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Part 3 The Reformed Worldview

This paper is the critic and analysis of W. Gary Crampton, Richard Bacon’s joint work, Toward a Christian Worldview.  I shall review the work and interact with the ideas as the paper goes along.  The end of the paper will deal with an assessment of the work, summary of the critique, and personal edification or lack thereof as a result of this study. 

Going to war with a worldview

Weltanchauung is German word meaning “a way of looking at life.”  There is denying that the first portion of this work has a post-millinial flavor.  That is to say by adapting, engaging and evangelizing with a correct Christian world-view much can be accomplished.  To reverse the poison of nihilism of the present age, a correct and positive Christian worldview must be espoused.  In fact, the theme of the first section is militant.  That is we should be awakened out of our slumber and attack the meaningless spirit of the age with a positive worldview of the Christian faith. 

Colossians 2:8 the Biblical case for a Christian worldview?

The apostle in Colossians is not forbidding all philosophy only those that are not according to Christ.  Here we must have God, revealed in the triune God, through his inspired revelation as the axiom of our faith.  (This idea is mentioned in the preface of the text.  The preface also names the WCF as the biblical worldview for Christianity and I have no problems with that).   Colossians 2:8 clearly implies two philosophies: Christian and all others.  There is no middle-ground.  The Christian derives his worldview from the inspired Word of God as the source of all reality and truth.  How one views reality and lives their life is from transforming of the mind to the scripture.  Any other source as an authority is simply non-Christian by supplanting God.   

Christian philosophy is a worldview.  Of course a worldview set of beliefs, a philosophy of life, how we think and thus how we negotiate our life.  Included in a worldview is certain essential elements such as ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, and government.

A worldview creates a society/culture.  In fact R.C. Sproul is noted to say the worldview is glue that holds a society together and gives it distinctive (Bacon, Crampton 9).  It is easy to see then how much bearing our thoughts or philosophies have upon the course of a society.  It is here, in the arena of ideas and thoughts, that the most devilish and heated warfare happens.   And it is here we must concentrate much offensive. 

Characteristics of the Christian Worldview

1. Presuppositional in its source of authority

This means that the starting point, the axiom, the foundation of all truth about reality is that the Bible is the Word of God.  The Bible being the only source of truth must be the starting place the only authority.  If the Bible is not the starting point, as mentioned above, we bow to another other than God as the highest authority. 

In the reading by Bacon and Crampton, they confirm this presuppositionalism by citing 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

They cite the Westminster Confession of Faith 1:6:

“the whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men” (Bacon, Crampton 13). 

All wisdom, instruction and doctrine for life is found in scripture.  There is no other interpreter of reality and teacher of ethics, reveler of God, knowledge of salvation, outside of the Holy Scripture.  Knowledge of this is the first presupposition. 

This brings us to a subsection of this point: the Holy Spirit must produce belief in Scripture in our hearts.  We simply do not choose to believe in that Scripture is the inspired Word of God and subsequently live by its rule.  This would make me the sovereign of their salvation.  Man’s position is that he cannot receive the things of God (Romans 8:6-8, I Cor. 2:14-16).  The Spirit must quicken him to spiritual life, giving him the faith in Christ of the Scriptures, and the Scriptures themselves (St. John 3:3, 6:44, Ezek. 36:26, 27).  

2. God: the Trinity

The next axiom is the belief in God.  Not just any variation of god, but the Triune God of Scripture.  Scripture reveals that there is one God manifest in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  These Three are one in essences, three in persons.   He is eternal, he is a Spirit, and from his is wisdom, judgment, goodness, etc. 

3. Providence

We see that God is sovereign over all that happens.  He has decreed whatever that comes to past from his Divine will (Eph. 1:11).  All the happenings of the world are according to God’s unfolding plan that he purposed from all eternity. 

4. Man

Man is created in the image of God.  The Biblical view of this concept has man consisting of a spirit in a body.  He is in the image of God in terms of morality, metaphysically, and spiritually.  He has the capacity to have a relationship with God.  He is created male and female.  He is created with certain presuppositions including knowledge of God, also called general revelation or as Calvin called, sensus divinitatis (sense of divinity engraved upon the soul) (Bacon, Crampton 16). 

5. The Fall of Man

The result of the sin of man has far reaching consequences.  The image of God in man has been effected drastically.  The effects are most seen in the moral ability of man.  He is in state of total depravity (Romans 3:9-18; 8:7, 8, Eph. 2:1-4).  Man is unable to please God, and have relationship with God.  His disposition is evil and he is an enemy of God.  His view of reality, and philosophy is negatively effective, and without the regenerating work of the Spirit, man will never come to proper knowledge of himself or God (John 3:3-8).  The work of Christ on the cross restores man in an ethical, judicial sense (Eph 4:24, Col. 3:10). 

Elements of a Worldview

Quickly, we will look at elements of a worldview. 

The first element is epistemology.  This is the philosophy of how we know.  The second element is metaphysics.  Metaphysics deals with reality.  Why are things the way they are, and what is the nature of the universe.  The third element is ethics.  This is how we should behave in life: how we treat each other.  Is there an absolute law of “oughtness”?  Fourth deals with politics.  What is the correct government and how should it work. 


Pure rationalism

Broken down into three basic parts and the first is pure rationalism.  Pure reason, apart from revelation or sense experience provides the basis for our epistemology.  There is a difference between pure rationalism and biblical rationalism.  Whereas we have seen that pure rationalism gains knowledge from reason, biblical rationalism gains knowledge through reason from revelation.  The common thought is that reason, is the ultimate judge, of what is reality.  Reason stands above revelation and above sense experience.   The error is that fallen man can and does err in reasoning.  Also there is the issue of starting point or axiom for reasoning and can reason escape its’ own mind or is it perpetually trapped in its self. 


The next issue in empiricism.  Knowledge comes through our 5 senses.  The mind is a virtual blank slate and our knowledge comes through our sense experience in life.  Empiricism is commonly associated with the scientific method. 

Some problems are evident.  First, one cannot gather the entire body of experience to come to a universal conclusion on a particular event.  New or unobserved experiences leave conclusions always in doubt.  Another issue arise in that our senses often are in error and deceive us.  Experiences are always changing and dependent upon changing factors.  A huge error in empiricism is that it is an idea that calls for knowledge to come by sense observation.  “Any idea, theory, and proposition must be verified or falsified by sense observation…however, cannot itself be verified or falsified by sense observation.  Thus, empiricism rests on a self-contradictory and therefore false starting point” (Bacon Crampton 27).   Other laws such as mathematics or logic cannot be proved by empirically.  Lastly, ethics cannot be explained through empiricism. 


As the name suggests, irrationalism is a form of skepticism that is anti-rational and anti-intellectual.  Truth is subjective and reality can only be explained subjectively.  One must make blind faith a priority over any type of rationality or empirical data.  God’s knowledge cannot intersect ours and therefore, to capture the knowledge of God or reality one must have simple faith. 

The danger in this is that nothing can be known; truth is unknowable.  This notion flies in the face of plain scripture that teaches the presence and knowabity of truth.   The Bible teaches that Christ is truth, wisdom, logic, reason (John 1:1, I Cor. 1:24, 30, Colossians 2:3).  The teaching of scripture also notes that man is in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-28) and that the true logic/reason/ from which we know God comes from Christ (John 1:9).  In this case, our logic does resemble that of God, to the extent that we can know.  Hence, we are commanded to transform our thinking into God’s thoughts (Romans 12: 2).  So we know that God is a logical, rational being, and we are made in his image and can know him rationally. 

Christian Epistemology

The first characteristic of Christian Epistemology is that there is an authority, and axiom of truth.  The 66 books that make up the protestant Bible.  The Bible claims truth of itself and is the only source of pure truth.  This is the proposition revelation of God and contains all truth.  Apart from this book, man cannot know himself, God, or reality. 

The point at which we know the reality of the Bible is truth and the word of God is when the Holy Spirit places this truth in the mind of his child.  It is then received as the Word of God and it becomes the foundation of all truth.  The Bible is not reasoned to be the Word of God, nor is it tested empirically, nor taken by blind faith.  The regenerative work of the Spirit produces this assurance in the heart of the elect.  This is often called Biblical presuppositionalism, Christian rationalism, of Scripturalism. 

The presuppositional nature of this argument brings up the criticism that this is classic “begging the question.”  First of all the Bible claims to be the very truth, the axiom from which to draw truth propositions.  Secondly, begging the question or starting from an axiom is not unique to Christianity and all other systems must start from an axiom.  The same charge can be leveled at their axioms.  If one can prove the Bible or any other axiom then that axiom cannot be the starting point anyway.  Christians claim that there is no greater starting pint than the God that has revealed himself in scriptures (Hebrews 6:13). 

The Biblical view is the coherence theory of truth is that from God (who knows all things) comes truth.   Therefore, every proposition set forth in scripture is true because only God know all things and only in him is truth.  If we believe based upon scripture then our view is correct because it comes from God.  We do not have a mere representation of truth but the actual mind of God as contained in scripture. 


This deals with reality as transcends the physical realm: meta phusika “Beyond Physics”.   This falls into two camps monists and pluralists.  Monists believe that that everything is from one substance or essence.  Naturally the second position, pluralists believe there are more than one substance or essence.  These two positions make up the majority of the discussion “the one or the many.”    This issue has been a problem for non-theistic thinkers.  The problem is that if the one is primary then the many is tainted.  If the many is primary then the one is the less.  Which is the basic foundational fact of life?  Various philosophers emphasized one over the other.  Some tried to reconcile the two through different approaches.  There has not been an acceptable answer. 

Christianity answers the question with the wonderful axiom of the Trinity.  The text quotes Schaeffer saying, “without the high order of personal unity and diversity as given in the Trinity, there are no answers” (Bacon, Crampton 37).  It is easy to understand the complexity, and simplicity; the unity and diversity; the one and the many; within the universe that have perplexed thinkers for centuries by looking at the Trinity as the eternal one and many.    The particulars and universals of the universe can exist perfectly because the eternal God in three persons have willed it to work in this fashion.  The universe finds its reality in the Trinity; the shadows of unity and diversity have their anti-type in the Trinity. 

It is interesting as pointed out by Augustine that Christ being the eternal logos, is the means by which we understand God.  He is the reason, in a very real sense that causes us to understand the mind of God in the capacity that we do. 


The current text make an important distinction between ethics and morals.  Ethics being the principles or authority.  Morals being behavior or behavior patterns.  Ethics determine morals.  On to the Christian view of ethics. 

Christian’s derive ethical standards from the Word of God as God is the source of all ethics.  By regarding Him and His Word as the foundation the Christian can be sure of the standard of behavior.   The “oughtness” of life is only explained by the Word of God. 

All other attempts to explain ethics leaves man in a vacuum that false systems desperately try to fill but to no avail.  The fall has produced a totally depraved man and produced from such depraved minds all systems of morality must be false.  The natural man’s system has no eternal fixed point to draw ethics from.  Bacon and Crampton noted in Psalm 14 that there is a direction connection to the denial of God (as an axiom of life) and the consequent ethical and morals ramifications.  “The fool said there is no God…they are corrupt, there is none that does good.”  

Among the many different types of ethics we shall examine two: legalism and antinomianism.  In short legalism is law keeping.  It is the man attempting to establish his own righteousness.  Antinomianism is a denial of the moral law of God upon humanity presently.  Even churches subtly fall into this error.  Namely, dispensationalism.  They note that the “Law” is passed away and we are under “grace”.   Of course this is error.  The Biblical view is that the law is not a means to justification before God, but a rule to live by. 

Other errors are spiritualism that seeks to elevate feelings or experiences over the revealed Word of God.    The Spirit of God guides the believer into the revealed Word of God, which is truth and the perfect ethic.  Situational ethics goes about exalting love above ethical teaching of scripture.  We are to behave according to the greater law of love.  This law of love rises above scripture teaching in certain situations.  Of course the love of God has an objective basis and that in his law.  We love one another by keeping the laws that deal with each other.  We love God by keeping his commands. 


Three Biblical institutions are the family, the church and the civil government.  The family is the first and primary institution.  The church has this distinction: visible and invisible.  The visible church is made up of those who profess a true confession of faith.  The invisible church consist of all those that are the elect of God or the true saints (truly regenerate).  They are the past, present and future believers.  Only God knows who the invisible church is.  Lastly is the civil government.  This institution was established on account of the fall.  The purpose according to Romans 13:1-7 and I Peter 2:13-17 is for the punishment of evil people. 

Concerning civil government some errors have occurred, namely Papalism which is the notion that the church is to rule both church and state.  The opposite error that maintains the state should rule both state and church is called Erastiansim.  The Biblical view holds that the church and state are separate but both under the law of God. 

The text deals with seven values that are essential for a nation to be considered righteous (Bacon Crampton 47). 

1. Recognition of the Sovereignty of God.  Simply put this means God rules everything.  No authority should be looked to above the rule of God.  When the state or the church loses recognition of God as ultimate ruler then they are in error. 

2. Limited Government is seen in the text of Romans 13 and I Peter 2.  The purpose of Government is for defense and promotion of good.  The Government is not encouraged to interfere with overreaching regulations regarding imposing excessive taxes, zoning, regulate various practices, etc. 

3.  The Primacy of the Individual.   This is derived from personal responsibility taught in scripture.  The idea of Primacy of the Individual with respect to government is that people have personal responsibility.  They should not rely upon government to the negation of personal responsibility. 

4. The Right to Private Property.  The commandments regarding stealing and coveting imply there is something to steal and covet.  So it is a teaching in scripture that we have right to own things, property, and according to Exodus 22:1-2, I Samuel 13:19-23 the right to bear arms. 

5. Work Ethic.  Again we see this commandment in the fourth commandment regarding six days of work.  This is also seen as God commanded Adam to keep the Garden of Eden.   Rest is also a principle according to the commandment and example of God. 

6. The Rule of Law.  The commandments themselves bears out the importance of law.   The text notes that “all substantive law is to be founded on the teaching of scripture” (Bacon Crampton 51).   The nation or governing body must adopt the law as found in the scripture to have a comprehensive system that adequately address morality. 

7. Republicanism.  As opposed to a dictatorship, or monarchy the Biblical system to rule a nation is a republic.  Warnings against a monarchy is found in I Samuel 8.  The flaw if a democracy is that the people’s voice are authoritative, even over God.  God’s law governs, hence God governs.  These laws are administered by elected representatives.   In Isaiah 33:22 we find a cause for separation of powers within a governmental system.  The separation of powers in the government will hold as checks and balances against too much power to one branch. 


Theodicy is simply an attempt to answer the question why a good God would allow evil to exist.  The text claims that Calvinism is the only system that logical addresses this subject.  The Calvinistic approach see that God will the world as it is because He deemed it to be the best.  He is the source of all righteousness and fairness and whatever is willed by God is the ultimate righteous standard. 

This does not account for the problem of evil though.  The reformed view has two principles they work from.  First, is that evil and sin do exist.  As the text says, “God created all things good, evil cannot have a separate or independent existence.  Evil is the absence of good, as darkness is the absence of light” (Bacon Crampton 60).   Secondly, is that man is responsible for his own sin an evil, not God.   The scriptures are very clear that man is the cause and disseminator of evil and sin, not God. 

Other worldviews

There are several worldview systems that are contrary to the Word of God.  Here is a list of them and a brief word.  False theism is akin to Christian Theism yet false in their claims because they are not founded on the Revelation of Scripture.  Judaism and Islam are examples.  Atheism is a system that denies the existence of God altogether.  Forms of atheism exist in agnosticism which does not concern itself with the existence of God.   Existentialism is another form that concerns itself with the human existence above any other.  Deism believes in a distant, impersonal, God that has no dealing with man as is one in person and essence.  Finite Theism puts forth a finite god with limitations.  Pantheism posits that all is god.  Polytheism posits multiple gods.   


The present work of Bacon and Crampton has been an excellent description of a worldview.  The greatness lies in viewing a worldview from a reformed perspective.  I have read other books that describe and detail worldview from a Christian perspective.  They were helpful but generic.  I believe the Christian worldview has a certain sharpness that only the reformed perspective can provide. 

As a reformed believer I have no issue with the text.  I have not heard of the government element of a worldview.  It is interesting to read this portion of the text.  I particularly enjoyed the epistemology section of the text.  Again only the reformed position can adequately explain Biblical epistemology. 

I felt I have enjoyed this text more than many in the coursework.  It seems this subject is more applicable and practical in my life and ministry (pastoral and chaplaincy).  It also has helped me in debates among Arminian and non-believers.  Most importantly, my personal development as a Christian has been challenged and edified through the present coursework. 

Works Cited

Bacon, Richard; Crampton Gary. Toward a Christian Worldview. Rowlett, TX: First Presbyterian Church of Rowlett, TX, Blue Banner E-books, 2000. Print.

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