Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Innate Antipathy in Unbelieving Thought

In his project with J.P. Moreland, “Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview, William Lane Craig gives us a glimpse into his philosophy on the capabilities of the unregenerate mind. Apparently Craig believes there is no innate antipathy in unbelieving thought. Craig writes, “The fact that there is tremendous interest among unbelieving students in hearing a rational presentation and defense of the gospel, and some will be ready to respond with truth in Christ.”[1] You see Craig is displaying a specific philosophy regarding the nature of the unregenerate mind. In order for Craig’s statement to be true, the unregenerate mind must be in a condition of neutrality as it relates to God and His divine truth. The best approach to examine Craig’s statement is to turn to Scripture and allow Scripture to inform our philosophy in this case. We will perform a critical analysis of Craig’s philosophy regarding the nature of the unregenerate mind by examining it in light of the divine Scripture.

The apostle Paul explains in Romans 8:6-8 that the mind that is set on the flesh, which the unregenerate mind surely is, is hostile toward God. What does Paul mean “hostile toward God?” The Greek lexicon tells us that the word χθρα means a state of enmity, or to be an enemy. It is to have ill will, or hatred for someone. It described the state between Russia and the USA during the cold war, or any two warring countries as far as that goes.

The same apostle Paul informs the Galatian Churches in Gal. 5:17  that the fleshly state or mindset or worldview sets its desires against the things that are spiritual and the spiritual mindset or worldview sets its desires against the fleshly or unregenerate worldview. The antithesis could not be more axiomatic. The apostle Paul reveals a view, a philosophy if you like, that informs his readers that he sees the unregenerate worldview and mindset as fundamentally hostile toward God. The contrast between how the regenerate and unregenerate think could not be more obvious in Paul’s theology. Does Paul think that the unregenerate worldview is really the product of a lack of rational argumentation and evidence? Is the unregenerate intellect really the product of the intellect itself or is it something beyond the intellect that does in fact affect the unregenerate mindset?

Our third truth, once again given through the beloved apostle Paul, is that the unregenerate mind is in such a state that it rejects the things of the Spirit of God. In fact, Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 2:14 that the unregenerate worldview holds spiritual matters in utter contempt and considers them moronic at best. The Greek word moria is where we get our word moron. It is this word Paul uses to describe the unregenerate intellect’s contempt for spiritual matters.

Another example of the unregenerate mindset is located in Romans 3:10-18. Paul tells the Roman Church that unregenerate men do not understand, do not seek God, are altogether useless, and that there is no fear of God before them. If the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, and there is no fear of God within them, then it logically follows that they have no interest in true knowledge and wisdom. Adding to this state is the state Paul described two chapters earlier to the same Church. Romans one tells us explicitly that God has given the unregnerate man all the information and evidence he needs. God has made Himself known to them and has given them an inexcusable amount of evidence all around them. Truly, the knowledge of God is inescapable for the unbeliever.

Another place where Paul gives us a glimpse into the mindset of the unregenerate is located in 2 Cor. 4:4 where he is clear and adamant that the unregenerate mind has been blinded so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. Moving back a few sentences, Paul refers to the same state existing among the Jews, telling us their minds were hardened and that until his very day the veil remains. (1 Cor. 3:14) Another example is given by Paul to the Philippian Church in Phil. 3:18-19 where Paul describes men whose minds are set on earthly things as enemies of the cross, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is their shame.

Robert Duncan Culver writes, "In Pauline literature acts of sin proceed from a sinful heart. Paul's figures for this sin at the center are 'the sin,' 'the body of sin,' 'our old man,' 'this body of death,' 'flesh,' 'the body of sin and death,' and 'the carnal mind.' All are figurative expressions for the sinful 'heart' which in turn is a figure for the center of man's rational being."[2] Clearly Paul's anthropology and hamartiology have not been affected by Greek philosophy. The fountainhead of Paul's philosophy, in you insist on calling it that, is divine revelation. He anchors his view of man and sin in Adam, in creation, and moves from there. Absent from Paul's language is anything remotely resembling the philosophy of Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates.

Finally, from a philosophical point of view, Craig operates on an unproven and in my opinion, a mistaken assumption. He uses the phrase "rational presentation and defense of the gospel." Craig seems to think their is such a thing as neutrality in human reason. However, what makes a view reasonable in terms of unbelieving thought is not at all without controversy even though Craig seems to indicate that he thinks it is. The philosophers spend large amounts of time arguing to the contrary. There is no agreed upon criteria accepted by these young students at university by which the gospel might be tested and deemed acceptable in their eyes, as if such an approach is morally acceptable within Christian theism to begin with.

Craig's philosophy is contrary to a clear biblical theology regarding the nature of fallen man as well as the nature of sin. In addition, he begs the question of criteria in his view that all these students measure knowledge or true beliefs by the same standard. They do not. The unregenerate worldview is opposed to Christian theism from end to end. The two have a radically different metaphysic, epistemology, and ethic. Only divine revelation is capable of bridging the gap to make contact between the two possible.





[1] William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 5.
[2] Robert Duncan Culver, Systematic Theology (Great Britain, Christian Focus Publications, 2005), 361

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