We believe clarity and transparency is extremely important when it comes to working through our differences in the Body of Christ. The rules that guide our analysis are often unspoken and because of this, when we experience conflict with one another, it’s hard to pinpoint why.
For this reason, we wanted to share with anyone that is interested, the general guidelines we typically try to operate within in all of our content.
1. We consider any statement within the text of the Bible to be true. We consider anything that denies or contradicts a statement in the text of the Bible to be false.
2. We realize there are some things which do not fit either of these categories—-neither being stated in the Bible, nor denying or contradicting the Bible. Such statements are simply not falsifiable, meaning they’re unable to be observed, and thus, not authoritative based on rule number 1.
3. We consider the Bible, in essentially all of its mainstream versions and translations (including the original languages it was written in) to be God’s infallible Word. This means it accurately and precisely conveys His thoughts via the language used therein.
4. Typically, our goal is to make observations and identify assumptions.
An observation is anything that can be visually or audibly witnessed by an audience——whether that be a statement in the text of the Bible, or an event.
Example #1: “The Bible says Jesus wept.”
This can be visually confirmed in John 11:35 so it qualifies as an observation.
Example # 2: “Donald Trump said he would make America great again.”
This statement can be visually and audibly confirmed so it qualifies as an observation.
An assumption is a claim without an observation.
Example 1#: “Jesus played Yahtzee.”
This is a claim, but cannot be observed.
Example 2#: “Donald Trump said he would destroy America.”
This is a claim that (up to this point) cannot be observed.
Sometimes we will also refer to an assumption as a presupposition, or not falsifiable.
5. We know we are capable of making mistakes and rely on you, the observer, to let us know so we can correct them.
There is one category of claim that, due to it’s personal nature and out of respect for the sovereignty of God, we do not label assumption. These are testimonies and experiences.
Example 1#: “I was born again in 2010 after being strung out on drugs and stumbling into a church service.”
Example 2#: “God saved my marriage.”
Example 3#: “I had a vision.”
As alluded to in rule number 2, something not observed is not the same as something being false. Plenty of things cannot be, or are yet to be observed that are true such as the examples given above.
There is a category of assumption/presupposition that we usually won’t mention. We call these universal assumptions, or obvious truths. These are presupposed ideas that essentially nobody will disagree with.
Example 1: “The apostle Paul died.”
Example 2: “Jesus did not drive a Cadillac.”
Example 3: “Our senses can be trusted”
Example 4: “Language accurately conveys thought.”
The reason we don’t identify these is because:
- They’re virtually innumerable.
- They’re not in question, therefore are not the cause of disagreement.
- Some deal with fundamental ideas about existence and knowledge that would only confuse and derail discussion.
Sometimes people will use these types of presuppositions to justify or goad others into accepting more.
Example: “You say you don’t believe the gifts of the Spirit have ceased because the Bible doesn’t state that they have, yet you believe Paul died even though the Bible doesn’t state that either. Therefore, you’re being inconsistent.”
Making some assumptions (which we all do and are required to think, and function in a physical world) doesn’t mean one must make more. If it did, then it would stand to reason that one should make all assumptions. Which, of course, is fallacious.
Why is the Goal to Make Observations and Identify Assumptions?
Usually, by noting what one person is willing to assume that the other isn’t, we are able to pinpoint the causes of disagreement on an irreducible level.
Also, typically, the fewer assumptions you make, the less your thought process (and things like bias) are involved in influencing the conclusion.
A man is running down the sidewalk.
Person A: “That man is running.”
Person B: “He is running because he has a phobia of dogs and since there are dogs in the area, he is trying to get home where he can lock himself in.”
Person A made an observation with no assumptions. Person B made at least four assumptions: 1. The man had a phobia of dogs, 2. there are dogs in the area, 3. the man is running home, 4. the reason he is running home is to lock himself in.
Even if Person A had made one or two of the same assumptions as Person B, they still have less opportunity to insert their bias into their conclusion because they presupposed less than Person B.