Dr. Toby Jennings on the Biblical Way to Talk With Someone Who Has an Opposing Worldview

Toby Jennings
Toby Jennings

Everyone has a worldview with either more or less ingrained foundational principles. Twentieth century theologian Carl F. H. Henry asserted that “Divine revelation [is] the basic epistemological axiom.” That is, if God does not provide knowledge (and even the mind and ability to assimilate that knowledge), we can have no certainty about anything. Humanity’s Creator has spoken to it what is good and right; sinners simply suppress that truth (Rom 1.18-32).

Before evaluating any issue, therefore, the question is: Is one’s worldview—one’s reasoning of everything—grounded in divine revelation, or in self-preservation and self-interest?

Simply telling someone who doesn’t follow Jesus Christ that he or she is wrong and you disagree with his or her conclusions will usually only spark an unresolvable debate (not because the issue is unresolvable, but because the darkened anti-God, self-preserving mind will always ultimately reject holiness [Rom 8.7-8; Titus 1.15-16]).

So, the discussion might be better served if you simply communicate to your conversation partner that you realize the ground from which you derive your perspective seems to be at odds with what grounds his or hers, and that the worldviews from which you take your opposing stances are obviously fundamentally different. You can even tell your friend that you realize you probably won’t reach a consensus because of that; but at least both of you will have the opportunity—whether or not that opportunity is seized with honesty—to examine your worldviews before the face of the thrice-holy God who would not have us grope around in darkness for how we should live.

Ultimately, there really are only two worldviews: Does the created order belong to God to do with as He pleases, and therefore we should endeavor at every level to direct our culture and our pleasures and/or approvals in accord with His revealed holy precepts for life? Or, as the masters of our own destinies, should we live as though the assertion of ancient Greek naturalist philosopher Protagoras is true, namely that, “Man is the measure of all things”?

In that worldview, no one should try to impose his or her views on anyone else because everyone is free and responsible enough to do whatever he or she wants, “so long as it doesn’t harm me” (which, by the way, we all know is simply rationally and practically untenable).

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Ed Stetzer

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