Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Meditations on Romans II

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. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened...Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. --Romans 1:18-21, 32

We've spent a lot of time on this passage in Bible class this year, as we've used it as the platform for discussing the question "Does man know God and know sin?" It's a hard question. If man does know God and know that he's a sinner, than he is fully responsible for all his actions, but if he doesn't know God and doesn't know that he's a sinner, that would seem to remove any guilt from him for his sin.

This passage states pretty clearly, though, that man does know God and his character. But, importantly, they rebel and refuse to recognize him as their God, becoming futile in their thinking. What exactly does that mean? Essentially, it means that they lose their ability to reason effectively, to use their minds to find God. God created all things good, including our mental faculties, but because man rebels, he is unable to use his reason to get him to God. This doesn't mean that non-Christians are stupid, but it does mean that their thinking is flawed and there are certain things they cannot get on their own by unaided reason.

This idea is the basis for presuppositionalism, which states that as a Christian, we can't start on "neutral ground" in our apologetics. As Christians, we have had our thinking mostly restored, but when we try to abandon Scripture and start from a neutral point, we are basically putting ourselves back on the level of non-believers, abandoning the gift that God has given us. Saying, as C.S. Lewis does in Mere Christianity, "Let's see how far we can get on our own steam," is an insult to God and the gift that he's given us. We are called to use the reason he has given us as a tool, not as an ultimate authority.

This ended up coming out slightly hodge-podge, but hopefully the general idea comes out. I am obviously a presuppositionalist, and I'd love to discuss this with anyone who's interested.

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