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the clash of worldviews - part one

The following words are taken from "Surmounting the Clash of Worlds," a lecture delivered by Carl Henry on July 7, 1989, at the dedication of the new campus of Tokyo Christian Institute (which later became Tokyo Christian University).  In many ways this is a mandate for Christian education -- that we should not teach Christianity in bits and pieces but toward a comprehensive way of thinking about all of reality.  Henry explains clearly the conflict of Christian theism and atheistic naturalism... 

"The Christian outlook cannot be effectively maintained by piece-meal retention of a few selected and respected tenets and the surrender of other important elements.  The fact is, the naturalism that now pervades many influential universities of the modern world is far less vacillating in what it believes or disbelieves than are some so-called religious institutions.  Naturalism does not selectively dispute only the doctrine of creation, or the human fall, or the singular divinity of Jesus Christ, or His bodily resurrection.  Naturalism's mindset and willset is hostile to the entire body of miracle and the supernatural.  It disputes the Hebrew-Christian view in its totality.

"We must challenge this naturalistic reconceptualization and restatement of existence we must challenge in toto.  It teaches that empirical scientific method alone gives us reliable information.  It categorizes the supernatural as legend and myth.  It reduces ultimate reality to impersonal processes and quantum events.  It limits knowledge to tentative inferences.  It denies the very possibility of ever knowing ultimate and abiding truth.

"The Christian world-life view challenges such naturalistic reductionism at every turn.  It does so not by defending merely the credibility of one isolated miracle on which current unbelief momentarily focuses its hostility.  Far more is at stake, namely, the very definition and delineation of reality and existence.  Does the universe comprising humans and nature have its source and support in a supernatural, self-revealed God?  Does a moral and spiritual purpose overarch all of finite reality?  Does a possibility of redemption exist for fallen humanity?  Is there an afterlife in the world to come?  Or is naturalism right in asserting that the universe has its ground of being in itself, or that it perchance originated in some primal cosmic accident or explosion, so that the human species in consequence is merely an animated confluence of space-time contingencies?

"It bears repeating that in affirming God's intelligible self-disclosure, the Christian view disputes the naturalistic option not simply in respect to isolated issues, but in its entirety.  Christianity propounds a view of God, a view of origins, a view of the nature and worth of humanity, a view of sin and divine rescue, a view of Jesus Christ the ever-living Redeemer, and a view of meaningful history and of eternal moral destiny.

~ Carl F. H. Henry, gods of this age or... God of The Ages? (R. Albert Mohler, ed.  Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994) pp. 80--81.  

Read Part Two here

Image above: A binary-neutron-star merger occurs when two neutron stars spiral together and merge, forming a black hole. Image credit: Dana Berry, Skyworks Digital.


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