Part 3 of Dr. Bahnsen’s video lecture series (“Defending the Faith”) is called “Worldviews in Collision.” In this lecture Dr. Bahnsen reviews the material covered so far and begins pulling it all together to describe the comprehensive conflict between the Christian’s worldview and all non-Christian worldviews. He reveals the general approach to evangelizing the unbeliever, with specifics to follow in the proceeding lectures.
To review the previous lectures:
Click here to review Part 1 (The Myth of Neutrality).
Click here to review Part 2 (Introduction to Worldviews).
Dr. Bahnsen utilizes Biblical evidence to prove that all unbelivers know exactly who God is. Citing Paul’s discussion from Romans 1, he demonstrates that there is not just some general knowledge of a vague idea of the concept of “God” that every unbeliever is aware of, but rather that the unbeliever knows the specific (and only) God, creator of the universe:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20 ESV)
As Paul said, they are without excuse. We know that they know who God is because God has specifically made himself known to everyone. God does not fail in getting his point across. If he wants you to know who he is, then you will know who he is.
SUPPRESSING THE VOLLEYBALL
Dr. Bahnsen likened the unbeliever to a person hiding a volleyball in the swimming pool by sitting on it, but then lying about having it. Someone may ask him if he has the ball, but the lying swimmer holds his hands up and waves them in the air, saying “No, I don’t have the ball, see? I can’t possibly have the ball.”
All the while, he is actually sitting on the ball, remaining in constant contact with it, actively struggling against it to keep it suppressed under the water so that it doesn’t pop up and force him to acknowledge that he did have it after all. If that happened, he would have to admit that he was lying and face the consequences of his actions.
In the same way, the unbeliever suppresses the truth and their knowledge of God in unrighteousness. They hold a different worldview because they subscribe to an entirely different network of presuppositions than the Christian, even though they know in their heart of hearts that, by doing so, they are deceiving themselves in order to run from the truth.
They will appeal to the myth of neutrality in their attempt to deny their knowledge of God. By doing so, they can say “It’s not me. I’m a rational person, I’m intelligent, I’m open-minded. God just hasn’t given me enough evidence to believe in him. If he would make himself more clearly known to me then I would believe in him. Therefore, it must be God’s fault that I do not have enough evidence to believe in him.”
But as we just read from Paul, they certainly do have all the evidence they need. They are simply sitting on that truth, suppressing it in their unrighteousness.
COLLIDING WORLDVIEWS IN PRINCIPLE, IN REALITY
Dr. Bahnsen made the following points:
In principle, the unbeliever will act in accordance with their worldview, and in so doing will behave entirely different from the Christian and his worldview.
In practice, the unbeliever does not act in all ways different from the Christian. In fact, in many ways the unbeliever will behave just as a Christian might. For example, unbelievers tend to balance their checkbooks in the same way Christians do. They may have the same ideas of good and evil that Christians do — even though, if they were consistent with their worldview, they would not. These areas in which Christians and non-Christians agree is called common ground.
So, the question raised is Why?
SLAPPING GOD IN THE FACE
The unbelievers are living on borrowed capital. They are like a business person who wanted to start their own business but did not have enough money to do it themselves. So, they borrowed money from an investor to get started. But when someone later asks them who owns the business, the business person becomes indignant and proclaims that it’s his business and his alone, despite the fact that he had to borrow money from an investor and could not have achieved his current levels of success without that initial support.
As Van Til said, the unbeliever is like a child who sits in his father’s lap and slaps his father in the face. If the father did not lift the child onto his lap and support him, the child could not slap his father in the face.
The unbeliever, in an analogous sense, is able to slap God in the face with his trademark hostility and unrighteousness. Without the Christian worldview in place, the unbeliever could not make sense of things. Therefore, the unbeliever, no matter how hard he tries, cannot live consistently within his own worldview. He must step into the Christian’s worldview and borrow the parts that benefit him in order to function in this life.
Then he returns to his own in order to justify his rebellious wickedness. He desires to live this life apart from God. God has given the unbeliever a finite amount of time to repent before he will grant their request into eternity.
EXAMPLES OF THE ANTITHESIS FROM THE BIBLE
As Christians, we are to understand this antithesis at constant play: the complete conflict between all points of the unbeliever’s worldview and the Christian’s.
As noted in the accompanying study guide, in his book Van Til’s Apologetic Dr. Bahnsen wrote that “presuppositional apologetics calls for believers to be steadfast about the antithesis if they would defend the uniqueness, exclusivity, and indispensability of the Christian faith.”
In this lecture, Dr. Bahnsen notes a few examples of the antithesis from the Bible, some of which are as follows:
1. God placing enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. (Genesis 3:15)
2. Cain and Abel: Cain becomes jealous at Abel’s sacrifice, which was acceptable to the Lord, and so Cain, in his envy, kills Abel. (Genesis 4:8-12)
3. Jesus dying at the cross. The whole world rose up against Jesus, including those who were most looking for God’s messiah.
4. The separation of righteous from unrighteous on the Day of Judgment. The righteous inherit the earth, and the unrighteous are cast into the Lake of Fire to suffer tormet and absence from God for all eternity. (Revelation 20:13-15) This is a horrendous thought. Consequently, Heaven and Hell are the ultimate representations of the antithesis in play.
So if, in principle, there’s a total conflict between the unbeliever’s worldview and ours, but in reality they do not live up to theirs because they borrow the beneficial aspects of ours, how do we draw attention to this?
PUSH THE ANTITHESIS
We are to push this antithesis when evangelizing the unbeliever. Most people are unaware of their presuppositions and the worldview built around them; the unbeliever may deny they even think about such things, but they certainly have a worldview. And it’s in constant collision with the Christian worldview.
As a Christian, you are to pay careful attention to the things the unbeliever does and says in order to draw out this conflict and point out the internal inconsistencies in the unbeliever’s worldview in principle and their actions in reality.
The general procedure Dr. Bahnsen lays out is as follows:
1) Point out how the unbeliever’s actions or ideas are either contrary to, or in harmony with, God’s requirements for us.
2) Listen to their response.
3) Be careful to recognize when, later, they make a statement or an action that is inconsistent with their worldview from earlier.
4) Point out to them the inconsistency in their thought and tell them how their ideas are either contrary to or in harmony with the Bible.
In this lecture Dr. Bahnsen brought together the concept of the worldview and why the unbeliever tends to appeal to the myth of neutrality when justifying their unbelief and unregenerate state.
He set out for us a general procedure to follow when evangelizing unbelievers. The power in this method is that there is no point of contact in your conversation with unbelievers that you can’t use as an opportunity to evangelize them.
Since their worldview is, in principle, in complete conflict with the Christian worldview, and since they will not operate consistently within their own worldview, every topic you discuss together provides an opportunity for you to challenge them on their unbelief by pushing the antithesis and exposing the internal contradictions in their worldview.
Lesson 6 of the accompanying series study guide that goes along with this lecture can be found by clicking here. It is in PDF format for easy reading.