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the clash of worldviews - part two

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).  This call to wholistic Christian thinking sets naturalism and biblical theism in the sharpest of contrasts...   

"We are self-deceived if we allow naturalistic speculation to parade as something modern, when in fact it was repudiated almost twenty-five hundred years ago by the great philosophers of Greece.  Pagan though they were, the classic Greek sages recognized that naturalism cannot bring into being or sustain a stable society and, in fact, robs human life of distinctive value and meaning.  The Greeks insisted that if time and change control all reality, and if truth and right are subject to ongoing revision, then human civilization becomes impossible; moreover human life loses fixed meaning and special worth.  They found no basis for optimism in ultimate process and change.  It remained for modern evolutionists to argue conversely that change means progress and that human history is headed for utopia.  In this respect secular philosophy borrowed the biblical doctrine of the coming kingdom of God but cannibalized it.  Naturalism's abandonment of unchanging truth and of a fixed good has resulted not in utopia but in a relapse to paganism and barbarianism that increasingly corrupts modern life.

"Christianity's control-beliefs acknowledge the eternal, sovereign, rational, and moral God.  They stipulate that God has revealed Himself intelligibly and verbally.  God created the universe ex nihilo, out of nothing, and governs it for moral ends by His transcendence over it and by His presence in it.  He fashioned the human race in His image for spiritual fellowship and holy service.  Adam's voluntary fall disrupted Edenic harmony and implicated both the cosmos and human posterity in divine judgment.  Through the patriarchs and prophets God graciously promised salvation for penitent humanity.  That promise God mercifully fulfilled by His covenant relationship with Israel and by the incarnation of the eternal Logos (Word) as the God-man Jesus of Nazareth.

"Jesus Christ attested the Triune selfhood of Deity, exemplified ideal spiritual obedience in the flesh, and provided for the sins of mankind a propitiatory atonement to be appropriated by personal faith.  Through bodily resurrection and ascension Christ Jesus became living head of a new society of redeemed and regenerate believers over which the Lord now rules through the inspired Scripture by the Holy Spirit.  Christ Jesus mandates the church to preach the gospel to all mankind and in His name to advance the good and to challenge the forces of evil.  The church lives in expectation of Christ's return and anticipates the final triumph of righteousness, the doom of evil, the punishment of the impenitent, the full conformity of believers to Christ's holy image, and the comprehensive inauguration of God's kingdom in universal vindication of God's moral purpose in history.  The competence with which this biblical revelation is set alongside its competing alternatives is crucially important for our witness in this world.

"The collision of thought worlds, the clash of moral claims, and the conflict of principalities and powers were no less intense in New Testament times that today in ours.  The apostle Paul was concerned about the Christian use of the mind and about the Christian manner of life, that is, about both right thinking and right living.  Christianity is both a doctrine and a way of life; anyone who thinks that  a holy life is unimportant defaces Christian doctrine as well.  Christianity prizes the unity of spiritual truth and moral dynamic.  Our planet is the stage for a cosmic drama whose outcome embraces all realms of being, and which presently involves the angelic hosts, Satan and the world of demons, and all mankind.  God's ethical purpose revealed in the Scripture is exhibited in His incarnation in Christ and will finally be vindicated in divine judgment of humanity and the nations."

~ Carl F. H. Henry, gods of this age or... God of The Ages?  (R. Albert Mohler, ed.  Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994) pp. 81--82.

Read Part one here

Visit the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding here


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