- Sunday, March 01, 2009
To demonstrate the inextricable connection between the preservation of true ethics and morality and belief in the authority of God, consider what atheist and Yale Law School professor Arthur Leff wrote in 1979:
If [God] does not exist, there is no metaphoric equivalent. No person, no combination of people, no document however hallowed by time, no process, no premise, nothing as equivalent to an actual God in this central function as the unexaminable examiner of good and evil. The so-called death of God . . . seems to have effected the total elimination of any coherent, or convincing, ethical or legal system.7
The social acceptance of false moral perspectives has created an unprecedented culture of unbelief in America. In other words, because we (Christians) have been unable to articulate meaningful, rational, and compelling reasons for preserving biblical authority as the basis for morality, Christianity has become irrelevant in shaping the moral consensus. It naturally follows that when Christianity, Scripture, and Jesus Christ Himself are perceived as irrelevant in defining moral values, Christianity, Scripture, and Jesus would ultimately be perceived as irrelevant in the way of offering any valid explanation of anything, including reality, meaning, and purpose. If God's revelation no longer plays a central role in defining right from wrong —something that affects us on a daily basis —then why would anyone seek answers to life's larger questions from Jesus or the Bible?
The Loss of the Christian Worldview
Our apparent inability to discern, articulate, and effectively defend biblical moral perspectives is the direct result of our lacking a comprehensive philosophy of life that is grounded in Scripture and reflected in a Christian life and worldview. According to a recent national survey by the Barna Research Group, only 4 percent of American adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision making.8 The research firm said this in describing the survey results:
If Jesus Christ came to this planet as a model of how we ought to live, then our goal should be to act like Jesus. Sadly, few people consistently demonstrate the love, obedience and priorities of Jesus. The primary reason that people do not act like Jesus is because they do not think like Jesus. Behavior stems from what we think — our attitudes, beliefs, values and opinions. Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life. We're often more concerned with survival amidst chaos than with experiencing truth and significance.9
Barna also reported that only 51 percent of the country's Protestant pastors have a biblical worldview.10 However, the criteria Barna's survey used to define a Christian worldview were as follows:
- Believing that absolute moral truths exist and that such truth is defined by the Bible.
- Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.
- God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today.
- Salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned.
- Satan is real.
- A Christian has a responsibility to share his faith in Christ with other people.
- The Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.11
This is hardly a comprehensive biblical framework for analyzing, evaluating, and guiding one's responses to the challenges and opportunities of life. These are merely the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith, the very basics of what it means to believe as a Christian! Again, according to this survey, only 4 percent of American adults agree with these seven statements, and yet 85 percent of Americans claim to be Christian.12 This is basic Christian orthodoxy or essential doctrine, not a worldview in the proper sense of the term. A worldview is better understood as an all-embracing life system that emanates from our fundamental conceptions of ultimate reality. What is the essential nature of the external world? Is it ordered or chaotic? In other words, does the world owe its existence to a Creator, or is it merely the product of undirected material causes resulting from time and chance? What are our conceptions regarding the essential nature of mankind? Is man inherently prone to do good, evil, or some combination thereof? What are our ideas about knowledge and what we are able to know or how we know? Is only knowledge that is empirically provable legitimate, while experience and supernatural revelation are not? What is our understanding of good and evil (or ethics), and, finally, what is the meaning of humanity's story on the earth, or the meaning of history? A Christian worldview could be better defined as a Christian philosophy of life in which men understand all of reality and nature in connection to the revealed Word of God. A Christian worldview properly understood is when men interpret the universe and everything in it under the direction of and authority of God. Our ideas of truth, beauty, and goodness all originate in God.
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