Worldview and Christian Faith

January 28-29, 2007
Emmanuel Presbyterian Church - Thousand Oaks, CA

Dallas spoke twice at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Thousand Oaks, CA on January 28-29, 2007. He examines issues related to the interplay of faith and knowledge. He asserts that there is a unique body of Christian knowledge, essential to human flourishing. This series also contains two wide-ranging Q&A sessions. 

The sessions include:

  1. World View and the Spiritual Life: Fantasy and Reality
  2. Question and Answer Session 1
  3. Is There A Body of Uniquely Christian Knowledge? The Problem of Knowledge In the Contemporary World
  4. Question and Answer Session 2

Resources

1: World View and the Spiritual Life: Fantasy and Reality

Dallas looks into the relationship between our worldviews, our knowledge, and our spiritual lives. He initiates a scholarly discourse on how our perception of reality fundamentally shapes our spiritual existence, pushing beyond mere academic engagement to probe the depth of human understanding and its impact on spiritual practices. With a thoughtful examination of the concept of knowledge—its acquisition, its validity, and its role in guiding our lives—Dallas explores the human quest for a foundational knowledge upon which to base our lives and actions. 

2: Worldview Q&A

In this Q&A session, Dallas explores the interplay between doubt, suspicion, and honest inquiry in our understanding of God and the natural world. With discussions ranging from the challenges of maintaining faith within the scientific community to the essential role of agape love in defining true goodness, Dallas navigates the complex landscape of modern belief and skepticism. 

3: Is There A Body of Uniquely Christian Knowledge?

Dallas examines the distinction between Christian and secular institutions of learning, raising pivotal questions about the existence and nature of knowledge unique to Christian thought. He challenges listeners to ponder whether Christian colleges offer something beyond the curriculum of secular schools, suggesting that the Christian perspective encompasses not just a body of knowledge but a profound understanding of life's great questions through the lens of Jesus' teachings. 

4: Knowledge Q & A

In this wide-ranging Q&A session, Dallas encourages thoughtful consideration of issues related to foreign policy, democracy, and a country’s moral calling. He also addresses the humble and thorough pursuit of truth and knowledge, pastors and the office of teacher, as well as what it means for our lives to be hidden with Christ in God.    

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World View and the Spiritual Life: Fantasy and Reality

Highlights:

  • Importance of Worldview: Dallas underscores the crucial role of worldview in shaping our understanding and approach to the spiritual life, highlighting its impact on how we perceive reality and engage with spiritual practices.
  • Knowledge as the Foundation: Dallas emphasizes the quest for a reliable basis of knowledge to ground our lives and decisions, exploring the challenges and implications of finding such a foundation in a complex and varied world.
  • Challenge of Hard Questions: He discusses the significance of confronting difficult questions in our spiritual journey, pointing out that these challenges often lead to deeper insight and growth, both personally and in our understanding of the world.
  • Interplay Between Faith and Knowledge: Dallas delves into the complex relationship between faith and knowledge, questioning the modern categorization of faith as distinct from, and often inferior to, knowledge, thereby challenging the audience to reconsider their preconceptions.
  • Integration with Reality: The talk explores the idea that true knowledge, including spiritual knowledge, should enable us to better integrate with reality, enhancing our ability to live effectively and meaningfully.
  • Political Nature of Knowledge: Dallas discusses how knowledge is inherently political, influencing who gets to act, who leads, and who teaches, thus impacting the broader societal and cultural norms and practices.
  • Limitations of Science: He argues against the notion of a purely scientific worldview, pointing out that science, while invaluable, cannot address the most fundamental human questions about meaning, morality, and existence.
  • A Practice-Oriented Faith: Dallas presents Christianity as primarily a way of living centered around the teachings of Jesus Christ, rather than a mere set of abstract beliefs or answers to intellectual questions.

Worldview Q&A

Highlights:

  • Doubt Versus Suspicion: Dallas illuminates the distinction between doubt and suspicion in the realm of theology, arguing that while doubt concerns reasons to disbelieve, suspicion often undercuts belief without clear justification. He advocates honest inquiry over suspicion, emphasizing the importance of seeking knowledge of God through a lens of openness and humility.
  • Intersection of Faith and Science: Dallas confronts the misconception that belief in God is incompatible with scientific pursuit. He challenges the notion of naturalism as the sole framework for understanding the world, defending the position that faith in the divine complements rather than conflicts with scientific inquiry, thereby encouraging believers within the scientific community to embrace their faith without fear of professional ostracism.
  • True Goodness: Delving into the nature of what it means to be truly good, Dallas points to Jesus Christ as the exemplar of goodness, characterized by an inherent, pervasive agape love. This discussion extends into practical spirituality, highlighting how individuals can grow to embody this form of love through spiritual disciplines.
  • Crisis of Truth in Modern Academia: Dallas critiques the contemporary academic and intellectual climate, describing it as a "rumour mill" that prioritizes research and novelty over truth and knowledge. He laments the shift away from universities as places of knowledge dissemination to those focused on perpetual research, urging a return to a commitment to truth as the foundation of intellectual inquiry.
  • Ethics, Nature, and Divine Creation: Addressing questions of ethics and human nature, Dallas posits that ethical truths emerge from the nature of creation itself, shaped by God's design. He challenges the prevailing cultural relativism and argues for a universal moral fabric woven into the very being of humanity, calling for obedience to Christ as the pathway to unity among Christians, transcending doctrinal differences through the shared practice of love and service.

Is There A Body of Uniquely Christian Knowledge?

Highlights:

  • Body of Uniquely Christian Knowledge: Dallas asserts that there is a body of knowledge unique to Christianity.
  • Importance of Knowledge in Faith: He emphasizes the role of knowledge in faith, arguing that Christian education should not only impart beliefs but also equip individuals with the ability to represent reality based on a thorough basis of thought, experience, and divine insight.
  • Christianity's Claim to Knowledge and Action: Dallas stresses that true knowledge, as understood in the Christian context, grants the right to act, make policy, and teach, distinguishing it from mere belief or opinion.
  • Pastor's Role as Knowledge Bearer: He proposes that pastors and teachers within the Christian church hold a unique responsibility to be the primary bearers of knowledge, guiding the nation and its people through the wisdom and teachings of Jesus Christ.
  • Interplay of Knowledge and Spiritual Life: Dallas delves into the nature of spiritual life, describing it as a dynamic interaction with God and His Kingdom, facilitated by a deep understanding of Jesus' teachings and the reality of God's omnipresence and action in the world.
  • Prayer as a Conversation in the Kingdom: He presents prayer not merely as a request made to God but as an ongoing conversation within the Kingdom of God, emphasizing its role in the believer's life as a form of interaction with the divine.
  • Accessibility of God's Kingdom: Dallas highlights Jesus' teachings on the Kingdom of God, emphasizing its openness to all, regardless of social or economic status, and the transformative power of living under God's reign.
  • Logical Foundation of Christian Belief: Concluding with a discussion on logic and knowledge, Dallas challenges listeners to critically engage with their beliefs and the teachings of Jesus, using logic as a tool to deepen their understanding of faith and reality.

Knowledge Q & A

Highlights:

  • Nations and Divine Guidance: Dallas emphasizes the role of nations in fostering trust in God, suggesting that foreign policies should reflect the moral calling of a nation and highlight the necessity of divine guidance in international relations.
  • Democracy and Religious Freedom: He critically examines democracy, quoting Winston Churchill to underline its flaws while stressing the importance of promoting religious freedom over democracy as a political form.
  • Humility in the Quest for Truth: Addressing the quest for truth in a flawed world, Dallas agrees that recognizing our limitations can lead to humility and thoroughness in pursuit of knowledge, emphasizing reliance on God.
  • Navigating Conflicts with Logic: He discusses the conflict of knowledge and perspectives, advocating for humility, thoroughness, and logic as tools to navigate conflicts and discover truth amidst diverse viewpoints.
  • Pastors as Community Teachers: Dallas champions the vital role of pastors as teachers within the community, arguing for their unique position to guide and influence based on a foundation of spiritual truth and revelation.
  • Jesus as the Ultimate Intellectual: He engages with the idea of Jesus as the smartest person who ever lived, encouraging us to view Christ as the master of all fields of knowledge, including our own areas of expertise.
  • Pastors vs. Philosophers on Truth: Addressing the acquisition of knowledge, Dallas argues that pastors, equipped with spiritual premises, are better suited than philosophers to lead discussions on truth, logic, and morality.
  • Church's Role in Solving Human Problems: He concludes by envisioning a world where the church's wisdom and guidance are recognized as essential to solving human problems, advocating for a harmonious blend of authority, power, love, mercy, and truth under the guidance of Jesus Christ.