Monday, December 14, 2009

The important stuff is not in the beginning of this post.

My pastor's going through a fascinating series about who Jesus really is, and he's been making a lot of comparisons to the Muslim and post-modern perceptions of Jesus because our church just adopted a specific missions approach to a specific place in the 10/40 window, and he wants to help the congregation span intellectual and cultural differences in their circles of influence in order to share the gospel. He's come across a lot of interesting resources while writing these sermons, and after the service two weeks ago, he told me to Google the name "Roland Muller." For some reason I remembered to do so, and what I found was very exciting to me.

Um, et cetera.

I'm being raised in a conservative Christian household. And while my parents would never, ever dare to suggest that Christians don't drink alcohol, support the labor movement, or vote for Obama, they have been purposeful in comparing the teachings of the Bible to the culture we live in, training their children in the way they should go. And while my parents are socially opinionated people, they always differentiate what they believe because the Bible says so from what they believe because it just makes sense to them.

But along with this training came a horrendous course I took in eighth grade that cost me a huge chunk of my sanity: Understanding the Times by David Noebel. It was a worldview course that compared Biblical Christianity with Marxism, secular humanism, and cosmic humanism. I think the curriculum's been expanded now to include Islam and post modernism? It outlined the way Christians approach economics, politics, sociology, ethics, whatever as compared to these other worldviews. It was interesting, and useful.

Um, et cetera.

I really need to stop detailing my ENTIRE thought process and superfluous background detail. Yes. Anyway. All this is leading up my what I found so exciting about Roland Muller, and his book Honor & Shame, and where my thoughts about how we can share the truth better and how we can know God more deeply.

So, Roland Muller thinks there's no such thing as a true Biblical worldview. And I think I agree with him.

I know a lot of Christians who think homosexuality isn't a sin. And while that hurts my heart, the Bible tells me that's how the world works. We're blind to the truth sometimes, all of us are. My friend may be blind to the truth regarding homosexuality, and I may be blind to the nuances of the justice of God. [My heretical musings are another post for another time.] I think some of this blindness comes from worldviews, assumptions that are cultural or intellectual givens. And how can we assign the term "Biblical worldview" to a set of "beliefs" that are anything but objective? There can't be a Biblical worldview. There can only be what the Bible teaches. Our worldviews can distract us sometimes from knowing who Jesus really is.

Kevin DeYoung talks about some of the different views we have of Jesus:
There’s the Republican Jesus who is against tax increases and activists judges, for family values and owning firearms. There’s Democrat Jesus who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money. There’s Therapist Jesus who helps us cope with life’s problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves. There’s Starbucks Jesus who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid and goes to film festivals. There’s Touchdown Jesus who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls. There’s Gentle Jesus who was meek and mild, with high cheek bones, flowing hair, and walks around barefoot, wearing a sash and looks very German. There’s Platitude Jesus, good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons; he inspires people to believe in themselves, and lifts us up so we can walk on mountains. There’s Revolutionary Jesus who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and blame things on the “system.” There’s Boyfriend Jesus who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place.

I'm getting hung up now on one of the questions I wrote down that day during Nationals 2008. "Why do different people have different views of God?" If God is God, one Being, who has given us His word, who lives in our hearts, then why do I see God so differently than you do? I try to picture God in my mind like I try to picture all the characters from the books I read. And yet I picture God differently from day to day, and I like to think that's because I'm getting to know Him more and more, but I also wonder, are my extra-biblical beliefs clouding my view of God?

This is what I know: the Gospel has spread all of the earth. It's relevant to every culture known to man. Somehow, these words from thousands of years ago, in a era and a culture I don't understand, the experiences of a people and their God have changed my life. I can't imagine the variety of cultures and worldviews of those people who wrote down God's inspired word, and yet the truth is relevant to me, now and today. Because they didn't write their worldviews. They wrote the truth. That is the draw of being a Christ follower: not prescribing to a specific "Biblical" or "Christian" worldview, but believing in the truth regardless of culture or tradition or reason.

I'm still thinking about what all this actually means, of course. I haven't even read Honor & Shame yet. I'm not entirely sure how our fractured worldviews work with the truth of the Bible. And I haven't the faintest idea what specifically is "wrong" about a "Biblical worldview" beyond the principle of the matter. But I love the idea understanding how to relate cross-culturally on truth, to pursue unity and not get bogged down in differences that don't matter. I just want to know Jesus better.


Art said...

This post reminded me that I do have opinions, and strong ones at that, about political philosophy, and philosophy in general. I think I assume that because my beliefs are consistent with what I read in the Bible, therefore anything else is contrary to the Bible. I don't think I realized that I did that in my mind before today.

See, the whole detailing of background information helps me follow where you are and where I am, so I am able to partially understand even if I don't know what to make of "the important stuff" of this post.

I *think* a Biblical worldview means that set of assumptions/axioms/beliefs from the Bible that color how we look at different issues. And that seems to make sense to me. But I also think your point is interesting, and valid: I think you're saying that now worldviews include much more than just foundational Biblical truth.

Hmm. I want to make sure I only respond dogmatically about what is in the sphere of truth, not just taste. I have a hard time telling the difference. Maybe discounting "Biblical worldview" is on the right track.

Michael said...

I think that saying there is no "biblical worldview" is semantics. All "biblical worldview" means is a world view that is consistent with the bible, which I think DOES exist. A worldview is simply how we interpret reality (and I never liked the word "worldview", but it's useful). Worldview is just . . . how we see the world, and don't think that any of us have a perfectly "biblical worldview" but to say "there is no biblical worldview, there is just the truth" is essentially saying "there is no A there is only A" they're no different, just a different expression for it.

Anyway, it's interesting to think of how different people view God, and have a different "sense" of who he is. I think that that has to do with two things 1) Where you're standing, or your perspective, where God has effected your life, etc, etc. The second 2) is the culture you live in, or the different norms that you accept, or have always known. We call God "the father", and I think part of how we view God is affected by how we view a "father" etc.

. . . I have a feeling that all I am saying is not very helpful, but I'm just putting in my two cents.

Kelsey S. said...

"But I love the idea understanding how to relate cross-culturally on truth, to pursue unity and not get bogged down in differences that don't matter. I just want to know Jesus better." Hayley, that's exactly how I've been feeling lately! And I too constantly wonder how much of what I believe about God is truth and how much is what I've imagined Him to be to suit my fancy. It's very scary actually, to think that some of what I believe about God is just what I've decided to make Him.

I often think about how many different "biblical views" there are, and wonder what makes me think that I'm the one who has it all figured out. I am so prideful. I think God intentionally doesn't give us all the answers. He doesn't want us to feel like we have it all figured out, but to daily rely on Him for wisdom to be discerning in this world.

It's so easy to get all caught up in doctrinal disputes and differing lifestyle choices, and forget what's really important. I think the key is to focus on what all true Christians have in common: a true faith in the power of Jesus to save sinners.