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I asked some “worldview” questions in a sermon recently. I promised to share some responses I got in church when I read two lists of questions from the pulpit a couple of weeks ago. (The two lists are at the bottom of this post.)
The first list is supposed to define a “Christian worldview”. I had asked the congregation to watch for differences between the two lists.
A local church’s wise initial responses focused on the following issues.[The “first” list is one being promoted by Dobson and others as representing a “Christian worldview.” The second list is from Jesus and other New Testament sources.]
- There is no love in the first list.
- The first list requires only yes or no answers. The second list requires a lot more.
- The second list makes clear that the distinguishing mark of a Christian worldview is not intellectual. It is much more moral – about a person’s character – than a matter of “correct” yes / no convictions about debatable questions.
That was impressive. I could have stopped there, the point having been made. But since it is an important point, I kept going in hopes of it becoming even more clear and acceptable in our thinking.
You may remember that the first list – 8 questions that were largely philosophical (metaphysical or epistemological) – had assumed that such questions could identify those church-attenders who have a truly “Biblical worldview.”
The second list – 10 questions all taken from the New Testament – did not seem to be worried much about people’s metaphysics or epistemology.
Here are quotes from the handout that went along with this “sermon.”
A Big Problem With the List Produced by Evangelical Leaders:
Who passes or fails this “Christian worldview” test?
- There are some people who ‘fail’ this 8-question test but love God with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves.
- There are many who ‘pass’ this test but seem to love neither God nor neighbor.
- So I have to wonder if maybe this worldview they’re selling is not as Christian as it seems.
See Ron Sider’s book The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. Maybe the problem is moral, not intellectual.
Some things that bother me a LOT about List #1 – the Evangelical list.
1. It does not focus on what Jesus was and is about.
- It is not the Gospel and does not lead to the Gospel.
- It is abstract, metaphysical, impersonal, therefore it does not nourish your own real spiritual life.
- Jesus did not talk like this. It is impossible for me to imagine Jesus permitting anyone ever to drag him into a controversy about most of these issues as stated.
2. It promotes bad attitudes toward others and toward ourselves.
- “The Christians are consistently the ones who pounce on every sentence you say in order to decide whether your beliefs are exactly proper or not. Such Christians don’t care who you are or where your life is going. They care only whether they approve of you or not.”It is quarrelsome, aggressive, divisive, insulting, to non-believers and believers in other religions, but even to very good Christians. (The out-working) See:
- I Timothy 6:4-5 “they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.“
- 2 Timothy 2:14 “Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.“
- Titus 3:9-11. “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.“
- It strongly promotes pride and self-righteousness. (The inner condition – the other half of the one above.)
- This is a BIG problem in American Christianity today. We really are seen this way: “The Christians are consistently the ones who pounce on every sentence you say in order to decide whether your beliefs are exactly proper or not. Such Christians don’t care who you are or where your life is going. They care only whether they approve of you or not.”
- It strongly promotes pretending, or hypocrisy and pharisaism, because it works entirely on the intellectual level rather than the moral or spiritual level.The Christians are consistently the ones who pounce on every sentence you say in order to decide whether your beliefs are exactly proper or not. Such Christians don’t care who you are or where your life is going.Click To Tweet
HERE ARE THE TWO LISTS REFERRED TO ABOVE:
List #1 – from Evangelical leaders
Eight questions to discover how many church attenders actually have a truly Biblical worldview. The pollster concluded that only 9% of professing American Christians do.
1. Do absolute moral truths exist?
2. Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
3. Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
4. Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
5. Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
6. Is Satan real?
7. Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
8. Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?
List #2 – from the New Testament
– more questions, also difficult, but from the New Testament.
1. Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? (Lk 6:46)
2. What shall I do, Lord? (Acts 22:10)
3. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (I Jn 3:17)
4. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mt 16:2)
5. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (Jn 5:44)
6. If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? (Lk 6:33)
7. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Lk 6:41)
8. Who is wise and understanding among you? (Jas 3:13)
9. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? (James 2:5)
10. Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? (Gal 3:2)