The Authority Wars

So, you think that the reports of the persecution of Christians in America is overblown? I mean, this is America, right … the land of free speech and religious freedom?

Well, the increasing attacks on our Christian faith in general and the expression of that faith in particular is increasing exponentially. If things continue the way they are going, it will literally be only a few short years before Christians see persecution like you might expect in a third world nation.

Just recently, in the cover story of the December 15 edition of Newsweek Magazine, we got another glimpse of the tendency. This one does not relate to something that a Christian did and received persecution as a result. Those kinds of cases are bad enough. But in many ways, this is even more sinister. What we have here is the religion editor of Newsweek Magazine, Lisa Miller, writing an article trying to literally destroy the very foundation of the Christian faith.

The article was in response to the states of California, Florida and Arizona voting to codify heterosexual marriage in their state constitutions. Since losing these elections, homosexual activists have been livid and have expressed their anger in multiple ways. We have seen physical assaults on individuals, the sending of terrorist threats to organizations who oppose their point of view, vandalism on the homes of people who supported the amendments, nationwide demonstrations and pressure being put on companies and other organizations to fire people who contributed to the winning campaigns.

The Newsweek article is another Molotov cocktail thrown in this fight. What the religion editor did was to positively assert that the Bible does not say homosexual marriage is wrong, and she maintained that no sensible modern person wants marriage to look like what the Bible describes. There is much more, but essentially what we have here is an all out assault on the very reliability and authority of the Bible itself.

But that is not all, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham follows up with an editorial backing up the content of the cover article and denigrating “religious conservatives” as out of touch with reality and telling the Christians to “bring it on.” In other words, Newsweek has blatantly put its support behind the radical homosexual agenda, and directly and intentionally set itself in opposition to Bible believing Christians.

So, why is this important? It is important because Newsweek Magazine is one of the major instruments of the American media. The power they wield is enormous in influencing people. But even more than influencing people, their voice represents a very large and powerful group of people who are already in place. Since this magazine actually advocates a position which sanctions the putting down of Christians and their beliefs, we can surmise that overt actions to back up that position cannot be far behind.

It is one thing to disagree with an opposing point of view and voice that opposition. As Christians, we do the same thing. But it is another thing altogether to take your opponent’s authority source and interpret it in ways which are not consistent with what it actually says. It is absolutely fair to analyze a belief system’s authority source and evaluate its legitimacy, but the analysis must be handled truthfully.

A worldview’s authority source is the very foundation of its legitimacy. It is in making this analysis that we are able to determine whether or not the belief system represents the truth. If the authority source validly expresses the truth, the worldview belief is true. If it does not, the worldview falls apart. So, an analysis of the authority is important. But, if the one doing the analysis has an agenda and does not truthfully approach the task, the analytical process becomes malicious and the result is unreliable.

So, what about the Newsweek article? What is the basis upon which the religion editor makes her critique?

When analyzing a worldview authority, the first step is to determine the worldview position that the belief system represents. In this case, Christianity represents a Theistic belief system. Based on that understanding, one must then determine its authority source and break it down to see whether or not it stands up to scrutiny.

In Newsweek’s case, however, they never did the first step. They assume Naturalistic presuppositions from the beginning and do their analysis based on that. In other words, they assume from the beginning that the Bible is merely an ancient, man made holy book and that there is no transcendent God who revealed the content of the book. The way this is approached in the article is that the truths contained in the Bible have to be reinterpreted in each generation to make them relevant to the times. As such, the assertion is that the truth itself is relative. What they have done is to interpret one worldview through the lens of another in order to discredit the one they don’t like.

In taking this approach, Newsweek runs into a massive problem. It puts their own worldview in the block for analysis. And when that is done, the Newsweek approach comes up woefully short.

Since, the Newsweek article is approached from a Naturalistic point of view, we must ask, “Where does Lisa Miller get her authority to interpret the Bible the way she does? The short answer is that she made it up herself. The underlying authority for a Naturalistic approach to worldview is human reason. For the Naturalist there is nothing else. They do not acknowledge the existence of anything supernatural, so the natural is all they have to draw on. When it comes to affirming their beliefs, only human beings are capable of contemplating religious ideas, so only human reason is available to draw upon.

But who arbitrates between conflicting interpretations when different humans reason to different conclusions? How does a Naturalist deal with questions which do not have empirical answers? And supposing the supernatural actually does exist, how could a Naturalist even talk about the topic?

The approach of Lisa Miller runs into all of these problems. Her conclusion is an attempt to impose a Naturalistic answer on a belief system which asserts that the supernatural does exist. If she is intent on discrediting the Christian belief, it is not sufficient to simply demonstrate that she can come up with new ideas about how to interpret the Bible based on a different worldview (which is what she tries to do). Rather, she must show that the Bible itself tells untruths (which she does not do).

So, what is the endgame that Newsweek is trying to accomplish? Plain and simple, they are trying to destroy the Christian faith. While this is not the only publication that has turned blatantly anti-Christian, it is a big one. And, as Christians, we better prepare ourselves for the onslaught. This is not a cry to hunker down and try to weather the storm. It is a call to prepare ourselves to do battle. The Christian faith has more to commend it than anything Naturalists can come up with. But our weapons are no good if we do not know how to use them.

I want to encourage you to get up to speed on your understanding of worldview and give you courage as you stand strong in the face of opposition. God’s truth is powerful and it will ultimately win out. But for it to win out in our lives individually, we must stand against those who would try to destroy our faith.

© 2008 Freddy Davis