Guest Post: Should we be neutral?

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Dr. Greg Bahnsen addresses the question “should we be neutral” in the first chapter of his book Pushing the Antithesis.[1] He cites several passages regarding man’s condition and mindset. Dr. Bahnsen lists Romans 1:18-21 where we see Paul describe the mindset of those upon whom God’s wrath still abides as not only not neutral but openly hostile. Paul proclaims that God gives them over to a futile mind. Bahnsen also cites Romans 8:7 and makes it explicit that the natural man’s mind is set in opposition to God. In Hebrews 11:6 the author makes it clear that faith must be present before one may draw close to God. It implies that without it one is necessarily separated from God which is seen to be the case as Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:16. These are just a few verses that clearly teach that man is in and of himself unable and unwilling to honor God. Man’s natural state is one of complete rebellion towards his Creator. This may sound familiar as it is what is called the doctrine of original sin. It states that man – through Adam’s sin – is fallen and henceforth a sinner by nature. Since man is by nature a sinner he has no desire to be – nor can he be – neutral.

In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul makes it clear that Eve was deceived by the serpent and that her mind had gone astray from devotion to Christ. Dr. Cornelius Van Til describes Adam and Eve as the first humans to try to think on neutral terms. Eve mistakenly thought she could decide what was good and evil without regard to what God had revealed.[2] This can be seen in how Satan tempted Eve in saying “Did God actually say…” in Genesis 3:1. This statement questions the authority of the God, who had covenanted with Adam and Eve, as though man really is in a position to judge if God had really said. Eve accepted this sort of agnosticism toward what God had clearly revealed and decided to think in such a way that God was not taken to be the sovereign Creator of everything. This is the first record in the Bible of a human attempt at autonomous reasoning. Eve attempted to reason for herself in disregard of what God had revealed.

Therefore the question is not only “should we be neutral” but also “why can’t we be neutral.” We have just seen that the unbeliever cannot be neutral, but can the believer be neutral? A Christian may at the beginning say he or she affirms the doctrine of original sin yet in his or her apologetic claim that he or she can reason with the unbeliever as though the unbeliever does not have a hostile mindset against Christianity as a whole. The popular forms of apologetics practiced today sadly make unbiblical assumptions such as neutrality. Beware Christian: Theology Matters.

In contrast to Adam we read the account of when Jesus was led into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan. Matthew and Luke both record this event for us in their fourth chapters. Instead of reasoning with Satan, Jesus answered as Adam and Eve should have. Jesus answered Satan every time with, “It is written”. Matthew4:3-4Luke 4:3-4Matthew 4:5-6Luke 4:5-6Matthew 4:6-7Luke 4:6-8,  Luke 4:9-10, and Matthew 4:9-10 document that Jesus, when tested, set His entire response to Satan upon the authority of God’s Word.  Paul even refers to Jesus as the “last Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:45 and that we are to bear the image of the man of heaven. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 makes it plain that we are to capture and aggressively hold all of our thoughts unto the obedience of Christ. Additionally Luke tells us about what Jesus said when asked what the greatest commandment of all was. Jesus said in Luke 10:27 that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. This is quite clearly a moral issue. Shall we think as the unbeliever and meet on his a-neutral neutral ground or shall we stand upright on God’s word and submit our minds fully to Christ and reason in a way that is in submission to what God has revealed?

As the old hymn[3] says, we must be:

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,


[1] Greg Bahnsen, Pushing the Antithesis: The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen, American Vision, 2007, 5
[2] Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2003, 42

[3] Standing on the Promises, R. Kelso Carter


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Weekly Links (11/26/2010) « The Beacon

[…] quick summary post from Choosing Hats would be very helpful for many people.  It’s entitled Should We Be Neutral? and it touches on several of the same points that he’s been making. […]

[BLOCKED BY STBV] Weekly Links (11/26/2010) « The Beacon

[…] sum­mary post from Choosing Hats would be very help­ful for many peo­ple. It’s enti­tled Should We Be Neutral? and it touches on sev­eral of the same points that he’s been […]


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