- Psalm 119:144 NLTYour laws are always right; help me to understand them so I may live. […]
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (ANS) — “Here, look at this,” states your friend, as she hands you a piece of paper. “Wait a minute,” you reply, “I need my glasses to read the page!”
Whether you wear glasses or not, the need to read something someone hands to you is important. Why? Because the information contained on the paper may be something you want to understand, and possibly, comment or act upon.
What if the paper your friend handed you was a letter from the President or Prime Minister inviting you to dinner? Or maybe a sad note from a friend who needs your help? What if your friend was handing you a note stating that a bomb was about to explode? The fact is that you would want to know what the note says.
In reality, the world is handing you information everyday of your life. You get news reports from the T.V. and information from the Internet and radio. You read blogs, Facebook, get on chat rooms, and spend a lot of time with people at school, work, and in your neighborhood — all communicating information. The truth is every person receives hundreds of informational items each day.
The question is not that we get the information, but how we process the information? Do we believe everything that is written or spoken? Or, do we sort the information through a “filter system” within ourselves?
What we do with the information will help shape and mold our understanding — and actions — within the world. As an example, if my friend handed me a note stating a bomb was going to explode in 30 seconds, I would run and get out of the area. But if my friend handed me a note stating that she’s inviting me to a birthday party, my reaction would be different. My actions and understanding will depend upon the content of the information found in the note. What I do with the information will affect, at some level, my response to the information, and thereby influence my actions. Knowing and doing often times go hand in hand.
How we “filter” or look at the information provided to us is what we call a worldview. A worldview is the way we assess, analyze, and internalize the things we believe to be true about nature, life, and reality. A worldview is the “glasses” upon which we use to evaluate (in a sense, read) the information provided to us. Every person living has some type of worldview, his or her own way of looking at reality. The question is not “do you have a worldview?” but “what type of worldview do you have?” And how does my worldview affect the way I think, live, act, and believe?
Though there are dozens of specific worldviews, given are several general worldviews that Christians of all walks and denominations should be aware.
* Relativism. This worldview states that all truth is relative and unknowable (if there is any “truth” at all); therefore, one needs to construct his or her own reality and understanding of life. In a sense, relativism makes people the captain of their own ship, not God, a country, or religion.
* Naturalism/Materialism. This is the belief reality is what can be tested, seen, and verified through human senses. Life consists of the materials that make up life, nothing more, and nothing less. For the naturalist, the divine or supernatural claims are not tenable because they can’t be tested, proved scientifically, or verified in a laboratory, and thereby are not viable options for the construction of reality.
* Secular Humanism. This is the belief that human beings are the center of all things, and therefore construct reality based upon societal norms, cultural influences, and personal tastes and ambitions.
* Atheism. The belief that there is proof that God does not exist.
* Agnosticism. The belief that one is unsure of whether God exists or not.
* Pantheism. The belief that God is “in” everything or “is” everything.
* Postmodern. Postmodern ideology holds that truth must be interpreted through our language and culture, dependent upon the individuals and groups within that culture. Furthermore, postmodern thought values disassembling our current understanding of what we believe and then reassemble them in new ways. Postmodern thought is a logical expression of secular humanism.
* Theism. Theism is the belief in a personal God. This belief contends that God exists and created the universe with order and purpose. Theism holds that there is meaning in the universe, found outside of the existing order. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are theistic religions.
Writing in his 2013 Christianity Today Notable Book, “God Is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology” (Crossway 2012), Gerald Bray states, “At the heart of the Christian worldview is the belief that the universe is a coherent whole.”
Continuing, he writes, “Belief in the coherence of the universe does not compel us to accept that Christian claims about how it was made (creation) and how it is governed (providence) are true, because those claims go beyond mere coherence, but belief in coherence is a necessary start.
“Christians believe that it is far easier to deal with such problems within the framework of the Christian revelation that it is to believe in chance evolution, where good and evil have not objective definition.”
At the center of a Christian worldview, as Bray suggests, is providing consistent answers for the notion of truth, creation, design, purpose, meaning, and universal governance. Without a worldview that gives meaning to reality as it really is, a worldview that gives honest explanations for “coherence,” then the worldview is lacking.
Coherence is defined as that which is logical and consistent, framing and defining a consistent whole. The Christian worldview does provide a coherent frame of reference—reasonable and consistent answers to life’s pressing question. And this frame of reference is realistic, accurate, logical, and, yes, at times, mysterious (beyond explanation) for the way things are.
In a world that hands out 3.6 zettabytes of information (University of San Diego, 2008: http://hmi.ucsd.edu/howmuchinfo.php) per household, per year, or 34 gigabytes of information each day, it’s imperative that Christians learn to filter such information within the framework of a biblical worldview.
Not only does our beliefs and understanding depend upon developing a coherent worldview, but the actions we take and the decisions we make rely upon it.
As noted Christian writer, Francis Schaeffer, was fond of saying, “We are what we think.” But I humbly suggest an addition: “We are — and become — what we think.”
Let’s not become a people that have lost its sense of direction, losing its compass in the midst of massive information overload, and thereby forgot to offer a coherent Christian worldview to help process, filter, and understand the world as God has designed it.
The very health of the church — and the actions it takes — may depend upon it.
Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, minister, and family man. You may contact him at www.briannixon.com.