Last Friday Becky, Sarah, and I went to the ladies’ banquet hosted by GfBC in North Houston. We had a wonderful meal and listened to a guest speaker. The guest speaker was Nancy Pearcey who was saved from agnosticism into Christ through the ministry of Frances Schaffer. Nancy Pearcey is a professor at Houston Baptist University and an author of several books that discuss Christians apologetics. In her talk on Friday, she discussed how we, as believing parents, can equip our children to be confident in their belief in God. At the same time, the information that she shared is useful to us as we engage with and share the gospel with people who are trapped in a philosophy that denies the existence of God. I am sharing the information she shared here to be a help for us all as we think these things through.
It seems that a number of studies have been done that show that the primary reason for young people leaving the church is because they stop believing in God. One might expect that they left the church because they were hurt or offended but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Young people raised in Christian homes go on to enter the real world and encounter a host of philosophies that deny the existence of God. Even if they have been raised with a solid Christian worldview they don’t know how to combat the persuasive lies around them and they become convinced that God doesn’t exist. As Christian parents, our goal is to see our kids grow in to Christian maturity and not be helpless or unprepared when they face the assaults of the world.
Not everyone believes in God, but if we define religion as the belief in a transcendent truth then we can honestly say that everyone has a religion. For those who deny the existence of God, their religion is the objective truth, the one truth that is true for all people, that they believe in. Mrs. Pearcey uses the principles of Romans 1 to expose the lies of the “-isms” that people hold to as objective truth. We can use these principles when we talk with those who have doubts about God and we can teach our children to use these principles as well.
Principle #1- Romans 1:21-26, Identify the Idol
Those who do not acknowledge God must deify (make into a god) a power or principle as the “primal reality or self-existent cause.” For the purposes of this paper, we will follow the philosophy of Materialism through the 5 principles.
Materialism states that matter is the ultimate and only reality. Everything that happens is a result of biochemical or physical reactions.
Principle #2- Romans 1:28 Identify the Reductionism
Reductionism is the reducing of something to a lower reality or value. She described reductionism as the box that worldly philosophies have that lead to a lower view of human life than how God created it to be. It is an anemic perspective on the magnificence and complexity of God’s creation.
As we follow our example philosophy, we can see that Materialism lowers humanity to a biochemical machine.
Principle #3- Romans 1:18-19 Test the Idol for External Inconsistencies
We need to see where these philosophies do not line up with general revelation. We ask ourselves “Does it contradict what we know about the world?” If a philosophy contradicts what we know about the world, then we can see that it is false. What truths do proponents of the philosophies have to suppress in order to believe their lies?
Materialism does not account for soul and spirit or voluntary choices. Most prominent materialists cannot escape the conviction that there is more to life than what fits in their philosophic box. Mrs. Pearcey shared several quotes from these well-known philosophers (I don’t remember their names) that showed the cognitive dissonance. They knew they were inconsistent but would not admit it.
Principle #4 Test the Idol for Internal Inconsistencies
It is important to see where the “-isms” contradict themselves or “commit suicide” as Mrs. Pearcey explained it.
Materialism says that thinking is just a brain-process much like digestion is a stomach-process. They claim that thinking, like digestion, can be neither true or false. Our response to this would be to say that if thinking is neither true or false than how can we say that that philosophy is true?
Principle #5 Replace the Idol and Make the Case for Christ
Christianity explains the world around us better and offers a higher view of humanity than any philosophy the world could propose.
In the case of Materialism, we could rebut that Christianity accounts for the matter around us because God is the creator of that but that God also gave mankind a soul. Because God is the creator and the definition of all that is True, we can trust that there is a true and a false and that God is the one who defines those. If God defines truth and goodness, then we can know that disobeying Him is the opposite of good- it is evil. The evil within us requires justice and Christ took the punishment for that on himself for whoever would believe in him.
What I have written is a summation of the talk that she gave. It was very encouraging and made me want to read her book Finding Truth. This information would be very useful to our children as we prepare them for adult life. I think that the information would also be very useful to every believer since we all encounter these philosophies as we interact with unbelievers or even other believers who have adopted portions of these philosophies for themselves.