A Note on the Presentation and Use of Secular Materials

Even after a short browsing through some of the materials that are posted, referenced, quoted, and linked to you will noticed that we apparently show no discrimination from where or from who we learn from. As Christians who perceive the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, it it natural to become uneasy when teachings about God are explored through the teachings of secular philosophers and writers who—implicitly or explicitly—may not have pledged the allegiance of their souls to Jesus and not immediately and exclusively to Biblical authorship or Theologians.

As a disclaimer, we do not necessarily support the underlying worldview of every thinking and teacher referred to here. If our goal is to learn and grow in a Christian world-view why then would we use their writings as a source from which to draw understand if they themselves do not ascribe to a Christian world-view? Are their teachings then to be see an inherently suspect of truthfulness?

I would first respond by saying that all teaching ought to be suspected and submitted under the authority of the Scriptures and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. This goes true for everything which we mentally digest, whether it be sit-com conversations or professional philosophy and theology. Our underlying assumption in offering these resources as a guide for the Christian learner is that the learner is Christian: a redundant phrase to say that we expect and believe that these resources are only valuable and helpful in the way intended if the reader is one who has staked the foundations of their life upon the reality of Jesus and his authority in all of life. Therefore we would hope that these writings and resources would be taken within the regular reading of Scripture.

Addressing why we would use the words of secular thinkers is more complicated; I will try to sum it up in two thoughts. First: we believe that men—even in a fallen state—retain the ability to perceive, learn, and communicate something of the nature of reality and of the nature of God even if in a way that does not necessarily progress towards redemption. That is to say that fallen man can still understand that honesty is good or that nature is beautiful even if he never progresses on to become an honest man himself or turns his appreciation of beauty into an appreciative worship of God. This is where the second of our two premises appears. As Paul did with the Athenians on Mars Hill in his discourse recorded in Acts, we hope by using the teachings of any man to reflect his own teachings back to him: “Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you.” Acts 17:23. We sincerely believe that the “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.” Psalms 111:10 and if the fear of God is the fountain-head of true understanding then we are able to, through our faith, sift through life and find the dormant seeds of wisdom, regardless of what unlikely soil they may have fallen upon. As Paul did, we are able to look into even the pagan soul and call forth the authentic search for God. Is this not the redemptive spirit of Jesus: to peer and traverse into the mire of human wastelands and search for that remnant spark of life that would blossom into the fullness of eternal life if only the Word of the Lord would be allowed permission to go hence?

Even on a practical level, it is a sad truth that there are many areas in the human life that secular thinkers have given far more attention and study towards than Christian thinkers. Our aim is to remedy that in what small way we can, to take what has been studied and learned and place it at the feet of Jesus in expectation that even the foolishness of God is powerful enough to multiply it into food for the crowd of all human society.

To summarize, here are a few basic things which are able to keep us in a position where we can rest assured that our knowledge is God-derived, and God-honoring.

1. Make the Bible your most regular curricular text. Study it until you sneeze verses in your sleep. Trust that the Holy Spirit is living and active in you and will continually work to refine and correct any wrong notions in our thinking.

2. “The acid test for any theology is this: Is the God presented one that can be loved heart, soul, mind, and strength? If the thoughtful, honest answer is; ‘Not really,’ then we need to look elsewhere or deeper. It does not matter how sophisticated intellectually or doctrinally our approach is. If it fails to set a lovable God—a radiant, happy, friendly, accessible, and totally competent being—before ordinary people, we have gone wrong.” -Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy. pg. 329

“ ’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “Matthew 22:37-39

As you progress in your learning, if you do not find the teaching you are accepting strengthening you in loving God and loving men then be quick to re-assess it and hold it lightly.

3. Be aware that eloquence is not equivalent to truthfulness. There are many finely tuned philosophical arguments that have been honed, argued, and vied over for centuries but many of the most fundamental truths of reality are the most simply stated. It is statements such as “God is Love.” I John 4:16 that are the most simple to say but will be the words whose truth we will forever be unfolding.

To re-iterate: We are not endorsing the world-view, other teachings, or even sometimes everything that is said  in the materials we post (in order to avoid any misrepresentation and to give proper respect to the author, we seek to present materials is their fullest form wherever possible). Keeping with the idea of the match, they are materials that are brought forth more to spark the dormant word of truth and revelation which is in you by the presence of the Holy Spirit, not specifically to dictate to you what you ought to believe. We hope and expect you to take and chew and test everything here. Obviously we hope to present the greatest amount of truth and wisdom in the greatest concentration with the least amount of hindrance as possible but at times we must bring the dirty tub and bath-water with the baby.