Constructing A Christian Worldview: Fallen

Recently I published an article on creation, on the origin of our world and our society, on how things were at one point and how life was projected to work out properly.  This is not that article.  To put it bluntly, this article is about how all that stuff got messed up.

We left off at the end of Genesis 2.  God had made the world.  He made everything in it, including people – male and female – whom He made in His own image.  Life in the garden was good.  He gave them a job to do and they began doing it.  Everything was just rosey.

Then Genesis 3 rolls around.  The serpent shows up, tempts Eve, then Adam to sin.  And they fall.  Yes, they fall.  God curses them to toil and to die.  He curses the ground because of their sin.  Everything that he made, though pronounced “very good” has taken a turn downward.  Our rebelliosness has cost us.

The nature of the sin is that we sought to disobey God’s good and perfect law and make up our own.  We saw ourselves as the ultimate authority on what was right.  We stood ourselves up as the pronouncers of “very good” and we threw God’s law down.  We disordered everything.  In other words, we totally screwed up.

It may seem like it was only Adam and Eve who committed the sin, who ate the apple.  But each one of us has disordered, in our own lives, the law of the Creator.  It was a law just like gravity, built into the fabric of creation.  And when it was broken, all creation changed.  All creation fell.  It wasn’t just that death was introduced into our lives.  Everything in creation took a downward turn.  Everything.  Nancy Pearcy writes:

Music is good, but popular songs can be used to glorify moral perversion.  Art is a good gift from God, but books and movies can be used to convey nonbiblical worldviews and encourage moral decadence.  Science is a vocation from God, but it can be used to undermine belief in a Creator.  Sexuality was God’s idea in the first place, but it can be distorted and twisted to serve selfish, hedonistic purposes.  The state is ordained by God to establish justice, but it can be perverted into tyranny and injustice.  Work is a calling from God, but in American corporate culture it is often an addiction… In every area of life, we need to distinguish between the way God originally created the world, and the way it has been deformed and defaced by sin.

But the Christian Worldview is not the only worldview that involves the idea of a Fall.  Remember when discussion creation.  Just as Marxism involves the idea of an original creation – perfect and pristine – it also involves an understanding of the Fall.  The Marxist worldview holds that the fall was property ownership – that when people became property owners and went into business for themselves, everything was turned upside down.  According to Marxism, there is no God and the Fall is not a result of rebellion against Him, but of man’s desire to own property, to work to put food on his table and a roof over his head.

Paul tells us in Romans 8 that “creation was subjected to futility” by One who did it in hope.  Who can subject all creation in futility in hope?  Only God.  That hope is for redemption.  God didn’t leave the world fallen.  He hasn’t forsaken the world or destroyed it.  He is still at work here.

Coming Soon:  Construction a Christian Worldview:  Redemption

Published in: on September 12, 2008 at 6:12 pm  Comments (1)  
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Constructing a Christian Worldview: Created

Whats in a worldview?  Everything.  Abraham Kuyper wrote:

Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’

For Kuyper, everything was under the domain of his Biblical Worldview.  For Kuyper, every single “square inch” of his life was brought under the supremacy of Christ.  That is a biblical worldview.

But how does one go about understanding life in this way.  It is not easy.  We live in a world where everything around us does not scream “Christ is everything!”  We live in a world where the religious aspect of life is relegated to the private and personal realm.  Religion becomes a collection of values.  And values are true only for the individual who upholds them.  They can’t be applied in the public realm.  Doing so would certainly offend someone.  Values are important, we are told, just not important enough to influence our lives in public.

Recently at school, a medical doctor spoke to the class about birth defects and abnormalities.  This particular doctor helps screen for such things.  And if defects are found, the pregnancy is commonly terminated.  The decision to terminate, he insisted, must not be influenced by our “values.”  Our “values” should not enter the conversation.  We should leave those at home.

I find it interesting that this is a part of his value system which he believes is OK to bring to work.  He is a post-modernist.  He doesn’t believe that there exists an objective truth or a right and wrong.  Right for one person may differ drastically than right for another person.  That’s his worldview.  And he brings it in to work everyday.  But he tells me I cannot bring mine.

Well, pardon me, but in the first place that is absurd.   No one makes an important decision after first eliminating everything they believe about life, about morality, about clean-cut issues such as murder.  No one.  And secondly, its impossible – as if any of us could really forget everything we believe, walk away to a completely neutral standpoint (as if that standpoint even exists) and make a decision from a fresh perspective.

What he told us to do was both absurd and impossible.  On top of that, he doesn’t do it.

We are faced with worldview questions everyday.  So the big question is: how do we construct this worldview.

As you may have noticed, the catchphrase of my blog (see above) is “Created, Fallen and Redeemed.”  That is a good place to start.  It applies to every person in a slightly different way.  I mean, a plumber is not really affected by the way a doctor views his life.  But at the same time, the Biblical answer to the big questions affects, on its own, every single person’s life.  So it may apply differently across the board, but it certainly doesn’t ever not apply.  (Pardon my grammar, or lack thereof.)

Created:  The place to begin is creation.  Now I don’t necessarily mean “creation” in the biblical context.  I just mean that every worldview must account for the origin of everything.  How did it all get here?  What were things orginially like before they were disordered?  Even the communist worldview answers these questions.  Communism says that once upon a time there was no land-ownership and no competition.  Everywhere there was a peaceful communal life where people thrived.

The Biblical Worldview is a little bit different.  The Bible holds that God created the world and put man in it.  Man was without sin and without problems, living in community with God.  There wasn’t sin in the original created order.  There weren’t natural disasters.  There wasn’t disease or crime or poverty.  “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).  Indeed.  It was.

God made man in his own image.  We had (and have) an innate dignity.  There is an importance, a value, a worth to us, just because we are “us.”  Just because we are made in the image of God.  This is huge.  People are important because God made us that way and told us we are important.

Then God gave man a job.  (And when I say “man,” I just mean people.  Come on.)  Man was to fill the earth and subdue it.  We were supposed to reign over the earth.  Under God, we were supposed to reign supreme.  And we were supposed to fill the earth.  We were supposed to fill it with Image Bearers.  We were supposed to build civilizations and develop cultures, all to give glory to God.

This is what Creation means.  This is what it is all about.  God made it and he proclaimed it to be very good.  This is the basis for the Christian Worldview.  This is the foundation.  The Worldview doesn’t end here.  But it cannot start anywhere else.

Coming soon:  Constructing a Christian Worldview:  Fallen.

Published in: on September 9, 2008 at 12:59 pm  Comments (1)  
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Big Questions

There are big questions floating around in peoples’ minds.  They have been there for as long as there have been people.  Who are we?  Where did we come from?  What is out purpose?

These questions were asked by Plato and Aristotle.  And sadly, their answers are still around.  They were asked by the ancient Egyptians and by Eastern peoples of what’s now China and India.

They were asked by such great theologians as Augustine, Aquinas.  They have been asked by philosophers both ancient and modern ranging from Kant to Huxley, Nietzche to Schaeffer.  They are asked by our great literary writers like Hemingway, Hawthorne, Thoreau and O’Connor.  These are the big questions and we need to ask them.

It seems more and more, America is becoming a place where we fail to ask the big questions.  We are more interested in the Dark Knight, SUVs, and vacations.  We pay closer attention to who is going to be the next president than we do the meaning of life.

This is a sad time.  This is an indictment.  I will say, first of all however, that it is indictment upon myself. I, who have spent far too much time trying to figure out LOST and not nearly enought time trying to figure out the world around me, the world I’m living in, the real world.  Not some world conjured up in the mind of a television writer.  As exciting as our world is, ours is moreso.  The questions in our world, the big questions, they really matter.  The season isn’t going to end and then fade into oblivion, or, if its popular, show up on DVD.

I challenge and urge you to think about the big questions – to explore.  Consider the possibilities.  And consider what could possibly be truth.  Dont look at it from a skeptical “anything is possible” standpoint.  Eliminate the impossiblities and go for what seems accurate.  What does your heart tell you.  I encourage all to read and study the biblical worldveiw – the only one that gives solid answers to all of the questions.  And I encourage Christians to grapple with this worldview; try to figure it out.  And be ready to give an answer to the big questions.  Or be ready to ask the big questions.  After all, if we can’t answer these, then we are all LOST.

Published in: on September 3, 2008 at 12:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Peppered Moths or Peppered Truth

In dealing with Worldview, one of the key concepts is Origin. Every worldview has to explain our origins. Where did everything come from? How did the earth get here? How did people get here? If a worldview is to be even remotely complete, it must answer the great question of Origins.

The dominant secular theory of our day, which is the basis for what is taught in schools, is evolution. Now the term evolution is thrown around a lot to mean many different things. That is OK as long as we know what we are talking about. But what we are talking about with respect to Origins is naturalistic Darwinistic evolution: that is that genetic mutation and natural selection are solely responsible for the variation of the different species, they are the mechanics of how we humans came to be.

Just a few weeks ago, in a conversation I had with a guy, he sited the Peppered Moths as being pretty amazing proof for evolution.

Above is a photo of a sign in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. If it’s a little too small to read, this is what it says:

Change happens when genetic traits are passed on, in different combinations each time, from generation to generation. In the last 100 years the population of peppered moths in England went from being mostly light to mostly dark, because pollution darkened the bark of their favorite trees. There are many examples of evolution in action, but this one is often referred to because it has been so well documented. (italics added)

Here is a common picture of the moth’s on “their favorite trees.”

The argument goes that before factories were producing so much pollution, the trees were white, enabling he light colored moths to blend in. Once the factories started polluting, the trees were stained a darker color, so the moths, in turn, evolved to become much darker so that they could still conceal themselves on the trees. This a great story. The evidence seems undeniable.

It seems undeniable. Nancy Pearcy describes a bit of a discrepancy however:

In recent years, however, a small problem has come to light: Peppered moths don’t actually perch on tree trunks in the wild… How then do we explain the photographs we see in textbooks? It turns out they were staged: To create the photos, scientists glued dead moths onto the tree trunks. One scientists… acknowledged that he glued dead moths on the trees.

I know. Its crazy. But the moths are still used as proof, as evidence to convince people who know no better. Textbook writer Bob Ritter explains “The advantage of this example of natural selection is that it is extremely visible… Later on, they can look at the work critically.”

This is a classic case of pulling the wool over someone’s eyes. This case is so well documented – or mis-documented – that it must be used to prove a false theory. The problem here is that this is the evidence. Its not that this is just an illustration to prove a theory. Without the evidence, there is no theory. There is merely a failed hypothesis.

Granted, this one instance does not disprove evolution. It does however show that the evolution proponents will go to extreme lengths including lying and faking scientific evidence in order to defend their ideas of origin. And without an atheistic origin to stand on, there is no worldview to be built.

Published in: on August 30, 2008 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hot Issue: Abortion and the Biblical Worldview

Abortion has been a hot political issue since the Roe vs. Wade decision was handed down in 1973. That was 35 years ago. I, for one, cannot remember that far back. I cannot remember abortion not being an issue of conversation. It is one of the most polarizing issues in American politics today. Every few months someone will make a statement that the issue is basically settled in the collective American mind. What is interesting is that you have to keep listening to find out which way he or she will say its been settled – proof that the abortion debate rages on.

Just last week, presidential candidates Obama and McCain gave vastly different answers to questions regarding abortion. McCain stated his strong Pro-Life stance, notably in front of an audience very sympathetic to that view. His voting record backs up that statement very well, warm audience or not. Obama gave the typical politician’s nuanced answer – which some issues certainly deserve. In the end he (also supported by his voting record) gave a strong Pro-Choice statement.

The issue is as open as ever in the American mind.

Recently though Nancy Pelosi (current Speaker of the House) weighed in on the issue. Her statement however was of particular interest to me, as I consider the issue with respect to the Biblical Worldview. She commented on the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding the issue.

As reported by Salon, she stated that, throughout history, the Catholic Church has been unable to define when life begins, and that within the church, this is an “issue of controversy. ”

This is an interesting statement considering what the Catholic Church actually teaches. Archbishop Donald Wuerl says that abortion has been declared evil “since the first century” and that it isn’t considering a change. Ever.

My favorite statement from the Archbishop: “Regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of [Pelosi’s professional skills.” For the record, Pelosi is Catholic.

The stark contrast in the statements made by Pelosi and Wuerl show the clash of the worldviews.

The Biblical Worldview is that life is formed at the point of fertilization. When that new genetic code is formed from the parental strands, there is new life. Everything is in place for a baby to be born some nine months later. This is also known as syngamy. Objectively, there is no way to define the initiation of new life at any other point. There is no other fundamental change in type after this. There is only growth.

As has been stated before, the Bible teaches that man is created with a certain worth and dignity stemming from the fact that he bears the image of God. There is no way to change this. Life is valuable. It reflects God’s glory. An assault on life is an assault on God. This worldview is based in objective truth as revealed by God. It is important for us to meet this issue with this in mind.

The opposing worldview is one of personal autonomy and moral freedom. It is not, as Pro-Choice proponents say, an easy decision for a woman to make, but it is her decision. This idea of personal autonomy set against the authority of God is almost as old as the innate dignity of the image of God. We can trace it back to the original sin when man decided to make up his own law.

It can be noted that this view of personal autonomy has waxed and waned throughout history but has never been absent. Our modern form has been touted by such historic philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was known for flashing women in the streets of Paris. He later moved to the wilderness to live as a law unto himself. We can at least admire him for his consistency.

We are dealing with a group that holds that abortion is bad, but that ultimately it is a woman’s right to choose that must be upheld. The woman must keep her personal autonomy. I would agree that not all things should be governed. There shouldn’t be a law against every bad thing. We need to have rights to make our own decisions.

But consider why abortion is bad. It ends human life. That is huge. There aren’t other laws to protect our rights to do this. There is no law to protect murderers. Murder is bad, but it is ultimately the would-be murderer’s right to choose, which must be preserved. That’s foolishness. We are now sacrificing our children to our great god of personal autonomy.

This is a clash of worldviews and an issue for us all to consider with all seriousness. We live in a country that protects the right to slay the unborn at will. This is a country that is ruled by the people. This blood-guilt is on all of our hands. The blood of the unborn calls out from the ground and we are responsible. As we consider the Biblical Worldview and allow it to permeate our lives, we must apply it even to the hot issues or our day.

Published in: on August 27, 2008 at 7:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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Atheism Remix

Recently out is a new book by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, entitled Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists. As you may have guessed, this book deals with the concept and public conception of atheism.

As Dr. Mohler notes, the word “atheism” was not useful until the sixteenth century, which makes the philosophy relatively young. It wasn’t until Charles Darwin made his contribution that, according to Richard Dawkins (one of the modern forerunners of atheism) it was possible to be an “intellectually fulfilled atheist.” For it was then that the atheistic worldview and associated materialistic idea of reality birthed a viable creation explanation.

Dr. Mohler makes the argument that historically it was once almost impossible not to believe, but now, for many it is impossible to believe. He begins by examining the foundation of atheism – the four horseman of another apocalypse – Nietzche, Marx, Darwin, and Freud, focusing mainly on the writings of Nietzche, and the way atheism has moved from its morose, apologetic, almost despairing roots to the modern in-your-face style of the four horsemen of the New Atheism – Dawkins, Dennet, Harris and Hitchens.

He traces the ideas of the endgame of atheism – cultural secularism – and describes accurately how the early forecasts of a secular society have largely fallen by the wayside.

The four horsemen are discussed in some length. Richard Dawkins is the most visible of the four and Dr. Mohler gives him the most attention accordingly – both in introducing them and in subsequent discussion of their work.

What is the New Atheism? Dr. Mohler answers this with clarity and organization. Its most staunch characteristic is its zealous boldness where, in times past, it has been shrouded in dirge-like despair. “Instead of a requiem, there is a celebration!” Other characteristics include its apparent grounding in science (though many scientists would disagree), its view of liberal theologians as the unacceptable enablers of the conservative branch, and its questioning (if not all-out disapproval) that “the rights of parents to inculcate belief in their own children.” This is seen, by the New Atheism, as a “for of child abuse.”

In responding to the New Atheism, Dr. Mohler does not attempt to make scientific arguments against scientists. As he has said countless times, he is no scientist, but a theologian. I would counter that we are all both, but the point that he is not a trained scientist is well taken. Instead he looks at the cultural, philosophical and theological ramifications. He highlights arguments made by Oxford educated and now Oxford professor of biophysics Alister McGrath and Notre Dame professor of philosophy Alvin Plantinga, who systematically dismantle Dawkins’ work from science and philosophy. In short, both would tell Dawkins, at the very least, to stick to biology. His wanderings into philosophy are “you might say… sophomoric, but that will be unfair to sophomores.”

He then moves to the liberal theologians attempts to answer the New Atheism by dismissing it as an attack on Conservative Evangelicalism and not on theism as a whole. He concludes:

In any event, the point of this review is to assert with clarity that the future of Christianity cannot be found in any accomadation to vague spirituality or to the New Atheism. Christians must summon the courage to respond to this challenge with the full measure of conviction and with a bold assertion of biblical theism.

Dr. Mohler certainly does just that in Atheism Remix. He states clearly that the New Atheists “understand what they are rejecting.” And he makes a concerted and successful effort to help the Christian readers, informed by a Biblical Worldview, understand what we are rejecting. For any who will need to answer this naturalistic argument, Atheism Remix is a good place to start.

Published in: on August 26, 2008 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment  

The “Manishness” of Man

When I say “Manishness” I do not mean anything concerning manliness or masculinity. And when I say “Man,” I dont mean anything that excludes women. I simply mean people. Women portray the same manishness in the same way. And every individual person does it somewhat differently. I get the term “manishness” from Francis Schaeffer in his “Escape from Reason.” He writes:

The fact that man has fallen does not mean that he has ceased to bear God’s image. He can love, though he is fallen. It would be a mistake to say that only a Christian can love. Moreover, a non-Christian painter can still paint beauty. And it is because they can still do these things that they manifest that they are God’s image-bearers or, to put it another way, they assert their unique “manishness” as men

I recently stumbled across a post written in the Rabbit Room which was titled “The Gospel According to Bruce.” He writes that Springsteen “brushes up against Truth” with his lyrics. I would have to agree.

But how does this tie into Worldview? What bearing has it to the proper understanding of life?

The Bible holds that man was made in the image of God. That gives us an innate dignity. (I say “us” because I know that there is no one reading this who isn’t included.) We are created with certain goodness, a certain worth and value that stems from our being created in God’s image.

Thats why killing a person is different than killing a cow. While it isn’t morally right to torture or mistreat a cow, it is perfectly fine to kill and eat. But that isn’t the case with men. Because of this, even instances of self-defense very often see trials. It is important to insure that a person, a man, made in the image of God, is not senselessly murdered. It is important because that man reflects the image of God. It is important because that man carries that innate dignity and worth.

Other Worldviews fail in this respect. Naturalism holds that we are accidents. No dignity there. We are merely the result of millions of years of genetic “mistakes.” Any dignity attributed to a person from that type of origin is simply an irrational and contentless leap into a modern, if not civilized, mysticism. It is not founded in rationality. It is not objectively true.

Consider it honestly. Answer the big questions of life such as the innate dignity that we know we have. This is why we are angered when people are senselessly murdered in massacres, genocides and premeditated murders. Only the Biblical Worldview that we are created by God and given worth by him in a particular time-space event holds the answer to this and the other big questions of life.

Published in: on August 25, 2008 at 3:32 pm  Comments (2)