Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What is a Christian Worldview?

Christians need to learn to see and think about the world through the lens of scripture — that is, they need to develop a biblical worldview.

Worldviews are frequently described as the answers to a series of questions. The questions vary, but the ones I mentioned before are useful. Here I will list the questions again and answer them in some detail, but remember that whole books have been written on this topic, so my answers will naturally be limited.

1) What is the nature of God?
First and foremost, God exists. He is eternal, meaning he always existed and always will. He exists independent of the universe, which he created. He can influence the natural world but is not bound by it or the rules that govern it. God is spirit, which is neither matter nor energy. God is neither male nor female but has chosen to use masculine terms to communicate his nature.

2) What is the nature of reality?
The physical world we experience really exists, but that is not the only reality. There are spiritual components to the natural world, too. The world was created by God, is dependent on God, and continues to exist only by his good pleasure. The physical reality we currently experience will not continue indefinitely. Our universe is largely orderly — it obeys regular, consistent physical laws unless told to do otherwise and thus can (usually) be understood. [This is why modern science had to wait on the Judeo-Christian worldview. The ancients observed but were loathe to predict because of the capricious gods they believed in.]

3) What is the nature of human kind?
A lot of the answer to this question can be pulled out of Gen 1:26-17, 2:18, Rom 3:10, 3:23.

We have a interesting picture of man painted in these scriptures. We are made in the image of God; alone of all God’s creatures, we are the image of God. But we are sinful creatures; the image of God is distorted in us because of our sinful nature. We also learned that from the beginning God made us male and female. God designed sexuality; it is not a societal construct but the plan of our creator. And we learned that we are communal creatures – God recognized at the beginning that Adam needed an appropriate companion. We are not meant to live in isolation.

[Notice that we didn’t find all of our verses together. That is why we have to study theology. If we just read the Bible on our own, we’ll come across all of these verses, but putting them all together properly takes a lot of time and effort, and it is best to go outside of ourselves for this – both because we can’t do everything, so we should let the professionals do it, and so that we can check our understanding of the Bible against other people. If we aren’t careful, we can come up with some weird stuff sometimes. We have to check our beliefs against other godly, intelligent people to make sure we haven’t accidentally wandered off into left field somewhere. Even such a great mind as C.S. Lewis had a group of friends he regularly met with to discuss ideas and make sure no one had strayed too far off the reservation.]

4) What happens to a person after death?
"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb 9:27 KJV). I don't quote the KJV often, but sometimes you just can't beat the wording. People live once then face judgement and then the just desserts of their choices.

5) Why is it possible to know anything at all?
Because God made us to know and put us in a world that can be known — one that is, in fact, intended to reveal God to us. For that reason, our senses are (largely) reliable, so we can trust what they tell us about the world around us.

6) How do we know what is right and wrong?
Right and wrong are based on the nature of God. We know them because he has revealed it to us. Some of it is coded into human nature (thank you Adam and Eve), but some of it isn't. Even that part that we seem to know at an instinctual level, though, can be clouded, distorted thanks to the fall. But the fact that some humans think evil things are good doesn't disprove the existence of good and evil any more than than the existence of colorblindness disproves the existence of color.

7) What is the meaning of human history?
Human history is the story of our interaction with God. It is our creation, fall, and redemption. It has meaning only in context of that story.

That's a quick summary of the way Christianity describes the world. Every other religion or system of thought has competing answers to those questions. Some say there is no God or there are many gods or we are all god. Some say the physical world is all that exists; some say the physical world is an illusion. How you think about these things influences the decisions you make in your life, so it is important to start from a solid foundation.