Teaching in Contradiction

In a recent Barna poll, the first question was carefully crafted, "Are you a born-again evangelical Christian"?  Only those who answered affirmatively were surveyed.  The rest of the questions really orbited that one - did Jesus sin; is the Holy Spirit real; is there such a thing as moral truth; etc. - all questions defining a born again evangelical Christian.  But the answers showed that something was radically wrong.  There was a disconnect between the first answer and the rest.

Francis Schaeffer stressed that people differ widely in their basic philosophical (theological) framework - elements forming the basis for their worldviews.  He didn't mean by this that they merely disagreed on some issues.  He meant that they are not compatible on the level of underlying assumptions.  Most are not even cognizant of their own worldviews or how they came to accept certain assumptions as truth.  And they haven't given much thought to the lack of awareness, frameworks, and assumptions of others.  He also noted that people have adopted spurious reasoning so that people are not functioning logically within their own assumptions.  In other words, they are not self-consistent - there are contradictory "givens" within the accepted mental grids illogically held together [see War…Reading and Discussing Scripture http://pop.eradman.com/].  Rom.1 and Isa.44 (discussion of idol worship) bear this out.

Therefore words and phrases from different concepts of reality take on different meanings and connotations.  This not only describes society in general, but the church in general and many individual churches in particular.  Schaeffer said that in order to actually communicate we need to speak in paragraphs (rather than words and phrases) defining what we mean as well as what we don't mean.  Scripture does this - see Ps.1.  That is the only way to lift a conversation out of its default framework into a common ground for both parties [see Problems Defining http://pop.eradman.com/].

Christians really do want to learn [see http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/01/a-theology-of-indifference/comment-page-1/#comment-16168].  It is logical to preach/teach an overview dealing with framework as a whole as in The Story of the Bible [Key to the Bible http://pop.eradman.com/] demonstrating good logic in the process.  But it is not enough to insert basic concepts of Christianity into the "accepted" frame of reference because a faulty manor of thinking is also part of what has been absorbed.  Right thinking is required as a kind of connective tissue between facts (truths).  Both the overview and the way people think must be addressed along with their respective reasons.  Once the new (Biblical) framework is in place, material can be introduced to fill it out, all the while demonstrating correct reasoning.  This change cannot be accomplished in one, two, or even three sessions, and the further apart the sessions, the less impact they will have.  The Barna poll shows that the alternative, piecemeal dealing with passages in a thematic way, results in the message being adapted to and inserted into the default framework rather than the challenging of the presuppositions at the foundational level.  Often this goes unnoticed because faulty reasoning accommodates the new information into its concept grid.  It doesn't recognize the contradictions as such or that the contradictions make any difference.