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The One Thing. Church & Culture. Ideas have consequences . - Richard M. Weaver. Introduction. Review of last session “Divided Minds” What is “the one thing” Reason is not a repository of infallible truths Reason is a human capacity, an ability to reason from premises

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Church & Culture

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The One Thing

Church & Culture

The One Thing

Ideas have consequences .

- Richard M. Weaver

The One Thing


  • Review of last session “Divided Minds”

  • What is “the one thing”

    • Reason is not a repository of infallible truths

    • Reason is a human capacity, an ability to reason from premises

  • The key question is what does a person accept as their ultimate premises?

    • The one thing – the starting point from which everything else flows

The One Thing

The One Thing

  • Something has to be taken as self-existent

    • We might call it the “ultimate reality” “The source” of everything else

  • There is no reason for it to exist-it just is

    • It has been reduced to its simplest terms and cannot be reduced any further

  • Examples

    • Materialist – the one thing, the ultimate reality is matter – everything is reduced to material constituents

    • Pantheist – the one thing is a spiritual force or substratum – goal of meditation is to reconnect with that spiritual oneness

    • Darwinist – the one thing is biology and everything, even religion and morality is reduced to a product of Darwinian processes

    • Empiricist – all knowledge is traceable to sense data, and anything not know by sensation is unreal

The One Thing

The Starting Point

  • Every system of thought must begin with an ultimate starting point

  • If not God then some dimension of creation

    • The material, the spiritual, the biological, the empirical

  • Some aspect of created reality will be absolutized as the starting point, the ultimate reality, the one thing, the source of everything else

  • The uncaused cause, the self-existent

The One Thing

The Divine

  • The one thing functions as the divine to use a religious term

  • Defined to mean the one thing upon which all else depends for existence

  • This starting point has to be accepted by faith

    • You cannot get there from here by prior reasoning

    • Otherwise it cannot be the ultimate starting point for all reasoning

    • Something else must be the ultimate starting point and we have to digger deeper to find it and start there instead

The One Thing

Every Alternative to Christianity Is A Religon

  • An alternative might not involve ritual or a worship service but it identifies some principle or force in creation as the one thing, the self-existent cause of everything else

    • This functions then as an idol or a false god

  • This is why the Bible addresses the reader as though they already believe in God or some God surrogate

  • Faith is a universal function

    • “Faith is a universal function, and if it is not directed towards God it will be directed toward something else.” - Philosopher Roy Clouser

  • It is not the case that Christians have their faith and secularists base their convictions purely on facts and reason

    • Secularism is based on ultimate beliefs, the one thing, just as much as Christianity is

    • Some part of creation – usually matter or nature – functions in the role of the divine

  • The question then is not which view is religious and which is purely rational, the question is which is true and which is false

The One Thing

The Goal

  • Since the Fall, man has divided into two distinct groups

    • Those who follow God and submit to their minds to His truths or:

    • Those who set up an idol of some kind and organize their thinking to rationalize their worship of that idol

    • This is what Augustine meant by his image of the two cities

  • Peoples’ ultimate commitments shape the choices they make

  • Peoples’ perspectives are molded to support those choices

  • False gods lead to the formation of false worldviews

  • Christian must identify the dominant intellectual idols of our culture and then construct biblically based alternatives

The One Thing

Common Ground

  • Christians and non-Christians often are in agreement on a wide range of subjects

  • Non-Christians are often more capable than Christians in a variety of tasks and occupations

  • The reason for this is found in the doctrine of creation:

    • We are “all” made in God’s image

    • In order to live in God’s world, our faculties were designed to give us real knowledge of the world

    • This creates a significant range of agreement between believers and non-believers

The One Thing

Common Grace

  • The Bible teaches us the doctrine of common grace

    • Special grace refers to salvation, common grace means God’s providential care

    • Providential care is the way God upholds His creation (Mt 5.45)

  • The Bible teaches that non-believers are capable of effective functioning in the world, including cognitive functioning

    • Mt 7.11- know how to give gifts, be good parents

    • Mt 16.1-4 Since they were able to interpret the signs of the weather Jesus expects them to also be able to discern the meanings of history

The One Thing

The Problem

  • The Problem Comes with Explaining What We Know

  • Using Mathematics as and example

    • Most would agree that 5 + 7 = 12

    • But the problem comes with how to justify that answer

  • Ancient Greeks while inventing Euclidean Geometry did not believe that the material world exhibited a precise mathematical order

  • They believed that matter existed independently and thus would never “obey” mathematic rules completely

  • “The possibility of an applied mathematics is an expression, in terms of natural science, of the Christian belief that nature is the creation of an omnipotent God.” – Historian R.G. Collingwood

  • Said another way: The existence of mathematics is a product of a Christian worldview

The One Thing

Postmodern View of Math

  • Math is no longer regard as a body of truths

  • Today math is understood as a social construct – like a game of baseball

    • Three strikes and your out is an arbitrary rule

    • It is not true or false: it is just the way we decide to play the game

  • Math rules are regarded as just the way we play the game

    • “Mathematics is man-made, that it is arbitrary, and solutions are arrived at by consensus among those considered expert.”

  • If math is arbitrary then there are no wrong answers-just different perspectives

    • Children are taught to be tolerant of multiple math worldviews

    • Not as important to find the right answer as it is to work together to achieve consensus

  • Just one example of the impact worldview has on knowledge

  • It will grow larger as we move up the ladder to more complex issues of biology, economics, law, ethics, etc

The One Thing

The Tools That Shape Us

  • The danger for Christians is that if we don’t develop a biblical approach to a subject then we might unconsciously or consciously absorb a secular philosophical approach to the subject

  • If Christians don’t develop their own tools of analysis then they might borrow someone else’s tools – that are generally accepted in their field or in the culture at large

    • “They are borrowing not an isolated tool but a whole philosophical toolbox laden with tools that which have their own particular bias to every problem.” - Os Guinness

  • Using tools that are non-Christian is like trying to walk in someone else’s shoes – the results are blisters and pain

  • The tools shape the user

  • “In other words, not only do we fail to be salt and light to a lost culture, but we ourselves may ended up being shaped by that culture

The One Thing

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