World Views

The Curse of Dualism

What is the biggest threat facing Christianity today? Islam? Biblical and theological liberalism? Possibly, but I would suggest that an even greater threat to the effectiveness of Christianity is dualism.

Dualism is that technique we use to artificially divide life into the secular and sacred – the religious and the every day. This pernicious division carries with it the emasculation of the Christian faith, or if you like, the barrenness.

spain warning

Risk of falling

When we divide Christianity into these two portions there is an emphasis on personal salvation but this is done to the detriment of the wider gospel message. Now an individual’s salvation is absolutely critical and should be pursued but it is only part of the gospel story. The other crucial part is the redeeming of the kingdom. John the Baptist heralded Christ by declaring the Kingdom of heaven was at hand. Christ’s mission was for more than individual souls.

Dualism disempowers Christianity as it removes the larger portion of our lives from serving God. Our workplace, our sport and leisure become, at best, places for personal evangelism but we fail to see that the very activity carried on is claimed by God too.

The challenge for the Christian business man is to run his business in a way that honours God. The teacher in school is there on Christ the King’s behalf – whatever the school. The tradesman is there to serve his King too. And like so many areas of Christian existence we will not be immune from suffering – suffering in business or work. Suffering has long been a characteristic of those who willingly serve the King in all their lives. In contrast, dividing our lives into two categories is, too often,  a means of alleviating that suffering. By placing much of our lives in the “secular realm” we are saved from having to confront the values and beliefs of this world.

Dualism promotes the lie that part of life is neutral but if we look carefully at the worldviews behind much of the business world or the education world we see many gods lurking in the corners; humanist gods which promote man, money, self sufficiency and the like.

The gospel declares that we have a comprehensive King, or in the words of the Dutch theologian and statesman, Abraham Kuyper,  ” … there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!‘”

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Categories: christian, Christianity, World Views | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

The Power of Passion and a Christian World-view

Recently I encountered someone with a infectious passion for people to understand a Christian world-view. 

Mike Goheen is currently the professor of missiology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids. His passion is to promote a holistic Christian world-view – a perspective in which the children of God seek to serve God in every corner of life and claim it for God.

The following quote comes from his paper:

A Missionary Encounter with Western Culture (which can can found at: http://www.allofliferedeemed.co.uk/goheen.htm)

“A missionary encounter is about a clash of ultimate and comprehensive stories—
the Biblical story and the cultural story. It requires a church that believes the gospel and
is committed to shaping its entire life by the Biblical story. When this happens the
foundational religious beliefs shared by the cultural community are challenged. As the
church lives fully in the biblical story, it encounters the reigning idolatrous assumptions
that shape its culture. The church offers the gospel as a credible alternative way of life to
its contemporaries. There is a call for a radical conversion, an invitation to turn from the idolatrous beliefs of its cultural story and to understand and live in the world in the light of the gospel.”

This quote highlights both Goheen’s passion but also his challenge to the church. For the C21st church to make a difference once again it needs to reclaim its calling. Christ claimed Kingship over His people and His Kingdom. The church is called to herald that by showing that redemption goes far beyond individual souls but extends to a radically new way of living.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Church, Faith, Uncategorized, World Views | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Finding News in Other Places

Yesterday I suggested seeking alternative sources for news. Below is a very small cross section of the places one can go. You may wish to suggest others. There are both Christian and secular websites referenced. The point is simple: in this Internet age there are websites as well bloggers on the ground who can inform us across a wider spectrum and remove us from the need to source our news exclusively from the commercial news giants. After all my aim in life is not to make Rupert Murdock, for one, richer and even more influential.

http://www.opendoors.org.au/

http://Ywam.org

http://www.wvi.org

http://www.compassion.com.au/content/newsroom/gjso08

http://www.icrc.org/eng/

http://www.tear.org.au/projects/news

http://www.msf.org.au/

https://www.oxfam.org.au/media/category/releases/

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Education, Faith, Reflections, World Views | Tags: | 7 Comments

The Value of Life and the Media

On the day of the horrific Boston bombings there were many other atrocities around the world. Fifty people died in Iraq, children were killed in Syria, and thousands continued to die from starvation, disease and abuse around the world. But our televisions, computers and newspapers were filled with images from Boston. Newspaper pages and TV hours were crammed with this one story.

Being a first world country there were of course lots of images to broadcast. Also the American networks were pouring out reams of material that others could plug into. But I felt uneasy. I don’t want to decry the seriousness of the Boston event. It was awful and undeserved.  However in the international scheme of things it was not the worst thing that happened in the world that day. Here in Australia the media would make it appear that it was.

There are so many questions and issues that arise out of this situation: What is news and who determines what we should be shown? Are western lives more valuable than others? What impact does this skewed reporting have on our sense of justice for all? What about the child dying in its mother’s arms in a forgotten village – shouldn’t she be noticed? What about the Christians who are dying and having their churches bombed in towns and villages in Asia and the Middle East? Sadly, the list is seemingly endless.

Another question which directly confronts us, is, are we simply watching the news to be entertained? Neil Postman confronted this attitude with his LIAR principle – Low Information to Action Ratio. His point, we gain so much information, but we do so little about it. Is the news just another ongoing sitcom or is it a means by which we can gain understanding of the needs in the whole of God’s world?

I understand that this a very complex area and I am only scratching the surface. Yet we can start with ourselves and critique what we see, and explore other sources of news, such as the news that comes from mission and aid organisations. This would broaden our input, remove some of the power of the big news organisations and would also have the effect of putting us, to some degree, in charge of our own news sourcing. We would also have a more complete perspective from which to pray and act. And acting afterall, rather than being curious voyeurs, is the heart of Christ at work.

Categories: christian, christian education, Christianity, Church, Ethics, Faith, Reflections, World Views | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

James Bond and Faith

In an article, “James Bond and Faith”, Mark Roques (http://www.realitybites.org.uk/worldviews.php) states:

Worldviews are best understood as the dreams, longings and ambitions that get people out of bed in the morning. For some people it is naked profit. For others it’s the destruction of Her Majesty’s enemies. Still others crave status and celebrity. Some Buddhists are desperate to avoid reincarnation. Worldviews are the ‘spectacles behind our eyes’ – we look at the world through them, not at them. Worldviews can be compared to secret agents. Often they are invisible and elusive.


The point that Mark makes very well (read the whole piece at the above web address) is that everyone has a world view, whether they admit it or not.

Categories: christian, Christianity, World Views | 2 Comments

The Christian and Generation Changes

WHATEVERMuch is made of the various generations nowadays – from Baby boomers, to Gen X & Y and whatever other nomenclature is attached. What it tells us is that every generation is impacted by the previous generation and the social environment of the time. Baby-boomers arose out of the dust of war and entered a prosperous new age. “The Pill”, the sheer numbers of young people, wealth and education all had their impact. Today’s young people have a totally different set of influences that shape their view of themselves and the world.

My aim isn’t to analyse the influences on each generation, many sociologists and psychologists have done that, but rather, ask the question: What is the Christian response to this?

I would suggest that every era has had to weigh its life in the light of the gospel. In the time of the disciples, Greek and Roman culture were massive influences on the people of the day. They needed to ask, what is Godly and what isn’t? How has my thinking and behaviour, values and world-view  been influenced in ungodly ways by the environment in which I live? The apostle Paul continually reminds his readers about the culture from which they have come: “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth…”(Eph 2:11) “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.” (Gal 4:8)  “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.” (Col 2:8)

Paul is passionately aware that we are shaped by our environments – by the popular world-views of the day. He reminds his readers that it is time to be shaped by their new relationship with God through Christ. This is a radical (from the root up) new way of looking at life and the world.

Image:stickergiant.com

Image:stickergiant.com

That is no different for us or for our children. Our lives should be continually lived in the light of the gospel. Our use of time, wealth, gifts and talents, technology, leisure, social media, entertainment, relationships and so on, all need evaluation in the light of what it means to live a Christ-like life. Our very perspective of how we live life and why we live live life the way we do, should be anchored in Christ.

My dad grew up in the “radio” era, I grew up in the TV era and my kids in the IT and social media era. Each had different challenges and subsequent generations will have new challenges again. The one certainty in all of this is that Christ and the gospel don’t change. It is the constant lens through which every generation must look at the world in which it lives and ask the question: Does my life honour God?

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Ethics, Faith, Family, Uncategorized, World Views | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Growing a Worldview

Growing up
Parents
Experiences
Values
Bible
Personality
Sin
Society
Teachers
Media
Faith
Friends
Family
Church
Books
… can shape
the way we see
the world.
Which lenses should we keep
and polish
and which distorting specs
throw away?
To see
as Jesus
wants us to see
and feel as He would feel
and do as he did
for the world in which we live?
 
Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Poem, poetry, Uncategorized, World Views | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

World-Views

My usual habit is to read a number of books at once. Not all at the same time but I rotate through them daily. It is the life of an “abstract random” person. Messy but glorious.

Currently one of the books in my rotation is “Think Like Jesus” by George Barna. In fact it is a re-reading as I first read it a few years ago. Barna’s contention is that far too many Christians do not a have Christian World-view. They do not have a Biblical grid through which to see the world and therefore are not only unable to make Biblically/Christian informed choices but they are subject to the insidious influences of other world-views; world-views that are presented through the popular media, celebrities and the like. I don’t think I need to go into detail.

Barna confesses that he ran away from the concept of a Christian World-view for years. But it was the lack of Christian maturity he encountered in his church surveys that made him reconsider the concept. His definition, which I happen to find useful, is that a Biblical World-view is a means of experiencing, interpreting and responding to reality in the light of Biblical perspective. He adds, it enables us to answer the question, “What would Jesus do if he were in my shoes right now?”

I agree with Barna that there is a paucity of Christian thinking in churches and amongst Christians. I also agree with Barna that one of the key reasons is the lack of in depth Bible teaching in the church and in the home. Christians do not have the Biblical foundations upon which to develop this Biblical perspective. However, even within churches where the Bible is seriously taught there is another issue. Christian are taught “what to think but not “how to think”. Christians desperately need an apologetic (defending the faith) framework to defend and promote the faith against all comers.

Why do we need this world view? Simply, whatever the issues that society brings up (and they change and morph every generation), whether it be the internet, the nature of marriage, family, work, media, and so on, we need Biblical framework to construct a response or an answer. What films or TV shows should I watch or books should I read? How should I use my time, talents and wealth? What about the environment, global warming and elections? Because the issues and questions are endless a healthy Christian life requires a well considered World-view.

To have an inkling of what Jesus would do, we also need to understand the Word of God and the relationship with God that was central to his life.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, World Views | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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