Foundational Worldview Commitments
When we discuss an ultimate authority, we are really talking about the final standard in your worldview. As a Bible-believing Christian, the Scripture (66-books from Genesis-Revelation) is my ultimate authority. Now, at this point, I must already stop from my main thrust and give a point of clarification. I don’t think anyone could seriously deny that biblical Christianity affirms both general and special revelation. God reveals Himself generally in all of Creation (Romans 1:19, Psalm 19). All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ (Colossians 2:3). So, any truth that you find in this world is God’s truth. When you look at the grandeur of a sunset, you are seeing the revelation of God in a general way, and it should prompt you to worship Him.
God has revealed Himself specifically in the Scripture, which is sufficient to equip the man of God for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is His special revelation where we learn about salvation, God’s character, the history of His works such as Creation, morality, and the list could continue for infinitude. I call it my final authority because it is from God, and it is in light of the special revelation of God that we interpret everything else. I know about the Gospel from the Bible, not by looking at the trees outside my window. These core concepts are a very brief reasoning as to why I say Scripture is my ultimate authority instead of only general revelation.
Now, continuing on with my thoughts about ultimate authority. It is impossible to prove your ultimate authority without being somewhat circular in your argumentation. Someone will probably immediately object, and I would ask them to prove that the laws of logic exist without using the laws of logic. You can’t do it, yet everyone believes in the laws of logic because we cannot make an argument or have a conversation without them. However, you must use the laws of logic (i.e. the law of noncontradiction) if you are going to prove they exist. Some belief systems assert reason is their ultimate authority. They cannot seek to prove that belief without using reason. Therefore, it is inevitable that I will use the Bible in my attempt to prove why my belief in the Bible is valid. Just as an atheist or agnostic would use reason to attempt to prove why their belief in reason is valid. What I will not do is say that I believe the Bible only because it claims to be true. There will be more than one reason, but ultimately I believe the Bible because there is no other foundation for reality without it. You are reduced to absurdity without the Scripture (I’ll unpack that in a second). I will also likely use historical and archaeological evidence in my 2-part series here, but those are supporting points and not the main thrust of my apologetic approach here.
Testing an Ultimate Authority
With all of the preliminary matters out of the way, let’s get to the heart of the issue here. I want to argue from the point of worldview first, then get to inerrancy as we progress in this series. Let’s start with absolute truth, we know it exists, to say that absolute truth does not exist is to make an absolute truth claim. There is such a thing as good and evil, as evidenced by the fact that all societies inevitably have legislation and morality codes. We see both beauty and terror in this world. There are universal laws of logic. I could keep going, but you get my general thrust here. If an ultimate standard is going to be seen as legitimate, it must give a foundation for these things.
Truth clearly exists, and so an ultimate standard must be able to provide a foundation for absolute truth. The atheistic worldview cannot provide this foundation. If we are just all the product of random chance and there is no God, then there is no place for truth. There is no place for good and evil, just do what you want. Each man should do what is right in his own eyes. Does every atheist live that way? Of course, they don’t! If they were consistent with their worldview, they would though.
Can Other Religions Provide A Stable Foundation?
Islam also cannot provide a foundation for reality. Sura 42:11 says communicates the Islamic doctrine of tanzih which teaches that Allah is so superior nothing in human experience is comparable to him. Dr. Jason Lisle, in his book The Ultimate Proof of Creation, argues that this means the god of Islam cannot provide a foundation for the laws of logic because they are a part of human experience (see pages 68-70 for a wonderful synopsis from Dr. Lisle on logic and apologetics). Since Allah is not comparable with anything in human experience, Islam does not have a foundation for the laws of logic and fails the test to provide an ultimate foundation.
Now, what about polytheistic religions where people believe in multiple gods? Can they provide a foundation for reality, such as the laws of logic? No, they cannot. There are multiple gods, so which god’s thoughts should we follow? They cannot account for the laws of morality, which god’s commands should we follow?
So, pure humanism (i.e. atheism and agnosticism) cannot account for reality. Polytheistic religions cannot account for reality. Islam cannot account for reality. The list can go on and on with every worldview but Christianity. What do we then need to account for reality? We need a personal God and a clear revelation from that God to be able to account for reality, we need Christianity. If we just believe in a deity but do not believe in a clear revelation from that deity, then you could never account for reality. Why? You could not know the god whom you are professing to worship. Is he personal or impersonal? Is anything in human experience comparable to him or not? Does he have a law to be able to define good and evil? You cannot have any of these things unless you also have a clear revelation from God. So you have to have both.
The Truth of Christianity
We find both in the biblical, Christian worldview. We have monotheism in that there is only one God (Father, Son, and Spirit). There is the clear revelation we need in the Scripture (more on this later). We have a foundation for the laws of logic in God, for there is only one God, and so we don’t have to wonder which god to imitate as in polytheism. We are made in His image and urged to imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1). That is why things such as love, morality, and truth, can be anchored in the Christian God but not Islam’s Allah. Certainly, we do not possess all of the attributes of God, for example, He has infinite knowledge, and we do not. He is perfect we are not. But, we are to love because He is love (1 John 4:19). For that matter, because He is Triune, love can exist for each member of the Trinity has always loved each other. Yet because God is One, we are not caught in the same problem as polytheistic religions.
So, I have shown at this point why I believe the Bible because you are reduced to logical absurdity without it. Someone might say, “I don’t find the fact that you are reduced to logical absurdity without the Bible a compelling reason to believe it.” To which I would reply that you are implicitly admitting the defeat of your worldview if you respond with that answer. Because you are not saying, you can provide a foundation for reality or addressing the question. I have told you the primary foundation for why I believe the Bible is true, but why do I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture? For the answer to that question and components of archaeological evidence supporting the Bible, we shall turn our attention in part 2 next time!