Nov 29, 2017
In this episode Brother Jonathan defines presuppositions and
worldviews, how presuppositions are formed incorrectly in
Christianity, Biblical unity, and how this affects the body of
Worldviews and Presuppositions within Christianity
Remnant Bible Fellowship
- The Red Ball Illustration
- If I approach you and hold up a ball, and say, “Is this ball
black, or white?” How would you respond?
- Now, if I approach you, hand you a ball, and tell you, “The
ball is red,” and you accept that, then how does that affect your
interpretation of the colors around you?
- These two illustrations should help you to understand a problem
in Christianity. Consider illustration 1.
- The first illustration is based on the idea of people being
pressured to make a decision before they have any true knowledge.
How are you to know what color the ball is if you don’t have some
standard of color yet? If you KNOW that you don’t have a personal
knowledge of color, then why try to answer until after you have
- Why does this matter to a Christian? Consider this question: Do
you hold to supralapsarianism? Or how about this: Do you hold to
monergism or synergism? Have you ever even heard the terms?
Probably not. But they are ideas that you have almost certainly
heard taught before.
- If someone was to come up to you and ask you, “Do you hold to
monergism or synergism?” Don’t ever feel pressured to answer that
question until you know what those words mean for yourself. You
don’t have to! You don’t have to accept the terms and definitions
of these armchair-theologians who philosophize about everything
under the sun but don’t seek God. Most of them don’t truly know the
Word of God, they only know terms and doctrines that were taught to
them. And they ran after it because they confused learning
something (anything at all) with spiritual growth. Ever learning
but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
- In your Christian life people, churches, ministers, or teachers
are going to be pulling at you sometimes—sometimes
unintentionally—for you to accept some false dilemma like this. For
example: “Are you a Calvinist or an Arminian?” Why do you have to
be either? Neither school of thought existed until over 1400 years
after the Word of God was completed? Why are these two terms used
to define almost every church on some level?
- Simply study, and state a Biblically defined position.
- Consider illustration 2.
- The second illustration is based on false knowledge. We’ll be
looking more at this in this episode.
- So, the second illustration uses the example of someone handing
you a ball and telling you it is red. What you should have noticed
was the fact that it was accepted that the ball was red without you
examining it first.
- Let me ask you: How do you know that your understanding of the
atonement is correct? Most people still hold to certain ideas that
they heard or were told before they were converted.
- Think about it. In order for an Unbeliever to become a Believer
then they must be told what to believe. What they were told to
believe is doctrine. They were taught doctrine before they were
converted! In a certain sense, this is necessary. How can they
believe if they don’t hear the gospel? The question to ask is: How
do they know that they were told correctly? The answer: they should
study for themselves AFTER initially receiving.
- The great majority of people who are converted stay within the
same church or denomination or school of thought they first heard.
Why is that a problem? Because they are so many different ones, and
only one can be correct.
- God does not make His Word ambiguous. There is only one
possible interpretation that is correct. There is no “middle
ground” that makes all interpretations possible—especially ones
that are contradictory.
- The Word of God is self-consistent. All truth is
self-consistent. God cannot deny Himself. He is truth (John 14:6),
His Word is truth (John 17:17), the Spirit of Truth guides
believers into all truth (John 16:13), the church of God is the
pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), and if your heart is
set to do His will then He will reveal the nature of whether or not
doctrine is right or wrong (John 7:17): Now why is there no real
unity? Not the false unity of ecumenicism (which compromises truth
in order to keep people together), but the Biblical unity of the
Spirit and Truth; for they that worship God must worship Him in
Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24).
- Now, I acknowledge that a lot of people simply don’t care about
the truth. Christians are those who should plead for truth. You can
listen to me talk about that on other episodes—such as the one
titled “Pleading for Truth”.
- There is something wrong with what they believe on a
fundamental level. They are being told some things that are
affecting the way that they look at the scriptures. Anyone who is
familiar with apologetics knows exactly what I mean. Why do
evolutionists looks at the same evidence that creationists do and
are so incapable of seeing that it confirms the Bible? The answer
is that they have different presuppositions.
- Dr. Jason Lisle, in his excellent book The Ultimate Proof
of Creation had this to say:
- “The beliefs that we hold to most strongly are called
‘presuppositions.’ People are very reluctant to give up their
presuppositions. Presuppositions are assumed at the outset, before
any investigation of evidence; they are pre-supposed and control
our interpretation of evidence. We are often not aware of our
presuppositions, but they are always present. Just as we are always
breathing, even though we are not often conscious of it until we
stop and think about it, likewise, our presuppositions are
constantly guiding our understanding of our experience.” (Lisle,
The Ultimate Proof of Creation, p.76)
- There are things that believers are bringing to the table, that
they assume to be true, that are coloring the way they see and
interpret the scriptures. Things such as the person and work of
Christ, the effects of the atonement, what a Christian is, how to
become a Christian, and therefore, by necessity, eternal security
or not eternal security.
- I have personally seen people given ideas about all of these
things before they ever even heard the word “repent” once. As I
said before, people must hear the gospel in order to be saved. I
understand that. But are they being encouraged to critically
examine EVERYTHING that they were initially told by the scriptures.
The answer to that is an emphatic NO!
- People are taught to be immovable stones for their church,
their pastor, their teachers, their denomination, a school of
thought, a seminary, etc.
- Within each of these circles is an accepted form of
interpretation—if there’s any doctrine at all—and if you even
question it they will cast you out. I know, my wife knows, my
in-laws know, a brother in Chicago who just emailed me a few weeks
ago through the podcast knows, brother Warren Smith knows: it’s
- I’ve seen people with doctorates refuse to even talk about
doctrine, though that’s what they teach. They are afraid of being
challenged…even in a brotherly manner. They’re afraid to change
their presuppositions. But that’s the only way to biblical unity.
Someone is right—and because it’s biblical not because they’re
something special—and everyone else is wrong. All believers should
be willing to receive correction, be examined, examine themselves,
and humble themselves if they are in error. Why? Because they love
God, and tremble at His Word.
- Define “worldview”
- Now, presuppositions together make up a worldview.
- A worldview is a network of our most basic
beliefs about reality in light of which all observations are
interpreted. (Lisle, The Ultimate Proof of Creation,
- I firmly believe that if people were truly given the full truth
of the gospel according to the scriptures at the outset then there
would be LESS people professing to be Christians. Most people came
under false pretenses. The majority of people who are in churches
are not Christians. Their ideas about Christianity are completely
- Most professing Christians believe that God doesn’t require
them to obey Him. That is demonstrably false. But they were told
that before they were converted. Most professing Christians believe
that their future sins are already forgiven before they repent and
confess them to God, and this is easily shown to be unbiblical from
the scriptures: but they were told it before they were converted.
I’ve seen it happen personally.
- These same people have no knowledge of the Bible. In fact, if
you try to talk to them about the Bible and God they get hot and
bothered and call you a legalist. They accuse you of being a
heretic, or un-Christlike (I’ve had that happen), because you want
to speak of Jesus and His commandments. Their worldview, how they
interpret things, is completely unbiblical. They have been lied to
and they love it. Why then should they examine it when it allows
them to “sit back, relax, and enjoy their salvation” as one very
famous Bible teacher said?
- The Ultimate Standard
- A person’s ultimate standard of truth is what they will always
revert back to in explaining their beliefs when questioned enough.
For a Christian, it always comes back to “because the Bible says…”
Their beliefs will always be finalized by God’s Word.
- The problem is that professing Christians have attached certain
conditions to that standard. If you could sum up their ultimate
standard of truth it would be something like “The Bible is the
truth, and Calvinism is it.” Or, “The Bible is the truth, and
evolution is true also.” They attach some other thing to it, and
therefore, do not believe it to be contradictory to scripture.
- No matter what evidence or scriptural argument you give them
they simply will not see any problem. It’s accepted before
investigation. So you have to show them that that’s the case.
- A good question to ask is, “Are you willing for it to be wrong
if I could show you that it contradicts the Bible?” Emphasize the
willing part. Force them to see that this specific thing is not
equivalent to Biblical authority. It may be something taught by it,
or not, but it is not supposed to be believed without examination
BY the scriptures. You have to show it to them that that’s the
- Just the other day, maybe two or more weeks ago, I had someone
who used to be a close friend. He has a doctorate, masters, and
bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies. I believe he also has a
bachelor’s degree in Divinity. But in trying to get him and his
wife to sit down with my wife and I and have a discussion about
eternal security he said, “We WILL not believe as you do”. Then, he
shut the door, and handled things very unbiblically. It hurt my
wife and I quite a lot. There were false accusations and all sorts
of things toward us. Nothing handled the way scripture tells us to
handle these things in Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5—even if the
slanders were true.
- The ultimate standard must be the Bible alone. If someone ever
argues that they WILL not believe something, then it simply shows
that their WILL is their ultimate standard. It’s not the Bible.
They want what they want, they don’t want truth.
- So, let’s look at another take on the red ball illustration
real quick. Here is an excerpt from something that I am working on
- “It is this simple statement then, “God is true, and His Word
is true,” that should be the summary of a Christian’s ultimate
standard of truth. It should be their plumb-line conviction.
Whenever a believer is confronted with new information, or a new
argument that is seeking to persuade them of something it is this
premise that they should examine it by. If the information or
argument presented to them is in any way contradictory to this
plumb-line then it must be rejected. For example, imagine that God
said, “The ball is red.” A believer would then have confidence that
that ball is indeed red. It would be their firm conviction that it
is so, because God is true and He said it. Even if they had never
seen the ball themselves, they would believe it on the basis of
God’s trustworthiness. Men may come and say: “The ball is blue.”
“The ball is actually a square.” “There is no ball!” But if God
said it is red, then it is red.
- Imagine though, if a believer unintentionally changed their
premise slightly by adding to it. What if a believer, maybe by some
form of persuasion or deception from someone else, changed their
premise from “God is true and His Word is true” to “God is true,
His Word is true, and the color red doesn’t exist”? Because their
premise has changed, how they interpret the things presented to
them would be skewed. How would the person then interpret it if God
said, “The ball is red”? Well, they could redefine what “red”
meant. “‘Red’ here is used in a symbolic sense, meaning,
‘non-existent’, and the ball therefore is non-existent because it
is ‘red’ according to this meaning.” They could set aside the
statement totally. “This statement is not applying to believers
currently because it contradicts what we know the rest of scripture
says: red doesn’t exist, therefore, this passage can’t be applying
to us today.” Perhaps some ministers could write books on the
“doctrine of the non-existent red.” What if another believer then
told them that the ball is actually red because they had not
changed their premise from that which scripture truly says it is?
They had never added the part that said, “The color red doesn’t
exist.” What would most likely result is a debate about what “red”
means, or whether or not the statement applies to believers today
at all. As far as our believer with the skewed premise is
concerned, this other believer has completely missed the
- Does it sound silly? Let me frame it in a different light. Is
your “ultimate standard” that “God is true and His Word is true”,
or is it “God is true, His Word is true, and my denomination is
true”? Could it possibly be “God is true, His Word is true, and my
favorite teacher is true”? Does this illustrate the point a little
clearer? May I ask you, what is your actual plumb-line? When new
information or a new argument is presented to you, what exactly are
you measuring it by? Do you think, “Okay, this and this isn’t what
my Pastor said…so it must be false”? It is possible to deceive
yourself in something like this. Perhaps you think, “This and that
is false because the Bible doesn’t teach that,” but in your mind
you equate “what the Bible teaches” with “what I believe”. It is
more common than you think. Never presuppose that you’ve gotten a
corner on the market of truth. God knows all things, the believer
knows that God knows all things, and this is where the believer’s
confidence rests: in God’s infallibility and not our own.”