A Christian World View
What is a Christian World View? Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey in How Now Shall We Live? argue as follows:
"the first and most fundamental element of any worldview is the way it answers the questions of origins – where the universe came from and how human life began. The second element is the way it explains the human dilemma: 'why is there war and suffering, disease and death?'"
They then say that the problem for the Christian is that if the universe is the product of a Creator who creates what is good, why is there so much that is bad in this world? If God is not only loving, yet has resurrection power, why does he allow such evil and not intervene to call a halt? But the biblical World View does have answers which others do not have. For example, it says that we were created in God's image and need to live by his commands – our maker's instructions. And we are created as moral agents but free moral agents with the liberty to choose either good or evil. So, regarding the first humans, while in Eden with total freedom to eat from any tree, there was just one prohibition, for human good – namely against eating from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2.9). But, those first humans, Adam and Eve, exercised their free choice by choosing to do what God had prohibited and so chose the path, ultimately, not to life but to death. Theologians call this disaster the "Fall."
Humankind is Fallen
All that is why the Bible says that we human beings are, often after temptation by the devil, responsible for evil. For we have inherited the disobedience of Adam and Eve who demonstrated that the choice to disobey God is infectious. For ever since then, human nature has a diseased moral sensibility. This, theologians call "Original Sin". And, indeed, such human sin affects the natural world, explaining, at its deepest level, thorns and thistles and why human work is often stressful and childbirth painful. The disobedience of our first parents has been likened to a tide that sweeps us along with it. And as Colson and Pearcey say, "the problem with this answer is not that people find it unclear but that they find it unpalatable." It makes us all involved in the sad and sorry state of our world and in the natural environment being "red in tooth and claw".
But as sin's infection "came into the world through one man," so the remedy comes "through the one man Jesus Christ" (Romans 5.12-21). Therefore, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10.9). That, however, is rejected by many.
The seeds of this rejection were sown with the rise of science and technology and the foolishness of believing that certain regularities in the natural world are sufficient to explain human origins and human evil. In turn that led in the late 1700s and the 1800s to the belief that all that was needed for human perfectibility and flourishing was evolution and education. "Time" itself was now believed to be redemptive and there was no such thing as sin or guilt, with nature itself being our creator not the living God.
The problem – no longer in man but in the environment
The world was bewitched by such new scientific knowledge, which, in context, has its place and can answer, from one perspective, how some things happen. However, such is "the madness of crowds" that during the twentieth century to ask "purpose questions" which science cannot answer, was said to be illegitimate. Had not Darwinian science, it was said, proved that the purpose of life was to survive? So no longer could questions relating to life's purpose and meaning be asked. Influential minorities in the Western World had decided they had been answered by science. For beyond survival there is no meaning, just nothingness! But humans cannot stop asking common-sense questions about purpose or live without some god to worship. And "selfism" as a default god has a short shelf-life. So new gods needed to be found - and they were (and they are still with us), namely the gods of "health", "wealth" and "pleasure".
However, with human sin now being said to be "a category mistake", where did human conflict and suffering came from? The new thinking said, "it is not from inside people but from outside in their environment." Jesus had said, "from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness (Mark 7.21). But it was now said, "No!" it all comes from ignorance, illness, poverty, and being unhappy. Therefore, the cry then goes up, "let us increase education and work for, first, physical and mental health; secondly, the alleviation of poverty; and, thirdly, the provision of every means for pleasure including sexual pleasure." And so laws were changed and education made to indoctrinate for social change. The result in the West is that today, except for consent, we have little morality regarding life questions (about its beginning and end) and almost none regarding human genitalia.
The modern world
In the 20th century such modern World Views, lacking the belief in the Second Coming of Christ, have given rise to various totalitarian "utopian" politics for a secular heaven on earth. But two World Wars and the threat of a nuclear holocaust generated a disenchantment not now with religion, but with the saving value of science and technology, except among elites with a vested interest in the secular (atheistic) status quo. It is now being recognized, however, that their basis for a World View is no longer adequate. This, in turn, has led, tragically, to a new irrationalism, on the one hand, and outside the Western world, a resurgence of traditional religions, on the other hand.
But Western irrationalism and the bigotry that goes with it, includes a doctrinaire egalitarianism. This prevents any rational evaluation of the various World Views to which this irrationalism and these other religions lead. For all now have to be endorsed, however much they are contradictory. Also in the last 50 years the biblical World View has been eroded in the West by ignorance and perversity. So few people are now able to make an evaluation of the splendour and sanity of the biblical World View and how it answers, more than any other, those fundamental World View questions.
The Christian Institute and Living Christianity
As a first step in making the Christian World View better known, the Christian Institute has a new teaching resource. As is usual with such resources it has a DVD, together with a study guide and a larger leader's guide. I hope we can make use of this ourselves during the coming year. It is entitled Living Christianity and the subtitle is "following Jesus in every area of life". Its 5 studies are 1) Concern for society; 2) Christians and the world; 3) Christians and work; 4) Life, gender, marriage and family; and 5) Christians as citizens.
This is simple without being simplistic and does not underestimate anyone's intelligence nor overestimate their knowledge. May God use it greatly as a seed for change. As a preface to the Leader's guide there is a famous quote from a supporter of Luther. It comes from an 1864 novel about the great Reformer and says this:
"If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point."
My conviction is that the fundamental attack now has been, and still is, on Christ obeying, heterosexual monogamous life-long marriage and the ethics relating to it. Such a marriage is a creation ordinance and so for everyone, not just believers. So may we all pray and work for its restoration as the norm, once again, for our church and nation.