TNEC - The Study
#101 Our Presuppositions
The New Earth Chronicles: Our Presuppositions
Back to the Future: The Beginnings of all things;Cosmology
In order to understand the future, we must first understand our past; the beginnings of all things. Scripture clearly describes our future in the New Heaven and the New Earth as the re-creation of what was originally begun in Genesis yet was corrupted. Without a firm grasp of the world we live in, we cannot understand our everlasting home! So we must Go Back to the Future!
Warming up the Time Machine: What are our Presuppositions?
Our first task is to consider what we know, or more properly, what we think we know about our Evangelical Doctrine on the Creation narrative and those of the future; of Heaven and Hell. Much of what we Evangelical Christians currently "believe" about these doctrines are the center of a vicious culture war. That war has so skewed our view (on both sides) that few are willing to wade through it to find the truth. So our first steps are to examine our Presuppositions on the subject of these doctrines and come to a new, yet ancient, understanding.
I attended Messiah College (now University, Grantham, PA, of the Brethren in Christ Church denomination). After we had the traditional Christmas Holiday break we had an additional two weeks of classes between semesters called Intercession. This was the brainchild of Dr Ernest Boyer. Early on he was Dean of Upland College, the west-coast sister college of Messiah. During that time I was childhood friends with his children and spent many happy hours swimming in their backyard pool (a luxury in the late 50s early 60s!). He later became Secretary of Education under Jimmy Carter.
Dr. Boyer's "Intercession" was required for freshmen and new enrollees (upper classes did service projects). There we were introduced to many concepts no longer taught in modern schools, yet required for successful higher education. Primarily it was to address a new student's presuppositions: Essentially kicking the door of our thinking processes open so as to avoid much of the intellectual angst that occurs in freshmen. It only worked partially for me, as my freshman year was my only full year of higher education, at least until I finished my Master of Divinity more than two decades later (without completing an undergrad). Yet those lessons on presuppositions, of which we often derided, stuck with me!
Here are the main presuppositions I believe need addressing, or you, the Reader, will suppose I am a crackpot and throw this book away to give it more no thought than a belch in a windstorm!
In this book I am questioning the following dearly held positions of the Evangelical Church:
That the Creation account in Genesis is an actual 24/7 event leading to a Young Earth time-line, instantaneous creation of Adam and Eve, and all the various spin-offs of that understanding of cosmology.
The first two chapters of Genesis are focused on physical creation.
We go to “Heaven” when we die (and purportedly play harps on clouds etc…)
Scripture does not tell us what our afterlife is like (“Eye has not seen nor ears heard…”).
That Hell is an everlasting fire in which human souls will burn forever and ever without end.
That the King James Version is the only “good” Bible translation.
If I do not believe the above, I am somehow “not Christian” and do not understand Evangelical Christianity.
I will take the above list in reverse order.
If I do not believe the above, I am somehow “not Christian” or do not understand Evangelical Christianity.
I believe in all of the statements of the Apostle’s Creed as being true and absolutely necessary for life here and now, and Life Everlasting in the future.
The Apostles' Creed in Modern English (From the Book of Common Prayer)
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* (universal) Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
This form of the Apostle's Creed has long been established as the basics of Christain Doctrine. None of these statements can be disputed and be a Christian. However, that doe not mean that we all understand the details of how and why these above statements are acted out in our daily faith. The details of the Genesis creation story and the future details of Heaven and Hell are open to interpretation. Some of these interpretations are passed down from medieval times and are now uncritically accepted as "gospel" when there is an abundance of material, mostly ancient, that sheds light on the subject.
As to my credentials as an Evangelical, I am a bred and born Evangelical Christian, raised in the Brethren in Christ Church (BiC); one of the five “peace” churches out of the Mennonites, Amish, Quakers, and along with the Wesleyan churches (we put the fun into fundamental! - and not to be confused with the Brethren churches). I was born in Kansas with parents from Kansas and Oklahoma and raised in California from the age of five. My mother and sisters wore head-coverings until the mid -1960s while my grandmother wore a cape dress for most of her life.