In 1976, Dr. Gary North edited and published Foundations of Christian Scholarship: Essays in the Van Til Perspective. It included chapters on psychology, history, economics, education, political science, sociology, mathematics, theology, and two chapters written by Dr. Greg Bahnsen on apologetics and philosophy. Bahnsen’s two chapters were written before he received his Ph.D. in 1978 when he turned thirty. A group of us celebrated Greg’s 30th birthday and receiving his Ph.D.
This means that his chapters were written when he was 26 or 27. He may have been younger since Dr. North sent “the manuscript of Foundations of Christian Scholarship to a Christian publishing firm in Britain” in 1974. Christians are still trying to catch up with Bahnsen’s academic prowess.
Dr. North understood the academic world. It only paid attention to the opinions of those with advanced degrees, therefore, “[t]he writers all had advanced degrees, and most held the Ph.D.” This meant that any critics could not complain that the writers were not “credentialed.” In reality, however, being credentialed doesn’t mean anything in today’s “woke” world.
While I was doing some research on Richard Rorty’s views on pragmatism, I remembered that Greg had written on pragmatism in Foundations of Christian Scholarship, in particular, “Pragmatism, Prejudice, and Presuppositionalism.”
Culture 101: Christ is King Over All
Culture 101 is a much-needed primer on how to live out the Christian worldview. Jesus said to ‘do business’ until He returns, and that means living and working in the world. Christians are sometimes given the idea that only ‘spiritual’ pursuits are worthy of the true Christian, but this is a misguided view. The truly spiritual Christian will have great impact in all areas of life, including business, entertainment, and art.Buy Now
These articles were ahead of their time, but they shouldn’t have been. They were meant to set the standard for what should have been an entire corpus of fundamental works based on these and other topics from Christian scholars around the world. It never happened. Sure, Christians write on these topics today, but too often the underlying presuppositions are borrowed from the secular world with just enough Christian-speak to make their work suitable for the Christian market.
What caught my attention was something Gary North had written in the Introduction. Here it is:
One editor, in rejecting the possibility of publishing [Foundations of Christian Scholarship], explained the policy of the Christian publishing house he was associated with. The organization “has been generally very wary about involving itself in this field. There is no-one of any real competence to get involved in these matters of economics, sociology, etc. [presumably, he means no-one associated with his company, GN], and it would be sticking our neck out with no-one able to answer the charges that might be made. We see the first concern to address ourselves to the prevailing piety in worship, prayer, and preaching…”
As he had admitted, “this might be seen to be too narrow and too crippling a vision, and part of a vestige of the old Thomistic dichotomy.” Not “might be seen,” but must be seen; and so modern Protestants are culturally impotent. This state of affairs is even more grotesque in the face of the collapsing framework of modern secularism.
That last sentence was written 45 years ago! Can you imagine where we could be today if the Christian world had begun to fill the void “of the collapsing framework of modern secularism” nearly a half-century ago”?
Dr. North went on to say the following about the Christian prophet’s legacy in 1974 in the now defunct magazine Applied Science:
What has become of the legacy of the Hebrew prophets, who called a rebellious people—including priests and kings—to repentance and reform? What has become of the whole counsel of God? Why do Christians feel incompetent “to answer the charges that might be made”?
How many times have Bible teachers told their listeners that “the Bible has the answers for all of life’s problems”? The statement is true, of course, and what we know as Western Civilization was built upon this truth. Yet the moment Christians discover answers in the Bible to the many problems of life that lie outside the narrow confines of the institutional church, they feel impotent and unqualified to speak.
Christians feel themselves helpless in the face of the complexity of life and the massed intellectual troops of modern secularism. A friend of mine, whose training was in natural science and who was once employed as an analyst of “war games” in a scientific think-tank, commented [in the mid-1960s]: “It’s ironic. Christians look at science and see a roaring lion, when it’s really a mouse in the corner, shivering.”
Imagine, a Christian publishing company assessed modern-day Christian scholarship as not being able to deal with criticisms from the secular world. Better to concentrate on the inner man and leave the world to the ungodly.
Unconditional Surrender: God's Program for Victory
A primer in the Christian faith, Unconditional Surrender provides readers curious about the Bible with the blueprint of a biblical worldview. Using the Bible's basic teachings about God, man, law, judgment, and time—and illustrating how these beliefs affect society at large—Gary North wades in at the heart of the battle in today's culture war, and shows that the Bible has the answers modern science and socialism lack.Buy Now