What is a Christian to Think? Developing a Biblical Worldview, Part 6, The Need for Discernment, by Dr. Bruce Logan

“Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:1-3 NKJV).

What on Earth is going on? Do you know? Is it even possible for you to know? When we look at our nation and our world, along with all of the many rapid changes occurring at the same time, how can we interpret these events? How can we determine what is really happening?  And how are all of these simultaneous events impacting in our lives, our marriages, our families, our relationships, our communities, our churches, and our nation?  Are we just simply going through a “phase in human evolution?”  Or, could there be some other nefarious plot occurring in the unseen world?

In this sixth and final lesson in this series emphasizing what should be the biblical worldview or ideological perspective of believers in the midst of the polarizing and emotionally charged culture wars that America is currently in.  As believers, there are a multitude of issues, as well as, cultural transformative movements, that we need to have a biblical worldview in order to understand and to navigate.  And what makes it even more imperative that believers develop a biblical worldview in this evil age, is the fact that this demonic cultural shifting is being advocated by all of the mainstream media outlets, our public schools, Academia, the entertainment industry, pop culture, not to mention, being legislated in the highest offices of our Government.  All of which makes it all that much more critical that, EVEN WHEN IT COMES TO VOTING, believers develop discernment and a biblical worldview perspective on all of the issues.

The fact is that, we have seen a lot of “firsts” since January 2020.  We have NEVER for example, been told to stay home, quit work and rely on the Government because of a WORLDWIDE Covid-19 Pandemic.  Furthermore, America have also not seen a Presidential election cycle with this much emotionally charged volatility, arguably since the election of Abraham Lincoln.  And at the same time, several American cities are a flamed with rioting as a result of a number of very high profile and media sensationalized shootings of African Americans by white police officers.

Controversial and emotionally charged cultural issues such as, abortion, the rapidly increasing political power and cultural influence of the LGBT movement, racial issues, the attacks on traditional biblical principles regarding what makes a healthy family, the overall secularization of the public school system, the growing fascination with socialism among a growing number of young Americans, the alarming rate of fatherlessness in minority communities, the alarming homicide rate in many of America’s inner city communities, the blatant far left desensitizing of an entire generation to the things that God has called abomination, and the complete secularized slant of America’s main stream media outlets, are all occurrences that should be causing every believer in America, regardless of race, gender, or religious denominational traditions, to stand up and take notice.

This year of 2020, with all that has occurred and is yet occurring, has caused me more than ever before, to reflect on the critical importance and the desperate need for the development of biblical discernment among believers.  But even more so, I’ve been very concerned about the the serious lack of biblical and spiritual discernment among the people of God, and especially many of our leaders.  In other words, many believers often do not see issues clearly and are subsequently easily misled because they do not think biblically, which is all the more important reason why it is so imperative that leaders or expositors of God’s word have clear biblical discernment, so that they are able to “disciple” those who do not.

But regrettably, to put it bluntly, what we are learning as we watch our culture implode all around us, is that the WIDESPREAD lack of discernment in the Church has become a “SYSTEMIC” problem.  This is sadly, evidenced in the fact of the the large numbers of Christians, especially Christian leaders and Pastors, who have unwittingly become apologist for the secularization of America by supporting a political party and its candidates who advocate for “doctrines of devils,” while doing so without ever discerning the nature of the open attacks and hostilities towards biblical values.  In other words, many believers, particularly man in Christian leadership, have blindly become apologist for a party platform and it’s candidates that openly campaign on ideas that God has called evil, such as abortion, and male on male, and female on female relationships.  And that is not even to mention, the lack of discerning the nature of the movement towards establishing a “ONE WORLD/SOCIALIST ECONOMIC SYSTEM” and its subsequent consequences.

And while I recognize that on the surface, this concern may appear by many to be a sheer partisan perspective; yet what I am arguing is coming from a strict and specific biblical worldview perspective.  Furthermore, the argument that I am making, has nothing to do with whether you’re a conservative or liberal, a Republican or Democrat, black or white, male or female, evangelical or charismatic. It’s about developing  the discernment to recognize what’s true according to God’s word.
In other words, it’s about learning what aligns with God’s definition of truth, not what a politician or your Facebook friends or your hairdresser insist are true.  It means that as believers, we must take personal responsibility for developing discernment and learn how to take away the emotion, tradition and partisanship, and learning to “think biblically” in order to become discerning and critically thinking Christian.
To be more specific, one of the most troublesome components of the enemy’s attack on Christianity, is the complete lack of spiritual discernment or the  ability to be able to distinguish the spiritual warfare or prophetic relationship between the prophetic word and current events, including today’s political climate, and the signs of the times.  Interestingly, this is a problem that is not unique to today’s culture.  In fact, this amazing lack of discernment was also systemic among the Jewish Religious leaders of Christ’s day.  Note for example, the famous encounter in which Jesus gave a stinging rebuke to some Pharisees and Sadducees who were members of two of the leading religious sects of the day, and who came to Him attempting to trick Him by asking Him for a “sign.”
Mathew describes this encounter when he writes, “Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times (Mathew 16:1-3 NKJV).  In His response, Jesus soundly criticized these religious leaders for their inability to discern God’s actions and timing in their generation.  They failed to recognize and discern the purposes of God because their hearts were far from God. They embraced a form of religion and pronounced it with their lips, but their hearts and focus were in the wrong place.

In today’s Christianity, signs of a spiritual famine are evident.  In other words, the fact that secularist worldviews has supplanted Christianity to become the prevailing and dominant worldview in the culture, is the primary evidence that spiritual discernment is lacking in the Christian community.  Though there are faithful pastors and Christians who take the word of God seriously, there is an increasing number of Christians who are abandoning the clarity and commands of Scripture and substituting political correctness, feelings, emotions, self help and tolerance for biblical truth and its sometimes, very difficult revelations.

We seem to have forgotten the idea that it was Satan in the Garden of Eden who first challenged the word of God when he asked Eve, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1).  With this question, doubt about the word of God (which is really doubt about the integrity of God) led to a lack of spiritual discernment by Eve and then by Adam.  The result was The Fall, and the path to all subsequent heresies and apostasies was laid.

It is because of these and many other reasons, why the acquiring of biblical discernment by believers in Christ is so critical in today’s culture.  Why? Because discernment intersects the Christian life at every point.  And God’s Word is the ULTIMATE source for providing us with the needed tools in order to have discernment about every issue of life.  And especially considering the times that we are living in, and all that we have been experiencing in 2020, the need for more discernment among God’s people is more critically needed that ever.  And YES! That even includes how we vote as believers.  Because when we become discerning voters, we are able to TAKE AWAY THE EMOTION and think biblically and more critically, and take more into consideration WHAT we are voting for, as opposed to WHO we are voting for and WHY.
Interestingly, according to Peter, God “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).   You see, it is through the “true knowledge of Him,” that we have been given everything we need to live a Christian life in this fallen world. And how else do we have true knowledge of God but through the pages of His Word, the Bible? In fact, Peter goes on to say that such knowledge comes through God’s granting “to us His precious and magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4).  
What is biblical discernment and why is it important?

There are many issues in our culture today that can be argued or explained with emotional reasoning, but our emotions more often than not, don’t lead us in a Biblical direction.  It is therefore, critical that we know how to discern right and wrong through a Biblical lens.  That is why, when talking about discernment, the question that believers need to have the answer to is, what does it mean to have discernment and how do we learn to filter everything around us through the filter of the word of God?

In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth.  In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.  First Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.”  

This idea of the importance of biblical discernment for believers, was succinctly and yet wonderfully made by, Robert Norris of Ligonier Ministries in an article in Table Talk Magazine titled, “The Lost Art of Discernment,” when he noted the following: “We have lost sight of what the first Christians seemed to know so well, that it is important for believers to exercise discernment. Indeed, it is of such importance that the apostle Paul understood “spiritual discernment” as a spiritual gift in itself (1 Corinthians 12:10).  Discernment is a Bible mandate that cannot be ignored by Christians claiming to walk in the light of the faith.” [1]

Norris went on to point out that, “In the New Testament, the word that is translated “discernment” is derived from the decision of a judge adjudicating between conflicting claims. It is seen as necessary to be able to distinguish between what is good and bad, true and false, and between evil spirits and good spirits. Christian discernment is the careful process of sorting through truth claims to arrive at the clearest possible decision concerning their trustworthiness and value as it relates to Christian orthodoxy. Such discernment reveals, clarifies, and proclaims truth and exposes, examines, and rejects error. This involves the Christian fully, as it is a personal commitment to the command of 1 Thessalonians 5:21–22 as a necessary part of Christian growth in grace (or as verse 23 points out, sanctification).

The word “discern” appears in Matthew 16:3Hebrews 5:14, and in Ezekiel 44:23. The clear sense of the term is that discernment necessarily involves making value judgments between differing claims as needed so as to reveal by examination what is right or wrong, or somewhere in the middle. To make such judgments involves the process of examining the claims by an objective standard, and for the orthodox Christian, such a standard exists only in the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16).” [1]

In essence, discernment involves each one of us in thinking in a specifically Christian way about each issue. It requires of us, that we employ our minds by informing ourselves through the study of the truth revealed in God’s Word. To be grounded in the revealed truth is the surest way to prepare to be able to recognize error. Yet, while information is a critical component, information alone does not provide us with full discernment.  At the same time as we are acquiring knowledge, our hearts have to be engaged in devotion to Christ.  In other words, we have to not only believe with our MINDS,” but we have to also believe with our “HEART” (Romans 10:9; Mark 12:30).  Then and only then will we find ourselves in tune with the mind of God and be able to make judgments and appraisals that accord with that mind, because to the believer it is promised the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is the ministry of Word and Spirit in the life of the Christian as in the Christian community that produces the certainty of faith and the obedience of faith.

 

Moreover, discernment involves each one of us in thinking in a specifically biblical way, or through the lens of a biblical worldview about each and EVERY issue.  It requires of us, that we employ our minds by informing ourselves through the study of the truth revealed in God’s Word. To be grounded in the revealed truth is the surest way to prepare to be able to recognize error.  In other words, discernment is seen in Scripture as an essential component for spiritual growth. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews expresses the importance of spiritually mature believers regularly and routinely making their decisions by distinguishing between the principles of good and evil: “solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). In the Old Testament the prophet Ezekiel makes clear that spiritually mature leaders will teach others how to recognize accurately the difference between the holy and the unholy (Ezekiel 44:23).

Furthermore, discernment according to Scripture, is a critical part of Christian life.  It was also seen as essential in making wise decisions, as James makes clear when he wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).  If we are to be faithful, wise Christians in the pluralistic setting where we live, among people who do not share our convictions and values, then we must not only see the need for discernment, but we must also develop the skills necessary to become discerning believers.  Because assessing and judging truth from error through the lens of a biblical worldview, enables us not only to believe the truth but to be able to judge, assess, live and yes, vote appropriately through a biblical worldview.  For it is clear, that if you believe the wrong things, you will most certainly end up with a distorted piety and an impaired Christian witness.

The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).  According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer, it is required.  Because the key to living an uncompromising life, lies in one’s ability to exercise discernment in every area of his or her life.  For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves the Christian subject to all manner of false teaching. False teaching then leads to an unbiblical mindset, which results in unfruitful and disobedient living, which is a certain recipe for compromise.

Applying this to today, it can be argued that this lack of any semblance of real spiritual discernment among believers, is possibly the single most devastating byproduct of the serious crises of biblical illiteracy in the Church.  In other words, because of the fact that experience and emotion, have been elevated above the divine revelation that comes from in-depth expository preaching and teaching from the pulpits, and the deemphasizing and the devaluation of serious and consistent bible study, many who call themselves Christians have no biblical substance or foundation in which to grow as a Christian.

Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most Christians stumble. They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God’s Word, and they unwittingly engage in all kinds of unbiblical decision-making and behavior.  In short, they are not armed to take a decidedly biblical stand against the onslaught of unbiblical thinking and attitudes that face them throughout their day.

 

The Nature of Discernment

Discernment, or the ability to think biblically about all areas of life, is indispensable to an uncompromising life. It is incumbent upon every Christian to seize upon the discernment that God has provided for in His precious word.  Without it, Christians are at risk of being “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). The word used in Psalm 119:66  means “taste.” It is the ability to make discriminating judgments, to distinguish between, and recognize the moral implications of, different situations and courses of action. It includes the ability to “weigh up” and assess the moral and spiritual status of individuals, groups, and even movements. Thus, while warning us against judgmentalism, Jesus urges us to be discerning and discriminating, “lest we cast our pearls before pigs” (Matthew 7:1,6).  Biblical discernment means that we must use our minds to discern between truth and lies good and evil.

Spiritual discernment stated more simply, is the skill of separating divine truth from error.  1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, we are to “examine everything carefully.” That speaks of testing something to reveal its genuineness.  What this means for believers is that we as believers are to evaluate everything we come in contact with to distinguish what is true and false, good and bad, or right and wrong. That can be a difficult task. Why? First, we are constantly fighting the sinful desires of our fallen flesh. Second, we face satanic deception. The devil is doing everything he can to confound and confuse us. Third, we are inundated with worldly influences that seek to overpower us.

Opposing the world, the flesh, and the devil requires us to “hold fast to that which is good” (v. 21).  We are to embrace wholeheartedly what is inherently genuine and true. We are also to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians  5:22). That means we are to separate ourselves from every form of perversion as though we were avoiding a deadly plague or poison. One pastor correctly wrote, “The worst forms of wickedness consist of perversions of the truth, of spiritual lies, although today many look upon these forms with indifference and regard them rather harmless” Many in today’s church are indifferent about separating divine truth from error because they lack spiritual discernment.

Why Is There Such a Lack of Biblical and Spiritual Discernment?

As I have been attempting to argue in this series of lessons, one of the most disconcerting trends that I have observed among many believers is just how often believers, in particular pastors and leaders have demonstrated a lack of a clear biblical worldview, and have subsequently become apologist for the same narrative as the world and the mainstream media, without so much as even stopping to consider any biblical worldview perspective.

Now, it is completely understandable why non-believers are carrying the media narrative and not making the spiritual connection for example, with the devaluation of traditional family model and the proliferation of crime, drug abuse, illegitimacy, illiteracy and all of our other social ills.  In fact, the apostle Paul actually acknowledged this reality when he wrote to the Christians in first century Corinth where he observed: But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV).

In essence, Paul was pointing out to those early Christians who lived in pagan Corinth, that non-believers were not controlled by the Spirit of God but rather their natural physical and material values.  People like that cannot understand spiritual things because they are controlled by their feelings, their emotions, their moods, urges, fleshly desires and by human philosophies and reasoning.  Such people Paul explained, cannot accept the things of God because they are “foolishness to him.”  Or in other words, the things of God went against their natural or fleshly philosophies and inclinations, which subsequently cause biblical values to be viewed as foolishness.

On the other hand, Paul gives a contrasting perspective that should be embraced by the believers when he adds in verse 15: But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.”  Paul concludes in other words, that the mature believer has a receiver, or spiritual radio waves, which should be tuned in to God’s will.  He can therefore discern, appreciate and understand the essence of spiritual truth with wisdom and spiritual understanding.  That means that we really can exercise moral judgment, because we have thoroughly studied the mind of the Lord as it is revealed in His word.  We have prayed about difficult issues and have examined them from every side and we have put them through the filter of biblical absolutes.

As a result, we can therefore have the courage to take a position on moral values and political issues that the natural world or the “carnal man” is completely confused about.  We then have the courage to speak out on the wrongness of divisive issues such as: abortion, the destructiveness of the homosexual lifestyle, the sins of materialism, racial issues, socialism vs capitalism, and the oppression of the poor and needy.  In addition to that, we are able to boldly advocate for God’s divine order for the family which involves one man and one woman raising their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  And we can also comprehend the destructive impact of violating or undermining the biblical model of family can have on a society at large, and the impact that the attacks on the traditional, biblical family is having on the culture at large.

Unfortunately, far too many people in America over the past fifty years, including many sincere Christian believers, have increasingly had their ideologies or worldviews shaped by the media driven narratives, regarding sociological issues and not by God’s word.  In other words, far too many believers, completely and often innocently in many cases, are allowing their minds to be subtly influenced by the dictates of society as opposed to allowing God’s word to be preeminent in influencing and shaping how they discern the great issues of the day.  This becomes increasingly alarming when you consider the fact that it is Christ’s church, His body that has “set apart” and given the charge of being the “salt, and the light of the world.”  That light that shining in a dark world and pointing the way to the only true light in the Person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So finally, while there is infinitely more information on this topic of worldview and biblical discernment that I could examine, I would just like to close this series of lessons, by highlighting without going into any more detail, a list of six reasons why, even with the fact that we are living in the “age of information,” there is such a serious issue of the lack of biblical discernment among God’s people:

1. The lack of emphasis on the Church’s actual purpose.

2. Division in the body based on doctrine and race.

3. Man-made religious tradition.

4. A proliferation of false teachings and teachers.

5. Ignorance and apathy.

6. A lack of discernment of the signs of the times that we are living.

In closing, I would like to summarize the above list by pointing out just two key areas that have contributed to the above list of issues:

Weak Doctrine

The diluting of biblical doctrine has conditioned today’s church to desire only what will make it feel comfortable and satisfied. Because experience and emotion have been elevated above divine revelation, many who call themselves Christians have no biblical basis for doing so. In other words, the primary emphasis in modern preaching has been placed upon religion as a power which can do things for us and which can make us happy as oppose to making us mature disciples.  Moreover, this emotional and feeling based religion has been over-emphasized at the expense of the intellectual, mind renewing component of the gospel that leads to the development of mature and discerning believers.

Because so many in today’s church, have only a shallow knowledge of God’s Word, they have filled that void with things like; trust in personal experiences and their personal feelings as actual truth.  And even more detrimentally, it has become in-vogue for believers to chase personal comfort and success as a way of life as opposed to Kingdom righteousness.  Subsequently, we have turned out to be a body that has become so preoccupied with ourselves, our moods, our feelings, our inward states and our earthly prosperity, that when we are confronted by external issues and problems that have a profound effect on our lives individually and the body collectively, such as the issues we face politically for example, we lack the ability to discern or “critically think” through the problem from a biblical perspective.

Inaccurate Interpretation

Today’s church has also failed to interpret Scripture accurately. That’s because, for the most part, it is indifferent toward God’s Word. Some teachers in the church are not trained to study God’s Word and end up with a wrong theology.  Some on the other hand, may be more trained trained but opt to tell stories or mix man-made ideas with biblical truth.  Still others arrive at what they believe to be the truth by some mystical intuition, experience, or emotion.

Finally, we must never loose sight of the fact that, interpreting God’s Word is an exacting science that requires skill and precision, that only comes through years of systematic study.  And unless the believer has sat under good teaching, is well-read him or herself, or has learned to interpret Scripture from someone who knows how, it’s unlikely he or she will be able to interpret Scripture accurately.

  1. The Lost Art of Discernment, by , First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier Ministries, May 1, 2006.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is a Christian to Think? Developing a Biblical Worldview, Part 5, The Two Kinds of Wisdom, by Dr Bruce Logan

Wisdom of God vs. Wisdom of Man

Have you ever thought about mankind’s endless search for truth in this world?  Think about it.  Even in the twenty-first century, in a time of the greatest knowledge in the history of man with all the technological developments that have accelerated the rate of acquiring knowledge, the restless mind of man still struggles with discovering what is truth, as well as, the reason for his existence.  In fact, even in America’s current Presidential election seasons, ideas and secular worldviews has led to policy initiatives that are being postulated with the intent of legalizing and normalizing philosophies and lifestyles that God has called “an abomination,” in affect, elevating the philosophies and ideas of sinful mankind over the the word of the Creator of the Universe.

These secular worldviews that have crept into the public school system, Academia, pop culture, the media and every other institution of influence in America.  All of which with the ultimate goal of “desensitizing” an entire generation to the ungodly influences that have become mainstream in the culture.  But the most troubling aspect of all, is just how many “Christians,” and particularly Christian leaders, those who are supposed to be “salt and light” in the culture, but who instead, have actually become apologist for the political agents and parties who are openly advocating and campaigning on the legalization and normalization of such ungodly practices abortion, the LGBT agenda, as well as, the complete hostility to the Gospel and a biblical worldview.  Not to mention the centralization of the world’s economic systems.  A movement that is being fueled by the spirit of anti-Christ.

Yet, with all of our modern technology and access to information, there are still several other very important, as well as perplexing questions that that are still being hotly contested.  Questions such as, what is happening to America and the West? Where will it lead? What is truth or what is right and what is wrong?  And most importantly, what should be the worldview of the believers and the response of the Church of Jesus Christ to the culture in crises?

Incredibly, the last half of the 20th century has seen an almost unbelievable shift in the cultural values of the Western World.  In fact, people who lived a century ago would be shocked to see what is simply accepted today as truth or normal without comment or any sort of  contention! 

Yet, there remains many who are deeply troubled by modern social and cultural movements.   Nearly 75 percent of Americans for example, see “cultural decline” as the major problem facing our nation today and they are not alone!  Today, television and movies screen themes of sex, violence and vulgarity that were unthinkable and impermissible only 35 years ago.  News reports routinely discuss incredibly brutal and senseless crimes and topics that have been historically taboo such as, homosexual marriage, “gays” parading openly, and radical feminists shouting that traditional marriage is a tool for male oppression of women and abuse of children.  Educators are now even ascribing characteristics such as “gender dysphoria” to children as being normal behaviors that have been traditionally regarded (and still are by many) as abnormal and perversions.

Amazingly, Presidential candidate Joe Biden, in a recent Town Hall, argued that if an eight-year old, decided that they didn’t want to be a boy, or didn’t want to be a girl, that they should then be allowed to have their biological gender changed, “without any discrimination.”  And that was astonishingly an opinion that came from a candidate for the President of the United States.

This disturbing wave of social change is surging not just in America, but around the globe.  Many wonder just what is happening to America and the West?  What is driving this incredible transformation of traditional moral values? Where will this cultural sea change take us? And is are there a solutions to this problem?  Surprising as it may seem, the Bible predicted our modern dilemma! The Scriptures not only foretold our cultural crisis, but the inspired word of God explains why this moral transformation is occurring, its true significance, and where it will take us.  And as believers in Christ, we need to need to understand what lies ahead!

For starters, as believers especially, we need to come to grips with the fact that, there is much more to this battle than just a mere argument over religion and politics. What is actually at stake is the future of Western civilization.  In fact, we are at a crucial “pivotal point” in the history of Western civilization.  We are abandoning the central role of religion in our culture, we are in the process of tossing overboard the fundamental principles upon which America and the West were built.  In essence, we seem intent on discarding biblical-based morality and the belief that a transcendent God inspired immutable laws to govern human relationships, and substituting a worldly philosophies as the new normalcy.

The Real Issue

Unfortunately, the issues that have generated so much controversy, inflame emotions and that make the mainstream news headlines such as, race, abortion, the LGBT movement, liberal feminism, the rejection of traditional sex roles, the redefinition of the family, skyrocketing divorce, and sex education, are only the surface issues  And it is these surface issues, that have generated a clever smokescreen that has disguised and distracted us from the real issue that is actually at the heart of all of these divisive subjects.

The real issue in fact, actually centers on the questions of what is rightand what is wrong, what is ultimately good, and what is evil and ultimately intolerable?  And who is the ultimate arbiter or authority of what is truth and what is false?  How we answer these questions will determine whether America and the West will continue to follow right and wrong as traditionally defined in the Bible, or whether we will embrace the “progressive ideas” promoted by secular, liberal, New Age propagandists.

On one hand, there are those who argue unbiblical ideas such as, all values are relative, gender is fluid, that absolute truth does not exist, and that people can decide what is appropriate and right for themselves.  While on the other hand, there are those of us who still believe that the ultimate truth in the world has been given to us by God in His word.  So, in recognition of this very real issue, there is a decision that, either concisely or sub-concisely, everyone must make.  Will our life guide or worldview be based upon divine revelation or human opinion and human reason? This is the bottom line of the “cultural war” that is tearing at the fabric of Western society.

1 Corinthians

In a nutshell, the greatest and most divisive aspect of the culture war, is the factions of people who are divided between those who are looking for answers through worldly wisdom versus excepting the Godly wisdom that God have left for us in His word.  In essence, worldly wisdom leaves you empty and a bit cynical. But Godly wisdom is different. It reveals to us ultimate truth and that truth is found in a person, Jesus Christ.

Those who take the time to pursue ultimate truth in the person of Jesus and in the teachings of His Word, will find wisdom that is out of this world.  In other words, in the process of discovering the wisdom of God that is found in His word over the wisdom of the world, you will have discovered your answer for life.

When doing a close examination of the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the believers in the Greek City of Corinth, you will quickly discover that no other letter in the New Testament gives us a more clear and practical pic­ture of the contrast between the wisdom of God Vs the wisdom of man or the wisdom of the world.  1 Corinthians particularly highlights the Christian faith as it relates to how believers should conduct and respond to the day-to-day issues and controversies of life Vs how the world views life and how they conducts themselves.

The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, a church which he founded on his second missionary journey (AD 48–51), is a treasure trove of practical theology for Christians facing everyday challenges. It provides Paul’s instruction to Christians grappling with real-life issues, including conflicts of loyalty, class differences, conflicts between per­sonal freedom and the common good, and the difficulty of leading a diverse group of people to accomplish a shared mission.

Topics such as career and calling, the lasting value of work, overcoming individual limitations, leadership and ser­vice, the development of skills and abilities (or “gifts”), fair wages, en­vironmental stewardship, marriage relationships, and the use of money and possessions are prominent in the letter.  The unifying perspective on all these topics is love, which is the purpose, means, motivation, gift, and glory behind all of the work done in Christ.  Christianity calls us to sacrifice instead of living for oneself.  We have to choose one or the other, we can’t do both. The Christians in Corinth tried to live the Christian life in a worldly way.  Paul wrote the letter of 1 Corinthians to a divided and self-centered people to remind them to follow Jesus and only Jesus.

Ancient Corinth

Paul went to Corinth in Greece on his second missionary journey. Corinth was a thriving commercial center and a very corrupt city. The church in Corinth had several problems, so Paul wrote this epistle to deal with them.  The ancient city of Corinth was located in Greece, a place where philosophy, orators, and worldly wisdom were held in high esteem. To the saints of God who lived in that commercial center, Paul had much to say about wisdom, both man’s and God’s, in the letters which he addressed to them.  Corinth is well known to readers of the Bible because of its importance in the missionary activity of the apostle Paul: he visited Corinth at least three times, founded Christian assemblies there, and wrote at least four letters to Christians in Corinth (besides 1-2 Corinthians, note the other letters mentioned in (1 Corinthians 5:9, 2 Corinthians 2:4 and 7:8).  The city lies at an important trading position about six miles to the southwest of the narrow isthmus that separates the Corinthian and Saronic gulfs.

In Paul’s time, Corinth was the most important city in Greece.  Corinth was a bustling port city with two large harbors, an amphitheater, and numerous pagan temples. It was a center of trade, power, and politics, and an important location for the imperial cult, or the political-religious worship of the Roman Emperor.  Sitting astride the isthmus that joins the Peloponnesian Peninsula to mainland Greece, Corinth controlled both the Saronic Gulf to the east and the Gulf of Corinth to the north. Merchants wanted to avoid the difficult, danger­ous sea journey around the fingers of the Peloponnese, so a great deal of the goods flowing between Rome and the western empire and the rich ports of the eastern Mediterranean were hauled across this isthmus.

Al­most all of it passed through Corinth, making it one of the empire’s great commercial centers. Strabo, an older contemporary of Paul, noted that “Corinth is called ‘wealthy’ because of its commerce, since it is situated on the Isthmus and is master of two harbors, of which the one leads straight to Asia, and the other to Italy; and it makes easy the exchange of mer­chandise from both countries that are so far distant from each other.”

Corinth was a double seaport that jutted out into the Mediterranean Sea, and so it was really two seaports. The one to the East that took care of the Eastern Mediterranean trade, and the Western side took care of the trade to Rome, and Spain, and the other end of the Mediterranean.

Now you can just about imagine that a city for that day and time it was rather large, but certainly not what we call a huge city today, but nevertheless the city’s population was probably thirty to forty thousand. But it was a city that was just rampant with all of it’s commerce, and sailors from all parts of the world, but it was also rampant with pagan worship.

The ancient Greek city of Corinth in fact, had acquired something of a proverbial reputation for sexual promiscuity, and modern biblical scholarship has frequently reiterated a view of the city as a particular hotbed of immorality and vice.

There was a great temple dedicated to one of the Greek goddesses that sat above a promenade above the city of Corinth.  And at the very height of Corinth, this temple up on the hill to which they worshipped the Athenian goddess, had thousands of prostitutes who were operating as the goddesses of the temple. You have to realize that their whole society was programmed to this, and so it was just part and parcel of their religion to be involved in immoral practice with the prostitutes of the city.

Corinth was probably the most the most immoral, wicked, corrupt city in the Roman empire.  And so into the very midst of the gross immorality, and this great activity of commerce and trade, comes the Apostle Paul to that wicked city of Corinth with the Gospel of the Grace of God.  From his letters to the Corinthians, Paul writes to a church comprised largely of Gentile and Greek members.  As new members of Christ, they bring with them their former pagan and cultural influences such as glorifying wisdom (human philosophy) and ecstatic utterances, eating meat offered to idols, promiscuity and the denial of bodily resurrection.

Luke’s account of Paul’s stay in Corinth is found in Acts 18:1-18. According to the story, after some initial success in the synagogue, but with considerable conflict, he decides to concentrate on the non-Jews, apparently with significant success. He settles in and stays for 18 months, working as a tentmaker and living with fellow tentmakers, Aquila and his wife Pricilla (Prisca in his letters), two of the Jews expelled from Rome by Emperor Claudius in a general expulsion. His success may have led to his being dragged before Gallio, the Roman proconsul, by the local Jews for heresy. Gallio dismisses the charge as a purely intra-Jewish affair. Soon afterwards Paul leaves, accompanied by Aquila and Pricilla, bound for Antioch, but on the way they stop over in Ephesus.

In Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthian believers, he addresses several problems among the Corinthian’s that had been brought to his attention.  But rather than address these problems from the word go, Paul spent much of the first three chapters drawing a contrast between the two kinds of wisdom.

Paul understood for example, the fact that Corinth was in Greece and Greek culture for centuries had been heavily influence by Greek religion, philosophy and philosophers.  And they needed to be given a clear contrast between what the Greek philosophy taught in relation to many of their problems Vs what the Word of God said.

On man’s side, Paul referred to “the wisdom of the wise” (1 Cor. 1:19), “the wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 1:20), “human wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:4), “the wisdom of men” (1 Cor. 2:5), and “fleshly wisdom (2 Cor. 1:12).  These are all one and the same.

On God’s side, the apostle simply calls it “the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24; 2:7).  As we consider worldly wisdom versus the Godhead’s wisdom, certain matters really stand out. First, man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom are not the same. Second, man’s wisdom is not as good as God’s is. Why? Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

In fact, God has no foolishness or weakness; those are accommodative terms used here in the sense of God’s so-called foolishness and so-called weakness per the thinking of unwise, proud humans. Third, “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God ” (1 Corinthians 3:19).  Man’s thinking often clashes with God’s, which does not surprise us since the Lord proclaimed that His ways and thoughts are above those of mere mortals (Isaiah 55:8,9). Let us go ahead and consider some thoughts from the message of 1 Corinthians and see how modern-day thought (man’s wisdom) often conflicts with God’s wisdom.

Though Corinth as a leading Greek city, was strongly influenced by the philosophical schools of the day as well as Greek standards of persuasive speech or rhetoric, it would be natural that they would see Christianity through the lens of their own philosophical culture. The same applies to people in every culture and time.  Consider for example, in 1 Corinthians 1:17 what Paul is saying about his preaching style: 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18).  Paul is contrasting his preaching of the gospel with “words of human wisdom.”  Paul, the preacher, the apostle, the founder of scores of churches, doesn’t speak in the classical rhetorical style that is so valued by the Greeks, so his enemies use it against him.

The Wisdom of the Wise (1:19-20)

It was vital, that Paul not be viewed as one more philosopher, albeit one with a mere mediocre rhetorical style. For Paul, it wasn’t about style, it was about the message!  In fact, he made his priorities very clear when he said,  “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1:17-18).  Paul develops this theme throughout, stating for example in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2:2).

Paul’s core message is that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ, that he died for our sins and was raised from the dead.  As he says in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (15:3-4).

Man’s thinking often clashes with God’s, which does not surprise us since the Lord proclaimed that His ways and thoughts are above those of mere mortals (Isaiah 55:8,9). Let us go ahead and consider some thoughts from the message of 1 Corinthians and see how modern-day thought (man’s wisdom) often conflicts with God’s wisdom.  On man’s side, Paul referred to “the wisdom of the wise” (1 Cor. 1:19), “the wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 1:20), “human wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:4), “the wisdom of men” (1 Cor. 2:5), and “fleshly wisdom (2 Cor. 1:12). These are all one and the same.

On God’s side, the apostle simply calls it “the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24; 2:7).  As we consider worldly wisdom versus the Godhead’s wisdom, certain matters really stand out. First, man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom are not the same.  Second, man’s wisdom is not as good as God’s is. Why? “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).  In fact, God has no foolishness or weakness; those are accommodative terms used here in the sense of God’s so-called foolishness and so-called weakness per the thinking of unwise, proud humans. Third, “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God ” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

Man’s wisdom says that there is no way that the blood of a former Jewish carpenter can remove another person’s sins. To such people, the message of the crucified Christ is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:23). God’s truth: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1:18).

Greek Wisdom and Philosophy

In our passage, 1 Corinthians 1:17 to 2:16, the noun sophia, “wisdom” appears 13 times and the adjective sophos, “wise” appears another five times. Paul is dealing with wisdom as understood by the various schools of Greek philosophy that captured the common mind in Corinth.

  • Epicureans saw religion as irrelevant and saw the pursuit of pleasure as the primary good.
  • Middle Platonists followed Plato in their belief in the immortal human soul that needed to be freed from its attachment to the body and ascend towards deity.
  • Paripatetics followed Aristotle who rejected Plato’s concept of an immortal soul.
  • Sotics were materialists who believed even the gods had a material substance. Several stoic teachers came from Paul’s hometown of Tarsus. An important question for them was, “How can the wise man live in accordance with nature?” The answer: through a virtuous life.
  • Cynics espoused more a way of life than a philosophy, living with only the barest essentials. They were known by their ragged cloaks and begging, and often being caustic, abusive, and arrogant.

Greek Rhetorical Style

But Paul wasn’t just experiencing just a clash in worldviews.  He also had to contend with centuries of Greek philosophical culture and Greek religion.  The phrase “words of human wisdom” (NIV), “eloquent wisdom” (NRSV), “wisdom of words” (KJV) suggests oratorical style. Sophia, “wisdom,” is joined here with logos, “word,” especially of oral utterance.  In Greek culture, oratorical performance was valued highly.  Indeed, the Greeks had developed the whole science of rhetoric, the art of persuasive speech.  The quality of one’s public speaking was judged on how well it conformed to the principles of rhetoric that were currently in vogue.

In other words, style was often valued as much as, if not more than substance.  And of course, that is sadly a very prominent concept in modern culture, particularly in the Churches and in our devotion to particular religious leaders and political candidates.  We often are taken in more by dynamic orators, without really critically thinking through and discerning their actual substance or content.  Of which, much of the modern oratorical substance is based more on eisegesis (or the superimposing of their human opinions and suppositions onto the biblical text) as opposed to sound biblical exegesis (or critically and rightly interpreting the biblical text in its original context and “transforming” our minds to line up with God’s word, rightly divided).

Though Corinth wasn’t the seat of great philosophers as Athens was, as a leading Greek city nevertheless, it was strongly influenced by the philosophical schools of the day, as well as Greek standards of persuasive speech rhetoric. So it would be natural that they would see Christianity through the lens of their own culture. The same applies to people in every culture and time.  Thus Paul contrasts his message with what was in fashion in Corinth, realizing that part of the Corinthians’ criticism of Paul stemmed from how they perceived him in relation to oratorical style.

The message of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:17-18)

The message of the Cross is foolishness to those that are perishing in a world that is estranged from the One Who created them, and so we discover a worldly wisdom which is rooted in man-made, egotistical philosophies, which carefully circumvents everything to do with the death of Christ and His glorious resurrection and yet Christ’s death and resurrection is the foundation upon which our Christian faith is established.

The worldly wise Corinthian church were squabbling over who was the best teacher, instead of focusing on spiritual matters, but their foolish arguments were rooted in a much more sinister foundation, which was the wisdom of worldly arguments.  The wisdom of God however, is discovered in the Cross of Christ and to those of us who are being saved it is the power and glory and wonder of God. But like the Jews who require a sign, some stumble at the Cross.. for it gives no outward display of a supernatural sign or miracle.

And like the Greeks who sought after wisdom, some scorn at the Cross, preferring to anchor themselves to the imagination of men’s minds in preference to the unchangeable truth of God’s Word. And some like these foolish Christians at Corinth, who were so full of their own importance were allowing the trivial issues of everyday life to divert their attention away from the power, the wonder and wisdom of the Cross of Christ.  In addition, because these Corinthian Christians were relatively recent converts to Christianity, they were still yet heavily influenced by the Greek culture, philosophy and religion that they were raised around, and that still permeated all around them.  

Paul therefore, had to be able to draw clear and obvious distinctions between true biblical Christianity and the philosophies, traditions and religions of Greek culture.  And the focal point of this clear distinction was the message of the cross.  Or, the virgin birth, death, resurrection, ascension and eventual return of Jesus Christ.  Paul’s message was to proclaim these truths and their implications. He had no use for the particulars of oratorical precision. In fact, the attractiveness or the allure of the eloquent speech that was renown among many of the more popular Greek orators, can often serve to obscure the bare facts and empty the cross of Christ of its power (1:17).

Furthermore, Christianity is not primarily a philosophy to be debated in the marketplace, or even a religion. Christianity is based on the historical facts of the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Messiah.  Paul in fact, is well much aware that this message of the cross would seem foolish to the average Greek.

Interestingly, the word “foolishness” in verse 18 is mōria (from which we get the English word “moron”), a form the noun moros, “foolish, stupid, “referring to mental dullness, “a weakness of understanding or judgment, sometimes through stupidity, sometimes through confusion, but always demanding censure. “The world’s assessment of the message of the cross and resurrection, then and now, is an arrogant sneer (Acts 17:32), dismissing Christianity as the belief of ignorant simpletons, not the belief of sophisticated, educated, worldly men and women.

Whatever their reaction to the gospel, says Paul, “to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1:18b).  What worldly people dismiss as foolish is actually the real wisdom!  To the Romans, Paul writes, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).  Because the gospel is the power of God for salvation, therefore, Paul must proclaim the gospel no matter how it might be perceived!

 In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

He continues (quoting from Isaiah 29:14b): 19 For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate’ 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:19-21).

Paul considers the status of those that the Greek world honored above all: the wise man, the scholar, and the philosopher. Think about all the people that this world holds in high esteem. but who don’t follow Christ. Their knowledge about how the world works may be great, but without understanding how God fits into the picture, their so-called wisdom is actually foolishness, since there is a gaping hole about the most important thing.

Paul didn’t use the arts of rhetoric (the art of preparing persuasive arguments) or oratory (the art of public speaking) to delve into these deep mysteries. The Greeks prized rhetoric and oratory, and regarded great orators as celebrities. It would seem logical for God to give Paul great oratorical skills so that he might use those skills in God’s service. If Paul were a great orator, couldn’t he win more people to Christ?  But Paul, by virtue of his Godly wisdom, chose another way to build the kingdom, just as Christ Jesus had chosen another way.  Christ chose the way of the cross to further God’s kingdom, something that from a human perspective seemed completely backwards. But Jesus had said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32), and that’s exactly what happened. People were, and still are, drawn to a savior who would give himself so completely in their service.

So also, Paul chose not to rely on oratorical fireworks to proclaim God’s mysteries. He didn’t try to argue the Corinthians into believing in Christ. He didn’t use tightly woven syllogisms to drag them into faith. He didn’t dazzle them with a voice or finely tuned gestures. He didn’t avail himself of any of the human skills that the Greeks prized so highly.  He simply told them about “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” and that was sufficient.

Paul contrasts the wisdom of the world with the so-called “foolishness” of preaching, since his preaching was probably scorned by the sophisticated in Corinth as it had been in Athens (Acts 17:32). 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25).

Man’s Wisdom War on Critical Thinking

In a revealing article written by Clint Roberts of the Stream.org, titled, “Critical Theory’s War on Critical Thinking,” Roberts gives some very succinct but important historical insights into the roots of our modern cultural and political polarization. Roberts writes for example, “The roots of the modern cultural and contentious worldview divide, actually go back to some dastardly European intellectuals. Specifically, it originated among neo-Marxists, mostly German ones. Karl Marx for example, divided the world into classes. According to Marx, class warfare is what drives history. “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,” he wrote in The Communist Manifesto. It’s the haves and the have nots, oppressors and the oppressed.

Marx called for “the ruthless criticism of all that exists.” Because the privileged class holds the power, they design and control all of the systems. The oppressed are morally obligated to join together (“Workers of the world, unite!”) for change.  Marxist critique is seen as the way to unmask the systems that justify oppression. It precedes and inaugurates activism that leads to the dismantling of those systems.  Later Marxist scholars, like those of the famed, “Frankfurt School,” applied this idea to all areas of culture and society. This is why some people call Critical Theory “cultural Marxism.” Their ideas lived on in particular academic circles. Writers borrowed from postmodern thinkers like Michel Foucault.  From him they got the idea that everything is about power.  Every norm, every shared truth about history or science, every moral precept , all of it is “constructed” as an exercise of power.

Then along came “Intersectionality,” where identity markers became the primary focus. Mix that into Critical Theory and you end up with new academic disciplines like, “Critical Race Theory” and “Queer Theory,” among others. They teach people that identity markers fall along a hierarchy.  If, for example, you are a white male heterosexual Christian, you are on the extreme “oppressor” end of the spectrum. But if instead you are a black, gay, female who practices Wicca, you are on the extreme “oppressed” end of the spectrum. You see how that works?

And again, all of the “systems” are presumed to favor those on the oppressor side, and must therefore be “dismantled.” This is how we accomplish social justice, in their view.  These criticisms could go on, but the thing I most want to emphasize here is the way CT tries to escape all critical evaluation by vilifying it. In other words, they make reason itself another “system” that must be dismantled.

The spokespeople for CT are fond of saying that we need to “have a conversation” about this or that. This means, more or less, that their claims are to be taken uncritically. Critique only works one direction — the old Marxist direction. They critique the systems; but nobody is allowed to critique their views.  One celebrated “professor of creative writing and inclusion” explained why she always turns down invitations to debate her views: Because debate is an imperialist capitalist white supremacist heteropatriarchal technique that transforms a potential exchange of knowledge into a tool of exclusion & oppression.

For those not fluent in “woke,” the assertion of this word salad is that civil debate itself is part of the evil system.  This would no doubt baffle every great thinker from Aristotle to Descartes. But it is perfectly in keeping with a recent Smithsonian exhibit on “Whiteness.” Taken straight from the writings of popular critical theorists, it showed all of the things imposed by dominant white values. Those things included: objectivity, reason, hard work, fair play, the nuclear family, respect for authority, monotheism, having goals, future planning, optimism, property ownership, written tradition, politeness, proper English, conflict resolution and many more.”

Critical Theory Dismantles the Tools of Critical Thinking

There is much to criticize about in Critical Theory (CT). Its moral claims are without a foundation, since it is grounded either in atheism (a la historic Marxism) or religious and moral confusion. They have no ultimate basis for human dignity, rights or equality. CT also gets human nature wrong.  A person’s value is not in his or her shallow and superficial features. Reducing people to traits like skin color and sexual organs shrinks human worth and distorts our view of all humanity.

These criticisms could go on, but the thing I most want to emphasize here is the way CT tries to escape all critical evaluation by vilifying it. In other words, they make reason itself another “system” that must be dismantled.  The spokespeople for CT are fond of saying that we need to “have a conversation” about this or that. This means, more or less, that their claims are to be taken uncritically. Critique only works one direction — the old Marxist direction. They critique the systems; but nobody is allowed to critique their views.

This would no doubt baffle every great thinker from Aristotle to Descartes. But it is perfectly in keeping with a recent Smithsonian exhibit on “Whiteness.” Taken straight from the writings of popular critical theorists, it showed all of the things imposed by dominant white values. Those things included: objectivity, reason, hard work, fair play, the nuclear family, respect for authority, monotheism, having goals, future planning, optimism, property ownership, written tradition, politeness, proper English, conflict resolution and many more.” [1]

In essence, the worldview of the Critical Theorists, is a perfect example of what the “wisdom of man,” or the “wisdom of this age,” represents.  It is a complete contrast of the “wisdom of God,” or what the Word of God teaches.  The word of God makes it clear, that the root of man’s problems is not class, race or gender, but rather, the root of man’s problems is sin and our inherent Adamic sin nature.  Because at the end of the day, “we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  This is why Christ had to die, in order to redeem humanity back to God.

1 Corinthians  2:1-5. Not in Human Wisdom But in the Spirit and and Power

When I came to you, brothers, I didn’t come with excellence of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech (Greek: logos)and my preaching (kerygma) were not in persuasive words (logos) of human wisdom (sophia) but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith wouldn’t stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

In 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Paul spoke of the Corinthian Christians, who were not wise, powerful, or of noble birth, but God chose them.  God is working out his purposes through them. That God chose them is no accident. God deliberately “the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are” (1:28).  Now, having used the Corinthian Christians to illustrate his point about human versus Godly wisdom, Paul turns to his own preaching to further illustrate that contrast. Paul came to Corinth and the Corinthian Christians proclaiming the mystery of God.

Elements of the Practice of Godly Wisdom

1. Revere God Psalm 111:10 ESV  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
2. Submit to God’s will Colossians 1:9 ESV  … we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
3. Carefully consider their ways Ephesians 5:15 ESV  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
4. Are humble
Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
5. Acknowledge ignorance 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 ESV  Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 
6. Practice self-control  Proverbs 16:32 ESV  Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
7. On the watch for deception 1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
8. Are open to advice
Proverbs 12:15 ESV  The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
9. Edify and correct others for their own good  Ecclesiastes 7:5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.

The Natural Person Versus the Spiritual Person

“Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15But he who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is judged by no one.  16“For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him?” But we have Christ’s mind” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).

 

The (unspiritual person) stands in contrast to the (spiritual person).  The (unspiritual people) cannot “receive the things of God’s spirit,” because they don’t want them, and regard spiritual things as foolishness. They can’t understand spiritual things, because their hearts are not attuned to the the things of God.  But he who is spiritual discerns all things (v. 15a). In contrast to the the unspiritual person, the the spiritual person is equipped to discern, judge, evaluate all things, both spiritual and unspiritual.

This word, anakrino (discern), is based on the word krino (judge), and has a wide range of meanings: scrutinize, investigate, examine, discern. The idea here is that the spiritual person is able to make good judgments regarding spiritual things, and is also equipped to judge worldly things, or things that are indifferent to or even opposed to the Spirit of God. The spiritual person is well-equipped to see the hollow center of worldly activities that appear attractive from the outside. He or she is better equipped than most to avoid temptation personally, and is also equipped to advise others in matters both spiritual and worldly.  That doesn’t mean that they will never make a mistake, but it does mean that they will be more discerning that most, and more honest and trustworthy than most.  Jesus in fact, told his disciples to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). We all need an adviser of that quality.

Paul continues drawing the distinction between the spiritual person Vs the carnal or natural person by further admonishing the Corinthian Christians with the words, But we have Christ’s mind (v. 16b).  In other words, the spiritual person, having been reborn according by the grace of God, begins to see life from a new perspective, from Christ’s perspective.  From Christ’s perspective, everything looks different.  In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul calls Christians to have the mind of Christ Jesus and also reveals what that means. The mind of Christ Jesus was bent on service. He was in the form of God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, taking the form of a human being, the son of a carpenter. “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Few of us can claim to have reached that degree of selflessness. When Paul says that we have the mind of Christ, he is stating that both as a reality and as an ideal.  Something that is true now, but something into which we all still need to grow.  To the extent that we do have the mind of Christ, we see things from a perspective that make our old values seem irrelevant and the life of service and devotion the ideal toward which we strive.

Practicing Godly wisdom in an Ungodly World

We receive wisdom from God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit communicates through our spirit and inner conscience. As we pray, study His word and quiet down to listen to Him, He will give us an “inner knowing” and plant insights into our minds.

Isaiah 11:2 ESV  “And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”

Job 38:36 “Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?”

Job 32:8-9 ESV  “But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.”

1. Begin with humility and turn towards God

Reverence and humility before God are crucial to gaining godly wisdom. The humble will listen, observe, accept correction and grow wiser. The proud only collect more knowledge. God calls this folly and futile.

Proverbs 27:5-6 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

1 Corinthians 3:19-20 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”

2. Turn away from worldly wisdom

The world is filled with teachings, quotes, and ideologies that sound like great wisdom, but will ultimately, lead us away from God.

Proverbs 14:12 ESV  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

Worldly wisdom will lead us to gratify our desires, rather than submit to God. The Bible calls us to “set the mind on the Spirit” so we will experience God’s “life and peace”. We need to put away or repent of relying on our own understanding or logic as to how things work based on the world’s “teachings” and renew our minds with God’s Word. This is how we will be able to follow His ultimate wisdom.

Romans 8:6-8 ESV  “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

3. Slow down, quiet our thoughts and ask God

It takes discipline to quiet our minds and wait on God. When we fix our thoughts on Him, He will reveal the path forward. He even promises to be generous with His limitless wisdom when we ask Him with simple faith.

Isaiah 26:3 ESV  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

James 1:5-8 ESV  “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

The temptation is always to ruminate on the “what if’s” in life but such thinking will prove to be futile because with God, there is only one way, and that is His good and perfect will. We need to beware not to let some inner unspoken fear or personal insecurity drive us to “look at all the possibilities” in life. Such fears are not from God.

4. Test our thoughts 

Some thing can sound 95% right and still be wrong.

Just as the Holy Spirit will give us godly wisdom, Satan can also give us worldly wisdom. It is important to ask the Holy Spirit to help us examine and test the direction of our thoughts so that we follow His voice, instead of the enemy’s. This is one way we “test the spirits to see whether they are from God”.

Lamentations 3:40 ESV  “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!”

1 John 4:1 ESV “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”

5. Stay away from ungodly influences

Ungodly influences come from many different sources, from family traditions, the media, society, pop culture, songs etc. Ultimately, they will fill our minds with insecurity, pride, doubt, and worldly human logic. We are to keep our thoughts pure, uncorrupted and innocent so our thoughts don’t get swayed away from God’s will.

Romans 16:19 ESV  “For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.”

Proverbs 3:7 “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”

If we feel as if we are “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about” in our thoughts, then we need to examine if we are being blown about by ungodly teaching or lies that sound like the truth.

Ephesians 4:14 ESV “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

6. Choose our counselors wisely

It is wise to listen to good advice. Even so, we need to be selective about who we turn to for advice. Seeking wisdom from prudent God-fearing people is good but seeking God’s ultimate wisdom is best. No one knows what tomorrow holds as clearly as God does, and no detail is too insignificant to bring before God.

Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

7. Know God’s Word well

Nothing beats studying God’s Word. This is how we will be able to decipher His ways, His will, and His character. The wise know that God will never do anything that’s out of character nor will He change His Word.

Psalm 19:7-8 ESV  “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;”

1 Samuel 15:29 ESV  “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”

In Conclusion, we are living in an age where in America and around the world, God’s truth is being challenged, marginalized and even being viewed as illegal hate speech.  In fact, when you think about it, to the carnal mind, the message of “Christ crucified” is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron. On the surface it doesn’t make sense. “Christ” or “Messiah” carries ideas of triumph, power, splendor, while “crucified” brings to mind concepts of weakness, humiliation, defeat.

Furthermore, in this emotionally charged, and polarized political environment, believers in Christ, who has the Word of God as their reference guide, MUST be able to LOOK PAST THE PERSONALITIES of the candidates and CRITICALLY THINK and SPIRITUALLY DISCERN the BIG PICTURE from a BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW.

In Paul’s day, the idea of Christ crucified to the Jews this represented a scandal.  While to Greeks on the other hand, it made absolutely no sense at all. It was foolishness. It was madness.  But in this current post-modern, worldly culture, it is important that we as believers, remind ourselves that Paul did not soft-pedal or water-down or sugar coat his message to make it more digestible,  just because various groups had a problem with it.  He declared the straight unadulterated gospel.

This doesn’t mean that we can forget our missionary role to declare the Gospel to our generation in terms they can understand. We must! We must in fact, find culturally relevant equivalents and metaphors to communicate the gospel clearly.  But that is quite different than altering the essential message or avoiding those aspects that are perhaps embarrassing to us.

We see a number of examples of the core content of the apostles preaching that includes the truth of Christ’s crucifixion and death for our sins (Acts 2:36; 4:10; 10:39-40; 13:28-30; 17:2-3; 26:22-23). Later in 1 Corinthians, Paul includes the crucified and resurrected Messiah among the core truths of the Gospel.  “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Christ is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). This message may sound like foolishness to the sophisticated people of any age, but it is far more powerful than what they call “wisdom.”  “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)

  1. Critical  Theory’s War on Critical Thinking, by Clint Roberts, October 14th, 2020, www.stream.org

What is a Christian to Think? Developing A Biblical Worldview, Part 4, The Law of Unintended Consequences, by Dr Bruce Logan

The Law of Unintended Consequences

America is currently in the midst of arguably one of the most contentious, polarizing and emotionally charged Presidential election seasons maybe in our history, or at least since Abraham Lincoln vs Stephen Douglas.  The contentiousness of this season has been fueled by the emotional hatred for Trump vs the fear that many Americans have about the potential of a socialist transformation of American society.  Compound that with the fact that there is a large portion of Americans who passionately believe that anyone who votes for Trump is automatically a racist, proving in their minds at least, that America is a “systemic racist country.” So the question that all believers should be asking in this emotionally charged season should be, what should we as believers in Christ, make of this situation?  And how should we view this season from a biblical worldview perspective, particularly at the ballot box?

First of all, it is important to come to grips with the fact that, emotions, personalities, tradition, and our inherent personal biases are powerful motivators that drive human behavior and attitudes.  And particularly, when it comes to issues pertaining to religion and politics, the motivating power of emotions, tradition and the love for our favorite personalities tend to factor heavily in most people’s decision making process and worldview.  Unfortunately however, because emotions, traditions, and personal biases play such a significant part in the human condition, particularly when it comes to politics and religion, it tends to hinder one’s ability to exercise any form of critical thinking and biblical discernment.  In addition, emotion, tradition, personality preferences and personal biases, more often than not, play a huge role in driving support for your preferred political party, various policy initiatives, along with advocacy of our preferred political candidate during election seasons, much more so than reason, discernment or critically thinking through the various specific issues.

This is demonstrated by the fact that, nearly half of voting Americans, without any discernment or critical thinking, are by default, locked into a voting mindset that is primarily motivated by emotion and tradition driven loyalty to their preferred political party, whether it is Democrat, Republican or other.  This is further illustrated by the fact that every four years, particularly during Presidential voting season, you can drive around many neighborhoods around the country, and you will see signs advocating for their preferred presidential ticket.  And that is not to mention, the plethora of social media posts that are either promoting one candidate, or demonizing the other.  And around the country, in various communities and on social media, register to vote campaigns abound.

This year however, because of the compilation of issues that have converged on the country at the same time including, the personal and economic impact of a Covid-19 pandemic, the increasing racial tensions based on a number of highly publicized police shootings of African Americans, the increasing appeal of a socialist transformation of America, and topped off with the hatred that a large portion of Americans have for President Trump, have combined to make this one of the most combative and emotionally charged election seasons ever.

Just this morning for example, I woke up and checked my social media updates, and the very first post that I saw, was a political voting activism post that warned, that we need to “wake up, and make sure that you vote, because this election is a matter of life and death.”  Then it ended with the #Biden/Harris.  And throughout any given day, you will see dozens of similar social media warnings, memes, cartoons, YouTube videos and trending twitter posts from both sides of the political worldview isle.

However, an argument can be made for the fact that the absolute most critical aspect of any given Presidential election is often completely omitted and ignored from almost all of these political interactions.  And that fundamental omission is the fact that, in the majority of these political promotions, whether it is a register to vote campaign, or a promotion of one parties ticket over the others, we are told WHO we should vote for, and WHO we should vote against.

However, what is rarely a part of most of these get out to vote promotional campaigns, is a voter education on specifically WHAT we should be voting for, or specifically WHAT we should be voting against.  And WHY we should be voting for or against something or someone.   So by simply admonishing people to register and vote because our “lives depend on it,” without a clear voter education of the INDIVIDUAL SPECIFIC ISSUES, and information regarding the inevitable subsequent positive and or negative impact of the numerous specific issues, that in one way or the other, whether directly or indirectly, impact all of us, can turn out to be a somewhat hollow exercise.  Because legislative initiatives, whether it is for a given policy or against another, all have consequences that often have an impact long after the initiating Administration is out of office.

In other words, rather than the standard preoccupation with tradition and a personality driven approach to voting, there are specific questions that we should all be asking during every Presidential election such as, what impact has a given legislative or policy proposal or judicial ruling effected people in the past?  Where else in the world or in history has an advocated policy initiative been in effect?  What impact has that policy had on that particular country? What impact has similar legislation has had on America or other countries historically?  What, if any, is the hidden or unspoken motivations for a particular legislative initiative?  How specifically would a given policy proposal impact Americans as a whole?  What will a socialist America look like, especially for the next generation?  And what has been the long term economic consequences of past similar legislative initiatives?  Are just a few of the questions that rarely get asked or addressed by most get out to vote advocates.

Specific issues such as, Education, taxation, Judicial appointments, healthcare, regulatory policies, immigration, trade policies, foreign policy, National defense, First and Second Amendment protections, Capitalism vs Socialism, racial issues, abortion, energy policies, the role of the Federal Government, and so on, are all examples of specific issues that every voter needs to be educated on.  Because these, plus many other specific issues, all have a major impact, not only on each of us on a individual level, but also, legislation passed, or judicial rulings given, in any given year, and by any given Administration, often have  not only immediate effects, but they more often than not, have generational impacts and implications.

Consider for example, the current NBA social justice campaign. The League is promoting the issue of social justice by having Black Lives Matter painted on the court, while many of the players at the same time, have social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys.  One evening I was watching a game, and there was one player who had a message on the back of his jersey that especially caught my attention.  The message was, “Education reform.”  And because the idea of education reform just so happens to be one of my pet issues, that message jumped out at me.

Because, particularly in minority communities, poor education performances has been much more of a “systemic problem” than policy brutality for example.  In fact, in a recent column by Economist Walter Williams titled, “The True Plight of Black Americans,” where he points out the poor education statistics of several of the larger cities in America.  For example, Williams points out, “Democratic-controlled cities have the poorest-quality public education despite their large, and growing, school budgets. Consider Baltimore. In 2016, in 13 of Baltimore’s 39 high schools, not a single student scored proficient on the state’s math exam. In six other high schools, only 1% tested proficient in math. Only 15% of Baltimore students passed the state’s English test.  That same year in Philadelphia, only 19% of eighth-graders scored proficient in math, and 16% were proficient in reading. In Detroit, only 4% of its eighth-graders scored proficient in math, and 7% were proficient in reading.  It’s the same story of academic disaster in other cities run by Democrats.” [1]

So with the alarming negative education performances in communities all over the country, it has been my contention that “education reform” should be on or near the top of all of our our political atavism check lists.  Furthermore, unlike when the many people with a secular worldview bring up the issue of reforming education, as believers, we should view the topic through a different lens.  In other words, whenever the issue of reforming public education for example, is mentioned, we should be thinking much deeper and more critically into the topic than the average person.  Because, when many people think about education reform, they simply conclude that reforming education means collecting more taxes and paying teachers more, or hiring more teachers.

But as believers, we should be thinking more critically about the subject by asking more critical and specific questions such as: Reform how?  What will that reform look like? What would be some specifics, or how specifically should public education be reformed? Do we continue by reforming the current education system by allocating more money to the system as traditionally suggested?  Why or why not?  Do we take the control of public education away from the Federal Government and return it to the States or local communities by adopting a National School Choice Amendment, as many Conservatives have suggested? Again, why or why not? Do we consider some sort of compromised form of a School or parental choice policy?  Has there been other education proposals in the past that have failed to make it to Congress for debate, that maybe need to be revisited?  Are there models of education success stories around the country that maybe we can glean from?  What education reform proposals are advocated by each party or candidate?  What are the pros and cons of the various proposals?  And what would be the long term consequences of the various proposals?  In other words, simply saying education reform might be a good starting point, but to leave it there without asking and getting specific answers to these types of specific critical questions, is actually self defeating.

This level of critical and discerning analysis can be applied to a wide range of issues, that traditionally only get “surface attention” from the media and political candidates.  Which means that it is incumbent upon the voter to do our due diligence prior to entering the voting booth.  To be more specific, it should be incumbent upon all believers that when it comes to our responsibilities in the arena of exercising our right to vote, that we should learn to detach ourselves from our feelings, emotions, traditions, personalities and our preoccupations with our personal dogmas.  Because the harsh reality is that regardless of our worldview and regardless of our personal biases, we are still yet inflicted with the Adamic sin nature.  And because of our inherent sin nature, we need to have our minds renewed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that we can be led by His Spirit as opposed to being led by our feelings, emotions, traditions and personal biases.

And it is vitally important that as believers that we understand this concept.  Because it is a fact that, people who are driven by emotion, tradition and personalities, and their own personal biases,  particularly when it comes to politics and voting, rarely allow themselves to critically think through the issues, or ask critical questions such as, “what are the long term consequences” of the given issue or issues, or policy initiative being debated or advocated for.  What’s even worse, particularly when it comes to politics and voting, most people whose worldview is driven by emotion and personality preferences, or party loyalties, tend to be completely oblivious to the particulars of the many separate issues that impact us, (like the education reform example that I cited above) or what the long term consequences of the passing of various legislation can have on the economy, on job creating, on education, on religious freedom, on family, and on the next generation in general.

For example, one of the more alarming political trends in America today, is this fascination of and gravitation towards ideas of socialism.  And often without realizing it, when many people hear the word “free,” or phrases like, “income inequality” or “universal income,” they tend to allow those well sounding words and phrases to appeal to their Adamic nature and shut down all critical thinking to the point where they never so much as ask themselves basic questions like, how are we going to pay for all of this free stuff?  Or, if we penalized all of the job creators (aka, the millionaires and billionaires), then where will the jobs come from?  Or, what will be the impact of  increasing taxes on the job creators on the overall economy and particularly the employment rate.  And if there is a drastic increase in unemployment, then where is the Federal revenue going to come from in order to pay for all of the free stuff?  Or, if we allow open borders, then who will those foreign workers going to displace in the unskilled job market?  Which demographic or demographics will be the most adversely affected?  Or, if you “defund the police,” how will citizens be protected, especially in traditionally high crime areas?

And it has been for these and other reasons, that for years, when it comes to the topic of religion and politics, I have been beating the drums for believers in particular, to first of all, when it comes to political advocacy, that we employ the same principles to politics as we should all be applying to biblical study, which is that we should all strive to, “be a Berean” which is a reference to Acts 17:11 which commends the believers in Berea, calling them “more noble than the believers in Thessalonica, because the searched the scriptures daily to see whether or not the things that Paul was teaching was true or not.”

In other words, the believers in Berea did not simply emotionally except everything that Paul said at face value because he was such a gifted orator.  Instead, they took what Paul said, and then went home daily and “searched the scriptures” for themselves, in order to confirm for themselves, whether or not the things that Paul was teaching was true or not true.  Which again, was a characteristic that Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, describes as “more noble.”  

And it is this “Berean principle,” that should be the model that we also employ when it comes to how we approach our political worldviews.  We should never simply take at face value, the words of the particular candidates, or advertisements or even the words of our local political leaders and advocates, without taking the time and effort to become informed voters by investigating the specific issues and their subsequent impact for ourselves.

This “Berean principle,” is actually more critical today than in any previous era, because in America today, especially when it comes to the area of politics, and particularly during this modern, incredibly polarized political environment, emotions are running roughshod over virtually every aspect of our modern political debate, while critical thinking and analysis has become extremely scarce.  The concept of actually rewiring your brain (or renewing your minds) by decreasing your emotions and increasing reason and critically thinking though the many political issues, and considering the pros and cons on the long term consequences of the different sides of each issue, seems to be a concept that is anathema to most people who are driven by their emotions, or traditions and loyalties to their preferred political party.

It is for this reason, that I have been promoting the idea that when it comes to areas of biblical interpretation and politics, that we should “take the emotions out of it,” and learn to be Bereans.  In other words, when it comes to politics for example, regardless of what you think about America, we have been given an opportunity that very few civilizations in history has had.  We live in a “representative republic.”  Which means that we have the opportunity to elect our representatives, or those who will supposedly, represent the interests of our local communities, our religious convictions, our families, our States and our Nation.  And if those whom we have elected to represent our interests, fail to live up to what we have elected them to do, we have a system in which we can fire them at the ballot box, and hire different representatives.

However, because of the overly partisan and emotion driven nature of many voters, and the unashamed liberally biased nature of the media and pop culture, the idea of removing the emotions from our political engagement and critically thinking through the specific issues on the merits and pros and cons of the individual issues themselves, is a concept that is almost nonexistent.

In other words, rarely do you hear people who are emotion, tradition, or personality driven, ask basic questions such as, what are the long-term effects of any particular policy initiatives?  Or, what if any, are the “unintended consequences” of a particular policy worldview?  This is particularly disconcerting when you consider the fact that we now have nearly sixty-years of documented data on the the effects and impact of pass legislation and judicial rulings.  Legislation and judicial rulings that occurred in the sixties, such as Roe V Wade, the Great Society, and removing prayer from schools, now have a generation worth of impact data that voters today, especially believers, should be understanding and gleaning from.

The Law of Unintended Consequences Defined

Generally speaking, the law of unintended consequences is a frequently-observed phenomenon in which any action has results that are not part of the actor’s purpose.  The superfluous consequences may or may not be foreseeable or even immediately observable and they may be beneficial, harmful or neutral in their impact. In the best-case scenario, an action produces both the desired results and unplanned benefits; in the worst-case scenario, however, the desired results fail to materialize and there are negative consequences that make the original problem worse.

More specifically, the law of unintended consequences, is that actions of people and especially of governments, always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.  Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it.  In the social sciences, unintended consequences (sometimes unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) are outcomes that are not the ones foreseen or intended by a purposeful action. The term was popularized in the twentieth century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton.

Unintended consequences can be grouped into three types:

  • Unexpected benefit: A positive, unexpected benefit (also referred to as luck, serendipity, or a windfall).
  • Unexpected drawback: A negative, unexpected detriment occurring in addition to the desired effect of the policy (e.g., while irrigation schemes provide people with water for agriculture, they can increase waterborne diseases that have devastating health effects, such as schistosomiasis).
  • Perverse result: A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse). This is sometimes referred to as ‘backfire’.

Particularly in the case of Government legislation or Judicial rulings, these unanticipated or unintended results of various pieces of legislation and Court rulings, have had devastating effects that are still being felt decades and even generations later.  In other words, well intentioned legislation, more often than not, acts against the interests of those it is intended to serve.  And many of these proceedings have become a part of the American social fabric, right under the noses of the Church.

And with that, as I have alluding to earlier, it is this overly emotion, tradition and personality driven culture, particularly by God’s people, that has led to this complete lack of discernment and critically thinking about the consequences of our political engagement.  Furthermore, it is this lack of discernment that has led to arguably the most alarming and under the radar societal and cultural issue of our time, which is the fact that secularism, or the worldviews of the world, has now supplanted the biblical principles and values, as the more impactful and influential force for change in America.

There are many reasons why this has occurred that we can point to.  However, regardless of the reason or reasons for this reversal of roles between Christianity being the dominant influencing and impacting force in the culture, to the point where we are now, in which the secular culture is now exuding more influence and impact in the culture than the Church; the result has been that, not only do we have a culture that is burning down all around us, but the minds of an entire generation of young adults have become influenced by a satanic ideologies and worldviews, to the point that they have become completely desensitized to the demonic nature of the worldviews that they have accepted.

Additionally, our general lack of Christian engagement, combined with a complete lack of understanding of the long term impact of the various specific issues that have been a part of our political landscape for decades, has led to legislative and judicial decisions that has had far reaching negative and even a “generational impact” on today’s American culture.  And because we have been so either, preoccupied with other issues, such as the Civil Rights movement of the sixties, (which was completely legitimate by the way) or the modern racial issues that has resulted from the killing of African Americans by white police officers, we have not been informed or attentive to a plethora of “other issues” that has had a deleterious impact on our culture today.  In other words, there has been a number passed legislation and judicial rulings that was passed into law decades ago, but yet we are feeling the negative effects or the “unintended consequences” today.

The list of examples are endless, but just to give a few, consider the following instances: The U.S. Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer in public schools in a 1962 decision, saying that it violated the First Amendment.  That was 58 years ago, yet 58 years later, we are seeing the impact that SAYING NO TO GOD has had on the American school systems.

Consider also, that on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5–4 decision that the Fourteenth Amendment requires all states to grant same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states.  The results of this ruling, combined with the Courts making God unconstitutional in public schools, has opened up the flood gates for a level of debauchery that 50 years ago, would have been unimaginable.

Or how about President Johnson’s 1964 Great Society Legislation?  The Great Society legislation was an ambitious series of policy initiatives, legislation and programs spearheaded by President Lyndon B. Johnson with the main goals of ending poverty, reducing crime, abolishing inequality and improving the environment. In May 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson laid out his agenda for a “Great Society” during a speech at the University of Michigan. With his eye on re-election that year, Johnson set in motion his Great Society, the largest social reform plan in modern history.

Many economists and in the social sciences argue that the “Great Society,” which was also billed as the “war on poverty,” was the worse thing that has ever happened to the African American family structure.  In Fact, in the 1988 State of the Union Address, President Ronald Reagan famously said, “We waged a war on poverty and poverty won.”   Consider for example, the following brief exert from an article by Walter Williams, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, in an article titled, “The Welfare States Legacy:”  The No. 1 problem among blacks is the effects stemming from a very weak family structure. Children from fatherless homes are likelier to drop out of high school, die by suicide, have behavioral disorders, join gangs, commit crimes and end up in prison. They are also likelier to live in poverty-stricken households. But is the weak black family a legacy of slavery? In 1960, just 22 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families. Fifty years later, more than 70 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families. Here’s my question: Was the increase in single-parent black families after 1960 a legacy of slavery, or might it be a legacy of the welfare state ushered in by the War on Poverty?

According to the 1938 Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers. Today about 75 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers. Is that supposed to be a delayed response to the legacy of slavery? The bottom line is that the black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years.  At one time, almost all black families were poor, regardless of whether one or both parents were present. Today roughly 30 percent of blacks are poor. However, two-parent black families are rarely poor. Only 8 percent of black married-couple families live in poverty. Among black families in which both the husband and wife work full time, the poverty rate is under 5 percent. Poverty in black families headed by single women is 37 percent. The undeniable truth is that neither slavery nor Jim Crow nor the harshest racism has decimated the black family the way the welfare state has. [2]

Many also argue, that the negative impact of the welfare state, resulted from the the “unintended consequence” of the government stepping in and disincentivizing fatherhood, by rewarding mothers who have children out of wedlock with money, food and free housing, while at the same time, penalizing them if they got married.  Effectively punishing or disincentivizing the promotion of healthy family units, which is the foundation of any healthy community and society.  And particularly hard hit in this breakdown of the traditional family, were African American households who lived in the inner cities.

NAFTA

Then of course, there was the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which was a three-country accord negotiated by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States that entered into force in January 1994. NAFTA eliminated most tariffs on products traded between the three countries, with a major focus on liberalizing trade in agriculture, textiles, and automobile manufacturing. The deal also sought to protect intellectual property, establish dispute resolution mechanisms, and, through side agreements, implement labor and environmental safeguards.

NAFTA fundamentally reshaped North American economic relations, driving unprecedented integration between the developed economies of Canada and the United States and Mexico’s developing one. In the United States, NAFTA originally enjoyed bipartisan backing; it was negotiated by Republican President George H.W. Bush, passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress, and was implemented under Democratic President Bill Clinton. Regional trade tripled under the agreement, and cross-border investment among the three countries also grew significantly.

How did NAFTA fit into the broader debate over trade policy?

When negotiations for NAFTA began in 1991, the goal for all three countries was the integration of Mexico with the developed, high-wage economies of the United States and Canada. The hope was that freer trade would bring stronger and steadier economic growth to Mexico, by providing new jobs and opportunities for its growing workforce and discouraging illegal migration. For the United States and Canada, Mexico was seen both as a promising market for exports and as a lower-cost investment location that could enhance the competitiveness of U.S. and Canadian companies.  NAFTA supporters estimate that some fourteen million U.S. jobs rely on trade with Canada or Mexico, and that the nearly two hundred thousand export-related jobs created annually by the pact pay 15 to 20 percent more on average than the jobs that were lost.

On the other hand, critics of the deal argue that it was to blame for job losses and wage stagnation in the United States, driven by low-wage competition, companies moving production to Mexico to lower costs, and a widening trade deficit. The Center for Economic and Policy Research’s (CEPR) Dean Baker and the Economic Policy Institute’s Robert Scott argue that the surge of imports after NAFTA caused a loss of up to six hundred thousand U.S. jobs over two decades.

Many workers and labor leaders blame trade agreements such as NAFTA for the decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs. The U.S. auto sector lost some 350,000 jobs since 1994—a third of the industry, while Mexican auto sector employment spiked from 120,000 to 550,000 workers. [3]  In addition, there is probably no way to add up the total cost in the impact on the lives of those impacted by the job losses.  The divorces, the suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, the impact on families, the mortgage defaults, the closing of secondary businesses like, dry cleaners, the corner pizza shop, the corner restaurants, diners, car dealerships, suppliers, truckers, and so on.

But there is even a more devastating unintended consequence of NAFTA, which was the impact that it had on the exporting of Drugs into the US.  The North American Free Trade Agreement boosted trade across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. But it also helped fuel the modern drug trade.  NAFTA phased out tariffs across North America, making it easier for freight trucks to cross the border. Between 1994 and 2001, the number of trucks crossing into the U.S. from Mexico nearly doubled to roughly 4.3 million per year. U.S. border officials only inspected about 10 percent of these trucks, leaving a big opening for drug traffickers.

A decade after NAFTA, 90 percent of Colombian cocaine was smuggled through the southwest border. Mexico, which had always been the Walmart of marijuana and heroin, quickly became, as the Wall Street Journal put it, the FedEx of the cocaine business.  Economists disagree about NAFTA’s ultimate impact on the North American economy.  And the future of the trade pact will be up for debate in 2019 when Congress decides whether to ratify its replacement, the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA.  But what’s indisputable is NAFTA’s impact on the global drug trade and on the massive wealth and power accumulated by Mexican cartels and kingpins, like Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. [4]

These are just a small sampling of the unlimited number of examples that I could point to, that has be passed over the years by both of the major political parties, that has had or will have long term consequences that will exist long after the Administration responsible is long out of office.  Examples such as, the invasion of Iraq, the economic impact of the Affordable Care Act, Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation, and the Supreme Courts controversial gay marriage ruling are just a few of the unlimited number of examples, of legislation and court rulings that have consequences that have extended long after the responsible Administration is long out of office.

Finally, as I have been attempting to point out, there have been many past pieces of legislation and judicial rulings that have had dire unintended consequences that are still being felt generations later.  In reality however, the list of examples of the unintended consequences of past legislation and judicial rulings is literally endless.  And that does not even include the many modern issues that are being hotly debated and is causing so much societal and cultural angst.   And as I mentioned earlier, issues pertaining to education, foreign policy, taxation, energy production, First and Second Amendment rights, regulatory policy, healthcare policies, trade policies, National security issues, and abortion all have a wide array of potential, as well as, actual or historical consequences that are associated with them.  And as we have seen, many of these consequences have had generational adverse consequences.  Consequences, many of which, could have been avoided or altered, if God’s people were actively engaged, spiritually discerning and critically thinking voters.

Therefore, as good stewards of our right to vote, it should be incumbent upon every believer in Christ, regardless of your past political persuasion, to think and discern outside of your emotions, and apart from your favorite personality or political party, and critically examine the consequences of the vast array of issues, individually or issue by issue by issue.  Because at the end of the day, personalities come and go, and every 4 to 8 years, political power among the parties often change hands from Republicans to Democrats and back to Republicans.  However, the impact or the consequences of the legislation that they pass or the judicial rulings from the Justices that they appoint, lasts for generations.

  1. The True Plight of Black Americans, by Walter Williams, The Daily Home, June 10, 2020
  2. The Welfare States Legacy, by Walter Williams, September 20, 2017, www.creators.com
  3. How NAFTA Helped Create the Modern Drug Trade, By Joe Tone January 4, 2019, 10:46am.
  4. NAFTA and the USMCA: Weighing the Impact of North American Trade, Backgrounder by Andrew Chatzky, James McBride, and Mohammed Aly Sergie, Last updated July 1, 2020

What is a Christian to Think? Developing A Biblical Worldview, Part 3, Worldviews in Conflict, The Cosmic Battle for Truth? by Dr Bruce Logan

Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians

The day after the 2016 Presidential election, I was visiting with a very close ministerial friend of mine and we began discussing the outcome of the election, in which in a surprising turn of events, Donald Trump won the election of the presumed front runner Hillary Clinton.  During the course of our conversation, my friend asked me a really simple but yet very profound question.  He asked me, “How does my religious views or my theological perspectives impact or influence my political views?” 

The reason why this question was so fundamentally significant, is because regardless of your position on the election’s outcome, it is your worldview or your perception and presuppositions of politics, your perception and assumptions of government, or your view of the country and the world in general that determines or frames not only how you vote, but your view of the outcome of the 2016 election.  It is also important to keep in mind that, whatever your given perspectives, perceptions, presuppositions, paradigms or worldview may be, those worldview frameworks existed long before the 2016 Election.  In short, the determining factor for which end of the culture war rope you are pulling and why, or your reaction to outcomes of elections, is ultimately determined and influenced by your worldview.

The power of a worldview

A worldview is inescapable. Our worldview consists of our most basic assumptions (presuppositions) about reality. Our most foundational presuppositions (axioms) cannot be proved by something else (otherwise they would not be the most foundational), yet we hold them to be unquestionable. We use these assumptions (often without realizing it) to help us interpret what we observe in the world. We cannot avoid this; without a number of foundational presuppositions about reality we could not make sense of anything.

Today, we live in a world of competing ideas and worldviews.  In an increasingly globalized and digitally interconnected world, Christians are more aware of (and influenced by) more divergent and conflicting views than ever before. But there are two very hard questions that need to be asked if you are a believer.  First of all, just how much have other, or non-biblical worldviews crept into Christians’ perspectives? And how are we to discern what is of God and what is of the enemy?

To begin to address these questions, it might be helpful if I give a brief overview and summary of the previous two articles in this series:   For starters, it is critical that we never loose sight of the fact that it is our worldviews that will dictate your beliefs and your beliefs will then dictate your behaviors, responses, reactions, emotions, and choices in any given situation.  And then those behaviors, emotions, reactions, and choices that we display to the various stimulus we face, will ultimately testify to our worldview.

Simply put, since the beginning of time, humans have pondered, debated, argued, philosophized and have even gone as far as starting wars over many of life’s existential questions such as:

  1. What is the origin of the universe?  Is everything that exist just the simple result of time and random chance?  Or was there meticulous design and creation of the universe?
  2. Is there a God?  Is there a supernatural being that is beyond time and space?  And if so, what is He like?
  3. What is the nature of man?  Is man just an animal that evolved differently?  Or is he created from the dust and designed to be something special by a super natural God?  And also, Is man basically good but society makes him do bad things?  Or is man’s badness a built in, inherited result of the Adamic fall?
  4. What is the basis of ethics or morality?  We can’t actually understand man’s being good or bad without having some sort of reference point about what is good and what is bad.  Where do we get our ideas of good and evil?  Do we get it from ourselves?  Do we get it from nature?  Do we get it from society?  Or do we get our ideas about good and evil from God?
  5. What is the meaning of history?  Is history just a meaningless series of events that just happened?  Or was there a providential, purposeful, and orchestrated intention to history?
  6. Why is there evil and suffering in the world?  Does the fact of evil and suffering in the world proof that there is no God, or that God if He exists, is not good and loving?
  7. What happens after we die?  Do we just cease to exist? Do we get reincarnated and come back to earth as a cow or another person? Do we get absorbed into the cosmic consciousness? Or do we face God and judgment?
  8. Epistemology or how do we know what we know?  Is there such a thing as objective truth?  How do you know what is true?  If you believe in objective truth, does that make bigoted?  Should you be criticized and accused of trying to “impose your views” on others?
  9. If you are a minority, are all of the difficulties that you face the result of racism?  Should the idea of personal responsibility ever be factored in a person’s or community’s problems?  Or are all the problems the result of Republicans?  Is our capitalist system the root of all of their problems?  Is race the “root cause” of the rise in violent crime in inner city communities, or is the lack of fathers or the lack of two parent families?
  10. What is your view of the role of government?  Should America become more socialists?  Should more power and control be given to the government, or should less control be given to the government and more responsibility placed on individual citizens?  How much government power is too much and how much is not enough?
  11. Should the American remain a free market economy or should we transform to a European socialist economy?
  12. Should the US Constitution be interpreted literally, with the original intent of the framers intact, or is it a “Living document” that can be interpreted differently than it was intended depending on the time we are living in?

Along with these and many other worldview questions, over the years there has been several popular political terms that have become associated with or attached to these questions such as:  Liberal, Conservative, “Alt-right,” Atheist, Capitalist, Theist, Marxist, Progressive, Free market, Socialist, Communist, Theist, Materialist, Postmodernism, Evolution, Creationist, Western imperialism, Pluralism and New age. 

And even among bible believing Christians there are vast philosophical and theological differences that have given us terms such as:  Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Holiness, Baptist, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormonism, Calvinists, Oneness, Trinitarian, Liberation theology and so on.

Every one of these terms, all have a corresponding worldview or ideological construct that are attached to them that impacts how those who embrace one or more of these terms view the world.  So, for example, if you embrace a socialist form of government, it means that you advocate a “centralized federal government” centered economic and political system, which in turn will influence how you vote during a political election.  In contrast, if you embrace a “free market” or capitalist system, then that will also motivate you to vote for more free market political candidates during a given election season.

Now, time or space would not allow me to expound up all of the plethora of worldviews that we are regularly confronted with.  However if I could summarize and encapsulate all of the contending worldviews, that are competing for the minds of God’s people, and argument can be made for the idea that all of these opposing worldviews can be encapsulated into two competing worldviews which are: 1. A secular worldview Vs 2. A biblical worldview.

The two primary competing worldviews

Now as I pointed out earlier, there are many competing worldviews or ideological frameworks that are competing for our minds.  However, if I were to encapsulate all of the plethora of ideas contending for our attention from a big picture standpoint, they could arguably be divided into two sides:  The world view of secularism and a biblical or Christian worldview.  In other words, of all of the competing worldviews that exists today, they can be summarized or encapsulated in either a secularists or Christian worldview.

 Secularism

What exactly is a secular worldview?  Essentially, while there are several tenants to it, secularism is basically a system of doctrines, ideas, philosophies, and practices that disregards, undermines or rejects outright any form of religious faith or biblical teaching and influences.  The primary objective of those who advocate for a secularist America is the total elimination of all religious elements from society.  Secularism, also known as secular humanism, or “progressivism” teaches that there are no objective or absolute truths that define right or wrong.

In other words, to secularize something is to make it worldly and unspiritual.  Its intent is to deprive something of its religious character, its spiritual influence and significance, and replace it with worldly ideas, or as the Apostle Paul phrased it in his first letter to the believers in Corinth, “man’s wisdom.”

Regrettably, we live in a world today, where secular values and biblical values increasingly clash.  And all to often, the secular values are winning.  Biblical values, more and more are increasingly crowded out by other voices and other images.  In fact, more and more it seems that our culture has actually become hostile to religion.  Those who still hold on to biblical principles, feel like aliens in a strange land.  For example, if you maintain that the biblical principle of marriage is only between one man and one woman, the you are not only ostracized by society and labeled as a “homophobic bigot,” you even can run the risk of losing your job.  And because of this growing, unbridgeable cultural gap, it is my contention, that unless there is a national revival on the level of another Great Awakening, this friction between secularism and religion, will only increase and not decrease as time goes along.

In America today, secularism permeates all facets of the major influential institutions of modern society including: public education, academia, government, the criminal justice system, the news media, the Courts, the entertainment industry, professional sports leagues, and so on.  Many who advocate for secularism, essentially believe that man is the measure of all things, that morals are man-centered, not God-centered.  Therefore, no one is entitled to determine right from wrong and morality is best determined by what is good for today’s culture.  In addition, those who view the world through a secularist lens, do not believe that mankind can have a set of permanent values such as taught in the Bible.  Now while secularist do in fact pontificate such words as: tolerance, fairness, and diversity in their lexicon, they are actually totally hostile and intolerant to those who hold a biblical worldview or look at the Bible as God’s objective standard for behavior and morality such as the age-old biblical standard of marriage being between one man and one woman.  Situational ethics does away with moral absolutes, and dictates that there are no limits, no objective values and no real standards.

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 What is a biblical worldview?

A Christian or biblical worldview on the other hand, begins with God in Genesis, chapter one and verse one.  Succinctly stated, a Biblical worldview is viewing the world, the beginning of the world, people in the world, the problems in the world, governments of the world, issues in the world, solutions for the problems in the world, and the future of the world, through the lens or filter of God’s Word.

In other words, in a biblical worldview, everything you see should be viewed through the Word of God.  A biblical world view affirms that the world and our entire existence is the deliberate result of a divine Creator and the answers to the questions of, “what is truth,” can only be found in God’s word.

If on the other hand, you have a secularist worldview (one that does not include God) you will seek to develop an answer for every situation, issue or problem that does not include God or anything that could be associated with biblical principles.  For example, a secularist worldview tends to either undermine or flat out deny any allusions to the Genesis creation account because there is no God. From their perspective, the world came to be out of naturalistic causes like a “big bang,” not because God created it.  In other words, if you are coming from a secular worldview, you will do everything in your power to promote your view and discredit your opponent’s view.  In addition, if you have a secular worldview, you will tend to view and interpret world events, politics, religion, culture and race through a secularist’s lens with a secularists filter.

Eight Important Components of a Biblical Worldview

In general, seeing the world through the lens of a biblical worldview, can be summarized in the following eight components:

  1. God is the Creator of the world and rules this universe! (Genesis 1:1)
  2. The Bible is God’s Word for mankind and is completely accurate including matters of life and its origin. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  3. Because of God and His Word, absolute moral truth exists! (Psalms 102:25–27; Malachi 3:6)
  4. Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and He lived a sinless life, died for our sins, was buried, and rose again from the grave three days later! (1 Corinthians 15:3–4; 1 John 4:9–10)
  5. Satan is a real being (not symbolic) and seeks to defeat God’s plan for man! (1 Peter 5:8)
  6. Salvation is obtained solely by individual faith in Christ’s work on the Cross and cannot be earned! (Ephesians 2:8–9)
  7. God is hand has been providentially sovereign over world history, and one day, when the “Fullness of Time comes, (Galatians 4:4)” Jesus will return again and set up His Kingdom here on earth.
  8.  The bible is the sole infallible source of authority, faith and practice for the Christian.

To further expand upon these seven components, for those of us who have a biblical worldview, our presuppositions and perspectives about life, culture and history are seen through a biblical or divine providential lens which is based on such presumptions as:

  • There are prophetic or divine providential links between God’s word and many historical and current world events, many natural events have been providentially orchestrated and guided by God.
  • God created the universe and the world is not the result of some random set of natural occurrences over billions of years.
  • God had a prophetic and providential role in history for a specific end time purpose.
  • And of course, ultimately that God’s Word is true and should be the sole authority for faith and practice for the believer.

So, for example, for those of us who affirm the evangelical creed that the Bible is the Word of God and speaks with authority on the issues pertaining to life, such as what constitutes a marriage, then chances are that you interpret or analyze the topic of marriage for example, from the perspective of a divine providential or spiritual influence, which means that we defer to the Creator and Designer of marriage who is God.  We therefore, base our understanding or our worldview of marriage on the Creator of marriage’s divinely inspired instruction manual which is the Bible.

In addition, if you have a true biblical worldview, or a worldview that is centered around “rightly dividing” the biblical text in its original context, and applying scripture based on the “original intent” of the author, you should presuppose that there is a spiritual warfare element and a divine providential aspect to world’s cultural decay that is building up to, or setting the stage for the fulfillment of end time events and the return of Christ.  To put it another way, if you hold the position that the bible was written “under the inspiration of God,” and that God has been providential in the flow of human history for a specific purpose, with a specific plan and with a specific redemptive and eternal end game, then you will invariably view world history, as well as, current world events as another puzzle piece of God’s ultimate eternal prophetic purpose being put in place.

To add to that, those of us who have a biblical worldview, believes that God has given us a moral code of ethics, while secularists on the other hand, believe that men are to establish their own moral compass or code of ethics situationally, depending upon the times and circumstances of the moment.  In contrast, the Christian worldview believes that as a result of Adam’s fall, man was born into sin, and it is that “Adamic sin nature” that is man’s greatest problem.   While those who have a secularists worldview believes that we are all basically born good, but due to negative influences people have become bad.

One worldview believes man’s greatest problem is solved spiritually, while the secularists believes that man’s problems are solved through government intervention, more education, technological developments or a variety of other ways other than a spiritual or biblical inference.

Also, and most importantly in fact, any worldview needs to be able to answer the following questions:

In summary, if you view the world through a more secularist lens and reject the idea of a providential influence on history and current world events, then you will of course interpret history and world events through more of a secularist or “progressive” lens, which in turn will influence you to draw much different conclusions on issues of politics and religion.  Those who hold a more secularist worldview for example, view America as a country that is racist, bigoted and intolerant and therefore see the election of Donald Trump for example, as confirmation that America is racist and bigoted.   In addition, if you embrace a secularist worldview, you believe that man can somehow control the climate by having more government energy regulations and taxation.  While those who believe God’s word on the other hand, recognize that the end is already written in God’s Word and that eventually, there will be a “New Heaven and a New Earth,” where Jesus Christ will reign as King, and that no human government can do anything to stop or control this inevitable eventuality.

So, as I began to reflect on my friend’s question of, “How does my biblical or theological beliefs impact my political positions?”  It became clear to me that we were dealing much more with a worldview question as opposed to a strict Republican Vs Democrat question, or Clinton Vs Trump question.  Because at the end of the day, our political leanings are going to be heavily impacted and influenced by our worldviews.  Therefore, in reflecting on the question, rather than state a percentage of how much my biblical views influenced what personality or what political party I voted for, which by the way is a very broad and open ended question, I began to consider how I would relate what I consider to be a worldview question to more “Specific issues” such as, education policies, tax policies, the “Constitutional role of the Federal Government,” the role of the Courts, The Constitution, the National debt, family values, energy policy, and so on.  Because once again, most of the disagreements we have regarding topics relating to politics or religion are more worldview disagreements, more so than anything else.

So, with that as a backdrop, it will be helpful to address the question of, “how are our worldviews formed?”  Or more specifically, why exactly do we think the way that we do, or believe the things that we believe?  Succinctly put, we all have acquired our worldviews, or our belief systems over a lifetime of sensory inputs.  The following chart gives a basic outline for how our ideas and belief systems have been formed and developed over the years:

What Determines Our Worldview?

To summarize, at the heart, our worldview is made of core beliefs which answer the questions of what is real and what is important.  These core beliefs have been established over years of external influences. In order to understand why we believe what we believe, we need to discover, clearly identify and define our foundational beliefs. These beliefs lie beneath the ground, out of sight. They often go unquestioned and forgotten, yet they determine our core beliefs and thus influence how we make sense of our lives and live our lives.  A foundational belief is what we use to decide what is true and what is false in regards to our core beliefs.

Most worldviews, whether secular or religious, have stories and narratives as part of their basic structure. In the case of a Christian worldview, the stories that lie at the heart of our perspective are essentially the narratives of what God has done in history. The God of Scripture is active in the world he made; thus, history witnesses to his presence both in creation and in his actions, particularly as these are revealed in the Bible. Thus, Scripture not only provides a worldview for those who accept its testimony, but it also reflects the worldview of its authors. Put another way, the writers of Scripture are themselves informed by the great truths that they teach-so that the biblical worldview provides a lens through which their writing should be understood-while they also establish the worldview that informs Christian theology.

As a Christian, my foundational beliefs are centered around my belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and is profitable for faith, doctrine and conduct for the believer.  That because of Adam’s sin, as recorded in the Book of Genesis, sin and death entered into the world. But God then, because of His lover and mercy, He began to orchestrate His plan of redemption and restoration of humanity.  That plan began with the call of Abraham, through whom God choose to work His plan of redemption.  That plan that would include the virgin birth, death, resurrection, and soon return of His only begotten Son.

In summary, a biblical, Christian worldview begins with the assumption of the one true Creator God, who involves himself in history and seeks relationship with his creatures. It does not assume a deist god who is merely there, and certainly not a pantheistic god whose existence is mingled in with all that there is. The God of Scripture is the God who creates, who makes all things good, who is intimately involved with his creation, and who is faithful in all his interactions with it. From a biblical perspective, there can be no argument as to whether or not God does the “miraculous,” because the whole of creation is his world; he is involved in it; and his presence in the world occurs both by routine and by things wondrous and strange. The Scriptures refer to God as having covenants not only with his human creatures, but also with the creation itself (Genesis 8:20-22; 9:8-17).

This outline of the biblical narrative constitutes the lens through which Christians understand the world. Worldviews may be described, analyzed, and debated. But every worldview that claims to be Christian and biblical must start with the one true Creator God, who made man and woman in his image and who, despite the rebellion of his creatures and the consequent cursing of creation, longs to redeem his people, an action that He has accomplished through the coming of ­Jesus, the long-awaited son of David. Christ fulfills the work of Israel, drawing the nations back to God through his obedient death, resurrection, enthronement at the right hand of God, and final appearance as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Finally, not only as believers, we should base our lives on the God’s Word, but we should also be able to discern the “signs of the times” from a biblical perspective, and to be able to view the world, including our politics through the lens of God’s word as opposed through a secularists lens.

 

What is a Christian to Think? Developing A Biblical Worldview, Part 2, Why Worldview Matters? by Dr Bruce Logan

WHY WORLDVIEW MATTERS: Your Worldview Affects Everything!

In part one of this study, I briefly touched on a hodgepodge of culture and worldview related topics just as an introduction to the study.  In part two of this study, I will begin to examine more specifically this idea of worldviews in our politics and culture and consider the question of why understanding the idea of worldviews is so important, especially for the believer, and particularly in this culturally and politically polarized time that we find ourselves in America today.  But first, let me begin part 2 of this study by going into a little more detail about exactly what we mean by the term “worldview,” and why it is at the center of everything that is happening in our individual lives, our communities, in our politics, our Country and in our world.

For starters, as I stated in the previous article, everyone has a worldview, since all of us are faced with the deepest questions of the purpose and nature of human life. What is at stake is how we understand the world in which we live in general, and how understanding worldviews will help us to better understand or discern the cultural, political and spiritual ramifications of our time. This by the way, is not just unique to the Christian, but it is foundational for all, whether or not they are a believer or an atheist, and whether or not they know it, or can coherently articulate or not, what they believe and why they believe it.

Consider for example, many of the contrasting and conflicting beliefs regarding the many hot button issues, or the latest dominate media narratives of our day in our politics and even among Christian circles.  If you are looking at the issues objectively and critically, the first question that should come to mind is, how can two people look at the same news report for example, and one person or demographic will view it as “another example of America’s systematic racism,” while others can look at the same issue or story, and conclude that this is another example of “narrative shaping,” by the media, or this is an example of humanities depravity, and of why we need a Savior?  Or, as I asked in part one of this study, how can two intelligent, God fearing, bible believing Christians, look at the same passage of scripture, and arrive at two completely different interpretations of the passage?  The answer is simple. It is all about your worldview, or the lens, the glasses or the filter through which you view life and the world around you.

The understanding of the the impact and influence that our worldviews have on how and why we think what we think is critical, especially for the Christian.  This is true for a variety of reasons.  For starters, any objective social analyst would come to the obvious conclusion that the United States faces its fair share of moral and spiritual problems.  A very telling new research study from researcher George Barna of the Barna Group titled, “A BILICAL WORLDVIEW HAS A RADICAL EFFECT ON A PERSON’S LIFE.” In his research, Barna suggest that a large share of the nation’s moral and spiritual challenges are directly attributed to the absence of a biblical worldview among Americans.

In the study, Barna notes for example, “Everyone has a worldview, since all are faced with “the deepest questions of the purpose and nature of human life. What is at stake is how we understand the world in which we live.” This is a principle that is foundational for all, whether or not they know it or not, a Christian or Atheist, or whether or not you can articulate it.

Any objective social analyst would conclude that the United States faces its fair share of moral and spiritual problems. A new research study from Barna Group suggests that a large share of the nation’s moral and spiritual challenges is directly attributable to the absence of a biblical worldview among Americans. Citing the findings from a just-completed national survey of 2033 adults that showed only 4% of adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making, researcher George Barna described the outcome. “If Jesus Christ came to this planet as a model of how we ought to live, then our goal should be to act like Jesus.

Sadly, few people consistently demonstrate the love, obedience and priorities of Jesus. The primary reason that people do not act like Jesus is because they do not think like Jesus. Behavior stems from what we think – our attitudes, beliefs, values and opinions. Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life. We’re often more concerned with survival amidst chaos than with experiencing truth and significance.”

Not Just Any Worldview

The research indicated that everyone has a worldview, but relatively few people have a biblical worldview – even among devoutly religious people. The survey discovered that only 9% of born again Christians have such a perspective on life. The numbers were even lower among other religious classifications: Protestants (7%), adults who attend mainline Protestant churches (2%) and Catholics (less than one-half of 1%). The denominations that produced the highest proportions of adults with a biblical worldview were non-denominational Protestant churches (13%), Pentecostal churches (10%) and Baptist churches (8%).” [1]

The Difference a Biblical Worldview Makes

As I pointed out in the previous lesson, most people presuppose that the problems in America are social, racial, religious or financial.  While on the surface it is easy to see why people could probably make those arguments, however when you look at the big issues that we face more in depth and think through the issues more critically, you can make the case that at the root of the more polarizing ideological and philosophical differences that we face in American culture and politics are not so much sociological, financial or racial, but rather the differences in worldviews.

This is especially insightful when you consider the fact that our ideologies don’t just occur in a vacuum, but they are the result of our worldview.  In other words, your worldview will dictate your beliefs and your beliefs will then dictate your behaviors, responses, reactions, emotions, and choices in any given situation.  And then those behaviors, emotions, reactions, and choices that we display to the various stimulus we face, will ultimately testify to our worldview.

Worldview defined

In the simplest terms, our worldview can be defined as, a mental framework of ideas about the world and about life, the lens or the glasses or the filter through which one views and interprets the world around us, a comprehensive conception of the world through a specific viewpoint, your personal concept of reality, a theory of the world used for living in the world, the ideological framework which shapes a person’s view of reality, the overall perspective in which one sees and interprets the world and events. 

In short, our worldview can be succinctly seen as a collection of beliefs about life, religion and culture held by individuals or by groups, a philosophy, or the presuppositions that influence our outlook on life and how we perceive the world we live in.

To put it even more simply, your worldview comprises one’s collection of presuppositions, convictions, and values from which a person tries to understand and make sense out of the world and life.  In other words, every worldview starts with presuppositions, that is, beliefs that one presumes to be true without supporting independent evidence from other sources or systems.

To put it yet another way, your worldview can be seen as a set of glasses that you look through to bring what is happening in the world into mental focus.  If you like computers for example, you can think of your worldview as your operating system, the thing that converts your life experiences into the ones and zeros that your mind understands.  More simply, your worldview is your gut-level, instinctive responses to basic philosophical questions about life, the world, religion and politics, as well as the basis for your reactions to events and life’s circumstances. A comprehensive worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individuals or society’s knowledge and point of view.  The beliefs, values, and behaviors of a culture stems directly from its worldview.

In summary, “Your worldview is the basis for everything.  It is the basis for how we see the world, what we think the world is, the decisions we make, the behaviors that we will choose, and the responses to other people’s behaviors, all stem from your worldviews.”  The word of God points out this aspect of human nature on several occasions, for example, we can point to such passages as: “Out of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Luke 6:45), and “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).  This is also why Paul challenged the Christians in Rome to “be transformed by the RENEWING OF YOUR MINDS” (Romans 12:2).  Because, it is our thought processes, ideologies, our paradigms or our worldviews that shape who we are, what we believe, how we vote in elections, and so forth.  And Paul was letting those new believers in Rome know, that in order to have the “Mind of Christ,” their needed to be a complete shift away from their old pagan worldviews, and a transformation to a biblical worldview.

Worldview Impact on the Culture

To state it frankly, your worldview impacts every level of the culture.  It is like the the foundation of a building. The foundation is unseen because it is beneath the surface.  Most people who live or work in the building could go through their entire lives and never even directly think about the foundation.  But yet, the building would not exist without that foundation.  But if the buildings foundation is flawed, then eventually, it will cause serious problems in the building.  The walls will eventually begin to bow and crack, the basement will begin to take on moister, which will lead to mold and multitude of potential health issues.

Similarly, if citizens who make up a given culture, have a flawed worldview, then just like a building with a flawed foundation, the culture will begin to buckle.  More specifically, everyone has a worldview as to what is right, wrong and how things should ideally function.  It includes basic beliefs and expectations and outlook on what is just, what is fair, what is right, and what is wrong.  We all have beliefs on things like what constitute a marriage, on race, on politics, Republican, Democrat, or Independent.

From a biblical perspective, as Paul said in Romans 12:2, disciple making involves a worldview change and not just external behavior changes.  In other words, without a worldview change, repentance and conversion in the biblical sense has not really taken place.  Furthermore, the Churches mission is to “make disciples,” and to IMPACT and INFLUENCE the culture, and not be impacted and influenced by the culture.

The importance of worldview on the culture at large can never be overstated.  Because every one of us, whether consciously or subconsciously have a worldview, or default presuppositions that  have been programmed into our minds over a lifetime of sensory inputs, from an ever increasing barrage of sources, that influence how we think, our outlook on life and our perceptions of what is right and what is wrong.

Whether educated or uneducated, religious or non-religious, rich or poor, black or white, male or female, good or bad, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or charismatic, we all have a belief system or way of looking at the world that influences how we think, how interpret life and how we react to various stimulus.

Putting it another way, an individual’s worldview is your “big picture,” or your harmony of all your beliefs about the world, your way of understanding reality and your basis for making daily decisions.  This insight therefore, makes your individual worldviews extremely critical in effecting our individual decisions and destinies.

This is something that can never be over stated.  Everyone has a worldview even if you do not recognize it or cannot explain what it is.  It describes our search for answers to life’s most important questions.  Your worldview affects the way you look at every issue of life including:  Life, death, politics, religion, parenting, education and so on.  And as I stated, your worldview glasses affect how you view certain events and how you respond to them.  If your worldview glasses have the correct prescription, then you will see the world accurately.  If they have the wrong prescription, your view of the world will be distorted.  And subsequently, because a home, a community, a church, or a country, are all made up of fallen individuals who all have these default presuppositions that impact how they see the world.

To re-emphasize a point that I made at the beginning of this article, I contend that most, if not all of the polarizing ideological and philosophical differences that we face in todays American culture and politics are not so much sociological, economic or racial, but rather the differences in worldviews is at the root of problem.  In other words, it is my assertion that when we evaluate the big social and cultural issues and challenges of our day from a biblical worldview, or through the lens of God’s word, we are then able to develop a much broader and more fully developed, big picture perspective on the issues that have America so polarized, along with the conflicts that we are seeing around the world than we will be able to discern what you can’t by viewing the world through a natural lens.

The Apostle Paul drove this point home in his first letters to the believers in Corinth when he said, But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. 16 For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 NLT).  Simply put, those of us who have a biblical worldview, believes that God has given us a moral code of ethics, that a carnal minded person simply can’t comprehend.

This also means, that those of us who have a biblical worldview, discern many of our cultural crises issues through a different lens, than someone with a secular worldview.  For example, if you have a biblical worldview, you recognize right of the top, that when it comes to issues such as race for instance, that we actually don’t have a race problem, but rather, we have a SIN problem.  Meaning that we are all born with the Adamic fallen nature, which by the way, is why we needed a savior, why we needed a redeemer.  If we were all orange and purple, instead of black and white, we would still be having the same arguments.  Why? Because “we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

To state it more succinctly, a Biblical worldview is viewing the world, the beginning of the world, people in the world, the problems in the world, governments in the world, issues in the world, solutions for the problems in the world, and the future of the world through the lens or filter of God’s Word.  In other words, in a biblical worldview, everything you see should be viewed through the lens of Word of God.  A biblical worldview affirms that the world and our entire existence is the deliberate result of a divine Creator and the answers to the questions of, “what is truth,” can only be found in God’s word.

A Smorgasbord of Ideas and Cultural Influences

Worldviews are so much a part of our daily lives that whether we recognize it or not, we see, hear and react to our worldviews every day.  In fact, on a continual basis, we are faced with a smorgasbord of worldviews, all of which make claims concerning truth.  And whether we are cognizant of it or not, whether consciously or unconsciously, we are all challenged to sort through this assortment of worldviews from a plethora of sources.

For example, movies, television, the media, the entertainment industry, sports figures, music, magazines, newspapers, government, public education, academia, science, art, family, friends, co-workers, social media followings, and your religious affiliations if any, all either directly or indirectly have an impact in shaping our worldviews.

In other words, all of these sources, whether we realize it or not, have had an impact and influence on how we view the world, and how we view and react to the most polarizing elements of culture, religion and politics.  And if we ignore their significance or their impact on how we think and understand the world, we do so at our own detriment.

In simpler terms, our worldview is a view of the world and a view for the world.”  The proper worldview helps us by orienting us to the intellectual and philosophical terrain about us.  As believers in Christ, when navigating through and filtering all of the myriad of worldview influences that we are inundated with on a daily basis, many of which are stemming from some very subtle satanic influences, it imperative that we routinely filter all of this programming through the filter of God’s word.  Otherwise, it will be IMPOSSIBLE to be able have discernment and to know what is and what is not of God.

Here is the big problem however. Nonbiblical worldview ideas don’t just sit in a book somewhere waiting for people to examine them. They bombard us constantly from television, film, music, newspapers, magazines, books, social media and academia.  Because we live in a selfish, fallen world, these ideas seductively appeal to the desires of our flesh, and we often end up incorporating them into our personal worldview. Sadly, we often do this without even knowing it.

For example, most Christians would agree with 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and other Scriptures that command us to avoid sexual immorality, but how often do Christians fall into lust or premarital and extramarital sexual sin? Is it simply because they are weak when tempted, or did it begin much earlier, with the seductive lies from our sexualized society?

HOW DOES THE BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW ANSWER THE BASIC QUESTIONS OF LIFE?

A Biblical Christian Worldview (not intended to cover everything Christians believe!) shows us these answers to the following questions:

  • Who are we? Humans made in God’s image.
  • Where are we? In a beautiful though transient and fallen world.
  • What is wrong? Humanity rebelled against a creator.
  • What is the solution? The creator God has acted, is acting and will act to deal with evil set up by human rebellion and to bring the whole world to its true purpose, in a new creation resonating with God’s presence and glory.  This action is focused upon Jesus, His death and resurrection and the continued work of the Holy Spirit amongst God’s people i.e. those who have already been made part of God’s new creation by being placed in Christ instead of in Adam.

Seven Important Components of a Biblical Worldview

To further expand upon these basic worldview questions from a biblical perspective, seeing the world through the lens of a biblical worldview can be summarized in the following seven principles:

  1. God is the Creator of the world and rules this universe! (Genesis 1:1)
  2. The Bible is God’s Word for mankind and is completely accurate including matters of life and its origin. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  3. Because of God and His Word, absolute moral truth exists! (Psalms 102:25–27; Malachi 3:6)
  4. Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and He lived a sinless life, died for our sins, was buried, and rose again from the grave three days later! (1 Corinthians 15:3–4; 1 John 4:9–10)
  5. Satan is a real being (not symbolic) and seeks to defeat God’s plan for man! (1 Peter 5:8)
  6. Salvation is obtained solely by individual faith in Christ’s work on the Cross and cannot be earned! (Ephesians 2:8–9)
  7. God is hand has been providentially sovereign over world history, and one day, when the “Fullness of Time comes, (Galatians 4:4)” Jesus will return again and set up His Kingdom here on earth.

To further expand upon these seven components, for those of us who have a biblical worldview, our concepts and perspectives about life, culture and even world history are seen through a biblical or divine providential lens which is based in large part on the following presumptions:

  • There are prophetic or divine providential links between God’s word and many historical and current world events, many natural events have been providentially orchestrated and guided by God.
  • God created the universe and the world is not the result of some random set of natural occurrences over billions of years.
  • God had a prophetic and providential role in history for a specific end time purpose.
  • And of course, ultimately that God’s Word is true and should be the sole authority for faith and practice for the believer.

HOW DO THE SCRIPTURES WE READ APPLY TO WORLDVIEW?

As Christians, all of our conclusions on doctrine, practice, what is right and wrong, and our positions on the many ethical issues, come from the fact that God created the world, then He created man in His own image and we are therefore accountable to God as to how we should live in this world. If we don’t really believe the truth of God and live it, then our witness will be confusing and misleading. Most of us go through life not recognizing that our personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world.

Sadly however, through the media and other influences, the secularized American view of history, law, politics, science, God and man affects our thinking more than we realize. We then are taken “captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8). However, by diligently learning, applying and trusting God’s truths in every area of our lives we can begin to develop a deep comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture’s nonbiblical ideas. In other words, when we capture and embrace more of God’s worldview through a study of His word, and trust it with unwavering faith, then we begin to make the right decisions and form the appropriate responses to some of the more polarizing issues of our day including questions of abortion, race, politics, family, politics, and so on.

Finally, the biblical truth of the matter is that Christians are called to honor God in every area of their lives.  Furthermore, engagement in the culture is actually the “prime directive” of the Great Commission.  Therefore, we should seek to submit everything to the Lord, including our political engagement.  In fact, engaging in politics is not only unavoidable, it is also an opportunity to obey God and show love to our neighbors.  In addition, American Christians, with our right to vote, have a unique opportunity and duty to affect the political process in a way that very few societies have had in the history of the world.  A biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God. When you believe the Bible is entirely true, then you allow it to be the foundation of everything you say and do.

Do you have a biblical worldview? Answer the following questions, based on claims found in the Bible and which George Barna used in his survey:

  • Do absolute moral truths exist?
  • Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
  • Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
  • Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
  • Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
  • Is Satan real?
  • Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
  • Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?

Did you answer yes to all of these?

If we don’t really believe the truth of God and live it, then our witness will be confusing and misleading. Most of us go through life not recognizing that our personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world. Through the media and other influences, the secularized American view of history, law, politics, science, God and man affects our thinking more than we realize. We then are taken “captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

But the sad fact of the matter is that most Christians are severely underinformed regarding what the Biblical role that Christians should play in the culture, or the historical impact that Christianity has played on the world systems going back to the time after that hand full of disciples huddled in the upper room and were endowed with power from on high.  In just a few short years, that rag tag bunch of Christ followers went on to literally “TURN THE WORLD UPSIDEDOWN.”  In other words, they went on to impact that pagan Roman culture in which they lived, and because of their influence, over time, completely transformed the western world.

To that end, the goal of this series of articles is to help Christians filter through all of the many polarizing issues, candidates, and party platforms through a biblical worldview and encourage God-honoring, faithful political engagement.

  1. https://www.barna.com/research/a-biblical-worldview-has-a-radical-effect-on-a-persons-life/

What is a Christian to Think? Developing A Biblical Worldview – Part 1, What in The World is Really Going On? By Dr Bruce Logan

HOW SHOULD BELIEVERS MAKE SENSE OF AMERICA’S CULTURAL CRISIS?

During a weekend back in March of 1979, I went from a being drinking, partying sinner, to excepting the salvation of the Lord, that He provided for me on the Cross of Cavalry.  I remember having a bag of mamajuana in my sock, and going home and flushing it down the toilet, and then following that up by dumping all of my alcohol down the sink. The next day, I went to work and began to share my testimony with two Christian ministers, one named Rev. Ray Allen and the other named Rev. Rudolph Lott, both of whom would become great friends and mentors, who took me under their respective wings and both began to encourage and challenge me to start my Christian journey by becoming a “student of scripture.”  I remember how they would both challenge me almost daily, in ways that would motivate and inspire me to study, and stir up my ever increasing hunger for God’s Word.

In large part however, because of Rev. Allen and Rev. Lott, in just a few short weeks of my conversion, I went from someone who would make a beeline to the liquor store on payday, to someone that would make the local Christian book story his first stop.  During these early days of my Christian experience, Rev Lott gifted me with his personal copy of Survey of The New Testament by Merrill C. Tenney (that I still have by the way).  But it was shortly after that, when he gifted a copy of The Great Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin, and Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, that I developed a special passion for the study of Bible Prophecy.  Even after a number of people including some ministers, were telling me to stay away from Revelation, I became more and more captivated with the study of prophecy the more I studied.

But what really took me over the top, was when I began to connect the prophetic dots of fulfilled prophecy, with actual secular history.  In other words, prophecy by its simplest definition, is “history written in advance,” or “prewritten history.”  To make a long story short, it was actually when I began to develop a passion for the study of what God’s word has to say about future events, or the recording of major historical events before those events would actually occur, and when I began to observe the amazing historical precession in which past prophetic fulfillments were so providentially and precisely orchestrated and fulfilled, not only did my passion for God’s word grow even more, but my overall worldview or belief that the bible is the divine word of God, and that it should be the only source for faith, doctrine and practice for the believer became forever solidified.

The Apostle Paul actually encapsulated this argument when he made the following historically encompassing, prophetic observation to the believers in Galatia: “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba Father” (Galatians 4:4-6).  

To put it simply, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, crucified on Calvary’s cross and rose again, it was not just by some random point in time in which God decided to send His Son.  But rather it was after centuries of providentially orchestrated historical alignments, such as for example, the known world primarily having Greek as the common language because of Alexander the Great, which made it much easier to spread the Gospel because of Greek being the common language that everyone understood.   Or, the Romans being the dominate power in the first century, who constructing roads throughout the empire, which had the unintended consequence of making it much easier for those early disciples to spread the message of the Gospel because they could travel on Roman roads that were originally intended for troop transport and for the movement of trade goods.  These, as well as other similar historical events, were a direct fulfillment of Daniel chapters 2, 7 and 8 specifically.

In other words, Jesus was not simply born on some random date, but rather, it was when the “fullness of time had come.”  Meaning that once all of the prophetic stars so to speak, were all aligned, or when all of the prophetic I’s were dotted and all of the prophetic T’s were crossed, and when everything that God had been providentially orchestrating since the Call of Abraham back in Genesis 12 was providentially aligned, by using fallen, flawed, sinful and depraved human beings in order to bring about His plan, God then said that now the fullness of time has come, to send my Son into the world THE FIRST TIME.

What Does all of this Mean for us Today?

Among bible prophecy students and teachers, there unfortunately has been a wide array of interpretations about various aspects of prophecy teaching, which sadly has been the excuse that most Christians have used as justification to steer clear of bible prophecy.  However, the one question that most bible prophecy teachers and students once had, in which there was broad agreement, was, “why is America NOT listed in the bible, either directly or indirectly, among the pantheon of End Times Nations?”  Every nation such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Babylon [Iraq], Persia [Iran], Gog and Magog [Russia], the Kings of the East [likely Asian Countries like China], and so forth are all specifically identified in scripture when it comes to end time events.

However, in spite of America becoming the greatest economic and military power in history, and the greatest friend to Israel, unless you can make the case that America is the Babylon [which by the way, is not a good thing], mentioned in Revelation 17, then there is no mention of America anywhere in scripture.  Which begs the million dollar question, WHY? The answer that many scholars have wrestled with is that, could it be possible America as we know it, simply won’t exist.  Does God have America on a short leash? Is America’s days numbered?  Are we being conquered from within?  Will America be conquered without a shot being fired from a foreign enemy?  Are we under divine judgement?

In years past, the idea that the country that rose to become the leading economic and military power in history, the country that won the second world war against the German’s and the Japanese, the country that was first to put a man on the moon, and later won the cold war, could no longer exist, was a concept that was unfathomable just 20 years ago.  Sadly however, if the current direction and state of affairs and the rapid pace in which events are unfolding are any indication, the signs are pointing to some very ominous outcomes.  Which brings about the ultimate question which is, what should be the response and reaction of the Christian Church in America? Should we be allowing our narrative to be framed by the secular media, or should our narrative be framed by the world of God?

Normally, you would think that if you are a Christian, the answer to that question would be obvious.  Of course, transforming our minds to be aligned with scripture should be the believers default setting.  But sadly, especially when it comes to issues of politics and culture, because of the ever increasing onslaught of information that we receive from a multitude of sources including the media, schools, academia, pop culture, pro sports leagues, and all of the various social media outlets, somehow the dictates of scripture have been lost, or at the very least, severely watered down.

So again, what should believers think about the state of the culture, and what should be the response and reaction of the Church in America today?  How should we view the many cultural, social and economic controversies that plague society?  Is the problem just as simple as, America is just “systematically racist?”  Is police brutality against blacks the problem?  Is “income inequality the problem?  Is the problem just as simple as, America just now simply beginning to suffer the consequences of slavery?  Could any or all of these be at the root of America’s problem?

How about some of the other term du jours that we are inundated with such as, progressive, justice, inequality, fairness, microaggression, or white privileged? Are these the problems that we as Christians be preoccupied with? Should these be the topics that should dominate the messaging from America’s pulpits?  In this series of lessons on religion and politics, I will explore these and other questions from a biblical perspective, as well as, identify and examine the contrast between a biblical worldview and the worldview that has been dominating the narrative for the past several years.

The Biblical Truth is that We are Not Fighting Against Flesh and Blood

First of all, as believers it must be understood that ultimately, Satan, sin and the Adamic fall are at the root of all the worlds sickness, disease, and all other societal conflicts.  Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10).  Here, Jesus was pointing out the fact that the actual conflict against humanity was actually being orchestrated in the spirit realm before it was ever manifested in the natural.  In other words, there are demonic forces unseen to the natural eye, but yet are just as real as the natural people and things that we physically see every day.  Paul confirmed this when he said:  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph.6:12).

It is evident that The Holy Spirit through Paul wanted to convey to us that although we live in the natural physical realm, our true enemy resides in the spiritual or unseen realm.  However, possibly the most familiar but yet descriptive example of this are the accounts given in the Book of Job.  The Bible says that Satan stood before God and accused Job of only being righteous because of the hedge of protection that God had around him.  Satan went on to insinuate, that if God were to remove the hedge of protection from around Job, that he would subsequently curse God to his face.

Consequently, God gave Satan “limited permission” to test Job by taking away the things that were precious to him:  His servants, livestock, house, and most of all, his sons and daughters.  Nevertheless, The Bible says, “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22).  This account goes on to reveal Satan’s difficulty in accepting Jobs victory.  He went before God a second time in order to accuse Job once again.  This time he suggested to God that if he would allow him to afflict the body of Job, then he would surely curse God to His face.  God once again granted Satan permission to test Job.  However, this time he was only permitted to afflict his body, but he wasn’t allowed to take his life.

Subsequently Satan, “Smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” (Job 2:7).  However, in spite of this incredible ordeal, Job was still able to say, “My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live” (Job 27:6).  How wonderful it would be if all God’s people could strive to grow to the point where we can endure the hardships and trials with the same determination, fortitude, and tenacity that was exemplified by Job.

However, it appears that the Lord saw fit, for the benefit of all generations to come, to test Job in this way and then to record the experience in a book in order that people throughout history could learn this very important revelation about the inner workings of the spirit realm.  The account of Job teaches us that whatever difficulties and trials we experience in this life they were first “orchestrated in the spirit realm before they were ever manifested in the natural.”  It is therefore important that we learn from the experience of Job, that Satan is the originator of all sickness, disease and destruction among men.

The fact of the matter is that the Bible makes it clear that not only is Satan the originator of all sickness and disease, but he is also the author of all the death and destruction the world has experienced and is now experiencing.   To underscore this concept, let us hear what the writer of First Kings has to say in the account recorded in 1Kings 22:19-37.  According to the Bible, Ahab had been receiving false predictions from his prophets concerning the outcome of the Battle against the Syrians at Ramoth-Gilead.

Then Micaiah (The True Prophet of God) decided to reveal to the King the true vision from God regarding the battle’s outcome.  He says:  “Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord:  I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.  And the Lord said, who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth Gilead?  And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.  And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him.  And the Lord said unto him, wherewith?  And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.  And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.  Now therefore, behold the Lord hath Put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee” (1Kings 22:19-23 KJV).

 According to this narrative, Ahab chooses not to adhere to the voice of God, instead he listened to his lying false prophets who were being influenced by a lying demonic spirit and went to the battle and was subsequently slain there.  This example is another clear demonstration of how the events that led to the death of King Ahab were first coordinated in the heavenlies before the battle ever transpired here on earth in the natural world.  There are many other examples in the Word of God that illustrates the operation of Satan and demonic spirits on the Human experience (See: Daniel 10:1-21 or example).

There are also, many other Biblical examples concerning spiritual warfare that I won’t deal with here, however, I will be referring to later in this series of lessons.  Nevertheless, it is important that you understand that the foundation of this study, is the fact that at the end of the day, the “root of the problem” is that we are in a spiritual battle and not a black and white battle.  And that our “adversary the devil” is coming like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour.”  And the only way to wage a triumphant battle is to first recognize who the real enemy is, and to identify his strategies. Or as the Apostle Paul pointed out in his second letter to the believers in Corinth, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us, or we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11 KJV).  In short, it is only when we have an understanding or a mental framework of the enemy’s tactics, can we effectively go on the offensive using the weapons of war God gave us which is the Word and the Spirit of God.  Consequently, the purpose of this series of lessons will be to uncover the “subtle satanic plot” to orchestrate the breakdown of our society, and to give the believer insight that you sadly won’t get from the normal sources of information.

A Cultural Tug of Wars 

Now with all of that as an introduction, when it comes to the subject of religion and politics, it would be the understatement of the century to point out the obvious fact that, we are living in a time of acute political and even religious polarization, exacerbated every election cycle by a 24-hour barrage of candidate advertisements on every communication platform.  Racial tensions, political unrest, as well as, divisiveness over hot button and polarizing issues such as: immigration, abortion, the police, the economy, the education system, the role of Government, gay rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, professional athletes kneeling for the National Anthem, the Constitution, debates over first and second Amendment rights, Republican Vs Democrat, Liberal Vs Conservative, Trump Vs Biden, and on and on it goes.

Just stop and think for a moment.  In just about a four month period, in the midst of all of the already seething political divisiveness and cultural polarization, America has gone from what many economist admit, was a season of extremely robust economic and job growth, with record low unemployment, including record low minority unemployment.

But in just four months later, we are experiencing the economic and social ramifications of a worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.  In addition, during that same 4 month period, not only do we have over 40 million newly unemployed Americans, but we are seeing waves of rioting and social unrest all across the country that was triggered by the death of African American George Floyd by a white police officer.  And that is on top of all of the other all ready seething societal divisiveness that has already been confronting America for years.

More specifically, in America today, we are arguably experiencing, from the standpoint of just the sheer volume of divisive issues, one of the most polarizing political, cultural and societal dysfunctional periods in our history or at least since the pre-Civil War era.  Today, America is divided on just about every imaginable cultural, sociological, religious, political, and financial front including:  race, the role of religion, the role of the Federal Government, the Constitution, sexual orientation, the use of the military, taxation, education, energy and so one.  Astonishingly, this divide has become so wide, that many are going as far as having heated debates and confrontations over something as fundamental as what constitutes a family.

However, this divide has never more apparent than it has been since the 2016 Presidential election, in which America experienced arguably the single most socially and politically divisive and polarizing presidential elections since the election of Abraham Lincoln.  On one hand you had the prospect of electing the very first female President on the heels of the very first African American President; while on the other hand, you had the billionaire businessman and reality TV personality with absolutely no previous political experience.  When the results broke that the underdog billionaire Donald Trump had shockingly defeated Hillary Clinton, a firestorm of divergent emotions erupted around the country.  Emotions that ranged from jubilation and relief, to outright hysterics, with many going as far as believing that the world as we know it is coming to an end. A large portion of the African American community for example, feared that the days of slavery were about to return, while others feared that we were about to enter into another Nazi regime.  Protests of, “Not my President” erupted around the country, and calls for impeachment were already being made even before the inauguration.

So, why all of the divisiveness?  Why all of the wide range of emotional reactions? Why is there so much division even in the Christian community?  How did we get here? Shouldn’t the Church be the “light that shines on a hill?”  If not, why not?  In short, what in the world is really going on?  What should be the believers view of politics?  And how should Christ’s Church view and react to the culture war that is taking place in America and-around the world?  Let’s begin to explore these questions by first defining our terms.

Culture Wars

First of all, when we use the phrase, “Culture war,” what exactly does that mean?  Simply stated, the idea of culture wars refers to the struggle between two sets of conflicting ideas and moral values.  As it relates to modern American political thought, this clash or conflict of ideas and values are considered by many to be traditional or “Conservative” versus those ideas considered being liberal or “Progressive.” 

These conflicting ideas involve principles that are relative to the many ideological and philosophical arguments and viewpoints that one believes to be true about various issues that include, society, life, culture, politics, race, and religion, as opposed to others with different viewpoints. (1).

The expression culture war entered the vocabulary of United States politics with the publication of Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America by James Davidson Hunter in 1991.  Hunter perceived a dramatic realignment and polarization that had transformed United States politics and culture, including issues such as: abortion, federal and state gun laws, global warming, immigration, church Vs state, First amendment interpretation, privacy, recreational drug use, the makeup of the Courts, homosexuality, and the definition of marriage and family.

“The heart of the culture war argument,” Hunter writes, “Was that American public culture was undergoing a realignment that, in turn, was generating significant tension and conflict. These antagonisms were playing out not just on the surface of social life (that is, in its cultural politics) but at the deepest and most profound levels. Thus, underneath the myriad political controversies over so-called cultural issues, there were yet deeper crises over the very meaning and purpose of the core institutions of American civilization. Behind the politics of abortion for example, was a controversy over a momentous debate over the meaning of motherhood, of individual liberty, and of our obligations to one another.  Behind the contentious argument about the legal rights of gays and lesbians was a more serious debate over the fundamental nature of the family and appropriate sexuality.” (2)

Ultimately, people on the competing sides of this cultural conflict use many of the very same terminology such as: justice, human rights, civil rights, liberty, equality, fairness, tolerance, respect, inclusiveness, and so on.  Sadly however, the competing sides of the culture war differences, have markedly different concepts on what those words actually mean and how they should apply in our daily public life.  Regardless of one’s perception or which side of the conundrum you may be on regarding America or its politics, the one fact that was made abundantly clear during the 2016 campaign is that there is a serious cultural, ideological and philosophical tug of war going on for the future of America.

At one end of the philosophical rope are those who think that America is increasingly on a death spiraling path of becoming a secular nation.  And a complete secularized America would essentially mean that religion will no longer have any significant social and cultural significance in society, which in turn has helped to lead us to a society where faith has lost much of its cultural authority, which in turn has caused the Church to have little or no social and cultural impact and influence.  Those pulling on that end of the cultural rope, hold to the view that the only way to reverse, or at least slow down this disturbing trend is to align with the Republican party which is perceived to be friendly towards faith and safeguarding or “Conserving” the Constitution and particularly the First Amendment which assures freedom of religion.

More specifically, many people on this “Conservative” end of the rope, are those who believe that the Bible and divine providence are at the root of America’s founding and that we must return to and “conserve” those founding principles and motivations if the country is to survive as we have known it.

Those who maintain this perspective, go on to assert that just as in biblical times, when it came to the birth and miraculous growth of America, God providentially chose to work through flawed and sinful men who just like all of us, who were all products of the Adamic fall.  And it was these flawed Adamic individuals whom, in spite of all of their flaws, God nevertheless providentially used them in order to fulfill a much greater purpose in the founding and forming of America.

Those who have this worldview, believe that just like in the historical cases of Greece and Rome, and the events surrounding and leading up to Christ’s first coming, or “when the fullness of time had come,” God providentially orchestrated the founding and growing of America for a specific purpose, which is ultimately will have laid the historical and global framework in which when the “fullness of time will come,” the Trumpet will sound, the Rapture to take place, the anti-Christ will be revealed, and the end time tribulation will commence.

However, at the same time, there are those on the other end of the philosophical rope who reject any suggestion that America has any sort of providential founding, and instead view America simply as a “racist, bigoted, homophobic, xenophobic and misogynistic country,” that only came to become this great economic and military power because of slavery and exploitation.  And because of this fact, American needs to be “Fundamentally transformed” into a more secular or “Postmodern” country where socialism replaces capitalism, where reality is a “social construct,” and where truth is a construct that depends on one’s personal cultural paradigm in which words like inclusion, fairness, tolerance, and acceptance have become code words that are actually intended to undermine God’s word and make Christianity obsolete.

Adding to this cultural conundrum between these two sides, is the fact that those who reject the idea of America being formed by an act of Divine providence, almost unanimously point to the fact that because many of the framers who pinned the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were slave owners, thereby viewing their writings and statements such as, “All men are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights,” as being written by hypocrites, thereby negating any possibility that they could have been providentially used by God as instruments in which He used for a much greater, providential and prophetic purpose for America.

And then of course, there are those who are in the middle of the rope who embrace certain elements of both sides of this argument and who are attempting to pull both ways by advocating some of the secularist’s positions on one hand, while still embracing some traditional biblical values and paradigms on the other hand.  In other words, there are those who on one hand, believe in the socialists advocation of social reforms such as, more control and regulations from by the Federal Government, guaranteed free college and free health care, while at the same time, reject the secularists advocacy of such ideas as redefining what constitutes a family, and ideas of “Gender identity,” and other non-biblical secularist policies that are advocated under the heading of “the progressive agenda.”

Sadly, the toxic tone and extremely partisan nature of our political system, along with the mostly one sided narratives from all of the purveyors of information and narrative shaping such as, the media and pop culture personalities, discourage many Christians and Pastors from studying what the Bible teaches about what should be the believers mindset on issues pertaining to government, as well as, taking the time to consider just how the Word of God should inform one’s view of culture and politics from the perspective of a biblical worldview.

But what in my opinion, is the most troubling problem of all, is the fact of how and why a large majority of Church leaders, black and white alike, are adopting the world’s narrative of what exactly is the nature of societies problems, and the world’s narrative of how we should respond to it.

To put it more bluntly, far to many Christians and Church leaders are getting more of their worldview, or their narrative framing from CNN than they are getting it from the Word of God.  In other words, they are allowing the main stream media, either consciously or sub-consciously, to dictate what the narrative should be instead of the Bible.  And that is providing if they have even being seriously engaged with the issues at all.

Thus, it is no surprise that withdrawing from the political engagement has become a temptation for many Christians in the pew.  After all, at the end of the day, if God is sovereign and controls the heart of the king (Prov. 21:1), many will ask themselves, do we really need to get involved in the messy world of politics?  And because of the fact that political engagement can be so divisive, shouldn’t Christians abandon politics and direct their energies toward more spiritual pursuits?

The problem with that line of reasoning is that regardless if believers are engaged or not, and regardless if Christian leaders are getting their marching orders from the Word of God or from CNN, the consequences, the impact and influence of politics and legislation on the culture, regardless if it is pertaining to issues of taxation, education, race, energy, regulations, immigration, new government programs, foreign policy decisions, First and Second Amendment decisions, Judicial appointments, and so on, are all going to have a direct or indirect impact on every single American, believer and non believer alike FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

Now, I will be unpacking this issue of “The Law of Unintended Consequences” in the next couple of lessons, but for now, what is even more disconcerting than the lack of political understanding and engagement among God’s people, and what actually prompted me to begin this series of articles, is the irrational and undiscerning mindset that says that everything that we are dealing with currently, such as, all of the race issues, the crime, and even including the impact of a WORLDWIDE pandemic and the subsequent fallout, is either all Trumps fault, or it is all because of “income inequality,” or “systemic racism spearheaded by Trump.”

All of these narratives, especially the “it’s all Trump’s fault narratives, presupposes that we didn’t have race issues and crime before 2016, or that Covid-19 is the first and only pandemic that we have ever had.  Furthermore, how this secular narrative has been so embraced by many in the Christian community including many Christian leaders and Pastors, without any critical or rational thinking, or biblical discernment is the most disconcerting aspect of all.  Because for the believer, if we do not have a biblical paradigm or perspective on the world, then it will not be possible to have discernment of the “signs of the times.”

To bear this out, Jesus made one of His many sharp reprimands to the Pharisees and Sadducees (who where the religious rulers) after they attempted to challenge Him by asking Jesus for a sign from heaven. Jesus had been performing miracles and signs, healing the lame, the blind, the sick, and twice feeding thousands of people with a few loaves and a few fish. (These signs are recorded in the two previous chapters Matthew 14 & 15).

The Lord proceeded to give them a stern reproof when He rebuked them with the following criticism: He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed” (Matthew 16:2-4 KJV). Notice that He calls them “hypocrites” and “an evil and adulterous generation.” They can discern the sky and predict the weather, but they can’t observe the signs of the times.

There is a lesson in this for all of us today who profess Christ.  Are we looking at the world around us with open and objective eyes? Can we see most people seeking God?  Or are the majority drifting away from him?  Do we observe many following righteousness? Or are the many becoming more and more godless, walking the dark and heathen ways? Do we discern the signs of the times?  Can we mark what is Satanic and what is of Christ?  In short, are we viewing the current culture wars, economic crises, pandemic, racial tension, and the overwhelming political polarization through a biblical lens, or through a secular lens?  And especially when it comes to the area of politics, voting and our overall engagement with the culture, how do we DISCERN what we should believe and which direction we should go?

So, Where Do We as Christians Begin and What and How are We to Think? Answer: It all Begins and Ends With the Battle for Worldviews!

Most people presuppose that the problems in America are social, racial, religious or financial.  While on the surface it is easy to see why people could probably make those arguments, however when you look at the big issues that we face more in depth and think through the issues more critically, you can make the case that the polarizing ideological and philosophical differences that we face in American culture and politics are not so much sociological but rather the differences in worldviews.  This is especially insightful when you consider the fact that our ideologies don’t just occur in a vacuum, but they are the result of our worldview.  In other words, your worldview will dictate your beliefs and your beliefs will then dictate your behaviors, responses, reactions, emotions, and choices in any given situation.  And then those behaviors, emotions, reactions, and choices that we display to the various stimulus we face, will ultimately testify to our worldview.

Worldview defined

In the simplest terms, our worldview can be defined as, a mental framework of ideas about the world and about life, the lens or the glasses or the filter through which one views and interprets the world around us, a comprehensive conception of the world through a specific viewpoint, your personal concept of reality, a theory of the world used for living in the world, the ideological framework which shapes a person’s view of reality, the overall perspective in which one sees and interprets the world and events. 

In short, our worldview can be succinctly seen as a collection of beliefs about life, religion and culture held by individuals or by groups, a philosophy, or the presuppositions that influence our outlook on life and how we perceive the world we live in.

To put it even more simply, your worldview can be seen as a set of glasses that you look through to bring what is happening in the world into mental focus.  If you like computers for example, you can think of your worldview as your operating system, the thing that converts your life experiences into the ones and zeros that your mind understands.  More simply, your worldview is your gut-level, instinctive responses to basic philosophical questions about life, the world, religion and politics, as well as the basis for your reactions to events and life’s circumstances. A comprehensive worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individuals or society’s knowledge and point of view.  The beliefs, values, and behaviors of a culture stems directly from its worldview.

To put it more succinctly, “Your worldview is the basis for everything.  It is the basis for how we see the world, what we think the world is, the decisions we make, the behaviors that we will choose, the responses to other people’s behaviors, all stem from your worldviews.”  The word of God points out this aspect of human nature on several occasions, for example: “Out of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Luke 6:45), and “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).  This is also why Paul challenged the Christians in Rome to “be transformed by the RENEWING OF YOUR MINDS” (Romans 12:2).

Case in point, as I alluded to earlier, how is it possible for two intelligent, individuals who both love God can be so radically different in their conclusions on certain issues?  For example, how is it possible that two people can hear any number of the hot button words that dominate our narrative such as, “equality, fairness, inclusion, and justice,” but yet adopt two radically different interpretations and understandings of what those words mean and how they should apply in our political and social structure.  Or, from a religious perspective, how can two bible believing Christians, look at the same passage of scripture such as Matthew 25:31-40 for example, but yet, arrive at two radically different interpretations and applications?

Well the answer is simply that it is all about our particular system by which we interpret the world, or in the case of interpreting scripture, known as our worldview, or the lens in which we view the world, or thru which we interpret scripture.  In other words, every one of us, whether consciously or subconsciously have default presuppositions that  have been programmed into our minds over a lifetime of sensory inputs, from an ever increasing barrage of sources, that influence how we think, our outlook on life and our perceptions of what is right and what is wrong.

Whether educated or uneducated, religious or non-religious, rich or poor, black or white, male or female, good or bad, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or charismatic, we all have a belief system or way of looking at the world that influences how we think, how interpret life and how we react to various stimulus.

Putting it another way, an individual’s worldview is your “big picture,” your harmony of all your beliefs about the world, your way of understanding reality and your basis for making daily decisions.  This insight therefore, makes your individual worldviews extremely critical in effecting our individual decisions and destinies.

This is something that can never be over stated.  Everyone has a worldview even if you do not recognize it or cannot explain what it is.  It describes our search for answers to life’s most important questions.  Your worldview affects the way you look at every issue of life including:  Life, death, politics, religion, parenting, education and so on.  And as I stated, your worldview glasses affect how you view certain events and how you respond to them.  If your worldview glasses have the correct prescription, then you will see the world accurately.  If they have the wrong prescription, your view of the world will be distorted.

A smorgasbord of ideas

Worldviews are so much a part of our daily lives that whether we recognize it or not, we see, hear and react to our worldviews every day.  In fact, on a continual basis, we are faced with a smorgasbord of worldviews, all of which make claims concerning truth.  And whether we are cognizant of it or not, whether consciously or unconsciously, we are all challenged to sort through this assortment of worldviews from a plethora of sources.  For example, movies, television, the media, the entertainment industry, sports figures, music, magazines, newspapers, government, public education, academia, science, art, family, friends, co-workers,  social media followings, and your religious affiliations if any, all either directly or indirectly have an impact on our worldview.  In other words, all of these sources, whether we realize it or not, have an impact and influence on how we view the world, and how we view and react to the most polarizing elements of culture, religion and politics.  And if we ignore their significance or their impact on how we think and understand the world, we do so at our own detriment.  In simpler terms, our worldview is a view of the world and a view for the world.”  The proper worldview helps us by orienting us to the intellectual and philosophical terrain about us.

Imagine for example, an apple sitting on a table that is seen by several people.  A botanist sees the apple and his immediate inclination is to classify it.  A grocer sees the apple as an asset and his first inclination is to sell it for a profit.  A child sees the apple as lunch or a snack and eats it.  In other words, how we look at any situation is influenced by how we look at the world in general or the lens through which you view the world in any given situation.  In short, while we tend to debate many of the particular issues that have kept us so divided, the elephant in the room, or the true debate that has gone pretty much under the radar, is much more of a worldview debate than it is a debate about our given or particular pet topic.  In other words, rather than debating a particular political or religious disagreement, the more significant or practical question that should be considered is, what is the worldview, or the philosophical and ideological perspective that brought you to your particular conclusion on a given issue in the first place?  

Finally, and most importantly of all, what are the long term consequences of our worldview, or the decisions that we make, not only as individuals, but as a society at large?  In this first of a multi-part series of lessons on Politics, Religion and a Biblical Worldview, I touched on a hodgepodge of related topics just as an introduction to the study.  In part two of this study, I will begin to examine this idea of a biblical Vs secular worldviews in our politics and culture more closely and more specifically.  I will also explore some of the consequences of past legislative decisions that impact us today, and why Christians in particular. need to be more informed and engaged.

  1. The Culture War, www.Culture-war.info.
  2. James Davidson Hunter, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America Basic Books 1991.