“It’s really true that the earth is the Lord’s,” so says Joel Belz, founder and editor of “World Magazine.” He went on to say that a Christian worldview should affect every sphere of life for the believer. At the most recent Pastor’s Fellowship of Greater Greenville, sponsored by Ligonier Ministries and Mountain Bridge Bible Fellowship, Belz called for a measured approach to developing a Christian worldview.
The development of a Christian worldview should be more akin to masonry than formula. Much of the time, Christians are formulaic in their approach to life. Too often we are given twelve steps to happiness or ten rules for raising our children. The pitch is that if we follow the prescribed formula, we will achieve the desired goal. Many of us are familiar with a “check-mark brand” of Christianity. Discipleship tools come complete with boxes for us to check off: had daily quiet time; took bible to church; met with small group this week; prayed for at least one lost soul; attended worship. As Belz pointed to these aspects of contemporary Christianity, I was reminded of the gold stars I so desperately worked for in Sunday school as a child. His next comment was poignantly timely as the same thought entered my mind: “this type of thinking leads to a kind of legalism.”
If we are not to be formulaic in our approach to Christian worldview, what are we to do? Even the question smacks of formula! Belz called for a tedious, slow, and humble development of said worldview. We must wrestle with the great truths of Scripture and seek to bring them to bear upon the great realities with which we are faced. We must go down dead end roads at times and then turn back. We must be prepared to engage in trial and error. We must take two steps forward and we will take one step back at times. That’s the nature of sinful, though redeemed creatures and their efforts in such a worthy task.
Belz was quick to add that we do need to be real and not merely theoretical. We must know what it means to have a Christian worldview and live in light of it. In other words, we can’t be so nebulous in our approach that neither we nor anyone else knows what we are talking about. Balance is required. We must not approach the task too mechanically, but we must not be vague. We must begin to put blocks in the wall of our Christian worldview.
This thought brings us back to the issue of masonry: blocks; no, stones. Building a block wall can be rather mechanical, formulaic, and indeed monotonous. Each block looks the same and is placed in the wall one beside or on top of another with little if any variation in its placement. The mason thinks little when building such a wall. He could build it in his sleep it’s so routine.
Contrast that dynamic with building a stone wall. Each stone is different and the mason has to weigh carefully where and how to place them. At times, stones will be placed in the wall only to be torn out because they don’t fit. Sizes, shapes, symmetry, and an aesthetically appealing look must be considered carefully in the construction of this wall. Speaking from experience, Belz noted that constructing this kind of wall is eminently more satisfying than erecting a block wall. One has to step back and ponder. Each stone has to be weighed and placed with purposeful trial and error. Such is the development of a Christian worldview.
Of course, some would argue that such an approach leads to relativism. But, the illustration must not be pushed too far (as any human illustration can be so pushed). Belz is calling for a slow, thoughtful process. By way of example, consider Christians and education. We were told that Christian schools were what we needed to ensure the conversion and spiritual development of our children in the midst of a secular world increasingly hostile to Christ. But, Christian schools have their problems. Home schooling was the next answer. “It is our responsibility to educate our own children” we were told and a movement was born. This formula would ensure success. And yet, home schooling is not perfect either. Enter Classical Education. That’s the answer! Of course, it’s not the answer in terms of being the way to ensure complete success. Each of these approaches to education has great benefit, and each approach has flaws. The point is not that one or all of these approaches must be abandoned by Christian parents but that the ultimate answer is not in a particular approach or method. One can raise a godly child even if that child attends public school! The point is that in the development of a Christian worldview, we must not merely rely on a formula but we must weigh each plank and circumstance carefully.
Stones must be carefully placed in the wall. The question is thus raised, what kind of stones? Answer: stones that are biblically described. Though there are more, Belz offered three stones to be placed in the wall of our Christian worldview.
First, we must pick a stone that reminds us constantly that we have to die before we can live. Our culture tells us to eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. But, the Lord Jesus clearly stated that the one who would gain His life must lose it for His sake. In discerning where pundits are coming from, a key question is this: does this individual understand and operate upon the principle that one has to die before he can live? In weighing out politicians, economists, commentators, or leaders of any kind, this question is critical. Issues come to mind like hard work, sacrifice, and the consideration of others ahead of ourselves. The culture of self is antithetical to the Christian worldview.
Second, we must choose the stone of word-centeredness. The world is image-centered but God is word-centered. He chose specific words that deal with specific things. Does our approach to reality take words seriously? In an age of deconstruction and hyper-relativism, words and their objective meanings take on a new importance. The murky waters of postmodernism militate against a biblical worldview that says simply and without apology that God has spoken.
Third, there is the stone that tells us that God is not just a word God, but a word and deed God. His words and our words must be translated into action. We must talk and live our faith and we must live and talk our faith. We must speak and we must do. Christians ground their thinking in truth, but, they translate that truth into action for the glory of God and the joy of those around them.
Belz is calling for careful attention. He is calling Christians to think, develop, and live in light of God’s word. There is no middle ground. One is either completely committed to God or one does not have a Christian worldview. There is no neutrality in the culture war. One is committed to Christ and is building the stone wall or one has no Christian worldview and is culturally driven. Christians must glean wisdom from the Scriptures and apply it to their hearts and to the sin-sick world in which they live. To depart from Belz for just a moment and borrow from another, let us not be just another brick in the wall. But, let us do as Belz calls us to do as living stones, build a wall of well-placed stones that will enable us to withstand error and impact this world for Christ.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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