I grew up in a rural church that separated faith and reason. We did not read the Bible much nor take it seriously. It was a bigger sin to be fanatical or zealous than to be immoral. Whatever was culturally or politically acceptable was never questioned. We kept our faith and religion in the church building and our secular lives separate and unchallenged.
I studied evolution, which I never questioned. I became identified with the socialist anti-war protestors, which I never really thought through. I was a humanistic, secular, church-goer who had never read the Bible even once. I never questioned anything until I questioned my own faith.
I first became disillusioned at the public schools. I then experienced some negative consequences of some choices I made. About that time I heard a Campus Crusade speaker at Idaho State University apply the Bible to the dating practices of modern youth culture, something totally new to me. In the winter of 1970 I was invited to an anti war community organizer meeting at my denomination’s church at the campus of the University of Chicago. There I discovered and came to accept that I was not a Christian (whatever that was) nor were my pot-smoking friends.
I headed home to Idaho on Amtrak Christmas 1970, leaving behind my community organizer, anti-war protesting friends. I ran into Evangelical Christians going home from Urbana ’70. This was my first encounter with people who read and attempted to follow the Bible.
After 17.5 years in church I began to read the Bible, starting in Revelation and searching out the real meaning of the Christian Faith. I played in a rock band and the drummer and I began encouraging each other to study. Friends saw my interest and tried to influence me to go to Bible college. I quickly discerned that they had the same dichotomy between faith and reason that existed in my church and was causing me so much trouble and confusion. It was apparent to me that they were getting this thinking from the Bible school. I argued with them frequently about whether the Bible was true apart from my faith or was only true because of faith. I wanted nothing to do with Bible colleges that don’t teach that the Bible is true objectively so I stayed in the Jesus People movement and started college at the community college.
I became a strong proponent of the authority of Scripture in all areas that it addresses without false dichotomies or manufactured philosophical exceptions. To say, as is common among churches, that Scripture is inspired in matters of faith but not in history is intellectual suicide. If Scripture is true, it is objectively true in whatever it asserts. In the Gospel of John chapter 3 Jesus has a discussion with Nicodemus about the nature of the new birth. Nicodemus misunderstands the real meaning of Jesus’s comment and confuses the spiritual with the earthly. Jesus’s answer is “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”(12) Jesus argues from the lesser to the greater.
In the modern world we turn this around and say the Bible is true in the spiritual but not in the earthly things, arguing that the lesser things are not inspired but the greater things are. How can you trust Scripture to speak about things that cannot be tested when we don’t trust it in the things that theoretically can be proven? How can we believe the Gospel statements about heaven but not about its own history? How can the gospels be true in matters of Faith but not in the real events that these stories are bedded in?
It took me 6 years and 5 transfers before I finished college. My last two years were at a Wesleyan Holiness school studying Theology and Greek. I was very fond of the school and did well there, but the denomination and seminary were committed to neo- orthodox dichotomies of faith and reason. Most of the holiness tradition (which I am in a lot of ways comfortable) hold that Scripture is inspired in matters of Faith and practice while saying nothing about the “earthly”parts. These national Church bodies are all struggling to survive in the modern age. The existential epistemology is not strong enough for the 21st century. This surrender to 18th century philosophy separating the subjective and objective reality is intellectual suicide in the 21st century market place of ideas. We are defeated before the contest begins.
My decision to keep my writing and teaching on the highest level of Biblical Authority is embedded in my background. Aletheia Christian College operates on these assumptions that All Scripture is inspired and objectively true. We reject the 18th century dichotomies of Faith and Reason. We do not use any label that operates under those assumptions. As Jesus said to Nicodemus “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”(John 3:12)