Thursday, August 29, 2013

Worldviews ... Different Ways of Seeing

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

In my last very long blog, I asked if you would try to watch a TV show/movie or read a novel through a biblical worldview...knowing that it is best to just start doing it as a means of grasping what a biblical worldview is. Anyway, it is possible to have a ton of biblical knowledge but not have a biblical worldview. All that knowledge is not brought together in a coherent system of thought. I was turned on to thinking worldviewishly in 1974 when I was 18 years old and a new Christian, and have been enormously blessed by 40 years of consciously viewing all of reality through biblical spectacles.

We live in times when discernment is of paramount importance, and thinking with a biblical worldview equips us to think with maximum discernment. The more closely our thinking follows this worldview, the more we will see reality as it really is. Unbelievers reject the biblical Creator and replace Him with idols (Rom. 1:18ff)--which entails creating a dream world--the more a person moves away from a biblical worldview the more they will be distorting reality AS IT REALLY IS. That is the sheer wonderment and beauty of thinking this way, is that it enables us to view God's world the same way He does.

If you look through pink glasses you will see a pink world, if you look through blue tinted spectacles then reality will appear bluish, but if you view the world through the spectacles of a biblical worldview, then you will see God's world as God sees His world (obviously not exactly as He does because He is infinite, but truly nevertheless) Fundamentally, the Word of God is all about application to our lives, and thinking worldviewshly enables one to apply the bible in an extraordinarily rich and comprehensive way.

Everyone has a worldview, including those who say they have no worldview! However, for most folks it is held unconsciously, but it is still having a profound effect upon how they think, act, and feel.

How do folks acquire their worldview? It is a process over a period of time--where their views of God, the universe, and our relation to both--are formed. Some of the contributors to worldview formation are: how we were raised, our experiences, our schooling, books we have read and movies we have watched, and just being in the world--being exposed to all messages that bombard us all day and night. The result is usually a mishmash of various beliefs.

Okay, so this does not become like a chapter in a book, as in last time, let me shift gears and just do it! (Nike would be proud...hehe) I mentioned that I had recently read "Adam and Eve" by Sena Jeter Naslund. I will basically review/analyze the book by sifting it through a biblical worldview grid. And we do that by asking how the book answers the seven components of a worldview...this is to teach you by practice HOW to do this kind of thinking.

First, just a few words of introduction to the book...Thom Bergmann, a world renowned astrophysicist, is married to Lucy Bergmann, an art therapist. Lucy was born into an evangelical family, but her parent left her with grand mom when she was a mere ten years  old in order to be missionaries to Japan. She felt betrayed and abandoned and she turned against the faith of her parents. Hence, there is an overt, hostile attitude toward biblical Christianity. Theirs is a lovely marriage...true devotion. He has been researching for other life forms "out there" and one day Thom shares with Lucy that he has found conclusive evidence of alien life in deep space. Along with this earth-shaking discovery, another one occurs as an archaeologist finds evidence that Moses was not the author of Genesis. Both finds are seen by them as victories over the dangers of moronic religious "literalism" (read, bible believing). Thom dies in a suspicious accident and Lucy becomes the literal bearer of the evidence of both of these discoveries. What follows is gripping plot which was thoroughly entertaining, and as one reviewer put it, Naslund writes "lush and luminous" prose. As I put the book down after finishing it, I said to myself, "Wow, that book will significantly shape of the worldviews of those who read it." As a best-selling author, I am sure of it...Time for a quick analysis.

1. What is God or ultimate reality like? Instead of an infinite/personal Creator, who is revealed in Scripture and supremely in Jesus Christ, Lucy tends to see God as ineffable. As I mentioned last time, she and her husband had a distaste for the arrogance of claiming we "have access to the mind of God." Sadly, the result is that He then becomes totally unknowable. In the end, she embraces some form of energy as ultimate reality. In that regard, and many others, this is a thoroughly modern novel.

2. What is our purpose in life? The Great Commandment---loving God with all of our being--is supposed to be our main priority. However, without access to the mind of God via His revelation to us, then we have no way of deciphering what our purpose is. Lucy, who is the narrator in the book, seems to assume that relationships with other people are our purpose. While hers is more noble than many, still it is idolatrous--as I read I could not help but feel like she was lost in more ways than one.

3. What is the nature of reality? There are two types of reality in biblical worldview--the Creator and His creation-- the latter including the visible and invisible. In Lucy's mind, energy plus time plus chance, has produced only one form of reality...the "creation"...but again, energy is the prime component of reality.

4. Where is history going? Biblically, history is His-story, the unfolding of the drama of redemption in space and is moving meaningfully toward the The Second Coming. According to this novel, there is no meta-narrative (big story) to history. Earth is not the palace of the Great King, but space and time are mere products of the evolutionary forces of energy. History is going nowhere.

5. What is the basis for right and do we determine morality? God's unchanging character and His revelation to us, forms the foundation for Christian ethics. Lucy has imbibed long and deeply from the post-modernist well of deconstructionism...words and morals can be defined according to our own interpretation. Lucy proceeds to affirm the beauty of love as the guiding principle for her life choices.. Right and wrong are subjective and relative, and they are human constructs. Without the law of God to define love, then she/we are left to our devices to what love looks like in each situation (a form of situation ethics).

6. What is the essence of being human? We have enormous dignity and worth which is extrinsic in nature. Only God has intrinsic worth and He made us in His image, and assigned immense value to us....we are God's highest creation! However, in a sense, the main point of the book is that we are nothing but the products of energy, plus time, plus chance. In one place Lucy mentions that all of us are damaged, which mirrors a biblical view of the fallenness of all reality, which much modern "happy preaching" ignores. The two discoveries (alien life and non-Mosaic authorship of Genesis) herald that man is NOT special after all. And she finds this liberating....but she can only feel that way by being inconsistent with her presuppositions.

7. What happens to us after we die? Scripture teaches that after death, we are immediately ushered into our eternal destinies, after judgment. When contemplating the death of her beloved, she is agnostic regarding where his consciousness is, but oddly optimistic anyway.

I would say that her worldview is generally that of optimistic humanism, which is irrational. Why? According to this view, the cosmos has a meaningless beginning, and an equally meaningless end, but somehow between these two poles of meaninglessness, she imbues deep meaning into the present moment! That, my friends, is an irrational leap of faith.Compare this with the more realistic assessment of life without God in Ecclesiastes.--"vanity of vanities..." The atheistic existentialists Sartre and Camus were brilliant in their sensitive portrayal of the meaninglessness of modern man.

I read this book with a notebook at hand, with the seven components written down...consciously searching for an explicit or implicit message relating to each worldview component. When I saw one, I made note of number and so on. Please consider doing something similar this week....homework! I need to add that when I read or watch a movie, I do so on two levels: on the one hand, I read/view simply for enjoyment, but simultaneously, on the other hand, sifting the unfolding sequences and verbiage through the grid of a biblical worldview. It makes the experience all the more rich and stimulating...and I believe, glorifying to the Lord.