Left out

Answering those who are skeptical or hostile

Issue: "The $10 billion gamble," April 6, 2002

Christians know that God's Word trumps but does not obliterate man's reason. Since God created the world, He's the only one who knows how it objectively works, and the most reasonable thing man can do is to follow what He says. Few big-university professors and journalists understand that, and their bigotry makes them think that Christians are always looking merely to quote a Scripture verse and go home. When Bob Jensen, a socialist University of Texas professor so hostile to Christ that he has said Christian professors should not be allowed to teach at modern universities, wanted to interview me for publication, I agreed on one condition: that he would make no changes to the interview without my consent. He agreed, and here's some of the result, edited tightly for space. Q: What guidance, if any, do you think the Christian Bible gives about economics? Are there specific biblical passages you rely on for your view? A: Specific passages show individuals and families owning property and being responsible for it, but the Bible overall teaches the tough reality that man is now naturally selfish and lusting for power. A market system where people can freely buy or sell means that people make money by satisfying the needs or desires of others. That's certainly compatible with Christianity, and it's better to organize society that way than to make economic success depend on satisfying the needs or desires of those with political power. Q: What guidance, if any, do you think the Christian Bible gives about U.S. foreign and military policy? Has the United States' use of military force around the world in the post-World War II era been just? A: We live in a fallen world that includes many murderous dictatorships. Many Bible passages show prescriptively and descriptively the importance of standing up to the Stalins, Maos, and Castros of the world. But, as with your question about economics, it's overall biblical realism about the sinful nature of man that stands against the utopian thinking of the left. Has the United States, made up of sinners like every other country in the world, done some unjust things? Of course. But the world is a far better place because the U.S. stood up to the Soviet Union than it otherwise would have been. Q: You have in the past told me that you believe the Bible has plain meaning, [but] the Bible contains many different kinds of writing-explicit moral rules, accounts of historical events, parables, poetry. One doesn't read those different kinds of passages in the same way. A: You're an intelligent person and so I didn't choose to state the obvious to you: that poetry differs from prose, parables are not the same as historical events, and so forth. We could have an interesting discussion of all that, but such a discussion is irrelevant if you don't come to grips with the crux: the understanding that I'm a sinner, you're a sinner, and we both need help from God. Q: The modern university is built on the idea (not always perfectly realized in practice, of course) that everything is up for grabs. You believe that the Christian Bible is the source of enduring and universal truth. Is your worldview inherently in tension with the modern university? A: The university is actually built on the idea that there are universal truths about how to live that can be discerned by careful study; that's a biblical way of thinking. Having confidence in one's belief does not at all indicate an unwillingness to engage in discussion, debate, and research. I gather that you equate faith with blind faith, but that's setting up a straw man. The real threat to the university is in a postmodernism that assumes there is no such thing as universal truth. That's how it went: Bob looking for me to play "here a verse, there a verse" and present a tirade against universities. He evidently didn't get what he wanted, because he responded, "It doesn't strike me that in its current form this would be publishable. Several of your answers require a response from me to clarify the question and/or contest your definitions and assertions." I responded, "In WORLD, we print letters that disagree with us and we aren't so insecure that we have to talk back." He protested some more, and I responded, "You agreed to this format; now you don't like it because it doesn't serve your propaganda interests, and because none of the [leftist] magazines you write for will want anything that conveys the sense that a conservative might be a reasonable person." It looks like the interview will languish in Bob's files of failed propaganda attempts. So much for this attempt at explanation, but there will be others. Never give up.

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Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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