The Big Picture

imgresThe big picture. We ruin ourselves by neglecting it. Information is important. Facts are even more important. More important than both, however, is understanding the big picture.

Stated another way, it refers to the crucial role of understanding worldviews. Not only ought we to understand our own worldview, but the worldviews of others, too. Why? Because life is explainable when we understand that life is a battlefield of ideas/worldviews.

Worldviews collide. And there’s no shortage of evidence for how those collisions make history.

Worldview is a grid of interpretation. We all impose on reality a grid for making sense of experience. In theology/philosophy, the term is Weltanschauung. It’s one’s philosophy of life. It allows for the interpretation of ideas. It enables one to grasp the big picture.

 One’s worldview is evidenced in how we answer some fundamental questions:

*Does God exist? If so, what is his nature? That is, his attributes?

*If God does not exist, how do we explain the cosmos?

*How is non-existence a thing? That is, how can no-thing be referred to as something?

*How would non-intelligence create intelligence? That is, how does nothing give rise to something?

*How do you explain the irreducible complexity we see in life? By chance? Really?

*If God does not exist, why trust our own “knowledge”?

*If God exists, what does he require?

*What is man?

*Where does meaning come from?

*Where did man come from?

*How do we come to know things (epistemology)?

*What is ultimate reality (matter only, as naturalists claim?)?

*How are ethics and morals determined? Who determines right and wrong? Who sets the rules?

*What happens after death?

*Is it possible that God exists, and that he has spoken by way of general and special revelation?

How you answer these questions reveals your worldview. These questions are not exhaustive, but they serve as a primer, a foundation for thinking. Just knowing how we answer these questions goes a long way in determining how we think and behave.

Think with me about how worldviews are being played out in our politics, in our culture, in our wars, in our neighborhoods, in our families.

Filter them through your worldview:

*Is gender a fluid category? If so, in what worldview? (Witness the transgender movement.)

*Is it possible that God created human beings as either male or female, and pronounced it good?

*Is a baby a person inside the womb or not? If not, how does worldview play out in the remainder of said life? If it is a baby in the womb (the lengths to which some people go to deny this reality strains credulity and intellectual honesty), on what basis is the boy or girl denied human rights?

*If naturalism/atheism/secularism are true, then why complain when those worldviews produce violence and “evil” acts? Example: If there’s no God, how can anything be objectively good or evil?

*Why do some academies teach situational ethics but then demand “justice” when defrauded?

*What does it say that in many organizations we have to teach “sensitivity” and heretofore common courtesy? What worldview has been marginalized? What worldview dominates today’s discourse?

The big picture. To use a biblical analogy, we know trees by the fruit they bear.

How our representatives vote and lead; whether we remain free to worship in accordance with our constitutional rights; whether life inside the womb is viewed as a baby or detritus; whether it’s right to enforce current border laws or to sanction libertinism, etc. are all issues that are being fought over based upon the worldviews held by the combatants.

Having a worldview is inescapable for a thinking person. The question is, which one? If you want to see the results of where worldviews lead, look no further than the culture on display.


Spiritual Resumes

Some hard looks. That’s what I received recently as I began teaching through the New Testament book of Galatians. The theme of Galatians goes to the heart of the gospel message: there is only one way to please God; sinners are justified only when they repent of their works and cast themselves through faith alone upon the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. But when I worked my way verse by verse through chapter one recently, I got a taste of what Paul (and scores of other biblical messengers) invariably received—some hard looks.

I began as I usually do—by asking a question. My question was simple: What is our biggest problem before God? As the small group mulled that over, I asked some related questions: how is anyone justified, and secondly, what does God require of us? These questions go to the heart of the gospel. Several in the group answered, “God requires obedience.” Others said, “We are to trust God.” Still others said, “We are to love.”

All of those answers certainly touch upon the heart of the matter. But what Paul labors in his letter is the necessity of faith alone in the person and finished work of Christ. But that goes against our nature. We are wired for law. We are wired to assume we can do enough to somehow infuse righteousness or merit rewards through doing certain things or not doing certain other things.

All worldviews except Christianity teach works-based systems of justification. Some teach you must uphold dietary laws and obey litanies of laws. Except for Christianity, all other worldviews teach your good works must outweigh your bad works in order to merit justification. If we’re baptized in a particular worldview, do missions work, observe certain ordinances, tithe, etc., will that suffice? Must you face certain directions when you pray, give alms, make a pilgrimage, recite creeds, and make converts? Are those sufficient? If people deny themselves, renounce desire, and follow the Four Noble Truths, will those works suffice? Others teach their followers that their works follow them via reincarnations. The pattern is simple: our works can somehow merit righteousness. But not in Christianity, and that is what Galatians is all about.

The bad news is this: our spiritual resumes will damn us. No work we do suffices to forgive our just punishment for our sin. No diet, no law, no work, no pilgrimage, no tithe, no holy day, no spiritual one-upmanship, etc. will do. Why? Because they all smack of human pride, and that’s our problem.

However, in Christianity alone, there is redemption. And it comes one way—by faith in the person and finished work of Christ: “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16 ESV).

If we do not repent and cast our faith completely in the person and finished work of Christ, we’re believing “a different gospel” (Galatians 1). The Bible teaches that if anyone believes or preaches any other gospel besides the atoning substitution death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he/she is accursed. Anathema. Under God’s wrath. That’s how important it is to get the gospel right. Why? Because any human work smacks of works righteousness and our works are polluted garments/filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

Our spiritual resumes or Christ? Yes, I got some hard looks, but truth is worth it.

Religion and Politics, Part two:

In about a year from now, America will have a new president, and the differences between political parties and worldviews could not be clearer. Many Leftists/liberalimgress/Democrats are calling for more government, more taxes, the redistribution of wealth, political correctness, and socialized health care. Conservatives/Republicans are calling for less government, lower taxes, wealth creation via private enterprise, freedom from political correctness, and free market competition in health care.

I was born in the late 1960s, so I didn’t really begin to understand political worldviews, or take much of an interest in government, until high school. Then I was working my first real jobs, where I’d look at an actual paystub. I learned the hard way about taxes. Federal, state, and local taxes were taken out. Social security taxes were taken out. Insurance costs, etc. I learned, painfully, about the difference between gross and net income. And I learned that the way voters thought (the worldviews) affected the ways they voted.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about how Christians should vote. Specifically, my concern was the question of criteria. What parameters should Christians bring to bear upon the ballot box? A few fundamentals I suggested included character, the sanctity of human life, and respect for the U.S. Constitution.

Now that we have witnessed the Leftists debate (Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders) their worldviews are quite similar. Homosexual rights (sexuality now is akin to one’s race in Leftism; it can even be changed); women should be able to abort their babies at any time they want; wealthy individuals and their companies should be taxed as punishment for their success; more taxes should be levied from working Americans; climate change (it used to be called “global warming”) is crouching at the door of the planet if we don’t leave off using fossil fuels; Islamic terrorists will somehow quit slaughtering the non-Islamic world if we just have more meetings; and America does not really need to enforce current immigration laws. We don’t need borders, after all, as that could hurt people’s feelings. Borders might suggest that we’re a nation of laws. And of course, only certain lives matter. Cops’ lives apparently don’t matter as much as other lives.

We’ve also witnessed the conservatives/Republicans debate. They, too, dovetailed in many areas. Strong national defense, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, immigration policies should be enforced, as their lack of enforcement undermines the very essence of law and the U.S. Constitution; lower taxes; Islamic terror should be defeated, not placated; and all lives matter. As to “climate change,” they agree that the science is anything but monolithic in demonstrating man’s impact upon the planet; therefore, we should research clean energy, but not cripple the world’s engines that run on fossil fuels.

There are nuances among both parties and both worldviews, but no honest person can deny the collision of worldviews represented by those on the Left/liberal side of things vs. the Right/conservative side. I do not know of a more polarized time in our culture than what we’re witnessing.

Has America been “fundamentally transformed”? If you had told me as a boy that in my lifetime, women would marry women, I would have been incredulous. If you had told me that men would be vying for legal sanction to marry boys (yes, it’s true), I would not have believed you. If you had told me that the U.S. Capitol would have been lit in celebration of the nation’s Supreme Court legalizing what has always been deemed abominable, I would have said you were in jest.

But I would have been wrong. Polygamy, pederasty, fluid gender identity, etc. are all in the cultural discussion today. Infanticide and Planned Parenthood videos don’t even shock us into repentance. What does that say about the worldviews some of these candidates have?

I hope to vote for righteousness next year, but I submit to you that all worldviews are not the same. May we at least be honest enough about the worldviews at stake.