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 Defending Your Faith

The Immorality of Neutrality

The Immorality of Neutrality

Dr. Greg Bahnsen
All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are to be found in Christ; thus if one were to try and arrive at the truth apart from commit­ment to the epistemic authority of Jesus Christ he would be robbed through vain philosophy and deluded by crafty deceit Col. 2:3-8. Consequent­ly, when the Christian approaches scholarship, apologetics, or schooling he must staunchly refuse to acquiesce to the mistaken demands of neu­trality in his intellectual life; he must never consent to surrender his distinc­tive religious beliefs "for the time being," as though one might thereby arrive at genuine knowledge "impartially." The beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord Prov. 1:7.

Attempting to be neutral in one's intellectual endeavors (whether research, argumentation, reasoning, or teaching) is tantamount to striving to erase the antithesis between the Christian and the unbeliever. Christ "declared that the former was set apart from the latter by the truth of God's word John 17:17. Those who wish to gain dignity in the eyes of the world's intellectuals by wearing the badge of "neutrality" only do so at the expense of refusing to be set apart by God's truth. In the intellec­tual realm they are absorbed into the world so that no one could tell the difference between their thinking and assumptions, and apostate thinking and assumptions. The line between believer and unbeliever is obscured. Such indiscrimination in one’s intellectual life not only precludes genuine knowledge cf. Prov. 1:7 and guarantees vain delusion cf. Col. 2:3-8, it is downright immoral.

In Ephesians 4:17-18, Paul commands the followers of Christ that they "no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance in them, because of the hardening of their heart." Christian believers must not walk, must not behave or live, in a way which imitates the behavior of those who are unredeemed; specifi­cally, Paul forbids the Christian from imitating the unbeliever's vanity of mind. Christians must refuse to think or reason according to a worldly mind-set or outlook. The culpable agnosticism of the world's intellec­tuals must not be reproduced in Christians as alleged neutrality; this out­look, this approach to truth, this intellectual method evidences a dark­ened understanding and hardened heart. It refuses to bow to the Lord­ship of Jesus Christ over every area of life, including scholarship and the world of thought. 

One has to make this basic choice in his thinking: to be set apart by God's truth or to be alienated from the life of God. It cannot be two ways. One shall be set apart, set against, or alienated from either the world or from the word of God. He will stand in contrast to that intellec­tual method which he refuses to follow. He either refuses to follow God's word or he refuses to follow the vain mind-set of the Gentiles. He distin­guishes himself and his thinking either by contrast to the world or by contrast to God's word. The contrast, the antithesis, the choice is clean-either be set apart by God's truthful word or be alienated from the life of God. Either have "the mind of Christ" 1 Cor. 2:16 or the "vain mind of the Gentiles" Eph. 4:17. Either "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" 2 Cor. 10:5 or continue as "enemies in your mind" Col. 1:21.

Those who follow the intellectual principle of neutrality and the epistemological method of unbelieving scholarship do not honor the sov­ereign Lordship of God as they should; as a result their reasoning is made vain Rom. 1:21. In Ephesians 4, as we have seen, Paul prohibits the Christian from following this vain mind-set. Paul goes on to teach that the believer's thinking is diametrically contrary to the ignorant and dark­ened thinking of the Gentiles. "But you did not learn Christ after this
manner!" (verse 20). While the Gentiles are ignorant, "the truth is in Jesus" (verse 21). Unlike the Gentiles who are alienated from the life of God, the Christian has put away the old man and has been "renewed in the spirit of your mind" (verses 22-23). This "new man" is distinctive in virtue of the "holiness of truth" (verse 24). The Christian is completely different from the world when it comes to intellect and scholarship; he does not follow the neutral methods of unbelief, but by God's grace he has new commitments, new presuppositions, in his thinking.

Therefore, the Christian who strives after neutrality in his thought is found actually to be endeavoring to efface the fact that he is a Christian! By denying his distinctive religious commitment he is reduced to apostate thought patterns and absorbed into the world of unbelief. At­ tempting to find a compromise between the demands of worldly neutral­ity (agnosticism) and the doctrines of Christ's word results in the rejection of Christ's distinctive Lordship by obliterating the great gulf between the thinking of the old man and that of the new man.

No such compromise is even possible. "No man is able to serve two lords" Matt. 6:24. It should come as no surprise that, in a world where all things have been create by Christ Col. 1:16 and are carri
ed along by the word of His power Heb 1:3 and where all knowledge is therefore deposited in Him who is The Truth Co
2:3; John 14:6 and who must be Lord over all thinking 2 Cor. 10:5, neutrality is nothing short of immorality. "Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God" James 4:4

Do you have the courage of your Christian distinctives in scholar­ship, apologetics, and schooling, or have you been trying to wipe out this contrast between Christian thought and apostate thought by following the demands of neutrality? Put in biblical perspective this question can be rephrased in this way: does your thinking operate under the Lordship of Jesus Christ or have you become an enemy of God through neutral, agnostic, unbelieving thought patterns? Choose this day whom you will serve!