Insights & Assumptions
O you ever wonder why Evangelical Twitter is such a circus? If you haven’t noticed—it is. For starters, I won’t pretend to be able to reduce it to a single problem. It’s way messier than that. But I do have a distinction that I think can be useful for anyone wanting better dialogue online.
Sometimes we give those trolling for controversy easy targets by a lack of clarity in our views. We can talk about insights gained from a particular person or theory without making it clear we don’t affirm or adopt the underlying assumptions. We could, for example, take a particular insight from secular psychology and talk about how it is helpful in putting our finger on a common problem. But given the tendency to reduce and simplify, others might think our discussion of the insight implies an adoption of the deeper worldview commitments behind the theory or person.
We should expect to find helpful insights from all sorts of different people. We are created in God’s image. We live in God’s good creation. All persons are recipients of God’s common grace. That means even pagans will offer helpful thoughts on various topics. We need not cry foul.
For the Bible believing Christian, Scripture is always key. The Bible is sufficient. It is authoritative. That means whatever insights we might consider, even from other believers, should always be viewed through the lens of God’s revelation. We don’t turn a deaf ear to the world, we just have a standard by which to evaluate all truth claims.
Not long ago, I heard of a conference where a speaker asked what ministry leaders can learn from secular disciplines. The answer? Nothing. Ministry leaders can learn nothing from secular disciplines?
I think the speaker would likely agree there are insights from all kinds of disciplines outside of biblical and theological studies that are helpful for ministry and life. For example, the speaker used a microphone that amplified his voice through a sound system. You won’t find that in the Bible.
I think the main target was the underlying worldview assumptions that govern various secular disciplines that should be rejected. I agree (if that indeed was what was intended).
Our current cultural moment requires clarity and specificity. It also requires charity. We need to be clear on when we are discussing insights gained from persons or theories where we clearly disagree with the underlying assumptions. And we should use charity to give people space to make this distinction as well without assuming the worst. When it comes to insights and assumptions, we need to be clear what we are talking about.