Christian Theism: Presuppositions

The God-Centered, Bible-Centered Worldview

Have you ever wondered how to explain Christianity to someone who has a different worldview?

In order to do that, you will need to understand the Christian worldview.  The Christian worldview is often described as Christian theism.  Christian theism is the belief that one personal God exists who reveals Himself through the Bible.

Remember from the Worldview Structure worksheet that Christian theism, because it is a worldview, is the way a Christian looks at the world, including his place in the world.  Like other worldviews, it has both presuppositions and surface-level beliefs.  The beliefs in the Christian worldview affect how Christians act, what they say, and the things they create.

Presuppositions of Christian Theism

To understand Christian theism, it is easiest to start with the presuppositions, which are the deepest beliefs.  Some of the most important presuppositions are the beliefs listed below.

Monotheism

Monotheism is the belief that only one God exists and that He is personal (has a mind and feelings).  This sets Christianity apart from polytheism, which holds that many gods exist, and from atheism, which holds that no God exists.  It also sets Christianity apart from pantheism, which holds that everything is God and that God has no mind that is separate from the rest of the world.

God Is Triune

The Bible teaches that only one God exists (Deuteronomy 6:4) but also teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all God (John 1:1, Acts 5:3-4).  The Trinity explains what the Bible teaches by saying that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same in one way but different in another.  All three are the same God, but they are separate persons.  You will learn more about the Trinity in a future worksheet.

General Revelation

Through general revelation, God reveals who He is through the things He has created, such as the sun, the stars, and things on the earth.  Through the creation and through their own consciences, people know that there is a God, that He is powerful, and that He should be obeyed.  General revelation is enough to condemn us as sinners, but it does not give us knowledge about Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Special Revelation

Through special revelation, God communicates to people through words.  In the past, those words were given to prophets and apostles who wrote them down.  Today, we have their writings collected in the Bible, which we call God's Word.  One of the purposes of special revelation is to lead us to Christ and show us the gospel.

God Made the Universe

God the Father created the entire universe through Jesus Christ.  Things in the universe have meaning and purpose because of their Creator.  This is similar to how each of the characters in a movie serves a purpose in the story because the author wrote him into the movie for a reason.

God Is Sovereign

God is sovereign, meaning that He is in control of everything that happens in the universe.  The Bible teaches that God has planned out everything that has happened and will ever happen in the universe.  If this were not true, then everything in the universe would lose its purpose.  This is similar to the way that the characters in a movie would lose their purpose if someone were to erase the last few minutes of the movie and write a random ending to replace it.  Unlike that movie, we can trust God because He is powerful enough to accomplish the things He has planned for us.

God Is All-Knowing

God knows everything that can possibly be known, including all the facts about the past, present, and future of the universe.  This is called being omniscient, or all-knowing.  God can be all-knowing about the future because He is sovereign and has the future already planned out.  We can trust God because He can never be wrong about the things He reveals to us.

God Is Perfectly Good

God cannot lie or sin because He is perfectly good.  We can trust Him because He cannot deceive us.

People Have a Responsibility to Obey God

Because He made us and gave us a purpose to live for in the universe, God has the right to command that we fulfill that purpose and obey Him.

God Is Everyone's Judge

All of us have sinned and chosen to disobey what God has told us to do.  Since general revelation makes us aware that God exists and should be obeyed, we all deserve to be judged and suffer punishment for what we have done.

God Is Our Redeemer

Because of God's love and His desire to honor Himself as our Redeemer, He sent Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross and bring us back to Him.

To Be Continued...

We'll learn more about these presuppositions in future worksheets.  You'll soon be able to explain them to friends, defend them using the Bible, and answer other people's questions about God.

Discussion Questions

  1. Make a three-column table on a separate piece of paper with the headings presupposition, consistent surface-level belief, and inconsistent surface-level belief.  The table should have eleven rows underneath the headings.  Write the presuppositions shown below into the eleven rows underneath the presupposition heading in your table.  In the middle column, write a surface-level belief that would be consistent with each presupposition.  On the right-hand column, write a surface-level belief that would be inconsistent with each presupposition.

    • One personal God exists.
    • God is triune.
    • God reveals Himself through general revelation.
    • God reveals Himself through special revelation.
    • God made the universe.
    • God is sovereign.
    • God is all-knowing.
    • God is perfectly good.
    • People have a responsibility to obey God.
    • God is everyone's Judge.
    • God is our Redeemer.
  2. Pick one of the presuppositions covered in this worksheet and defend it using Scripture.  Explain your answer and support it by giving a reference to a Bible passage.  Copy down at least one verse from the passage.  Explain the original meaning of the passage as part of your answer.

  3. Pick one of the presuppositions covered in this worksheet and explain how it affects your practical life.  Explain your answer and support it by giving a reference to a Bible passage.  Copy down at least one verse from the passage.  Explain the original meaning of the passage as part of your answer.

References

"Theology." Lightbearers: A Biblical Christian Worldview Curriculum. Ed. David Noebel, Pat Maloy, and Kevin J. Bywater. Manitou Springs: Summit Ministries, 2004. 31-50.

Note: The way we've described the presuppositions above is not the only way to do it.  Some people, for example, would say that there are two Christian presuppositions: God exists, and He reveals Himself through the Bible.  They would say that the other beliefs are surface-level beliefs, not presuppositions.  This doesn't contradict the way what you've learned from this worksheet, though.  The line between presuppositions and surface-level beliefs is a gray one, and different people will draw that line in different places.

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