1 John – Standpoint Theory and Its Impact on the Sufficiency of Jesus Christ
From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance
BY MAX FERNANDEZ
Everyone has a standpoint. How do you think of your experiences?
One of the alternative ways of thinking within the Critical Theory worldview is called Standpoint Theory: “the belief that knowledge comes from the lived experience of different identity groups, who are differently positioned in society and thus see different aspects of it” (Pluckrose & Lindsay, Cynical Theories, 78). There are two assumptions in Standpoint Theory: (1) oppressed people have a standpoint that is more authoritative and fuller, and (2) privileged people are blinded from knowledge that oppressed people have (194).
Typically, if we want assurance or confidence, we will tend to lean upon our experience or standpoint, but the standpoint of the Bible is the exact opposite and teaches us that we are utterly sinful people. If we will have confidence, it will not be by pride in our own experiences.We must be honest with our sinfulness if we will have assurance in our lives.
God Is the Standard for an Absolute Standpoint (1 John 1:5)
There are two important truths to note about the meaning of the phrase God is light: God is the Source of life (1 John 1:3-4; Ephesians 2:1), and he is perfect. He is perfectly righteous (always perfect in justice); he is perfect Truth (anything that does not conform to his nature is false); he is perfectly moral (perfect in love and care for his own creatures and his own Person). If you want to have a proper evaluation of who you are, your standpoint or experience, we do not need to begin with ourselves but with God.
Standpoint Theory Is Exposed Before the God Who Is Light (1 John 1:6-2:2)
There are three “if we say” statements that reveal there are religious people within the church denying that they have sin (1 John 1:6, 8, 10). To deny the sinfulness of our existence generally is not consistent with any form of perceived reality. There is evil in the world because the evil is inside of mankind. Some men and women are better at hiding it from one another than others. The sooner we realize that our best is not compared to one another but to the very nature of the God who is light, the quicker we will realize that we do not meet up to His standard—we are utterly sinful in our thoughts, our desires, our words, our deeds, etc.
Only One Standpoint Can Lead to Absolute Certainty (1 John 1:7, 9, 2:1-2)
One of the major problems with Standpoint Theory is that it makes an ultimate standard of the experience of the oppressed, whereas the Bible makes God the ultimate standard. If you use your experience as the basis of your argument, you have the wrong starting point; and this starting point will not be effective with someone who believes in Standpoint Theory because your experience is what actually blinds you to what they say is true.
Our standpoint, based on the scriptures, is that we are all sinners before God but that we have a sufficient Savior. We desperately need Jesus, because we are insufficient before God. Jesus is sufficient for the full payment for our sins. We don’t have to add our work, our experience, our credentials, our anything to the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus is exclusive—sufficiency is of Jesus alone. If you have to add to him, then he is not sufficient. Confident living cannot result from a theology that denies our sinfulness. Assurance can only be found through a theology that begins with a perfect God and exposes our sinfulness; consequently, we accept our sinfulness and fully cast ourselves on the sufficiency of the blood of Jesus Christ.
We should be cautious about our own experience as the ground of objective truth. We are sinners in need of a Savior regardless of what side of history we are on—oppressor or oppressed. Our theology must never lessen the utter sinfulness of both unbelieving people and believing people. We are more sinful than we ever thought, but Jesus is more sufficient than we would have ever dreamed.
We are more sinful than we ever thought, but Jesus is more sufficient than we would have ever dreamed.
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