When a crisis or a tense situation of interpersonal conflict emerges, I sometimes hear fellow Christians say, “This feels like spiritual warfare.” And it may very well be. The evil one delights in disrupting unity, stimulating trouble and influencing people to sin against one another.
But as we consider spiritual warfare, we dare not limit the work of the enemy to this. Paul admonishes the Ephesian believers to put on the armor of God so that they can stand up against the “strategy” (methodeia) of the devil (Eph. 6:12). He envisions Satan as a being who is intelligent and makes clever plans. Earlier in the letter, Paul encourages believers to become well-grounded in their understanding of the faith so that they are not led astray “by craftiness in deceitful schemes (methodeia)” (Eph. 4:14).
There is an intelligent design behind evil. And there are ideologies and teachings commended to us that may bear the fingerprints of the enemy upon them. Paul told the Corinthians, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3–5).
Much of Paul’s ministry to the churches involved unmasking dangerous and misguided teachings that had surfaced among them. Although to some of the people in the churches, these ideologies may have appeared innocuous, wise, or even spiritually beneficial, Paul was quick to point out the threat they posed to the health of the church and to a proper knowledge of Christ.
One of the goals of any university is to facilitate the development of critical thinking skills among students. But for a Christian university, that also involves examining everything in light of the truth of Scripture — to “think biblically about everything.” What are the hidden assumptions and presuppositions in- forming a particular philosophy, ideology or discipline? Are these congruent with a biblical worldview?
In this issue, J. P. Moreland discusses one such ideology that poses a threat to the church: scientism. In tandem with his article, Steve Porter discusses the disappearance of moral knowledge — how people can call evil good and good evil — the topic of Dallas Willard’s posthumous publication Porter co-edited with Gregg A. Ten Elshof and Aaron Preston. Willard, a former Biola University trustee, was a major influence on many Biola faculty and leaders. I encourage you to read both of these essays, reflect on where you have seen these unhealthy influences in your life and consider how to realign your thinking to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”