Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Total Truth - Part 1 - What's In a Worldview?

For more information on this series, click here.

In Part 1 of her book Total Truth, author Nancy Pearcey examines what a worldview is and why it's important. Whether we realize it or not, we all adhere to some type of worldview. The question is whether the worldview we hold is consistent with what we profess to believe. For many Christians, their worldview is not consistent with Scripture because they have allowed cultural influences to define their worldview rather than allow their worldview to be fully transformed by the gospel. The question we must wrestle with is this: Is Christianity a collection of truths or is it the Truth?

Ms. Pearcey correctly diagnoses the problem: Christians (and particularly evangelicals) have done a good job of spreading the message of salvation of the gospel but have failed to explain how the Christian faith affects how we inerpret the world. In other words, evangelicals have failed to show how the Christian faith affects how we view things like politics, science, bioethics or economics. As a result, we have allowed religion to become a private matter rather than have it's proper influence on the culture at large.

One of the most obvious areas where this division is the issue of sacred versus secular. When I was in college and in a leadership position in our campus fellowship, I had the false impression that to truly be able to serve God I needed to be in ministry full time. In other words, I had to be in professional Christian ministry in order to be able to fully serve God. However, I had no specific calling to go into the ministry and as a result struggled for some time believing the lie that because I was engaged in secular work (i.e. not full time Christian ministry) I wasn't fully serving God. It wasn't until many years later when I read John Beckett's Loving Monday (which she sites extensively) that I realized that regardless of what I do for a living I am serving God.

There are many other such dichotomies that Ms. Pearcey discusses at length during this portion of the book. The main point is not only have cultural influences forced Christianity out of the public square but that Christians themselves are to blame because of our incomplete presentation of the gospel.

For a long time, gospel presentations have focused in on the Fall. Our presentation of the gospel has focused on the sinful nature of man and the need for salvation. This is certainly true but it does not provide a complete picture of the gospel. At a time where biblical literacy was more common, such a presentation would have been sufficient to persuade someone to accept Christ. If you told a biblically literate individual that they were a sinner they would understand. But now with our culture so biblically illiterate (an excellent discussion of this issue is available in this article from The Weekly Standard) simply telling someone they are a sinner is not enough to persuade them to accept Christ or recognize their need for salvation. Ms. Pearcey argues that the appropriate way to present the gospel is to present the entire picture: from Creation to the Fall to Redemption through Christ. She goes on to show in Chapter 4 - Surviving the Spiritual Wasteland that any major worldview can be viewed in this fashion.

Only by being convinced there is a biblical perspective on everything will we be able to give an answer for the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15). This is the essence of apologetics: the ability to not only defend the Christian faith but also to critique other faiths or worldviews.

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