Summary: Learning requires a willingness to surrender our faulty presuppositions
Overcoming our Faulty Presuppositions
It is often true that before we can learn new things we have to be willing to unlearn faulty presuppositions. Many people harbor faulty assumptions about themselves, other people or their circumstances. To wrongly assume something about another is to entertain prejudices that may tend to block communications, relationships or cooperation.
Illustration:A family of five was rushed to the hospital to have their stomachs washed out after the cat with whom they had shared a meal of mushrooms suddenly began to have stomach contractions. While members of the family showed no signs of illness, the doctor still had them rushed to the hospital. When they returned home they found the cat feeling well, after having produced five kittens.
England Post, in Homemade, April, 1989.
In this passage we discover how the Lord helped Peter overcome some of his faulty presuppositions. Throughout history it would be hard to find a greater hostility than what the Jews had for the Gentiles. The Jews felt obstinacy toward the Gentiles because of their beliefs, their behavior and their historical antipathy to everything that the Jews represented. Finally, Peter heard the Lord, “What God has cleansed you must not call common or unclean.” (Acts 10:15) Only when we realize that God is the one who wants us to give up all prejudicial assumptions can we begin to gain proper perspectives. Ask the Lord to help you gain the cleansing, empowering and transforming of your thinking to overcome all faulty presuppositions.
2. Both Peter and Cornelius were given visions from the Lord while they were praying and seeking His face. Do not think you can expect God to renew your mind unless you are willing to seek Him in His word. The word of God cleansing us and replaces our faulty presuppositions over a long period of time. It is the work of the Spirit to gradually rid our minds of faulty presuppositions and replace them with the mind of Christ. Ask the Lord to give you the self-discipline to let the word of Christ teach you every morning new ways to replace faulty assumptions, prejudices and notions with Christ like perspectives.
3. Most sins are caused by faulty, incomplete or unbiblical presuppositions about the Lord and His will for our life. Many people have a faulty or incomplete view of the holy one and his characteristics. Peter supposed that God’s Old Testament laws still applied in the age of grace. The apostle wrongly assumed that the Lord wanted the Jews to only operate their ministries among their own people – not with the Gentiles. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” (Matt. 5:8) Impure thoughts and motives often cloud our understanding of the full attributes of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Ask God to help you confess your sins so that you can trust Him to help you correct your faulty or incomplete assumptions about His character and will for your life.
4. Peter assumed that the Gentiles were unclean, difficult and unreceptive toward God’s truth – he could not have been farther from the truth. Often people assume that people will be unresponsive and so they hesitate to share the truth of the gospel with others. Many Americans spend less money on missions than they do on cat or dog food. Ask the Lord to help you to put away your faulty presuppositions about how people will respond to the truth of the gospel. Trust the Lord that He will not allow His word to return without accomplishing all that He intends.
5. Peter had to get over his feelings of partiality as he learned that God is no respecter of persons. God sees all people as equally needing His truth. Often our assumptions about reality are different from God’s ideals. It is easy to try to assume that we should relate to people according to their socio-economic class, their educational level or their rank and status in society. Peter had to realize that his hierarchical assumptions were faulty and needed to be replaced with a God’s impartial views. Ask the Lord to help you to not fear anyone but present truth to all without partiality.
6. Peter had to get over his feelings of pride, self-righteousness and traditionalism that kept him from reaching out to those who needed Christ. The apostle of Christ was proud of his Jewish background, identity and heritage. However, Peter’s pride stood in the way of God’s will for His life. Trust the Lord to help you to overcome your feelings of pride that tend to obscure your understanding of truth about God’s will for your life.
Conclusion:The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct.
Wm. of Occam - 14th century scholar.