Investigating and Defending the Gospels #1 

Do Not Be a Know-It-All 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • August 5, In the year of our Lord, 2015

  1. What is a presupposition? 
    1. Something we assume to be true before we investigate.
    2. Does everyone have presuppositions?
      1. How do presuppositions affect us?
      2. They affect how we see the world around us.
  2. Therefore, we want to be as objective as possible. 
    1. What is objectivity?
    2. However, our presuppositions can get in the way.
      1. We all have ways of thinking of which we may not be aware.
      2. For example, during my first mission trip to Russia in 1993,
        1. I told myself that I was not going to be an American over there.
        2. I was not going to convert them to Americanism.
          1. Yet, as we talk with the interpreters especially,
          2. I discovered that shedding my Americanism
            1. was not as easy as I thought it would be.
            2. I had formed ways of thinking in my 36 years at the time,
              1. of which I was unaware.
              2. It took self-discipline to be only a Christian and
                1. only to speak of Christianity.
                2. My point is not about our being Americans, but
                  1. there are things about us
                  2. of which we are unaware.
    3. Therefore, let us look at the Gospels as open-minded as possible.
  3. Understand Our Culture 
    1. Our culture puts the highest premium on science.
      1. Why do we value science so highly?
      2. Think of what it has done.
    2. Our culture believes
      1. that science will solve or explain every mystery of life,
      2. believing that everything has a natural explanation and
        1. not a supernatural explanation.
        2. That is their presupposition.
    3. Our culture believes
      1. that science is the only true determiner of truth.
      2. This philosophy is naturalism or scientism.
        1. They even place this above historical documentation.
        2. Therefore, they reject the accounts of the Gospel writers.
      3. This leads them to reject any supernatural explanation.
    4. One evolutionary biologist and geneticist, Richard Lewontin, said,

      “Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

    5. People conclude that God does not exist or that Jesus never existed, because
      1. they have pre-determined that belief.
      2. Therefore, when they examine the evidence,
        1. they do not find what they say will persuade them that Jesus existed.
        2. They conclude He did not.
      3. They began their investigation with their conclusion.
    6. How do we deal with this kind of thinking?
      1. First, we have to acknowledge in ourselves that we have presuppositions.
      2. Second, we need to see that he who denies such is either naive or lying.
      3. Third, understand that everyone wants to believe he is objective.
      4. Fourth, we can still discover the truth even with our presuppositions.
        1. We expect juries to operate this way.
        2. Can’t evolutionists and creationists do the same?
      5. Fifth, we have to understand that they believe miracles cannot happen.
        1. They believe that everything has operated in the past as it does now.
        2. If there is a God,
          1. He created everything,
          2. Jesus is His Son, and
            1. the miracles Jesus did are small
            2. in comparison to the first sentence of the Bible,

              1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1.1).
          3. For a God who can do such things,
            1. is turning water to wine or
            2. raising the dead all that big of a deal?
      6. Sixth, acknowledge that natural laws do exist and explain many things.
  4. Therefore, let us not be know-it-alls, but 
    1. let us keep our minds open.
    2. Our approach might open up the hearts of others,

      15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed (1Pe 3.15–16).