Thursday, November 27, 2008

The importance of our worldview

We must start any discussion of our worldview with clearly describing or defining what a worldview is.

All of us hold things, beliefs and values which would take an incredible experience to rock and challenge them and make us change those beliefs and values. These core beliefs and values which we hold so tightly make up what we would call our worldview, the way we interpret reality, what we think of as important, what things we value, what gives our life meaning, what view we have of God, our world and our relation to God and the world.

James Sire puts it so clearly by asking 7 important questions:

1. What is prime reality - the really real?

2. What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?

3. What is a human being?

4. What happens to a person at death?

5. Why is it possible to know anything at all?

6. How do we know what is right and wrong?

7. What is the meaning of human history?

See James Sire page 20 'The Universe next door'

Sire goes on to say "even refusing to adopt an explicit worldview will turn out to be itself a worldview, or at least a philosophical position." pg 21.

I would point out for example that even to say there is no God or to say you don't know if there is a God or not are part of a specific worldviews. A worldview, in the first case where you say there is no God is one in which you have set yourself up as the ultimate authority on what can and cannot exist. Where you have set yourself up as the one who knows everything, and thus have made yourself omniscient and in one sense, omnipresent since no part of reality is hid from you ! In other words, made yourself God by definition. Now of course very few people put them in such a ridiculous position although I once heard Bertrand Russell in a talk say "one thing I know is that there is no god." If I remember rightly and this was 25 odd years ago, I think the context was where he was saying there are no absolutes, but I may be wrong.

The second position of the one saying he doesn't know whether there's a God or not is what we call an agnostic, though certain Philosophers quibble over this and say there's different sorts of agnostics such as hard and soft agnostics, but really that's a bit like a hard boiled and a soft boiled egg, they are still eggs!

In the West there are only a small number of worldviews that really concern us, again as Sire lists them in relevant chapters,

*Christian Theism





*Eastern Pantheistic Monism

*The New Age


The way most of us encounter these worldviews is when a particular worldview is claimed by someone we are talking to or reading about. It's then that specific worldviews such as Buddhism, or Secular humanism and Marxism or Hinduism become important and relevant. Still in dealing with them what we need is to have understood each of the above types of worldviews and where their weaknesses lie and how the particular worldview is covered by one of the above types.

Another author that has written well on this topic is David A. Noebel in his book 'The Battle for Truth'.

He says about The Christian Worldview that "Christianity is the only worldview that provides a consistent explanation of all the facts of reality with regard to theology, philosophy, ethics, economics, or anything else. As Carl F.H. Henry says, "The Christian belief system, which the Christian knows to be grounded in Divine revelation, is relevant to all of life."" pg 3. Noebel

Let me for a moment reflect upon that statement by Carl F.H Henry. It's easily passed over but it's a gem.

He says "The Christian belief system, which the Christian knows to be.." How does he know? because the Holy Spirit has convicted him of this truth. I don't believe you can seperate speaking of worldviews with others without really understanding that you are involved in apologetics, apologetics as spoken of in the Bible, eg. 1 Peter3. and Contending for the faith with others, Jude 3 et al.

If you haven't thought about this very deeply you will very soon upon saying that you know these things hear a person cry out, "but your reasoning is circular." "You come here claiming your worldview, Christianity is true and then point to the fact that your worldview says that - ie the bible says that." But my worldview says xyz .. How do we not end up just disagreeing?"

Many in the last century have because of this problem argued that we need first to find some common ground with the unbeliever, something that we both agree about in order to then be able to sort out whose worldview is the true one. But for a Christian this is to give the game away right at the start. We need to realise that the only reason we are in this discussion with the unbeliever is because God has convicted us of our rebellion against Him, transformed us, and filled us with His Holy Spirit. So being changed by God and filled by His Spirit we recognise He alone is the Authority, He is the Standard before which all things stand or fall, and before whom all must give an account. That, and that alone is the only reason by which we can claim that Chrisitanity is True.

So how then can we speak to the unbeliever in a meaningful way? It takes a twofold approach. First of all you reason from within the unbeliever's worldview and point out how it collaspses into nonsense. That it cannot give an account for meaning, or rationality or reason, or value, or right and wrong, indeed it cannot even account for nonsense! This is called an internal critique of a worldview.

But this is not the end of the discussion, because then you explain to them the Christian worldview which is able to account for meaning and value and reason and the like. That the claims of the Christian worldview are true and that God, the God of the Bible calls upon them to stop their rebellion and repent and submit to Him.

Now of course many postmoderns will rise up in protest at what I am saying here for they despise metanarratives, the big story. They don't like metanarritives because they find them culturally manipulative. But all I would say here today is that their own postmodern worldview is incoherent itself. For postmodernism is itself a metanarrative. Of course that's probably why many today say they have moved beyond postmodernism, but that won't get them out of their problem because they still hold a specific worldview.

I want to end by just pointing out the most important thing about Christianity, that the Worldview of Christianity is actually the revelation of God, the Bible.

As Henry said in the quote above, "the Christian belief system is gounded in Divine revelation". The Bible from Genesis to Revelation gives us the answers to Who is God, who we are, and how we relate to humans, and what gives us meaning and value and where the standards of right and wrong are found.

We do not come to God's revelation the Bible with an independant standard by which to judge it. For we are not an autonomous authority. Rather God declares to us that his ways are right, that this is right and that is wrong, that this is True and that is false.

Something worth pondering upon.


Who is building the Church?

There is no doubt there is much we can learn from others about better ways to communicate with unbelievers and reach out to them with the Gospel. Over the years I have benefited from the stimulation of godly men about finding ways to impact the culure, all the time making sure that we presuppose that it was Jesus who said he would build his church.

Hindsight as they say is 100% reliable, and we need to reflect upon history and the methods of man as he sought, sometimes from very honorable motives of seeking to see the Lord's Church both grow and impact our culture. However the dangers are very real as we readily see the distortion that happened with the market driven approach to Church, replacing the pastor / elder with a CEO.

Accompanying this market approach has been the replacing of expositional preaching with stories and "entertainment". Anyone, well almost anyone :) can keep a crowd and attract people if they make sure they are tolerant of everything and don't offend them and tickle their ears with positive sermonettes.

Yesterday I read an article on by Hal Seed. It was called "Seven Keys to a great Church-Wide Campaign". He opens with "Successful campaigns all start in one place: the heart of the pastor, If he's excited, the church will get excited."Sorry, I would have thought that the one place it begins is being convicted of God to have His concern for the lost and that this is what engenders excitement and enthusiasm in his outlook.Seed does tell us some practical things to consider in organising a Church-wide campaign, however the tenor of the article is troublesome in that it leaves out prayer and devotion to the Word.

Have we too readily opted for man made solutions for getting people in the door of the Church and in so doing effectively made the church assembly primarily a place of evangelism instead of one of edifying and building up the saints for the work of ministry?
What are your thoughts?