How to think like a Biblical Christian
First off, I’d like to say that I am no professional theologian, clergy, or doctrinal expert. My goal is to help people who are seeking to have an accessible resource for a better understanding of how the Bible, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit all play a part in the role of what I call a Biblical Christian. My approach is somewhat systematic, although I would not call it a systematic theology or anything along that lines. It is more a collection of things that I have learned and studied over the years that have helped to set the framework of how I view the world and God.
This is written with an assumption that the reader has some familiarity with Scripture and Biblical principles. My plan is to point directly to Scriptural sources that are contextually reinforcing to my argument, without cherry picking it. As DA Carson’s dad says, “Text without context is a pretext for a proof text.” This practice is how people get the idea you can prove basically any position out of Scripture. I believe in the principle that “Scripture interprets Scripture” and I am not against being fact checked!
In other words, this is a summary, in part, of my worldview with Scripture as my prime authoritative source of truth. Now you may be asking, “what is a worldview“? I am not going to try to give an exhaustive definition of worldview, as you can certainly look it up on any good search engine, but that being said, it really is something we all have, whether we acknowledge it or not. We all have a certain way of looking at the world and the things that we perceive and understand inform how we interpret the things that happen around us. It makes up my and our reality.
I say “my and our reality“ because, even though we have some common experiences and common knowledge, there are thoughts and conclusions that are unique to each individual person that causes us to perceive things differently about reality.
Outside of natural forces, what is real is not necessarily the same thing for every person. For example, I may see a fuzzy bunny that makes me happy to pet and to love whereas in your reality, you could potentially see it as a vermin ridden pest only worthy for extermination. (You’ll probably note that I made myself the hero of that particular illustration! Hey, it’s my reality!) We all do have some sort of common beginning point of our worldview about our reality. We are all born into the same world, and have in most instances, the same set of senses, and we immediately began to gather data that starts to form our reality. As we mature these sources of data begin to become more varied based on our particular situation - a child born into poverty will have a significantly different initial worldview than a child born into abundance. Circumstances can develop however, that can allow these worldviews to converge.
One of these ways is if a child is introduced to the Christian Bible. That is not to say that each person will be fully aligned in worldview by having the Bible and knowledge of the Bible, but it does act as a common and consistent source of truth and authority, in many instances. Those that seek to comprehend and embrace the principles of Scripture have a foundation that aligns their thinking to God’s mind.
Again, my goal is to help expand your understanding of the world as it relates to God’s word. In order to effectively do that, it may be helpful to compare and contrast a biblical worldview with its polar opposite. That is atheistic material naturalism or ANM for short.
“What the heck is that“? You may be asking. Well, although that is a string of “fancy words“, it is a fairly prevalent worldview today. Without building too much of a strawman, it is characterized by disbelief in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the truth of the Bible. It attempts to frame reality in purely materialistic terms - that is reality fundamentally consists only of time, energy, space, and matter. All reality stems from purely natural forces. No god needed. There is no “truth“ outside of that framework. Right and wrong, good and evil are all subjective. Morality is a combination of survival requirements and societal pressures. Biblical Christians, on the other hand, believe that there are both natural and supernatural forces that comprise reality. We believe that there is an eternal, non-caused source of truth and creative force. Our morality is based around the framework of Scripture and is encapsulated in the statement. “love God, and love your neighbor“.
I think it’s worth a moment to define “supernatural“ in the context I will be using it. This simply means that there is something above nature that interacts with the natural world. it is not intended to convey what has become the popular notion of the supernatural, which is a land of ghosts, fairies, magic, and other fantasy ideas. I absolutely believe that there are supernatural beings that influence human behavior, but it is grounded in the revealed truth of the Bible. We’ll talk more about this in future sections, but for now suffice it to say, there is a lot of misconception about what composes the supernatural.
Here is a good place, I think, to bring up the question of “is it rational to believe in the supernatural“? and a good point to discuss reason and rationality, and logic.
Reason, rationality and logic are all concepts that are core for every sane person to make sense of reality. Without them, there is no common truth.
Truth enables us to describe reality. The scientific method is likely the best framework for understanding objective natural truth. It’s not nearly as easy to apply to explain objective moral truth and certainly not supernatural reality.
(Whenever I introduce a term, I’ll try to take a brief moment and describe what I am trying to get across. The term “objective” means to examine something without bias. This is in contrast to subjectivity, which means you examine something with bias. It is very difficult for human beings to examine anything without bringing bias to the table.)
As we have previously established, biblical Christians view the beginning of the universe as a supernatural event. We undeniably live in a universe of cause and effect. That is, everything we experience or perceive in our reality has some thing that initiated it. This framework colors every component of our attempts to define and describe reality from cosmology to evolution; it is a foundational principle. This starts to break down however, as we get closer and closer to the beginning of the universe. What caused the first cause and effect? How did the universe began? For the biblical Christian, this is an easy answer. God said, “Let there be.”, and it was. So, in the sense that a cause and effect natural universe logically requires creation from an uncaused supernatural source, belief in the supernatural is perfectly reasonable.
When reasoning out the nature of reality, everyone brings to the table a certain amount of “baggage“ - that is, our experiences and knowledge influences us to examine a truth claim with a certain bias. Let’s go back to our hypothetical bunny, when considering the question, “Are bunnies nice?”, I’d bring to the table my experiences with bunnies in general, which is, I’ve always had good experiences with pet bunnies. They are soft, fuzzy, warm, and fun to play with. Alternatively, you bring to your consideration of the niceness of bunnies a time when your garden was infested with ravenous creatures that destroyed the product of your hard work and hope for future sustenance. So, when I contemplate my answer, my experiences will lead me to the affirmative, whereas yours will lead to vehement denial.
And so it is with believers and non-believers in God‘s Word. Believers’ experiences are for the most part positive or beneficial as it relates to Scripture. Non-believers, particularly atheists, typically have had very negative experiences with Bible believers, and with the contradictory nature of the Bible with humanity’s general inclinations. Sadly, Bible believers that may be redeemed sinners, but not necessarily reformed sinners, make for very poor representatives. Be that as it may, our biases are informed by our collected background. This heap of preset biases and knowledge are called presuppositions and these presuppositions color every analysis, conclusion, and decision that we make.
As a Biblical Christian, I presuppose the truth of the Bible when assessing or proposing any truth claim. Otherwise, my foundation is really just my human reason, potentially supported by other humans’ reasoning. If history has taught us anything, human reasoning without a trustworthy source of authoritative truth leads to disastrous consequences. Without a “stake in the ground” we are left with truth claims that can shift with every changing religious, social, or political position.
This then begs the question, “Why the Bible?” Admittedly, there are other religious texts and philosophical approaches that propose similar truth claims and set good moral foundations, but if you truly examine the facts, only Scripture has the historical, religious, moral, and redemptive truth at a scope and scale that all other contenders pale before. It is a multi- author, society, culture and language collection of books that have a harmonious narrative over thousands of years. It tells the story of God’s love for His children, our prideful downfall, and our continued rejection of His offer to reconcile. The end result is that God Himself came down to us and became one of us to do what we could and would not do. It is a magnificent and sweeping documentary that reveals the mind and character of God embodied in Jesus Christ.
I put my trust in the Bible because it is reasonable to do so and mainly because God has sealed it in my heart through the Holy Spirit. It has transformed my thoughts and actions and causes me to change in ways that gradually align me to the character of Christ. There is no other more consistent and trustworthy source from which I can draw that aligns my reality to God’s.
The necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit is also how I explain how someone that previously rejected Scripture as truth can reverse their position, which has, historically, happened many times. Forgive me for the extended metaphor, if my initial experiences cause me to hate fuzzy bunnies but later in life I watch Steve Irwin (RIP) do a show on how the fuzzy bunnies were simply following their nature when they destroyed my garden, while holding and petting one to demonstrate how nice they are, I will have been given a new framework by a greater and reliable authoritative source of truth from which to reevaluate and shift my earlier position. I come to realize that fuzzy bunnies are indeed nice despite their natural impulses causing me earlier distress.
So it is with Scripture. Unless our natural disdain for it is overcome by an outside force (I.e., the Holy Spirit), we cannot fully comprehend and trust in the fullness of its truth.
How we look at the world is based on our sources of truth. If our sources are only human, we are subject to the variability of human knowledge supported by innate human depravity. Ungrounded humans build knowledge to justify themselves and their actions. Biblical Christians rely on God’s authority as revealed in His Word in total context.
“Total context” reinforces the idea that “Scripture interprets Scripture” in the sense that Biblical Christians want to not only understand the text and it’s context, but also that text in relation to the holistic Biblical message, socio-historical perspective, and original language.
Total context also requires us to be skeptical of our motivations when we come to a particular text and not to press in our desires and prejudices. As 1 Thess 5:21 says “test everything, keep the good”. That means even testing our perceptions of a particular text in light of our desires.
The Bible says that “there is none righteous” as a recurring theme to emphasize the innate flawed nature we humans bring to bear on understanding the world. Historically, humans are not naturally benevolent as a group. That’s why it is so important to have a trustworthy external source of truth to measure the world and ourselves balanced by a strong skepticism of human nature and reasoning. There is no such thing as an unbiased conclusion.
Future topics include:
Follow the evidence
Are science and Biblical Christianity incompatible?
Aliens, ghosts, Bigfoot and other cryptozoology
Test all things
What is saving faith?
Signs and wonders
The end of the world as we know it
The Master Programmer
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