this, but if so the critic has the task of defending his position, which is reduced I believe to either reference to general revelation (with an empirical basis) or intuition.  I am NOT arguing that general revelation is useless, but that it cannot itself be the foundation for worldview.

Moreover, I am not here appealing to most traditional theological categories for the worldview framework, for example, the doctrines of sin, atonement, Christology, salvation, eschatology, the Christian life, etc.  This strategy is not because those categories are unimportant.  On the contrary, they are also crucial, but they are the beginning of building a Christian worldview, not the end in themselves.  We have to get those right, but they themselves are products of Scriptural data (hopefully) and function as the initial building blocks and theological assumptions on which to go further to construct a “theology” of each individual realm of knowledge (using traditional categories of realms of knowledge, e. g., politics, economics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, literature, etc.).

The answers to the crucial questions, as I said, form a basic worldview, and the Christian worldview is in essence a Biblical worldview, constructed from Biblical data.  I did not say only Biblical data can contribute to the Christian worldview, but that special revelation must act as the ultimate arbiter as to what may be accepted outside Scriptural data.  In addition the issue of hermeneutics arises because the interpretation of Scripture will determine whether we have answered the question properly or not, even assuming that we appeal to Scripture.  Interpretation poses a thorny problem on occasions, but most scholars acknowledge that Scripture is perspicuous for most issues.  However, special caution is in order when “mining” the Scriptures for data that would help construct a Christian worldview, as well as the more particular worldview of a specific discipline.  The experience with “worldview interpretation” has had a spotty history, sometimes overly simplistic, sometimes just bad exegesis (more on that below).  On one end of the spectrum is proof-texting, while on the other end, there is “theological reflection” or correlation of texts that do not “fit” the discipline or realm of knowledge.  These are all problems to be overcome, and can be overcome, for the most part, with proper method and philosophy of interpretation and proper methods of theology applied to texts not involved in traditional theological categories.

Once the basic questions have been answered satisfactorily, a Christian worldview has been more or less constructed (I say more or less because it will be subject to modification in terms of new Scriptural data and better interpretation, as well as possibly better theological conclusions as time passes, but will always ,maintain its core features).  Now we turn to individual disciplines of knowledge.  We will proceed to ask questions of any given discipline, utilizing the questions we answered above, and will assess the consistency with the Christian/biblical answers to determine the extent to which that discipline is or can be made to be consistent with Scriptural principles and theology.  This is not as simple as it might seem.  When one says “politics” for example, first what does it mean and what has it traditionally meant?  Then we must look for biblical texts that address this area called “politics, “being careful not to take any text out of its appropriate context or to try to choose texts only based on whether they actually use a word like “politics” (which of course no Biblical text does).  But just because Scripture does not use terms that we moderns use (or Greeks used) does not mean that the same concepts may not be found in Scripture.  Our job is to look diligently and carefully for these texts.  Then we bring all of those texts together and begin the process of “correlating” them, that is, determining how they “fit” together to give a coherent “picture” of that discipline from a Scriptural perspective.  This last step in the process is more or less the same thing a traditional theologian would do with, say, the doctrine of the church.  He would search for texts that can and do address the reality of something we call the church and he then correlates them to form the doctrine of the church.  This is precisely what a worldview thinker does, only with texts about the specific discipline.  All the while each and every text must be carefully interpreted.  But it must be borne in mind that throughout this process the foundation for the worldview is Scripture, with human reason being a subsidiary or instrumental (but important) aid to helping us understand meaning of Scripture.

I must now stop simply because I have gone too long for a singly blog post.  I will allow the reader time to digest this portion, and next post I will address the Biblical answers to the crucial questions of life that make up the basic worldview framework.  In addition, I will add a short list of recommended books.

34 thoughts on “Christian Integration and Worldview: An Overview, Part I”

  1. “I will assume without proof or demonstration that the Christian Scriptures (special revelation) are the source and boundary condition (that is, limiting condition) for any other answer to any other crucial question of life. I can of course be criticized for this, but if so the critic has the task of defending his position,”

    So YOU can assume without proof or demonstration, but if someone else criticizes you, THAT PERSON has the task of defending his (or her) position?!

    Did you ever here of special pleading? Do you not get the inconsistency, if not hypocrisy, demanding someone else do something that you do not want to (or cannot) do yourself?

    Or is it all about you?

    1. Dr. Clauson is right. If someone wants to change his belief the burden is on them. Just like if he were to convince someone else to believe in special revelation the burden is on him. That’s how beliefs work.

      1. “Dr. Clauson is right. If someone wants to change his belief the burden is on them. ”

        That is not what he said. Obviously.

  2. ” But it must be borne in mind that throughout this process the foundation for the worldview is Scripture, with human reason being a subsidiary or instrumental (but important) aid to helping us understand meaning of Scripture.”

    Human reason is just as important as Scripture itself in that they need each other. On this earth Scripture cannot interpret itself. Humans decided which books made up Scripture (and which ones did not make up Scripture). Likewise, a human who wants to become a Christian and attempt to live as a Christian needs Scripture in order to do so.

    That is, unless you claim to be a mystic.

    Bottom line is that what you are describing here in this post is still a HUMAN worldview (like Marxism, pre-millenial dispensationalism, logical positivism, Islam, etc). You are using your own human tools–flawed, as all ours are–to interpret something-in your case, and in the case of Islam, it is a collection of holy books, in general.

    You can deny it all you want, and denial is something you guys do a lot, I know (especially in politics); but denying something is only an emotional response which is unworthy of one who aspires to be an honest person.

    Just so you know. :-)

  3. Jeff, I am going to be honest with you and please believe me I do not enjoy saying what I am about to.

    In the past I have given you the benefit of the doubt about your faith. But regretfully you are making it harder all the time for me to continue doing that. In your posts just now, you questioned the authenticity of Scripture. You said “Humans decided which books made up Scripture (and which ones did not make up Scripture). ” By this you seem to completely reject the role of the Holy Spirit in the formation of the Scriptures, attributing it entirely to humans.

    This “worldview”, my friend, is patently false. and makes the Bible simply a collection of man’s writings and opinions about God. If we accept your logic, then how do we know, how can we have faith, that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John recorded what Jesus Christ actually said and not simply what their Human reasoning thought he was saying? Answer: We can’t.

    Unless we accept the word of Scripture and that the writers of Scripture were Spirit-led: Luke begins his gospel with this greeting. “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

    If Luke were only writing as a man, then we could have no certainly concerning the things we have been taught.

    2 Peter 1:21 “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

    2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”

    Scripture is NOT man’s work. It is God’s.

    Mark 13:31 “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” (spoken by Jesus Christ)

    Psalms 12:6-7 “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

    God promises to preserve his words. That means we can have faith and no for certain they are the words He wants us to have, not a subjective collection of writings put together solely by man.

    You also said: “Human reason is just as important as Scripture itself in that they need each other.” By this you have declared that Human reasoning is equal with God’s reasoning because that is what Scripture is, God’s reasoning.

    If the meaning of Scripture is dependent on Human reasoning then it is absolutely worthless and unreliable. The Gospel is unreliable, the message of salvation is unreliable. You can say “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” but if you believe that this “interpretation is only because of your Human reasoning”, or that it was only a Human absent the guiding of the Spirit who wrote it, then you have no way to know for certain you are correct.

    You are wrong that Scripture relies on Human reasoning. Human reasoning relies on Scripture but the Word of God, which he promises to preserve, does not rely on Human reasoning. It is by faith, not reason, that we trust God is being truthful in the promise to preserve his word and that the Bible we have today is the Word God wants us to have.

    You can deny it all you want, and denial is something you do a lot, I know (especially in matters concerning God’s Word); but denying something is only an emotional response which is unworthy of one who aspires to be an honest person.

    Just so you know.

    P.S. Undoubtedly I will be subjected to a scathing retort that my entire post was based on nothing itself but Human reasoning. I guess that can’t be helped. I will simply close this post by saying with complete confidence and 100% certainly… “If the Bible says it… It is so,”

    1. Nathan, I would like you to think about the truth in what Jeff said.

      When you come across someone who believes differently then you it’s very important to not dismiss them outright.

      Jeff says some things that I believe are just plain wrong. But is there a nugget of truth there?

      Jesus never condems slavery. Paul seems to encourage it. People have used things like that to say slavery is okay or even good.

      What’s written in the new testament about homosexuality is vague at best. Would you stake your faith on having the correct interpretation?

      Here is what I’d encourage. Hold tight to what’s important. Hold loose to what’s not important. Have grace on those that view differently then you. Pray for the wisdom to know what’s important and what isn’t.

      In my mind salvation is the most important issue. Then who Jesus is. When it comes to sin, there’s a reason Jesus talked so much about money, that’s an area that I want to be careful in.

      We’re all learning as we go. Today I believe I managed to be graceful and loving in this message. That’s not always something I do :)

      1. Anonymous, you are correct regarding holding tight to what is important and holding loose to what is not. There are many things that I have an opinion on that I know is just that, my opinion. Some are things that are absolute truth. For instance, Jesus directly instructed that taxes to the government should be paid. Peter and Paul both wrote about taxes as well. It is an absolute that a Christian should pay their taxes. What is not an absolute is, in a democracy, what the tax rate should be. Now I think that in the Bible there are certain passages that can indicate a better direction than another in this regard, but I am not going to start a new denomination on it. Mostly, my position on what the tax rate should be has nothing to do with the Bible but what I, as an American,think is the best policy for the nation.

        But as to one of your statements regarding slavery, we see this as well. You are right that the Bible never explicitly condemns slavery. It does not do so because it was concerned with the gospel and how the church was to conduct itself rather than addressing all the social issues of the day. The church is an agent of spiritual change, NOT societal or political change, though spiritual change can and should have a societal impact. For instance, regarding slavery, masters were to be kind to their slaves and slaves were to honor their masters. And from Philemon, Paul tells the subject of the book to receive his slave Onesimus back not as a slave but as a brother in Christ. If masters and slaves treat each other as brothers in Christ, then such a relationship undermines the very definition of slavery and should serve to weaken slavery’s role as a regulator of society. Interestingly, a number of the antebellum leaders in the American south felt this way but the militant actions of radical abolitionist agitators like John Brown poisoned the well and eventually led to secession and war.

        But my problem here, right now, with what Jeff said, is that he says absolute truth is reliant on man’s subjective interpretation. He talks of Scripture as being a collection of books written by men and subjectively selected by men. He has left the guiding and inspiration of the Spirit out of the equation. I hope you can understand that I cannot and will not accept that because the doctrine of Divine inspiration of Scripture is one of those most important things to hold tight to.

        Have a nice day:)

      2. Let me ask you a hypothetical that I want you to seriously think about Nathan. If you found out that the book of Romans for instance, was not written by Paul and was not inspired by God. Would you still have faith? Should you? I know many people that if they find anything wrong with the Bible at all then it would shatter their faith.

        As I said though I think Jeff is wrong about scripture, that said the point of bringing up slavery was to show our role in interpretation. Obviously it seems crazy to believe that the Bible endorsed slavery or racism. But those were common views. I think some people still believe the Bible opposes interracial marriage.

        Is there something that we believe today that people would say is crazy in twenty years?

      3. @ anonymous. “What’s written in the new testament about homosexuality is vague at best. Would you stake your faith on having the correct interpretation?”
        What do you consider ambiguous in Romans 1? I think there is considerable ambiguity with respect to how the church handles this issue, but I don’t see any ambiguity on the question of whether homosexual behavior (as contrasted with inclination) itself is one of the many sins that beset us, and one from which we need to repent. And in any case, would it matter if the NT was completely silent on the issue, if it was explicitly addressed in the OT, which Jesus affirmed?

      4. “Let me ask you a hypothetical that I want you to seriously think about Nathan. If you found out that the book of Romans for instance, was not written by Paul and was not inspired by God. Would you still have faith? Should you?”

        I did as you requested and thought about your hypothetical. This may not be the type of response you are looking for, but it is the one I keep coming back to so here goes. Because I trust completely in God’s promise to preserve his words, if Romans were not inspired by God, it would not be in the canon of Scripture or at very least great controversy and opposition to its inclusion (like the books of the Catholic Apocrypha) would have persisted unabated to the present day.

        I also believe that anything wrong someone finds with the Bible would be a result of valuing human interpretation over having faith that what the Bible says, the Bible says. It is true many have had their faith challenged and, yes, broken, but this is not the fault of Scripture itself, but because the Church has not been vigilant in grounding Christians in the Word and properly teaching them that the Bible contains no real contradictions or errors that a proper examination of the context and relevant connecting texts cannot explain.

        “Is there something that we believe today that people would say is crazy in twenty years?”

        Well, I guess in twenty years we’ll find out. :)

      5. Nathan, you’re right that answer wasn’t what I was hoping for. But I admire your faith and respect your response.

        Jeff Haymond: it’s late and I’m tired, maybe I’ll actually respond tomorrow, but reread that passage, it reminds me of Paul talking about women covering their heads or women speaking, both also controversial issues. It’s a very interesting passage though, what’s the link between being given over to your passages and idolatry? I have an answer but it’s not a passage that’s immediately clear.

        As for the old testament, Jesus affirmed many things in the old testament, Jesus nullifies many things by completing the old covenant and starting the new covenant. Dr. Clauson has written some interesting posts about the matter on this blog.

  4. “Is there something that we believe today that people would say is crazy in twenty years?”

    As I have pointed out here numerous time before, YES.

    Bible-believing Christians were convinced that the earth was the center of the universe, until they changed their minds as to what the Bible said.

    Bible-believing Christians were convinced that slavery was part of God’s established order, until they changed their minds as to what the Bible said.

    Bible-believing Christians were convinced that the segregation was part of God’s established order, until they changed their minds as to what the Bible said.

    Bible-believing Christians were convinced that imperialism was part of God’s established order, until they changed their minds as to what the Bible said.

    At Cedarville, some so-called Bible-believing professors used to defend South African apartheid, convinced that they were interpreting current events correctly because they were, lol, integrating Scripture with knowledge.

    The defenders of what we would call atrocities were CONVINCED they were on the right side of history. They were CONVINCED that the Holy Spirit was working through them.

    And now Bible-believing Christians say that slavery is wrong, and segregation is wrong, and that the earth is not the center of the universe. Their beliefs changed, but Scripture didn’t.

    I expect that in 30 years Bible-believing Christians will be embarrassed that this present generation said so many horrible things about gays and transsexuals. If not sooner.

    1. I suggest you read the second post on the same subject, as I address the difficulty in interpretation. But we can attain reasonably good interpretations. Of course people have been wrong at times, but then all humans are wrong at times–even possibly you (and me). But you seem especially keen to attack conservative Christian interpretations over time. Some have been wrong. But what about the entire interpretational scheme of liberal Christianity (beginning with Schleiermacher through Ritschl and Strauss to Harnack, and forward–no problems there? No problems with Bultmann? ). The fact that some interpreters get it wrong does not tar and feather all interpreters, and besides that your interpretations may be the ones mainly in the wrong (not to discount the mistakes made in the past by evangelicals). As for gays and transexuals, what is hateful about calling the lifestyle sinful? That is for a Christian simply biblical truth, unless of course you would care to interpret that away.

      1. This is not a conservative v liberal issue.

        “As for gays and transexuals, what is hateful about calling the lifestyle sinful? That is for a Christian simply biblical truth, unless of course you would care to interpret that away.”

        No, it is NOT biblical truth. Please stop being so conceited. You are confusing human interpretations of the text with “truth.” And, yes, it is conceited–indeed, arrogant–to consider one’s own human interpretation as “truth.”

        Your achilles heel seems to be pride. Mine is vanity. All the best to you.

    2. Jeff, every single item (with the possible exception of geocentrism) you invoke in your support really only undermines your position. Christians believing some of those things (and belief in those things was hardly unanimous, though your phrasing seems to suggest such) occurred BECAUSE they made Scripture reliant on Human reasoning. I would argue (again with the possible exception of geocentrism) that all the examples you cited would NOT be the conclusion reached about the Biblical position if a person totally devoid of any preexisting bias on the matter read the Bible.

      For instance, regarding African-Americans: The Bible was wrongly interpreted (instead of taken at face value). Nowhere does the Bible mention color or race. You simply will not find it. The pronouncement against Canaan by Noah was arbitrarily, with no Scriptural basis, extended to encompass ALL of Ham’s descendants (which include Africans). It was exactly because man did what you think man must do with Scripture that these wrong views came into being in the first place. Had man allowed the truth of Scripture to shape his reason, rather than using his reason to interpret Scripture, most if not all of the atrocities you cite would never have occurred.

      As for geocentrism, that also was simply a supposition. You will find nowhere does the Bible say that the sun and planets orbit the earth. But discovering that the opposite is true by observable science in the present does not in any way change any doctrine of Scripture. It doesn’t affect salvation, it doesn’t affect prophecy, none of it.

      By the way, Scripture is very clear on marriage but we have been through this before. You either accept Scripture or you don’t. You say “No, it is NOT biblical truth. Please stop being so conceited. You are confusing human interpretations of the text with “truth.”. You do realize that you are saying that you KNOW it is not Biblical truth in that statement? For you to be logically consistent, you CAN’T know it is not Biblical truth, so why criticize others who believe it if you don’t believe you can know?

  5. Nathan,

    It makes no sense to refer to II Timothy 3:16 to defend what you see as “Scripture.” There was no such thing as Scripture.

    The books of the Bible were decided by human committee centuries after the books were written.

    You may believe that the Holy Spirit guided them, but we have no way of knowing that. Those individuals who disagreed with the decisions made might have also believed that they were guided by the Holy Spirit.

    1. No such thing as Scripture? What about the OT, already accepted by Christians then, long before the NT canon was finally confirmed. And the application would certainly apply to the later NT canon once it was fully written, since God also gave it. And by the way scholars are in agreement that the NT was in its core form was already accepted by the church, as attested by lists as early as the 2nd century, just after it was finished. You can read any good book on the canon, for example, by Metzger, Aland, etc. (those authors are not part or evangelical Christianity, so you cannot accuse me of bias).

      1. “And by the way scholars are in agreement that the NT was in its core form was already accepted by the church, as attested by lists as early as the 2nd century, just after it was finished.”

        Not quite.

        II Timothy was written DECADES before the 2nd century even began and years before some of the other books were written. There is no evidence that the writer of II Timothy–and we are not even sure who that was–was speaking about the existence of a canon that was not even completed at that point.

        Humans at some point decided that II Timothy 3:16 pertained to all of the books humans accepted as Scripture. The writer of II Timothy does not state it as such.

        There were debates about the canon that continued LONG after the start of the 2nd century. Into the third century Christians did not agree–in fact, there were serious disagreements!–about Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation.

        Agreement was not reached, as I said, until around the start of the 5th century. Even after that there are ongoing debates (law v gospel) about James and about Revelation (just a dream or a message about the future?).

      2. Additional comment for Jeff Adams: You are incorrect on the canon issue. The core of the canon was already accepted by the churches before around 150, with only a couple of books in question. 397 (Orange) was only a confirmation of what was by then well accepted.

      3. “There is no evidence that the writer of II Timothy–and we are not even sure who that was–was speaking about the existence of a canon that was not even completed at that point.”

        Paul clearly identifies himself as the writer in the first verse of the book. Furthermore, we can be certain this is the apostle Paul based on chapter 3:11 where he cites particular instances of persecution in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra which reference events in Acts 14 from his second missionary journey. Paul’s epistles are confirmed by Peter in 2 Peter 3:15-16 (and Peter identifies himself as the author of 2 Peter) and are referred to as Scripture.

    2. You have clearly already made your conclusion on this, I am not going to waste my time arguing with you. If you will not accept the testimony of Scripture itself, nothing I say is going to change your mind.

  6. Considering that Professor Clauson is unable to address my objections, Nathan, I will give you a shot at these:

    How can a person KNOW whether or not he or she is interpreting Scripture correctly?

    How can a person KNOW that he or she is being guided by the Holy Spirit?

    I welcome your response. :-)

    1. “Considering that Professor Clauson is unable…”

      Uh? Dr. Clauson is quite able. That he hasn’t yet chosen to do so should not be taken as evidence he can’t.

      I will leave it up to him to answer if he chooses. I could, but I don’t see the point since I already know whatever I say will not be satisfactory in your eyes.

      1. “I could, but I don’t see the point since I already know whatever I say will not be satisfactory in your eyes.”

        Oh, please. There is no need to play the victim here. I don’t bite (that hard).

        Once again…

        1. How can a person KNOW whether or not he or she is interpreting Scripture correctly?

        2. How can a person KNOW that he or she is being guided by the Holy Spirit?

      2. You posed the questions to me because in your view Dr. Clauson was not answering them. He has posted a Part II to this discussion and according to the end of Part II a Part III is coming.

        Give him time to answer your questions himself. For the moment, I defer to him.

        As for playing the victim? As I said above “whatever floats your boat”.

  7. Jeff Haymond said

    “@ anonymous. “What’s written in the new testament about homosexuality is vague at best. Would you stake your faith on having the correct interpretation?”
    What do you consider ambiguous in Romans 1? I think there is considerable ambiguity with respect to how the church handles this issue, but I don’t see any ambiguity on the question of whether homosexual behavior (as contrasted with inclination) itself is one of the many sins that beset us, and one from which we need to repent. And in any case, would it matter if the NT was completely silent on the issue, if it was explicitly addressed in the OT, which Jesus affirmed?”

    You are begging a key question: you are assuming that what Paul wrote to the Romans is binding on us today.

    Let’s put it this way: Considering that slavery still exists today in parts of the world, including sexual slavery in the US, should slaves obey their earthly masters, as it says in Collosians and also in Ephesians?

    Yes or no, please. And thank you.

    1. ” Considering that slavery still exists today in parts of the world, including sexual slavery in the US, should slaves obey their earthly masters, as it says in Colossians and also in Ephesians?”

      If you don’t mind, I can give you an absolute answer to at least part of this. Sexual slavery is, in most parts of the world, illegal, the United States included. The very fact of being illegal makes it sinful because of the clear Scriptural commands to obey government. In this case, the slave owners are outside the law and therefore are not entitled to any cooperation or obedience on the part of their slaves. The “sex” part of sexual slavery also voids obedience to a master because for the slave to willingly submit to sexual relations would be to go against God’s commands and disobedience in that situation would be clearly sanctioned.

      Hope that helps :)

      P.S. Of course, if I accept your position (which I don’t) that we cannot know Scripture is inspired and Spirit-given, then we can never be sure that anything it says is really true and therefore have no basis for criticizing someone else no matter how appalling their views because they might be right. Just sayin’

  8. I believe that the Bible is God’s Word, written by men, through inspiration by the Holy Spirit. The Bible claims this in many passages. It also says the Spirit teaches us truth and gives those filled with the Spirit discernment, counsel, and knowledge that unbelievers do not possess.

    2 Peter 1:21 and 2 Timothy 3:16 have already been cited above in other posts.

    I Corinthians 2:13-15 “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.”

    Matthew 5:17-19 (Quoted by Jesus) This clearly establishes the Law and Prophets as canon Scripture as claimed by Jesus himself and are applicable today.
    “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    John 16:13-15 (Also quoted by Jesus) “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

    2 Samuel 23:2 (David claims to have been inspired by the Spirit) “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me,
    And His word was on my tongue.”

    Isaiah 11:2 (The Spirit gives wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge) “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”

    Mark 13:11 (The Spirit gives believers the words to answer doubters) “But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit” (Luke 12:11-12 has a very similar message).

    Jesus also quotes from many Old Testament books. I would list them, but there are so many it would take much time.

  9. So after some reconsideration, if not just to make the point that I DO have an answer to the question “How can we know?”, here goes. For me this answer is sufficient. Readers can decide for themselves if it so for them, I cannot control that.

    Specifically we are discussing how we can know that the compilation of the canon of Scripture over the first few centuries AD was Spirit-led.

    The key lies in the Book of Acts and the Jerusalem Council as recorded in chapter 15. Here we find that in the early church, Jewish Christians believed that Gentile Christians needed to follow the ritual dictates of the Mosaic law. The specific issue at hand was circumcision. Paul and Barnabas had just returned to Antioch from the 1st Missionary Journey when Jewish Christians came from Jerusalem to Antioch, a predominately Gentile city, to teach their position.

    To solve this problem, Paul, Barnabas, and other Antioch believers, were selected to go to Jerusalem to discuss the matter with the elders there, including Peter and a number of the apostles. The decision reached by consensus of the elders of the Church was that the ritual elements of the Mosaic law were not obligatory upon the Gentiles. In the letter that Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch with was found the phrase “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit”. The decision of the Jerusalem Council was acknowledged as having been brought about by the Spirit.

    This passage should give the Christian confidence in the inspired nature of the canon as it clearly established that the will of the Spirit can be discerned through prayerful assembly. The gospels, and Christ, confirm the OT canon in which it is clearly stated God will preserve His word. Therefore, the Christian must trust that the ultimate decisions of the church councils that determined the canon were guided by the Spirit, otherwise God’s promise to preserve his Word means nothing. Christians can and should be confident that those books God wanted included in the canon ARE included in the canon.

    In the end, the decision is up to the individual whether they choose to accept the authority of Scripture or not. If they accept it, then they CAN know the Word is inspired. If they don’t accept it, they will reject it.

    “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14

    P.S. A modern day example of what I have discussed occurred at my church a number of years ago. We were searching for a new senior pastor. The pastoral search committee, feeling it was God’s will, presented a candidate to the congregation. The candidate failed his confirmation vote. Afterwards, everyone, including those who had selected him as a candidate, would agree that it was not God’s will for that man to become our church’s pastor. The Spirit worked in the hearts and minds of the congregation to make His will known. Time passed and the committee presented another candidate. He passed with 95% approval. God;s will did not require 100% approval from man to be known. 95% was certainly enough to know this was the man God wanted for our church at that time.

    So just as I believe, and know with confidence, that the Spirit worked to guide our church during that time, so can I also know and trust that over a period of time and through the authority of the church councils that the Spirit guided the process to preserve for us as the Holy Bible the writings divinely inspired and “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.

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