And you thought last week’s lesson was controversial…

We’re taking up the Westminster Assembly’s summary of Scripture’s teaching on the beginning of all things–of Creation, the chapter is entitled.

Obviously we encounter a point of great contentiousness in this subject, both between the church and its “cultured despisers,” and within the church.

One thing to consider at the very beginning of this discussion: we all bring to the table certain presuppositions–some conscious, some unconscious–about reality.  One seeks to weigh all ideas carefully, but no one occupies a perfectly neutral starting point. For we interpret our world through certain lenses which philosophers in general, and Reformed thinkers in particular, refer to as “presuppositions”–those foundational assumptions we have about the world.

As a Christian, I operate on a presupposition that there is a God. That presupposition is based on certain other presuppositions (which we won’t get into here), but it is where I start. It is, as the famous Reformed theologian, Cornelius Van Til, explained, a “starting point of reference.” On the basis of that presupposition I interpret some claims differently than those whose presuppositions do not include a belief in the existence of God.  A difference in presupposition explains the difference in interpretation of the same claim.  If you presuppose a God, you can accept the category of a miracle. If you dismiss God, not even extraordinary and inexplicable events can be attributable to a transcendent, intelligent being because your system does not allow for that possibility.

I say that to preface our lesson this week with the notion that all positions operate on presuppositions.  All evidence has to be interpreted.  Those interpretations depend on our presuppositions, which of course invites us to consider our most fundamental assumptions about the world, about ourselves, and about our ability to perceive the world.

Ann Voskamp (to whom we referred over at ETC) invites us to consider the wonders of creation at her blog this week.  The language she chooses and the care with which she captures glimpses of the creation reveal her presuppositions about creation–its meaning and significance, and that to Whom it ultimately and intentionally points.  That she introduces her panoply of picturesque views of nature with a quote from Calvin confirms how she interprets her world.

She snaps images of scenes and subjects that are simply ordinary.  Her choice represents her belief that they are worthy of display and reflection.  Her choice reveals her belief that she has captured a sampling of beauty in which others may revel.  Those choices and her pictures reveal her presuppositions about reality–that what she sees, though unexceptional in one sense, is immeasurably exceptional in another.

Delight in what she has found and in the presuppositions that drove her to find them and share them with you.

Then pray (aha! another presupposition) that God might help you see what is as He sees it.

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