Covenant Thinking 101

Rev. Steve Schlissel - April 29, 2011

Beloved People of God,

Certain teachings hold the promise of opening vistas of understanding, enabling us to truly make awful sense even out of what we see today. So I thought it might be well to give a brief treatment of something which ought to be as familiar to thinking Christians as rice is to hungry Asians. I realize, however, that many in Christ are situated where teachers major in minors. Thus, through no fault of their own, children of the King are deprived of essential instruction. This piece is sent in the hope of providing a small corrective, prayerfully equipping a few not to be overwhelmed for want of an interpretive key to today’s events and perhaps equipping others to be more like the the sons of Issachar who can understand the times. On to it, then.

The first and most direct way to grasp the centrality and the character of presuppositions to all human thinking, acting and covenant keeping-or-breaking, is to think of a presupposition as a tuchas. That’s right–a tooshie. Why? Well, because it is behind and under everything a man does, and is with him wherever he goes. He’ll spare no effort to protect it and will develop a number of habits and manners designed to keep it hidden.

Again, a man is just as disposed to offer his presuppositions for scrutiny as he is to submit to a rectal exam on first base at Yankee Stadium during the 7th-inning-stretch. Not likely! Fact is, people prefer the company of those who honor the “no mention of tooshie” rule– not even a casual muttering.

Despite all the obsessive guardedness, healthy men (note: we must specify men because the fairer gender, we are told, has no need for tooshies) often disclose their concern for their tooshies when making their daily food choices—though they may use the euphemism, “stomach.” A man’s public habits and private disciplines, then, coalesce and together testify to concern for and commitment to something he will ordinarily deny exists. In fact, men live their lives as if adumbrated by a cartoon bubble e’er above their heads with the silver-foiled words: “A happy tuchas means a happy man.”

Bringing this metaphorical romp to “an end” (ahem), let me make plainer what I before just hinted at: people are as anxious to change their presuppositions as they are to post their interview with their newest proctologist candidate on YouTube. All this concern, wouldn’t you say?, suggests that men regard the tuchas and the presupposition as matters of the greatest moment.

But with your leave I’ll leave tuchas-talk behind (oy!), in order to call your attention to something a man’s posterior does not share with his presuppositions: Planned or unplanned, like it or not, sooner or later every breathing human exchanges his presuppositions for others. That clearly differs from the one-man/one-tuchas policy. And speaking of “one,” there’s another difference: humans operate with a great number of presuppositions, each tending to operate in assigned spheres of thought and life. Perhaps by practicing the deceit of not having a toosh while actually devoted to it, most folks have become adept at tenaciously holding certain presuppositions which are flatly contradicted by others they cherish. Sometimes the warring presupps live in neighboring apartment!

Also, not all presuppositions function at the same level. Their varying depths can be measured by how much grief and effort will be required should the presupp need to be exchanged. Those which surface when a man is converted by God to Christ are usually the most pervasive, deep and unsettling. I think of one young woman who had swallowed the feminist agenda pretty much as it was dished out, but when Christ claimed her as His own, she entered upon a clearing out of notions and a relearning process which she found dizzying, utterly liberating, and exhausting.

When a supposition has comfortably wedged itself into your worldview to become a “pre,” it morphs into an 800-pound gorilla in your mind’s apartment. Every other piece of information that enters is compelled to find a place in the apartment based upon the arrangement which had accommodated its biggest and baddest occupant. The privilege that goes with adding the “pre” to supposition is fixedness and honor: from the coronation on, each applicant for entry– every thought, idea, belief– is granted admission only on The Xerxes Basis: it must be invited. Intruders are executed, treated as presumptions (presumptions are low-class pretenders to the throne).

Think of how a bricklayer might greet your opinion that the first row of bricks he laid in that wall of 700 rows was crooked, not plum. Of course, if it was the last row laid, no problem! But the first? Then EVERYTHING has to be removed to get at it. That is exactly how presuppositions function in relation to subsequent (and prior) learning. It is easy to see, then, why people are loathe to question the fitness of those first rows. Let sleeping dogs lie!

You might well ask, “if that’s how it is with presuppositions, how would they ever change?” And that question, along with, “How do they change?,” is the $64,000 question, especially for Christian thinkers.

Why? Because Christian thinkers want to live in the fullest possible self-consciousness under God. They realize that is only when they are self-consciously conformed to the image of God they have been designed to be, it is only when thinking God’s thoughts AFTER Him that they can experience the gratification and joy of being a created, redeemed human being.


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