Social Science and Scripture (Part II)
by Steve Huerd
Missed Part 1 of the Series? Read it here.
Integration begins with the notion of reconciling all things together in Christ. In the world today, there seem to be separate things which either do not relate together or compete with one another in their truth claims. For example, is homosexuality a learned behavior or a genetic issue? What is the best form of government? How should we as a country prepare for retirement in the future? Just read the latest headlines and you will come up with many issues demanding immediate answers. These myriads of issues requiring integration for the Christ-follower can be personal, corporate, or even conceptual in nature.
Central to the concept of integration is the notion of unity in all things since Christ is king over all the created order. For example, in Col. 1:16, Paul says of Christ that, “all things were made by him, for him, and through him.” This truth obviously implies that all things must necessarily then relate to Christ in meaningful ways since he created them, empowered them, and was the purpose for their existence. We also know from this passage that all things will be eventually reconciled to Christ (Col. 1:20), or brought back into their proper perspective in relation to him. The later verse also seems to imply that now, in the present, everything is not reconciled to Christ, being perhaps the reason we experience difficulties in reconciling them together in our minds. In C.S. Lewis’s fictional series, the Chronicles of Narnia, “Aslan” has not yet appeared to unfreeze the winter covering the earth.
Thus we press on continually trying to see the connections and disconnections between the findings of social science, or any other truth claim for that matter, and that of scripture. If we hold to the view of the scriptures being the primary and foundational source of truth, then other truth claims must be evaluated and carefully analyzed by what we know is true in the pages of the Bible and the mind of God.
The honest Christ-follower then must perpetually do what Duane Litfin, the former president of Wheaton College suggests, “The Christian’s intellectual task is to use his or her God-given apprehension and correlation to discover truth about God and truth about the spiritual, moral, and material dimensions of the world he created” (Litfin, 2004, p. 173).
Consequently, if we are to “know the truth” as the “truth will set us free” (John 8:32), then this task takes on greater significance as it affects not just our salvation but how we live here on earth. If all truth is unified coming from the mind of God where there is no confusion, then regardless of the source, all that is truthful should cohere and fit together with whatever else is truthful. This logically implies that truth discovered via social science should cohere with truth being revealed by God in the scriptures wherever possible. And, correspondingly, wherever truth seems to contradict or not fit with scriptures, we need to proceed with caution.
While the masses may follow the crowd, we as Christian educators and scholars should be most thoughtful in how we put things together in our thinking. We need to lead the church and this next generation through our careful scrutiny of today’s truth claims for “all who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly” (Prov. 16:13 NIV).
Litfin, D. (2004). Conceiving the Christian college: A college president share his vision of Christian higher education. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.