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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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The one thing

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 thing1
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
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 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
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
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
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
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

  • 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
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 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