Here's my March column for my church newsletter, which is now available (in its entirety) by free subcription: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month, I used this space to address the importance of the Christian worldview. As a matter of fact, this summer the Summer Bible Institute (June 26-30) will be devoted to the topic of “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.
According to George Barna, the famous Christian researcher, about half of all Americans have multiple worldviews. This is a new development in culture; new, that is, over the last 40 years or so.
What we mean by multiple worldviews is not when someone is genuinely confused, but when they either apply the rules of worldviews inconsistently according to the situation or when they allow feelings to dictate which worldview they will follow at any given moment.
Blogger Mark Roberts (you can read his blog [short for “web log”] at www.markdroberts.com, and he now has a link to my blog, www.durabledata.blogspot.com) tells the story of a woman who expressed an opinion that made no historic sense at all in a Bible study he was leading at Hollywood Presbyterian, a fine church. When he gently corrected her misunderstanding, she became emotional and stormed out of the room. (Every pastor has a few stories like that!) What surprised him the most was the reaction of the people who remained. “What right did you have condemning her like that? Everyone’s entitled to their opinion!” They were very upset with Roberts.
They were at that moment also engaged in worldview confusion. We have a history-based faith, and we believe that truth is knowable. God has revealed Himself in history (that is, in the realm of the space-time world we live in, in His deeds with the people of Israel, and most especially in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus).
What the woman—and the other people in the Bible study were confused about is how God reveals Himself. My guess would be that they (especially the ones who stayed to roast Mark Roberts) would agree with the last sentence in the previous paragraph, but they also would agree with this sentence: “Spiritual truth is different for each person; what may be true for you may not be true for me.” That is a profoundly un-Christian worldview statement.
A Buddhist critic of Christianity hit the nail on the head when he said, “There is an irreducible orneriness about the Christian faith.” Christianity makes sweeping, absolute claims. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life—that no one comes to the Father (that is, can have a real and accurate knowledge of God) apart from Him.
The problem is, we believers are Christian fish swimming in a sea of competing worldviews, and sometimes we swallow contaminated water.
I think we can see this in several areas of morality and public policy. For example, in regards to homosexuality, the naturalist worldview has no problem with homosexuality. Naturalism denies that there is a God (or at least states that God’s existence is irrelevant to human affairs). Therefore, human beings are simply the cleverest animals on the planet. Morality is simply a code we have devised to enable us to cope with life, and is subject to constant revision.
The Naturalist worldview (you may have heard it called “secular humanism”), by definition cannot and does not have any problem with homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion or the harvesting of embryonic stems cells for research.
A Christian worldview starts from wholly different grounds. There is a God. He is the foundation of morality and ethics. Human beings are created in God’s image—no matter how small (including pre-born) or infirm. Marriage is part of His design. Human beings, as carriers of God’s image, are not mere animals; while we have bodies as animals do, we also have immortal souls, which animals emphatically do not.
Further, I have observed that worldview confusion is often the driving force when people try to re-interpret Scripture to validate a perspective or lifestyle that the body of Christian teaching has rejected.
When I was a graduate student at Ohio University (back in ’79-’80), I wrote a paper on Marxism being a “proto-existentialist” view—this was for a Marxist professor! What I meant by that term is that even though Karl Marx rejected any transcendent truth (no absolute right and wrong), he contradicted himself when it came to his view of history: history, in his view, had to produce a communist world. Like the existentialist writers of nearly a century in his future, Marx plucked meaning out of the thin air.
This same “plucking of meaning” occurs daily at thousands of American hospitals. In one ward, a pre-born baby is killed because a choice was made to regard her as a genetic product. Down the hall, at same age of gestation, a team of doctors and nurses fight to save the life of the baby, because a decision was made to regard that “genetic material” as a real child, a baby, a human being worthy of love and respect.
Frankly, I don’t expect the world to get this. They’ve been swimming in the naturalist sea too long. But part of Christian maturity in thinking is understanding what the Christian worldview is, and applying that worldview consistently when it comes to the issues that we are called upon to make judgments on daily—in our personal lives, as well as in the public arena. I’ll expand on that thought next month.