Sunday, September 24, 2006

Formal and Personal Worldviews

We are all familiar with formal worldviews. They include Christianity, Islam, paganism, secular humanism, and so forth. Each has a comprehensive worldview; a way of explaining the universe.

But what about personal worldviews? These are the little “isms” that we have adopted from other worldviews.

For example, a person may hold a formal Christian worldview, but believe that nothing happens except that God wills it. This is not Christianity – it is Islam. (If Al-Lah wills) Another Christian may have adopted the naturalist worldview that the earth and all the inhabitants of it are the result of a cosmic accident, because that is what science seems to teach.

How can we who are disciples of Jesus stop “worldview creep?”

Colossians 2:8 says ”Don't let anyone fool you by using senseless arguments. These arguments may sound wise, but they are only human teachings. They come from the powers of this world and not from Christ.” That’s worldview creep.

The only way to stop worldview creep is to continually check the plumb line. “Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” (Rom 12:2 CEV) We do this by regular study of God’s word and regular communication in prayer.

How We Live and What We Believe

How I live is the real test of what I believe. What I say or write may be interesting, but you can tell what I really believe by observing how I live my life.

Do I live like I believe that Jesus was and is who He said He was?

Clearly, I make mistakes. And I sin at times. My strengths, and training and my experience make me focus on certain areas of life to the near exclusion of parts of the message of Jesus.

But – the trajectory of my life – is it aimed at “Jesusness?”

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Do you really believe that what you believe is really true?

I heard a teacher describe it as a "haunting question." Let me write this again:
Do you really believe that what you believe is really true?
It's haunting because it cuts to the heart of our belief system.

If I really believed, why do I not always do what the bedrock of my belief system (the Bible and the Holy Spirit) says?

In recent weeks, on two occasions, I have been pierced with clean through by my own unbelief. The first time I failed to act on my beliefs, and again when I heard this haunting question and recognized the depth of my unbelief.

Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief. Give me more faith, I humbly ask.

Are Americans Bible Believers?

The short answer, apparently, is “no.” A corollary to this, according to George Barna, is that many of the moral and spiritual problems we face can be traced to attitudes behind this answer.

The longer answer is that some of us do, a mind-numbing 4 out of 100. That’s the bad news. The really bad news is that only 9% of self-described born again Christians really believe in the Bible.

Barna calls it a “Biblical worldview.” Here is the definition that investigators asked 2,033 American adults to respond to:

For the purposes of the research, a biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

Those who had a Biblical worldview according to this definition had strikingly different views about morality than other adults.

People's views on morally acceptable behavior are deeply impacted by their worldview. Upon comparing the perspectives of those who have a biblical worldview with those who do not, the former group were 31 times less likely to accept cohabitation (2% versus 62%, respectively); 18 times less likely to endorse drunkenness (2% versus 36%); 15 times less likely to condone gay sex (2% versus 31%); 12 times less likely to accept profanity 3% versus 37%); and 11 times less likely to describe adultery as morally acceptable (4% versus 44%). In addition, less than one-half of one percent of those with a biblical worldview said voluntary exposure to pornography was morally acceptable (compared to 39% of other adults), and a similarly miniscule proportion endorsed abortion (compared to 46% of adults who lack a biblical worldview).
Barna’s summary of this investigation and its conclusions are worth a read. The summary is not long.