Part 1 of Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s video lecture series, Basic Training For Defending the Faith, is titled “The Myth of Neutrality.” The title sums up the lesson succintly: neutrality is a myth. In this lecture, Dr. Bahnsen teaches that the idea of neutrality — be it intellectual, philosophical, emotional, scientific, or in any other area — is a myth. You see and read several passages of Scripture that prove this. Jesus spoke definitively about this (Matthew 6:24, Matthew 12:30).
THE ORIGIN OF NEUTRALITY
The myth of neutrality is the belief that we must consider all perspectives and viewpoints as if they could be equally true, and its corresponding directive is that we must therefore approach them in an unbiased manner. This myth was first perpetrated by Satan’s representative, the serpent, in the garden of Eden. He deceived Eve and convinced her that she must weigh Satan’s word (“Hath God said?”) equally with God’s word (“Thou shalt surely die.”) and determine which one she thought was correct (Genesis 3). The result of this rebellion was the comprehensive fall of man into sin — and this includes his mind (the “noetic” effect of sin). Dr. Bahnsen discusses God’s requirement that we be ready at all times to defend our faith and give an answer for the hope that is within us by citing perhaps the most well-known Bible verse in terms of apologetics (1 Peter 3:15). He says that all believers possess the ability to do so because God expects it of us. The way, then, that we will be able to do this is by thinking in the way a Christian should think about everything. We are to bring all of our thoughts, every area of our lives, into captivity to Christ. There is to be no area of our lives that we have surrendered to neutrality. By submitting comprehensively to Christ, by bowing our hearts, minds, and knees to Him, we can confidently and boldly confront the unbeliever’s challenge to our faith.
APPROACHING THE UNBELIEVER WITH A BIBLICAL DEFENSE
Dr. Bahnsen discusses the weapons that God has given to us to do this. These are not fleshly weapons, but much better weapons that have divine power to destroy strongholds of every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) Rebellious men, in their vain deceit, will attempt to raise their intellectual strongholds against the wisdom of God (much as rebellious men tend to raise physical structures to the heights of heaven in their worship of man’s works, such as Pharaoh and his pyramids or Noah’s rebellious descendants at the Tower of Babel). But they walk in the futility of their minds because “they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” (Ephesians 4:18) But Christians are different. We are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
DO NOT BE ROBBED BY VAIN DECEITS
As such, Paul warns us not to be taken captive and robbed by the worldy philosophies of rebellious men that are according to human tradition and the elementary principles of this world. They will attempt to delude us with these, their best and most persuasive arguments that implore us to apply intellectual discretion by approaching them from a position of neutrality. But we must remember that the beginning of knowledge and wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10), for all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom are hidden in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:3). We will be criticized for assuming the truth of God’s word in our apologetic defense of the Gospel. “You can’t do that. We must talk about this as if neither of us has any presuppositions so that you can try to convince me that God exists without first assuming that God exists. Otherwise it just isn’t fair.” But we must remember the two truths that Dr. Bahnsen teaches about the unbeliever’s claim of neutrality in these situations: 1) They aren’t, and 2) we shouldn’t be.
SYSTEMATIC CONFLICTS AND HOSTILITY
Dr. Bahnsen teaches that unbelievers don’t just come into conflict with one or two specific points of our faith, but rather their entire worldview is systematically hostile to ours. The presuppositions that they bring to the debate provide their very basis and foundation for interpreting the facts, and as a result they will come to different conclusions about those facts than we do. He notes the double-standard found in increasing measure in a rebellious society that reveals the hosility of unregernate men to God’s word: it is okay to offend anyone in the name of open-mindedness as long as they are Christian, but to stand up for Christian values is an oppressive assult on the sensibilities of oppressed minority cultural groups that simply cannot be tolerated. But Jesus teaches us something about the supposed strength of those foundations which are at odds with the Christian faith:
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:26-27)
In contrast, Jesus teaches us how strong our foundation, built upon our faith in Him, truly is:
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)
We should take heart in Jesus’ words. The unbeliever’s intellectual foundation — and thus, his entire worldview — is made of sand, and if that foundation is destroyed then their entire worldview will collapse. God has given us weapons of divine power with which to destroy them. They are not fleshly weapons or weapons of this world, for we do not wage war as the world does.
In contrast to the unbeliever, the Christian walks through life with the mind of Christ upon a foundation made of stone (1 Corinthians 2:16). We have good reason to give an answer to every man who calls us to account for the hope that is within us. We must not be deceived by the myth of neutrality. We must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ so that we can obey God’s command that we be ready always to demolish the intellectual strongholds that rebellious men raise against God that are an affront to His holy nature and in defiance of His word. Lessons 1 and 2 of the accompanying series study guide that go along with this lecture can be found by clicking here. They are in PDF format for easy reading. For Part 2, titled “Introduction to Worldviews,” click here.