This is my column for the February newsletter at First Baptist Church of Temple City, CA. (see www.templecitybaptist.org).
DOWN MY LAYNE
From the Desk of Pastor Glenn Layne
Every year at about this time I begin to consider what I will teach for our annual Summer Bible Institute. A column by Charles Colson gave me my title: “Worldview Boot Camp.” The way people approach reality is based on something called our worldview. We all have a worldview, and many of us are inconsistent in our worldview. Worldviews need to be evaluated, and they have to be. Some of us actually flit from one worldview to another. How do we think “Christianly”? What is the Christian worldview?
I often tell the story of finding an old poster in my office in New Hampshire that had these words:
There are two fundamental facts of the universe:
1. There is a God
2. You are not God
I had this illustrated recently. Last spring, I was on a panel discussion of same-sex marriage at USC. I was there as an advocate of “traditional” marriage from a faith point of view. At one point, I shared the above and a distinguished-looking gentleman said, “I find that statement very disturbing.” If we human beings aren’t the final authority, he asked, then who is? Doesn’t that mean that I supposed a theocracy—the rule of a religious elite over all people?
I’m always amazed at intelligent, educated people who are so incredibly ignorant of the Christian faith. But there is a reason he found this disturbing apart from ignorance: it was outside of his worldview. He had a humanistic worldview, which either regards God as a myth or as irrelevant.
What is the Christian worldview? Well, that poster is a good start. Let me give you eight characteristics (these are adapted from the excellent book, The Universe Next Door by James Sire):
1. God exists. He is infinite and personal; He is triune and one; He is sovereign and good.
The personality of God is a conviction held fully only by Christians and devout Jews, and God’s tri-unity is distinctly Christian.
2. God created the universe from nothing; the universe gets its order from Him.
This idea would be foreign to the man at USC. Christians all believe that the world gets its significance from its creator, even if we don’t agree on exactly how God created the universe.
3. Human beings are created in the image of God, and thus have personality, creativity and a value that is derived from God.
This is the fundamental reason that the main body of Christians object to abortion. We don’t see humans as just the cleverest animal on the planet, but as distinctly different from all other creatures in that we bear God’s image.
4. Human beings can know both the world around them and God; He desires to have fellowship with us.
Here’s where Christian belief is radically different from the deism held by men like Jefferson and Franklin: we believe that God is active in our world, and interested in human affairs.
5. Human beings were created good, but choose sin and rebellion against God, defacing that original goodness. Now, in Christ, God offers a way of restoration to that original goodness, and is in the process of making that happen.
Are people basically good? Well, we were created good, but we didn’t stay that way. Look at human history for proof of the depravity of the human heart. This is another place were our faith is radically at odds with our culture.
6. Death is not the end; either it leads to eternity with God, or eternal separation from God (hell).
Most moderns consider death the absolute end, or that we become part of God (kind of like Hinduism) or that certainly there can be no such place as hell.
7. Morality is universal and absolute, based on the holy character of God.
This is a howler for modern secularists. “How can you say that morality is universal and absolute? Look how much cultures vary from one another!”
But what we mean by this is that God has a morality that is absolute and unchanging, regardless of what people do. Further, it’s amazing how much the people of earth agree on basic morality. (See the appendix in C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man, entitled “Illustrations of the Tao.”
8. History has a purpose: a linear sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for creation.
Finally, we believe that the world has a destination. We are not caught in an endless loop (as in Hinduism) and life does have a purpose outside of ourselves (something most moderns would not want to agree with).
Next month I want to address the problem of Christians with confused worldviews. The problem is not that 21st century Christians don’t have a worldview—it’s that we have too many at the same time! That’s what we’ll grapple with in this space next month.
PS: you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.