Speech Outlines

“The Christian Faith is a Testimony of Judgment and Salvation”

  1. Intro. – Testimony as key New Testament concept now somewhat forgotten
    The Hebrew word for judgment can mean a long “sifting-out” process
  2. The Christian Faith is not a Philosophical Worldview
    1. it does not start with the self’s need for knowledge per se
    2. not illogical, it still does not proceed by deduction or induction or logic
    3. the NT does not give the all-encompassing perspective one would expect of a worldview – e.g., it does not specify an ideal politics or economics
    4. key NT doctrines like judgment and substitutionary atonement may not be ones we can “prove” based on logic or philosophy – not self-evident
  3. Characteristics of Testimony
    1. gives us knowledge of things not obvious, not easily obtained on our own
    2. often, this is knowledge of very serious matters – the courtroom example
    3. the personal character of the testifier is of utmost importance and testifiers may suffer negative personal consequences if they give false testimony
    4. the hearer is forced to believe or disbelieve testimony – as with a jury – so that it is more than mere “information”
    5. an element of conflict is unavoidably present – the prosecution witnesses’ testimony often does conflict with that of the defense witnesses
  4. Christianity as Testimony of Judgment
    1. Paul’s Mars Hill talk – ends with a warning of judgment (Acts 17:30-31)
    2. Jesus’ frequent warnings of judgment – see Luke 12 and 13
    3. Incidents of Judgment – see Herod’s death in Acts 12:19-23
  5. The Testimony of Salvation Through Faith in Christ
    1. judgment and salvation two sides of one coin of God’s action in history
    2. substitutionary atonement depends upon a divine judgment that the substitute can take upon Himself
    3. Christ’s life, death, resurrection cannot be rightly interpreted apart from the idea that He represents salvation from judgment
  6. The Son of Man as the Meaning of History
    1. descent, ascent, & return the meaning of a history of salvation & judgment
    2. thus, the exclusive nature of His truth claims and His offer of salvation
  7. Implications of this Concept of Testimony for Apologetics
    1. apologetics cannot accept that “God is in the dock” (C.S. Lewis) when the reality is that the human individual is “in the dock”
    2. other erroneous models: marketing model, a rhetoric model that flatters to persuade, a political model that exaggerates NT into a worldview
    3. basic principle, as in the Hippocratic Oath, is “first, do no harm”
  8. Implications of this Concept of Testimony for Christian Political Activism
    1. we must keep in mind more than consistency to a political worldview
    2. in fact, God is always sifting-out and judging our politics
    3. this does not mean quietism and retreat to the private sphere – nor a misplaced confidence that right political ends justify the means
    4. we act, but knowing that God is judging and acting in a sovereign way
  9. Conclusion

“Excluding Testimony from the University: Consequences & Cures”

  1. Introduction
    1. Recent Work on Testimony: a. Rick Kennedy, A History of Reasonableness: Testimony and Authority in the Art of Thinking (2004); b) C. A. J. Coady, Testimony: A Philosophical Study (1993); c) Jennifer Lackey, ed., The Epistemology of Testimony (2006)
    2. my work on testimony for IVP book and for my case study of a university
  2. Sketch of the History of the Exclusion of Testimony
    1. testimony in ancient Greek thought
    2. Christian apologists move away from testimony
    3. church-college tradition stresses philosophy, not testimony
    4. post-Civil-War German-university model stresses science more than philosophy
    5. Julie Reuben on scientism’s epistemological filter that excludes testimony
    6. science’s reductionism and naturalism spread throughout the university
  3. Consequences of Excluding Testimony
    1. of course, much knowledge can be attained without it – from science, etc.
    2. discipline of history depends upon it – and becomes a model of using testimony
    3. humanity is in history, in a stream of unpredictable, unique events – sui generis
    4. testimony provides the wisdom needed for navigating that stream
    5. the 1960s crisis of the university as an example of what happens without testimony
  4. Consequences of Doing Christian Apologetics Without a Stress on Testimony
    1. apologetics adapts to the Zeitgeist and to the presuppositions of the current age
    2. long term, that undermines the Church – Os Guinness’ Gravedigger phenomenon
  5. Suggestions for How Testimony can Aid the University
    1. give helpful humility – much that we need to know cannot be known through science
    2. points to our vulnerability in history’s stream of events
    3. avoids the impersonal nature of scientific inquiry that tends to undercut ethical rules
      1. prevalence of cheating on research results in today’s university
      2. the testifier held accountable for testimony, with an ethic of truthfulness
    4. essayist/poet Wendell Berry’s book Standing by Words
  6. Suggestions for How Testimony Can Aid Christian Witness at the University
    1. to use the concept of testimony is to use the New Testament’s own concept
      see, e.g., John 3:31-36, John 5:31-47, 2 Peter 1:16-21, and 1 John 5:9-12
    2. thus, this concept is good for “defense” as well as “offense” – it does not give up Scriptural ground in order to conduct the offense against unbelief
    3. it forces us to be people of integrity rather than focusing on marketing, etc.
    4. it integrates faith and learning, in that the model works for both activities
  7. Conclusion: the Christian Scholar as Testifier – a moral example for the university
    1. we live in a corrupt speech environment – various models of speech, whether the marketing model, the political-speech model, the literary model, or parts of the academic model have dropped ideas of accountability, truthfulness, sacrifice for the cause of truth-telling, etc.
    2. by returning to a New Testament model while retaining many technical features of the academic model (cite your sources, etc.), the Christian scholar can help the University recover the idea of truthful, accountable speech