The Best Fifteen Minutes of Theology I have ever Read, Heard or Seen – Fisk’s Critique of the Anti-Religion Guy, by Pr. Rossow

In case you are one of the 13 people who hasn’t seen it yet I thought I would encourage you to view one of the recent editions of Pastor Jonathan Fisk’s Worldview Everlasting videos. I have been privileged to listen to the best theologians of this and the last century – Korby, Preus, Hummel, Nagel, Scaer, etc. but this video is the best fifteen minutes of theology I have ever read, heard or seen, excepting maybe Article IV of the Augsburg Confession.

The kid is on a roll. He has received numerous invites to speak, chief of which is the upcoming BJS conference, has spent the last few months fitting into a house and a call to a committed confessional and liturgical parish (here at Bethany – Naperville, Illinois) and now has a video teaching that has over 40,000 hits on “the source of all truth,” the internet.

Even though this thing has been all the rage for the last week and a half, I just viewed it last night. We always like to begin our Confessions Reading Group with some tidbit of LCMS or worldwide religious news so we took the time to view the anti-religion guy’s video (which has somewhere around 10 million hits) and then viewed Fisk’s critique of it.

I finally got interested in viewing the video after an interesting email from a Catholic friend. I don’t spend a lot of time on the internet. I really don’t have the time – who does? Worldview Everlasting is one of the first places I do go to when I decide to surf – the internet kind, not the Cwirla kind. I have told the kid that if he would cut his videos down to ten minutes from fifteen I might watch more of them. Then there is the whole notion of the title: “Worldview…” I don’t have a weltanshauung (worldview). I just have a world, a sinful world, redeemed by Christ. (I suppose you could say, in keeping with the theme of this post, “I’m not philosophical, I just love the Lord.”) The modern/post-modern delight in viewing things from a safe distance like in hermeneutics and worldviews, is one step too detached for me from the real, common-sense, Incarnational world at my fingertips. It leads too lots of trouble, injecting man, the viewer, the reader, into an otherwise much less complicated deal of living. But I digress and I must say if the kid keeps pumping out theology like the stuff in this video he can call his website anything he wants. He could call it “mangled baby ducks” for all I care.

Here’s one last thing about the kid. In light of all this “success,” he daily practices confession and absolution and asks anyone within reach to help him keep the focus on Christ. And he does. May God bless Worldview Everlasting, Issues Etc, BJS and the entire confessional new Lutheran media.

You thought I forgot about the story from my Catholic friend. The kid and I were at the symposium last week in Fort Wayne and late one night I got an email from my favorite Popish interlocutor, the husband of one of our members and the council president of the largest Catholic church in the area. He told me how his pastor was getting all sorts of questions about the video from the anti-religion guy. He then went on to say that a dozen or so members had given him rave reviews about some Fisk guy who had critiqued it. Bear in mind that Worldview Everlasting is done in typical Youtube fashion without any reference to time or place. These local Catholics had no idea that Worldview Everlasting is a Lutheran guy down the street from them. My friend recognized the name, asked his wife about it, and then realized it was Bethany’s Fisk. Ahh, the wonders of the internet. Hearing about it from a Catholic friend was enough to finally get me to view the video.

One last personal note. I listened to the song that started this whole thing, over thirty five years ago as a teenager,“I’m not Religious, I just Love the Lord” by Scott Wesley Brown and I listened to all sorts of other heterodox music that led me and countless other future LCMS pastors down the dangerous path of methabaptocostalism. I thank God that a few orthodox men got me back on the orthodox path of the Lutheran Confessions some years ago and pray for more of those conversions. We can thank God that the new generation of young bucks has several men who recognize the errors of methabaptocostalism at a young age and are being used by our Lord to teach the next generation to be Confessional. Praise be to God for people and things in our synod like liturgical renewal, the election of President Harrison, the Fort Wayne symposium and even the mature worldview of a kid theologian in Chicago.

I suggest you view the original video of the anti-religion guy first (click here), then view Fisk’s critique of it (click here, page down to Jan 13, Freestylin Religion).

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

The Best Fifteen Minutes of Theology I have ever Read, Heard or Seen – Fisk’s Critique of the Anti-Religion Guy, by Pr. Rossow — 23 Comments

  1. “Then there is the whole notion of the title: “Worldview…” I don’t have a weltanshauung (worldview). I just have a world, a sinful world, redeemed by Christ. (I suppose you could say, in keeping with the theme of this post, “I’m not philosophical, I just love the Lord.”) The modern/post-modern delight in viewing things from a safe distance like in hermeneutics and worldviews, is one step too detached for me from the real, common-sense, Incarnational world at my fingertips. It leads too lots of trouble, injecting man, the viewer, the reader, into an otherwise much less complicated deal of living.”

    …please tell me this was intentionally ironic…

  2. Matt,

    It is ironic and a serious warning. Fisk obviously does not mean anything bad by using that word but it is a word that grows out of the pagan 20th century which put everything into the perspective of the reader, knower, thinker, speaker. What is your wordl-view? My point is that this is dangerous thinking which automatically moves everything away from God and into the arena of the individual. Hope that helps.

  3. He he… it sure is good.

    I’ve posted it as a response to every facebook posting in favor of the anti religion guy.

    It is superb!

  4. I think Pastor Fisk has the ability to ministry to a younger generation while still teaching solid law & gospel. He should be on here. I enjoy he videos and blog

  5. If you want more on this topic, I just listened to the Issues, Etc. on the response to “Why I Hate Religion” with Pastor Jonathan Fisk. Wow, it was another great show. Don’t worry if you missed it as you can listen on demand: http://issuesetc.org/2012/01/18/responding-to-the-i-hate-religion-video-pr-jonathan-fisk-1182012/
    I find that so many people have adopted the “I hate religion” viewpoint these days and feel the church is the source of problems in the world. It’s becoming quite common and cliche–at least on the West Coast–and this is a fantastic response to this type of thinking.

  6. Rev Fisk has God given talents,not just in theology,but also in writing,producing,and performing in a modern multi media format so as to reach out to many generations with the Messsage of our Salvation Through Jesus Blood..Even a silver haired dude like me can appreciate the erudite way he uses U-tube to the Lord’s benefit..
    U-tube is the fastest growing new communication medium in the world,and we are fortunate to have his skill in showing how effectively it can be used ..It transends generations.
    In publishing we often see point-counterpoint,so to me it is good the anti religion guy got some notoriety so that Rev Fisk could then do his great counterpoint and reach an even bigger audience and spread The Word of Law and Gospel. .The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways

  7. @Pastor Tim Rossow #2

    Pr. Rossow

    I’m afraid you misunderstood me, and I must apologize for my lack of clarity and my rudeness. I was not referring to any irony on the part of Rev Fisk, of whom I am a big fan. The (apparently unintentional) ironies to which I refer are these:

    First, you claim not to have a worldview while immediately going on to describe your worldview. The fact that the real world and your view of it actually correspond–something we know because God has told us–does not preclude it from being what is known as a worldview.

    Second, the original video concerned a young man who condemns manmade religion while self-righteously promulgating a religion of his own invention (complete with beliefs, behavioral standards, and everything else he condemns). As Rev. Fisk implies, the young man is, in fact, extremely religious–he’s just very bad at it because he piously pretends that he’s doing nothing of the kind. Likewise, you claim to not be philosophical while simultaneously engaging in philosophy–you just don’t realize that you’re doing it, and so you are doing it unintentionally (dare I say ‘absentmindedly’?).

    I think we Lutherans are often tempted towards a pious pretention that we’re high above philosophy. But we humans don’t get to choose whether man is injected into living. We simply are. The individual is already in God’s arena–there’s no placing ourselves there because it’s already done. Life is both at our fingertips and processed by our minds. We do our best with it (or not), repent of our many sins (or not), and are forgiven by Christ’s atoning sacrifice. There’s nothing to be gained by pretending we’re something other than what we are–philosophers.

    In short: Avoiding philosophy because of all the times it’s lead to error is like avoiding food because of all the times it’s lead to gluttony. No matter how appealing we Lutherans might find the idea, it’s simply not among the options given to human beings. So we might as well learn to do it well instead of poorly.

  8. Matt,

    Thanks for the clarification. I will try to be clearer as well.

    I do not disdain philosophy. I love philosophy. I have a masters degree in philosophy from one of the strictest philosophy departments around – St; Louis University.

    My point is that the term “worldview” is a modern term that is akin to the linguistic philosophy of the last century that teaches that reality is nothing more than what one is aware of in one’s mind. You have your viewpoint (worldview) and I have my viewpoint (worldview). Reality depends on how I view it. Language likewise is simply a window into my mind and what I think and not a series of symbols that accurately reflect reality.

    I am simply suggesting that we all be wary of the word “worldview.” It grows out of the subjective philosophy of the last century that undermines our ability to know the truth.

    I do not avoid philosophy. I practice it with a vengeance. I am an Aristotelian, empiricist, common sense realist. The world is there. It is real apart from my view of it. My job as a rational person is to know the world that is there, not to view it from my own, subjective vantage point. Common sense realism squares with common sense. There is a real, objective world that we are able to know by sense perception. If we pay close enough attention to the world and describe it accurately we have true, objective knowledge. We are limited to knowing things based on sense perception. All knowledge begins with sense perception. (Try to imagine something apart from sense perception and then describe it without using sense perceived images. It’s impossible.) We can certainly think abstractly or creatively – e.g. putting sense perceptions together that are not nornally found in nature, such as a purple giraffe, but even that imagined thing is only understood via sense perceptible categories and things such as purple and giraffe.

    Common sense realism also squares with Christian revelation and soteriology. We are cut off from knowledge of God because He is holy and we are sinful. So God needs to communicate to us and save us. How did He do that? He sent His Son in the flesh so that he might die in sense perceptible flesh and blood and that we might see him and hear his words via sense perception.

    I have carried on much to long but I just love spreading the “gospel” of common sense realism and warning people about the dangers of the subjective philosophy that pervades every corner of our 21st century life including our use of terms like “worldview” and “hermeneutics.”

  9. @Matt Cochran #7

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #8

    If you don’t mind I would like to jump in and offer some thoughts. I think we can talk of a world view loosely as a set of beliefs about the world. For example, we can believe the universe works along the lines of Newtonian physics. That belief qualifies as a “world view” in the sense I just pointed at and I think that is how Pr. Fisk is using the term.

    I believe the sense of the term that Pr. Rossow is addressing is that where the world is constructed by our point of view. Here a “world view” is a world constructed not just by the sense data we receive through our nervous systems, but is actually the world we individually perceive of, and construct, in the mind. In philosophy such a view is called “anti-realism”; a view which typically denies that there exists a “mind independent” or objective reality. I am pretty sure that Pr. Fisk is not at all using “world view” in this sense.

  10. Great discussion.

    I too, am worried that this anti-religious talk can be warped by pietists to mean that an ‘individual’ , ‘Jesus is my buddy and I don’t need no church’ attitude.

    Sure, there’s much to criticize about institutional ‘religion’. But that’s another story.

    Thanks.

  11. “Worldview” is certainly an interesting and even a useful word. It is a short cut for asking someone “What are your presuppositions as you are viewing the world?” whether they be Newtonian, Kantian, Biblical, or whatever. My point is this: “Playoffs? Who said anything about playoffs?” (Pardon that nod to contemporary culture.) “Pressuppositions, who said anything about presuppositions?” Once you grant someone presuppositions, you have lost the objectivity battle. There is nothing that can be perceived without pressuppositions then. That puts knowing into the realm of the knower rather than the objective thing known.

    Speaking of Kant, prior to him no one ever thought in terms of pressuppositions for knowing. One just knew things via sense perception. (Even Plato’s ideas were known by viewing the shadow of the real thing in the sense world.) Once Kant stuck the categories of knowing in the mind, modernity was off and running and naturally resulted in the post-modern “truth” determined by the knower and his language.

  12. How many of us grew up having this “world view” impressed on us?
    PUNCHLINE:

    So, oft in theologic wars
    The disputants, I ween,
    Rail on in utter ignorance
    Of what each other mean,
    And prate about an Elephant
    Not one of them has seen!

    THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT.

    A HINDOO FABLE.

    i.

    IT was six men of Indostan
    To learning much inclined,
    Who went to see the Elephant
    (Though all of them were blind),
    That each by observation
    Might satisfy his mind.

    ii.

    The First approached the Elephant,
    And happening to fall
    Against his broad and sturdy side,
    At once began to bawl:
    “God bless me!—but the Elephant
    Is very like a wall!”

    iii.

    The Second, feeling of the tusk,
    Cried:”Ho!—what have we here
    So very round and smooth and sharp?
    To me ‘t is mighty clear
    This wonder of an Elephant
    Is very like a spear!”

    iv.

    The Third approached the animal,
    And happening to take
    The squirming trunk within his hands,
    Thus boldly up and spake:
    “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
    Is very like a snake!”

    v.

    The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
    And felt about the knee.
    “What most this wondrous beast is like
    Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
    “‘T is clear enough the Elephant
    Is very like a tree!”

    vi.

    The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
    Said: “E’en the blindest man
    Can tell what this resembles most;
    Deny the fact who can,
    This marvel of an Elephant
    Is very like a fan!”

    vii.

    The Sixth no sooner had begun
    About the beast to grope,
    Than, seizing on the swinging tail
    That fell within his scope,
    “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
    Is very like a rope!”

    viii.

    And so these men of Indostan
    Disputed loud and long,
    Each in his own opinion
    Exceeding stiff and strong,
    Though each was partly in the right,
    And all were in the wrong!

    moral.

    So, oft in theologic wars
    The disputants, I ween,
    Rail on in utter ignorance
    Of what each other mean,
    And prate about an Elephant
    Not one of them has seen!

  13. I loved the content and the response from Rev. Fisk, but felt in all fairness his rap skills needed a little polishing.

  14. I hope that we realize what a treasure we have in our midst in Pastor Fisk. Talented, smart, and devoted to the Word.

  15. @ Jim Pierce #15
    Yeah, I had to memorize it in grade school and didn’t realize it was part of the liberal agenda of government schools teaching us to be “open-minded.” What they left out was the possibility of a man discovering the Truth that it was not a rope, fan, tree, etc,. but an elephant. They left us with a moral about theology, clearly teaching the false, popular myth that, because no one has seen God, everyone must be wrong in their conclusions about Who He is.

  16. @Pastor Tim Rossow #8

    Pr. Rossow,

    It would appear I misjudged what you originally said. Mr. Pierce is correct, we simply disagree over whether “worldview” necessarily carries all of the postmodern baggage out of which it arose. And over that, I am content to disagree. I had thought you were dismissing it merely because it’s philosophical and the word happens to be of pagan origin. It’s a pet-peeve of mine when intelligent Lutherans dismiss philosophy as such for shallow reasons.

    I am likewise a common-sense realist (though not an empiricist.) But that is a discussion for another day. Thank you very much for taking the time to clarify.

  17. Gentlemen:
    It’s not “worldview” It’s “Worldview Everlasting”

    Context, you have often said, is everything. So let’s not “prooftext” WE, OK?

    Also, I like revfisk very well at 15 minutes or 20, so let’s not mess with something that “ain’t broke”! He talks fast enough as it is.

    PS Who is fund raising for that earnest young man and his conspicuously blonde family, dropped by the “philadelphia project” into a dark wilderness, now that revfisk is outside Chicago? Or is that irrelevant?

  18. My students loved Pastor Fisk’s video and thought it a perfect follow up after the discussion of the original video. Not a planned lesson, but needed to be done.

  19. I’m puzzled by the title, “Worldview Everlasting”. I expect that when I get to heaven, my view of the world will be much different than it is now. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” 1 Cor. 13:12a

  20. The “Worldview Everlasting” is sola Scriptura. God sees the world the way it really is, he calls it what it really is, and, in Christ’s redemption, it will never fade. “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” That is the “Worldview Everlasting.”

    @Helen Rev. Joshua Gale and PLM are doing very well. (He’s supposed to get me video so I can continue to update on him >.<) But you can friend him facebook or follow "Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries" to get regular updates. Pastor Gale is on the cover of the latest "For the Life of the World" Magazine from Fort Wayne Sem, and is in regular talks with Pastor Bart Day of LCMS, Inc. ;D All this is to say:

    The Ministry is going strong. They have started feeding the homeless every Saturday in Love Park, and Pastor Gale is holding services of Prayer and Preaching for a small congregation of mostly homeless men and women. Several have begun the confirmation process. He is also working with young adults who live in the Philly area. They still need your support! So do consider making PLM a part of your regular giving.

    At the same time, like Lutherans in Africa, PLM is its own organization. While I was on their payroll, I was being paid to promote them. Currently, they are contemplating how to fill that position now that I have been called elsewhere. I still plan to promote them casually (so get on Pastor Gale's case to get me some footage!) 😀

    +pax+

  21. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W84-59pc7Tc

    Jefferson Bethke has changed his mind and now loves the Church. He actually responded personally to Kevin DeYoung’s critique of his video: “I just wanted to say I really appreciate your article man. It hit me hard. I’ll even be honest and say I agree 100%. God has been working with me in the last 6 months on loving Jesus AND loving his church. For the first few years of walking with Jesus (started in ’08) I had a warped/poor paradigm of the church and it didn’t build up, unify, or glorify His wife (the Bride).”

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/01/14/following-up-on-the-jesusreligion-video/

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