By J. Luis Dizon

When examining the competing claims of the Christian and various non-Christian worldviews, we are often told that we must look at all the facts and evidence from a completely neutral and objective standpoint. At the face of it, this idea of arguing from a position of neutrality sounds very lofty and fair. After all, most of us don’t like it when people come to the table with their biased attitudes.

There is a problem with this idea, however. First of all, it is impossible for any person to be completely neutral, especially on those ultimate issues that worldviews speak on, such as ethics and the nature of reality. This is because we are creatures of ideas. Our ideas spring forth from our minds, and they influence our attitudes, decisions and perceptions. The Lord Jesus spoke to the influence of the state of our hearts on our words, thoughts and actions this way: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).[1] For this reason, when non-Christians ask us to become neutral, we will often find that they themselves do not practice the very neutrality that they espouse. The non-believer will always operate based on presuppositions dictated by their worldview. Sometimes they realize this, but oftentimes they do not, and simply assume (unjustifiably) that they are standing on neutral ground. A Christian who knows how to ask the right questions can expose these unacknowledged presuppositions, and show them to the non-Christian so that they will realize and admit that their actions and reasoning are based upon a prior commitment to their own worldview.

The other problem with the idea of neutrality is that for a Christian to attempt to be neutral is to go against the commands of scripture. The Old Testament taught that we are to love the Lord with our entire being, including our minds (Deuteronomy 6:5). Also, the apostle Paul taught that we are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The fact that we are commanded to consciously submit our thoughts, words and actions to the worldview of the Bible precludes the idea of starting from an alleged neutral standpoint. In point of fact, such standpoints are not neutral at all, but are invariably tied to one non-biblical worldview or another (even if the connection is not always obvious). For a Christian to base their thinking on anything other than a biblical foundation is, as pointed out by the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen, a form of intellectual treason against Christ.[2] As he points out, when an unbeliever tells us that we must remain neutral, there are two things that must always be kept in mind: They aren’t, and we shouldn’t be.

Parenting is a good example of where this conflict usually occurs. Secularists frequently berate Christian parents for imparting biblical beliefs to their children. Richard Dawkins even goes so far in The God Delusion to call this a form of child abuse. Children, they assert, should be taught in a religiously neutral environment, where they could be taught every viewpoint objectively and be left to make their own decision as they grow up. The problem with this, of course, is that it is practically impossible. Even the Secularists themselves cannot help but impart their Humanistic worldview onto their progeny (mistakenly thinking that they are imparting a “neutral” perspective on life). In fact, Secularists are among the most vociferous when it comes to spreading their beliefs both to their own and others’ children, via the public education system. Not only this, but it would be a sin for Christians to not impart the truths of the Bible to their children, as we are instructed to speak them to our offspring (Deuteronomy 6:7) and to instruct them in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). This is just one field where Christians are called to honour God with their whole being, and doing so is in direct conflict with the secular drive towards “neutrality.”

One last thing that should be pointed out: Some may ask at this point whether the myth of neutrality precludes there being any common ground between Christians and non-Christians. Assuredly, there are many points of commonality between the Christian worldview and non-Christian worldviews. For example, Christians share with Jews and Muslims the common belief that there is only one God who created the world and makes His will known through divine revelation (although we disagree on the nature of God and on the nature of revelation). Bible-believing Evangelicals share with Roman Catholics the common belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, and that the cross of Christ is necessary for salvation (although we disagree on the sufficiency of scripture and on what Christ’s sacrifice entails). We can and should affirm these commonalities and use them as starting points for further discussion. Common ground, however, is different from neutral ground. It has been said that all truth is God’s truth, which means that those common points that Christians and non-Christians jointly affirm ultimately point to the triune God of scripture, and that the non-Christian worldview ultimately cannot make sense of these truths. The Christian’s job is to make this clear through apologetic dialogue and a critical examination of the non-Christians’ presuppositions. Only then can these truths then be used to point to the truth of the Gospel.


[1] All scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version.

[2] See Dr. Bahnsen’s lecture series on The Myth of Neutrality, which may be viewed online on YouTube.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s