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.) I had asked the congregation to watch for differences between the two lists. Their initial responses focused on the following issues. [The “first” list is one being promoted by Dobson and others as representing a “Christian worldview.” ]
Both lists are at the bottom of this post.
- 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.”
Some Problems With List 1
Problem 1. The people who are complaining about the 9% are the same people causing it.
Problem 2. 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 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.
Example Worldview Statements
Here Are Two Statements of Intellectual Approach to Life:
A. “If you interpret the Bible the same way my church does you have a Christian take on things.”
This is an intellectual approach that has led to much fighting and bloodshed over the centuries.
B. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
A (largely) moral approach that has led to much humility, repentance, joy, and love over the centuries.
What differences do you see between those two statements?
More Problems With The First (the “Worldview”) List
What bothers me about List #1? Several things.
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.
- It’s quarrelsome, aggressive, divisive, insulting, to non-believers and believers in other religions, but even to very good Christians. (Outlook)
See: I Timothy 6:4
2 Timothy 2:14
- It strongly promotes pride and self-righteousness. (Inlook) (The other half of 1.)
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 promotes pretending, or hypocrisy and pharisaism, because it works entirely on the intellectual level rather than the moral or spiritual level.
HERE ARE THE TWO LISTS REFERRED TO ABOVE:
List #1 – 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: – 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)