Confession and Apologetics: Theological Assumptions & Culture

“Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men un-excusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.  Therefore it pleased the LORD, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards, for the better pre-serving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.[1]

In a previous post, I spoke to the question of how the Confession guards orthodoxy in the context of the current debate regarding bathroom usage by transgenders in my community just north of Pittsburgh in Western Pennsylvania.[2]   The Confession also provides the assumptions necessary for the people of God to “Always Be Ready”[3] to defend the faith.  How should Christians respond to societal perversions? 

There is a certain appeal to the well known quote by Edmund Burke: 

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

The church of Jesus Christ has frequently reacted to perceived threats in a manner that denies the sovereignty of God and relies on the power and wisdom of men to fight evil.  Boycotts, the use of the legal system, name calling, emotional hysteria… are all ineffective because they utilize the perceived power of government or economics; satisfy our own fearful emotions; and accept unbelieving assumptions; instead of leveraging the one weapon that “pulls down strong holds”[4]the Scriptures.

“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”[5]

Greg Bahnsen in his primer on Apologetics; Always Ready; explains Prov 26:4-5 by warning believers that we should not argue with unbeliever’s using their intellectual assumptions as this will lead us to erroneous conclusions and we will become vain in our thinking … like the unbeliever.  Rather we should take their assumptions and demonstrate their internal inconsistencies and failure to comport, thus showing the unbeliever to be a fool – one who is seeking to explain life without reference to God.[6]   Believers should never “give up” their fundamental assumptions.  It is in this light the Confession becomes a powerful apologetic weapon because it faithfully represents to us, in summary form, the teachings of the scriptures, that form the presuppositions of a truly Christian world-view.

What scriptural assumptions does the Confession give us in Chapter 1, Paragraph 1?  What understanding of the unbelieving mind are we given?  How does this inform our response to culture?  

Asusmption #1  The power, wisdom, and goodness of God are known to all men. 

Conclusion #1:  There are no “atheists” only man and women who are in rebellion to God.  They know God exists and places demands upon them.  They suppress the truth in unrighteousness.[7]     

 

Assumption #2:  All men are therefore un-excusable. 

Conclusion:  Those with whom we contest, are guilty before God.  They need a savior.

 

Assumption #3:  Following Romans 1 (that sinful men have become vain in their thinking) the Confession rightly states that the light of nature and the works of creation and providence are not sufficient for men to understand either their need for, or God’s provision of, salvation in Christ.

Conclusion #3A:   The “Holy Scripture is most necessary” because it is in them that God has revealed and preserved His truth.  Men, in their sinful estate, are unable to reason their way to salvation.  No matter what theories are developed by men to explain the nature of man or his problems, they will all prove empty and destructive. 

Conclusion #3A:   No change will occur in culture until men are converted.  Conversion occurs when men and women place their faith in Christ.  Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God.[8]

Biblical assumptions are necessary to make sense of the World.  Unbelievers have become vain in their thinking.  Proclaim Christ!  Speak the truth of the Scriptures!  Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ!



[1] Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 1:  Of the Holy Scripture; paragraph 1

[2] Recently, it appears that the Superintendent of the School District along with the publically elected board established or adopted (no one is willing to say) an existing practice that allows for trans-gender students to use bathrooms based on the gender with which they “identify” – without informing parents before doing so. 

[3] 1 Peter 3:15

[4] 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; (A stronghold is a set of intellectual ideas, constructs, or worldviews)

[5] Proverbs 26:4-5

[6] Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:1

[7] Romans 1:18

[8] Romans 10:17

Martin B. Blocki has served since 2003 as the Associate Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North Hills in Pittsburgh, PA since 2002.  He is a counselor at the Biblical Counseling Institute in Pittsburgh.  Rev. Blocki graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington (BME), Arizona State University (MM), and the Reformed Presbyterian Theological  Seminary (MDiv).  Martin and his wife, Kathy, have two married sons, one daughter, and 2 grand children.

Martin Blocki

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