- Sunday, March 01, 2009
What Is a Christian Worldview?
When man rebelled against God, he chose to do without God in every respect. Sinful man sought then — and continues to seek — his own ideas about truth, beauty, and goodness somewhere beyond God, either directly within himself or indirectly within the universe around him. This is the condition of every mind prior to its regeneration. Every one of us is brought to the cross by His grace, with every aspect of our being in desperate need of transformation and renewal, including our minds. This is why Romans 12:2 commands us to "not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our minds]."
Instead of continuing to interpret the universe and everything in it from within yourself or with yourself as the ultimate point of reference (and by this I am speaking about every aspect of life: politics, economics, education, vocation, science, philosophy, as well as ethics and morality), you now seek to reinterpret everything you have previously understood under the direction and authority of God, from His perspective exclusively. In other words, you begin to develop a comprehensive biblical philosophy of life or Christian worldview. This is key to fulfilling the instruction given in Romans 12:1: "to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, [the entirety of your being] holy and pleasing to God" and accomplishing the goal described in the latter part of verse 2: "Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (emphasis added).
It can be argued that one of the principal reasons for the loss of influence of Christianity in Western civilization has been, and continues to be, a lack of commitment to a renewed intellect (or mind) operating under the direction of God. This would explain why, in large part, our salt has become tasteless and our light is hidden under a bushel. Christianity, as it is largely expressed in the American church, is no longer a transforming force in culture, and the result has been an ideological shift away from the Bible as the source of truth to one in which man has become the "measure of all things."13
J. Gresham Machen, the early-twentieth-century theologian and defender of the Christian faith, wrote,
False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which . . . prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. . . . So as Christians we should try to mold the thought of the world in such a way as to make the acceptance of Christianity something more than a logical absurdity. . . . What more pressing duty than for those who have received the mighty experience of regeneration, who, therefore, do not, like the world, neglect that whole series of vitally relevant facts which is embraced in Christian experience — what more pressing duty than for these men to make themselves masters of the thought of the world in order to make it an instrument of truth instead of error?14
American Eschatology: Prophetic Fulfillment Or Spiritual Sloth?
Some Christians today dismiss this cultural duty under a popular and pessimistic view of the end times. They see attempts to reform society and culture as both futile and pointless or, worse, unrelated to the Christian life. While there are indeed various eschatological perspectives on which good Christians can disagree, none relieves Christians of their responsibility to be a preserving force in the world (salt) or active advocates of truth (light). This misguided understanding is just one more example of the anti-intellectualism so prevalent in the church. In my experience, it seems that many Christians have an eschatology formed more by popular fiction than serious biblical study. Additionally, in the United States we seem to suffer from a culturally myopic view of Christianity and history that is overly American-centric; thus, we tend to interpret Scripture and historical events through uniquely American eyes. The United States of America is not the central point in human history; Jesus Christ is!
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