By Editorial Staff
Published March 31, 2008
by Gary DeMar and Peter Leithart
While most Christians will admit that they have a mind, many seem to think that they don’t need it. In fact, some Christians today seem to believe that thinking is an act of unbelief. Many Christians do not even begin to think about how the Bible might apply, for example, to economics, law, or education. They might have opinions about these areas but no formulated, thought-out worldview.
This view has not always prevailed in the history of Christian culture. In fact, some of the greatest thinkers throughout the centuries have been Christians. Of course, not all of them were perfectly consistent in their application of Christianity to various intellectual pursuits. The important point is that they did not believe their faith kept them from using their minds.
- In the area of LAW, Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England has remained a classic of legal scholarship since it was first published in the mid-1700s. Blackstone defined law as “a rule of action dictated by some superior being.” He claimed that God dictated laws for men, which could be discovered in nature and in the Bible: “Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human law should be suffered to contradict these.“1
- In LITERATURE, the number of great Christian writers through the centuries is astounding. To look only at England, we find that many of the greatest poets were Christians, even clergymen: John Donne, George Herbert, and John Milton. Samuel Johnson was, in his time, the leading literary critic in the English language, and the compiler of an early English dictionary. Even into this century, many leading English literary figures were Christians, including G. K. Chesterton, T. S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, and Dorothy Sayers.
- In PHILOSOPHY, Christians dominated the West from the fifth century until modern times. The great philosophers of the Middle Ages were all theologians: Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Anselm of Canterbury, William of Ockham. When philosophers began to abandon Christianity in the 17th century, most continued to be influenced by Christianity and to address the issues that Christians had been wrestling with for centuries. Even the “father of modern philosophy,” Rene Descartes, despite the evil effects of his thought, was trying to provide a secure proof for the existence of God.
- In POLITICS, many of the important political leaders of the medieval and early modern West were Christians. Until the later Middle Ages, every king of Europe claimed to be Christ’s representative on earth. In Russia, the czars claimed to be the protectors of the Orthodox Church right up to the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. In the modern era, such outstanding political figures as John Adams, George Washington, William Gladstone, and William Wilberforce were all to varying degrees professing and practicing Christians.
- In the ARTS, we discover again that most of the (sometimes anonymous) medieval painters, sculptors, and architects were evidently Christians. The great cathedrals of Europe, the magnificent stained glass windows, the colorful altar pieces, the statuary that adorned the cathedrals – all were dedicated to Christian themes, and were generally produced by Christian artisans. During the Renaissance and Reformation periods, artists began to gain more individual recognition, and we have clearer evidence that many were believers. Among these were Rembrandt van Rijn and Albrect Durer, two Protestant painters.
- In MUSIC, much of Western music was written by Christians.2 Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friederich Handel are two representatives of the great German Christian tradition in music. Handel’s “Messiah,” a series of Scripture texts set to some of the most exhilarating music ever written, is still a holiday favorite today. Everyone recognizes the tune to Handel’s magnificent “Hallelujah Chorus.” Bach was, if anything, even more self-consciously Christian than Handel, and dedicated many of his compositions to the glory of God.
- SCIENCE and technology in the modern world often seem to be at odds with Christianity, but this was not always the case. In fact, after Christianity had taken over the Western Roman Empire, there was an unprecedented burst of innovation in agricultural technology. The inventions included the heavy plow, crop-rotation, new types of harnesses for horses, and nailed horseshoes. Some scholars have concluded that this burst of technology, which continued throughout the medieval period in Europe, was a result of Christian beliefs and attitudes.3 Many of the leading scientists of the early modern world were also professing Christians: Isaac Newton, Johann Kepler, Robert Boyle, Lord Kelvin, Louis Pasteur, Michael Faraday, Clerk Maxwell, and many more.
1 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1765), vol. 1, pp. 38-42.
2 See Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson, The Gift of Music (rev. ed.; Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1978).
3 Lynn White, Jr., Medieval Religion and Technology (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 77, 236.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Reformation
Your comments are welcome!
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)