About a week ago my cousin Ted drew my attention to an article written by a Professor of Mathematics (Emeritus) at the University of Oxford. In the article, the author, John Lennox, tells of an experience where “a brilliant scientist [was] trying to bully me into giving up Christianity.”
Finding himself at a dinner with an unnamed Nobel Prize winner he had some questions for the man.
“I tried to ask him some questions. For instance, how did his science shape his worldview—his big picture of the status and meaning of the universe? In particular, I was interested in whether his wide-ranging studies had led him to reflect on the existence of God.”
In response the author was invited into a study where he was asked if he wanted a career in science. When responding in the affirmative, he was told:
“Then,” [the Nobel Prize winner] said, “in front of witnesses, tonight, you must give up this childish faith in God…”
“I told the group standing around me that I found the biblical worldview vastly more enriching and the evidence for its truth compelling, and so, with all due respect, I would take the risk and stick with it.”
There were a number of items that stood out to me when reading the original post. Why was the unknown Nobel Prize winner unnamed? How is the percentage of Nobel winners who are Christian relevant to his story (only half of the Nobel Prizes are science related)?
But the item that jumped out at me most of all was his use of the term “biblical worldview”. Whatever does that mean?
Sure I had heard the term before. I even knew of people who had taken courses in the subject of “Having a Biblical Worldview”. But it had never struck me as much as when reading this article. Quite frankly, I could not really get a very good sense of what Lennox meant by the term.
So I went digging.
Here were some of the consensus ideas that I have derived from multiple sites which seem to define what it means to have a “Biblical Worldview”.
- The term is largely synonymous with having a “Christian Worldview”.
- The world is viewed through the lens of the Bible.
- The Bible is accurate and/or inerrant.
- There is absolute truth and it is defined by the Bible.
- The world was created by God.
- Salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone.
- Satan is real.
I must admit I was surprised by the inclusion of number seven on the list. There didn’t seem to be a lot of practical outworking from that. I have a suspicion that its inclusion stems from Frank Peretti days where his two books “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness” combined to sell 3.5 million copies in the late 80s. I think the term “Biblical Worldview” came into prominence at that time.
“In Peretti’s works, the “Sovereign Hand of God” is moved in response to prayers of the “saints”-the faithful “remnant.” who refuse to be led astray by a society growing ever more irreligious. Education, government, the media, the ecological movement, and big business are, knowingly or unknowingly,swayed by demonic forces in the novels.” – Jay Howard “Vilifying the Enemy: The Christian Right and the Novels of Frank Peretti“
While I think that Frank Peretti’s influence deserves a whole post on its own, I want to focus more on items 2 through 5, and some issues that arise from these statements. These items are all related. This will be a brief interaction, but I encourage all of us to continue the discussion in the comments.
Let us start with number two.
The world is viewed through the lens of the Bible.
Describing the Bible as a lens is problematic. Paul says in Corinthians that we “see through a glass darkly”. To say that the Bible speaks with a single voice, that it is this lens that instantly brings clarity to all that is viewed, is not how the Bible works. It could be better described as a richly woven tapestry, adorned with different pictures, and opaque.
As Pastor Mike noted on Monday:
“Making the Bible the sole authority for the church has demonstrably not led to ecclesiastical unity formed around the clear teaching of scripture. Two groups may both hold to the authority of the Bible while coming to polar opposite conclusions with regard to how to interpret it. The Bible, as it has come to us, is just not that simple and easily understood. It is open to a plethora of interpretations, and the history of Protestant schism proves this convincingly.”
The Bible is accurate and/or inerrant
Michael Spencer has written at length as to why he doesn’t hold to inerrancy.
“Inerrancy looks, smells and feels remarkably like a philosophical imposition on the Bible, going beyond what the Bible CAN say about itself, and forcing those of us who believe in the authority and truthfulness of the Bible to take a “loyalty oath” that goes beyond what should be said.”
If someone wants to challenge you on this, ask them when Jesus was born, and do they hold to the Matthew time frame or the Luke time frame?
There is absolute truth and it is defined by the Bible
One commentator wrote that there is a danger in “Not believing your worldview is absolute. Not just right, but absolutely right.”
Michael Spencer would have responded this way:
“While the Bible is supposedly inerrant, none of those who interpret it are inerrant interpreters. That’s a problem. If there is a perfect compass, and you give it to a chimp, what have you got? A chimp with a compass.”
Believing that you have the “absolute truth” results in people being dismissive of other views: “ I believe X, I believe the bible, you believe Y, therefore you don’t believe the bible.”
It is this arrogance of holding that you have absolute truth that has led to so much schism as disunity in the church. There is also the danger of conflating “your view” with “God’s view.” In fact, many of my sources used the the “Biblical Worldview” and “God’s Worldview” as synonymous.
The world was created by God
For most definitions, this means the rejection of evolution. Science as a whole is rejected either implicitly or explicitly. (Though it is usually couched in very soft terms.) For many it means embracing young earth six day creationism:
Ken Ham in his post “What is a Biblical Worldview” writes:
“God created the heavens, the earth, and all that is in them in six normal-length days around 6,000 years ago. His completed creation was “very good”, and all the original animals (including dinosaurs) and the first two humans (Adam and Eve) ate only plants”
Again Michael Spencer chimes in:
“Creation “really” happened. That I am told by God about creation in a three thousand year old liturgical, poetic, prescientific story meant to assert Hebrew ideas over pagan ideas during the Babylonian captivity doesn’t take one thing away from the truth of Creation. Not one thing. Telling me I have to become a young earth creationist in order to actually “believe” this account is absurd. Saying that if I don’t become a young earth creationist, I disbelieve this account is simply unacceptable. Stronger words are really needed.”
John Lennox, the author of the post that spawned my post, says that he does not hold to a young earth. My question for both him and Ken Ham is: How can you both say you hold to a Biblical Worldview, when you disagree on what that mean.
Here are my final thoughts:
The biggest problem with the idea of a Biblical Worldview is the way it is used to promote an agenda. Those espousing Biblical Worldviews are those who are anti women in leadership, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-evolution.
“In my past life everyone who used the term worldview basically did proof texting to say that their politics (almost always very conservative) is good, that the state should not help the sick and poor, that women should be subject to men, and gays are evil” – Klassie Kraalogies
A quick google search finds many articles written by leading evangelicals, like this one by Franklin Graham.
If you remember back to my conversation with Geoff as to what stood out to him in his interaction with me he wrote:
“You didn’t agree or disagree with homosexuality but you would not let the text of your religion be dissected and conveniently used to prove a point.”
And maybe that is why I reacted so strongly to the idea of a “Biblical Worldview”.
So those are my initial thoughts. Have at it. As usual your thoughts and comments are welcome. To also quote Klassie Kraalogies: “We get somewhere by talking and discussing and debating in a decent, friendly manner… “
105 thoughts on “What on earth is a “Biblical Worldview”?”
Conventional Christian wisdom certainly doesn’t deride conservative Evangelicals, it considers them to be the hub of it, as you well know. And there are plenty of evangelicals on discernment blogs, as well as former evangelicals & fundamentalists, which is why everyone recognises you as the enforcer of those views when you repeatedly criticise the views of those who don’t hold to them. You voice the( actually modernist) fundamentalist/biblicist views many of us have left behind. Don’t think anyone here doesn’t know that, & I’m not sure why you try to wiggle out of it. Or mention the press.
You know you consider those views the one true way & anyone diverging from them objectively wrong.
I’m a Youth Worker btw, not a Social Worker – we are aligned professions, but not identical. Sadly we are faring badly under the faux austerity policies of our Conservative ‘Government’ who love money far more than they love the poor or vulnerable, for all our PM is a Vicar’s daughter & claims Christ. If anyone is in a praying mood please pray for more work as I may get made redundant for the second time in just over 7 years, despite youth needs being sky high.
I hope you’re doing well too Jimmy, despite me ribbing you for your fundamentalism.
Don’t forget Late Great Planet Earth, The Calvary Road, Left Behind (Volumes 1-22), The Satan Seller, etc.
JEFFRESS THE FLATTERER?
Very few Evangelicals and fundamentalists on the “discernment” blogs.
Conservative Evangelicals may be up to 3 % of the population. CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS – NEVER think they have it right. Conventional wisdom derides the wisdom of conservative Evangelicals.
BTW, how’s the social work biz in England these days? Hope you’re doing well Beakerj
But you are huge on what we know as the ‘conventional wisdom’of the Evangelicals & fundamentalists? You are absolutely down the line with them, & are forever questioning those who don’t follow that path.
Referencing Scripture in and of itself has little meaning, sen. Satan did it, as someone else has already pointed out. When Jesus quoted Scripture he was reinforcing what he was trying to get across to those listening. Those Scripture quotes have their ***meaning*** in that context. Often, Jesus was trying to show those listening that they had deduced the wrong ***meaning/interpretation*** of Scripture, and he was correcting it. It’s about meaning, not simply quoting the words.
I’ve read that in the Orthodox Liturgy, besides the Epistle and Gospel readings for the day, there are nearly 100 direct quotes from, or allusions to, Scripture. I doubt seriously that would convince you to attend an Orthodox Liturgy…. because you are committed to a different ***interpretation*** of some parts of Scripture than Orthodox are.
“If you get the message, you might refuse it; but if you get the meaning, hey, don’t ever lose it – if you get the meaning, oh, of it all…” – Noel Paul Stookey, “One Thing”
“He wants to knock your house down?”
“Yes, he wants to build …”
“And he can’t because you’re lying in front of the bulldozers?”
“Yes, and …”
“I’m sure we can come to some arrangement,” said Ford. “Excuse
me!” he shouted.
Mr Prosser (who was arguing with a spokesman for the bulldozer
drivers about whether or not Arthur Dent constituted a mental
health hazard, and how much they should get paid if he did)
looked around. He was surprised and slightly alarmed to find that
Arthur had company.
“Yes? Hello?” he called. “Has Mr Dent come to his senses yet?”
“Can we for the moment,” called Ford, “assume that he hasn’t?”
“Well?” sighed Mr Prosser.
“And can we also assume,” said Ford, “that he’s going to be
staying here all day?”
“So all your men are going to be standing around all day doing
“Could be, could be …”
“Well, if you’re resigned to doing that anyway, you don’t
actually need him to lie here all the time do you?”
“You don’t,” said Ford patiently, “actually need him here.”
Mr Prosser thought about this.
“Well no, not as such…”, he said, “not exactly need …”
Prosser was worried. He thought that one of them wasn’t making a
lot of sense.
Ford said, “So if you would just like to take it as read that
he’s actually here, then he and I could slip off down to the pub
for half an hour. How does that sound?”
(Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
As did I.
Thank you for responding, Ric.
kind of you to say that, senecagriggs, but ‘human’ might be a better adjective than ‘wonderful’, especially lately
on another blog was this very angry individual, making cutting ad hominem attacks on others, and being very provocative politically in an extreme way . . . . so I decided to test the waters and played ‘Gotcha’ and I actually did this not once but twice, before I came to my senses:
I quoted ‘Hitler’ anonymously, and then for my own ‘Name’ I put anonymous and sure enough, the very angry person agreed with the quotes never realizing who wrote them or who was the fool that quoted Hitler in order to trap him
(at this point, even recalling this makes me shudder) . . . . well, LATER, after some twinges of conscience got to bursting point, I determined I had done wrong by the angry person and decided to remove those quotes but I couldn’t because I had used ‘anonymous’ as my ‘Name’ instead of my own, so that avenue was shut down. . . .
so now I have to go to confession with this mess because no one caught it or realized what I did but me, my conscience and the Good Lord, may He forgive my foolish ways
and that poor angry person? It occurs to me that he may be suffering a whole lot more than I can imagine under all that anger and vitriol . . . . and I might have made it worse, for which I am sorry that I cannot go back and fix what I did
‘wonderful’? no, not this week, senecagriggs, not this week
no, not even close
. . .but thanks anyway for your comment
and thanks again for listening to the sad truth . . . God Bless
Well the idea of Satan is certainly real and the idea is all that’s is needed. For Satan is actually exist would be superfluous.
Christianne, what a wonderful lady you must be.
“Tell me the truth, Seneca, had you been alive at that time, how wouldn’t you have sided with the Judaizers against Paul, they had SCRIPTURE on their side.”
They may have thought they had Scripture on their side but Jesus consistently showed; they really didn’t.
Actually Geo Mike, I have a soft spot for sinners – of which I am very much one. My own sins are gross enough to condemn me to eternal damnation; I’m not Hitler, but I could have been.
And frankly, I’ve never felt any connection to the Judaizers. They spoke “conventional wisdom.” Paul spoke truth. I’m not big on “conventional wisdom.”
Ric, there’s a loooong history here of I’m-right-you’re-wrong-and-Scripture-and-God-agree-with-me, and some of this is a reaction to that. Hang around and you’ll see who does what.
The use of the term worldview is something I’m very familiar with from my background at L’Abri, though, like many things in the evangelical world, it tends to be used much more intelligently & thoughtfully than in other arenas. I’ve always known it really as ‘what the world is like if X is true’, & for X insert whatever philosophy/faith, & taught that idea to young people in church youth work.
In my own life it has always been helpful, even when the accompanying inerrancy wasn’t. I could never get the Bible to function in an inerrant way, which resulted in a lot of grinding anxiety under the surface about whether I was getting things wrong, from God’s character to things I was meant to be doing. Reading Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible (as above) absolutely blew me away by putting that into words.
Good call. Did the scientist really say that???? I’m sure there are anti-religion scientists just as there are anti-science religious people, but sometimes things are either slightly true and blown out of proportion or untrue all together – even in evangelical culture.
Robert F, you were not one of the unspecified. Hope that helps.
That’s not true Eeyore. Just giving Geo Mike and opportunity to express himself. I don’t do “gotcha.” I DO ask people, specially blog authors, to clarify their stance. Whatever they write they write.
Mike Bell did that with this post.
Dana, Jesus quoted Scripture 84 times. When he argued with the Pharisees, he used Scripture to make his arguments. Here in I-monk land, it doesn’t seem all that popular to reference Scripture but Jesus certainly did.
Absolutely! How anyone can miss that Jesus is the Word, & that all Scripture points to him, is frankly beyond me.
‘I believe Scripture alone is the word of man’s creator, God.’ Surely this is Bibliolatry.
I agree that Satan is real, but unfortunately evangelical Christianity has been shown to mindlessly follow extra-Biblical books (so much for sola scriptura) such as Josh Harris’ book Kissing Dating Goodbye and the book Love and Respect, both of which have finally gotten some serious push back. So yeah, I was a teen when Perretti’s books were the thing, and I do think they were just sensationalist enough to help form a lot of evangelical thought.
Amen, and the Genesis creation story was written to encourage the Jews in exile, not to tell specifically how God created the world.
In reality, ‘biblical worldview’ is just another term for ‘biblicism’, and as Christian Smith points out in his excellent book ‘The Bible Made impossible’, it fails under its own weight. it simply cannot deliver what it (or its proponents) promise – a clear, perfect, consistent, obvious understanding of issues of faith and life. if it could there would not be so many different denominations, ‘biblical worldviewS’, and so many ‘three views’, ‘four views’, maybe even ‘five views’ books by serious scholars on fundamental (non-negotiable) issues of the faith.
The bottom line is ‘biblical worldview’ is really iron-age (in some cases bronze-age) sociology and ethics applied to information-age life. For an example, I recently saw an ad on TV for Robert Jeffress’ ’10 Biblical Financial Principles’ sermon series (or something like that) based on Proverbs. Really? You are going to apply ‘principles’ from an iron-age agrarian economic system to 21st century free-market economies? Of course the first principle will no doubt be about debt (a favorite of the ‘biblical financial principles’ folks). But debt in the ancient world was very different than debt today. And how many people of modest means today can pay cash for a house (or even a car)? It’s simply taking practical realities everyone in the ancient world understood as ‘normal’ (and the unchangeable way things ‘were’) and trying to make them ‘normal’, or ‘biblical’ in the modern world (and load Christians with guilt if they don’t conform their lives to iron-age social and economic systems). It simply doesn’t work. Another favorite verse from the NT is Romans 13:8 (‘owe no man anything’) to prove debt is bad. The proper translation is ‘be obligated to no-one’ and Paul almost certainly has in mind the client-patron relationship, which he forbids Christians from entering into (see also 1 Thes 3:6-14). Unfortunately ‘biblical worldview’ is even more dangerous when combined with ‘biblical world’ ignorance.
To see how dysfunctional a ‘biblical worldview’ can be, just look at life in the middle ages. Since the church (following that ‘biblical worldview’) forbade usury (simple interest on loans) it prevented trade and commerce, making most everyone virtual slaves in a feudal society. It wasn’t until people (often with the help of Jews) found ways to finance trade and commerce that economic growth began, feudalism died out, and people were free from that virtual slavery. As a result of that came the Renaissance, the Enlightenment (not to mention the Reformation) and modern democratic societies. Those ‘biblical financial principles’ kept Europe in the dark ages for centuries. I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to that, but there are some evangelicals who apparently believe that we should.
“Those who came up with ‘inerrancy’ had already turned away from Jesus Christ as the ‘lens’ through which the fullness of sacred Scripture would be revealed. Instead, they chose to make their OWN interpretations ‘inerrant’, and so, in their pride, their attempts to control the great narrative were doomed to fail.”
How can I upvote this and do so several times? I’ve always said that you have to read scripture through the lense of Christ and if you do so, you get the correct interpretation of things like the Ephesian marriage verses in that it’s about mutual submission and loving one another and not about who is the boss.
Good comments, Dana.
Jesus used Scripture, but he viewed life through Himself. I believe, that if you read closely, you will see that when He is dealing with gentiles rather that his fellow Jews, He pretty much dispensed with Scripture. He used Scripture when enunciating his vocation as Messiah and Incarnate Deity, as well as dealing with the popular expectations of what those two terms embodied. Scripture was much more a tool He employed, rather than a suit which constrained Him.
True, Christiane, but senecagriggs needs to be called out on it when he is the one trying to shut people down by trapping them with baited questions.
The question is similar to the ones the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with.
I’m sick of agreeing with you, but very likely you are correct about the ugly fact that the economic lens gives the most accurate perspective on this temporal world. Anything else is paddling upstream against the flood. Animosities, racism, tribalism, nostalgia, etc. are all negotiable if the money on the barrel head is right.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”
To whom is St John referring?
No offense taken. My request was sincere. If I overstep a line I want to know it, but because I’m prone to doubt myself and the appropriateness of my interactions with others, when I hear a criticism meant for some unspecified members of a group I’m part of, I’m not sure if I’m one of the unspecified or not. It seems to me the kind of thing I need to know.
> I would say that there are asshats everywhere
This. And there will people who strenuously disagree with you – – – and this disagreement in most circles is not interpreted as rejection or persecution.
> insert a veneer of intellectualism to gain respectability
Yep. Yet if this is the only “intellectualism” someone may be exposed to it can seem very impressive.
If someone takes false-statement-or-gross-oversimplification A + false-statement-or-gross-oversimplification A and comes up with Truth-Assertion-C it is difficult to debate them without many who are not accustomed to such debate feeling that someone is being Aggressive. And if one mistakenly stumbles into debating C it can sound like a tacit acceptance of A & B.
Best to simply toss the “worldview” concept altogether.
Cognitive dissonance is a wonder to behold.
the Mark of the T was all over the ‘Freedom Caucus’ members who questioned Whitaker today . . . you couldn’t miss it . . . . lock-step they were in defense of their master
“Sometimes nice people are wrong and assholes right, and sometimes it is the other way round.”
ROTFL very good comment, Klasie !
that he often sees things differently does not mean that his voice has no value in the Body of Christ, if nothing more than to clarify for those who disagree what it is that they see differently
when we start shutting people down, we have assumed that they were ‘not needed’, when in the Body of Christ, all are needed, all have value
“our DNA has the imprint of God’s love”
Amen, Amen, Amen
I agree with you on this,
“But it wasn’t how the early scientists started out, and it certainly wasn’t their intention that people should end up believing that purely natural causes and purely physical evidence were all that exists.”
I do think that part of what makes us human is that at some point in our unfolding development over ages, we stood upon the Earth and look up and begin to wonder . . . . and that WONDERING is the beginning of our seeking answers to the great questions of our kind.
Without this spirit of ‘questing’ fueled by our human sense of curiosity and wonder, we would not have gone forward into ‘discovery’ as a part of who we are.
The first real scientist stood upon a mountain and asked himself what it was he was seeing when he looked up at the stars, and the first real human tended a crippled loved one who was able to grow up into adulthood by the care given to him out of loving kindness, and the finding of his bones tell the story that without that love given to him, he could not have survived on his own into older age . . . .
and I like to think that both the scientist and the care-giver were members of the species of ‘Man’ in this ancient prayer:
” What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? ”
I do believe that the Creation of our human kind has evolved during a long period to an awakened awareness of being culminating in the event of the Incarnation when Our Lord, out of love for His Creation, assumed our struggling humanity to Himself to heal its wounds and make it whole.
I’m sorry. I was trying to make a general observation and not create further animosity by replying to anyone person. I meant no offense to anyone. That was my point. If I did, please forgive me. It was the opposite of my intention.
“THAT”s Shirley MacLaine…”
“Seems like a fair question.”
We’ve all been down this road often enought to know where it would end. If they were to answer “no”, you would be automatically vindicated. If they were to answer “yes”, you would immediately come back with “But you believe A, B, and C, and the Bible CLEARLY TEACHES X, Y, and Z!” That’s why we keep coming back to your assumtions about hermeneutics and epistemology – the reason you’re getting X, Y and Z is that you are assuming that *the way you read the Bible* is the Only True Way to read it. It’s not.
I’m with you, Dana.
I actually think that the ‘long view’ of Creation over aeons seems more to honor God than ‘the Ham variety’ of explanations. That God is also the God of the natural world escapes many who only see the ‘immediate’ as miraculous. A wound heals over time using God’s natural laws . . . but only a Ham person fails to see the miracle of that healing . . . . like children, they want drama, immediate results, ‘entertainment’ from the shock of the sudden; but that is not the way of the God of the long view, no, so they cannot see what unfolds in His ‘time’ over aeons as also ‘miracle’ and that is sad
“Scripture alone is the word of man’s creator, God. That is where wisdom is found.”
Scripture also enjoins us to draw wisdom from observation of nature – Proverbs and Psalms are chock full of such admonitions. Paul also unironically used teachings of pagan philosophers in his speech in Athens (Acts 17).
By your own standard, Scripture is not the sole source of God’s wisdom.
Regarding your second point: You should address the commenters you are referring to directly. I for one would like to know if I’m one of them, but since I cannot read your mind, it’s a guessing game. A “You know who you are” approach doesn’t work, because people generally don’t know.
Jesus didn’t have to “view life thru scripture”. He was and is the Lord of life, and his Spirit is the one who superintended the writing of scripture, so he was not in any way captive to it. In the NT, the phrase “Word of God” refers to Jesus most of the time, not to scripture, and the most common title for Jesus in the writings of the earliest theologians is “Word of God”, or “Christ the Word”. That word “word/logos” means the ultimate expression of something. Therefore, Jesus is the ultimate expression of who God is. He is not bound by any writing, including his own…
This whole thing comes down, yet again, to INTERPRETATION. Some people who hold to a certain interpretation of scripture and how it presents Jesus use the phrase “biblical/Christian worldview” to mean “following the tenets (not tenants – tenants are people who live in a house or on a certain piece of land) of non-sacramental Protestant Christianity”. Orthodox don’t use that phrase (and I’d be surprised if any Catholic theologian before 1960 used it). Orthodox see Christ “in” everything, because the Cross is the center of the universe…
Asking whether someone has a “Christian/biblical worldview” is a question about that person’s INTERPRETATION of Scripture. If, when you start a sentence with “The Bible says….” the next words out of your mouth are not in either Hebrew or Greek, you are giving an interpretation. That’s how decoding a written language works.
Wait! Are you saying that the passage from John is not equal in authority to the rest of the NT, and the Scriptures, because it was possibly not part of “John’s original gospel”? Oh my goodness, there goes the canonicity of the entire Bible! And you misused a discovery of scholarly critical research to do it! All because you don’t like the clear implications of the passage. That’s hilarious. – dryly
I have similar issues with the Lennox story, but if we assume it is true, I would say that there are asshats everywhere. In my journey to atheism, it was very, very important for me not to be influenced by bad behaviour from people. Sometimes nice people are wrong and assholes right, and sometimes it is the other way round.
As to worldview – I got exposed to “worldview” thinking nearly 30 years ago. And in all that time, it has always come from a funnymentalists (intended) that are trying to intellectualize their fundamentalism. Not wanting to look like snake-handlers or IFB’s, they inserter a veneer of intellectualism to gain respectability. This has been a strong phenomenon in Anglo-Saxon Reformed circles, especially. Prime examples are Bahnsen, van Till, Wilson and others. The funny thing is that they are really not as clever as they think they are, even if they manage to learn a bit of Latin and quote Aquinas.
I don’t believe the six days were literal. I do believe that God guided the development of humanoids until they reached a stage where they were capable of apprehending God. AND I believe that God created everything, so I’m a Creationist. How exactly that happened is not revealed to us in scripture. There could have been “primal goo” – which God allowed to arise, and which he directed into its various streams. “Creationist” as a broad term does not necessarily mean the Ham variety.
“Worldview” is a late 20th century philosophical/literary/sociological term that can have a very narrow or a very broad meaning. I’m not sure it’s a very useful term anymore – falls under the category of words like “gospel” – we think we all agree on what that means, but maybe we don’t.
Jesus did not have a “biblical worldview”. Such a term was unknown in the first century. Trying to pin it on him – or any of the NT authors – is an anachronism – reading back into that time something which did not exist then.
1) You are not responding to Mike’s rejoinder to you about the non-fundamentalist way that Christ quoted and used Scripture against the religious fundamentalists of his day.
2) It is obvious that, even if Mike affirmed that he had such a worldview, he would mean something very different from what you mean by it; as a result, it is probably better for him and others of us to avoid confusion by avoiding use of the term altogether. We don’t believe we need to be Christian, or identify ourselves as such, on the basis of your rules.
i.e. WEAPONIZED Biblical Worldview.
I believe Scripture alone is the word of man’s creator, God. That is where wisdom is found. If you wish to be wise, study Scripture. For the most part, it’s pretty clear. Mull over it, let it soak into your very marrow. [ It helps you not to worry about politics.]
As to the story of the women caught in adultery which Geo Mike referenced –
This story, beloved for its revelation of God’s mercy toward sinners, is found only in John. It was almost certainly not part of John’s original Gospel. The NIV separates this passage off from the rest of the Gospel with the note, “The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53–8:11.”
Is that anything like Wayne’s World?
And the “ideological conspiracy” is just another expression of the Conspiracy Mania which Christians are very prone to.
The Peretti scene (from one of the two early novels mentioned above) that still sticks in my memory some 30 years later goes like this:
The Conspiracy is meeting in their smoke-free room plotting how to Utterly Destroy Evangelical Christianity in the town. Peretti describes them all as being ridden by DEMONS on their backs controlling their every word and thought (like the Loa of Voudun riding their Horses). He goes through each controlled/possessed “horse”, describing them in detail.
My reaction was:
“THAT’s Carl Sagan;
THAT’s Madelyn Murray O’Hare;
THAT’s Anton LaVey;
THAT’s Dr Ruth Westheimer;
THAT’s Stephen Jay Gould;
THAT’s Isaac Bonewitz…”
It was THAT Obvious.
–> “On another note, do we have to have personal put-downs of people who comment?”
Only those who disagree with us! 😉
Mike, do you consider yourself to have a Biblical or Christian worldview? Seems like a fair question.
Really? You don’t actually read my posts do you Robert F. dryly
–> “It’s sad that so many Christians are so worried about being fooled by The Antichrist, being Left Behind, and recognizing the so-called Prophetic Signs so that they can avoid The Wrath to Come that they ignore and back-burner the New Testament teachings of Jesus, as if these are secondary and not primary in our relationship to God and others.”
A middle-aged guy flitted into my circle of being for a few months about a year ago and ALL he talked about was end times stuff. There was general concern about “what if we’re being fooled” and “what if the signs are there and we’re missing them.”
Several of us tried to help him see the chains he’d shackled himself with. He was a ball of anxiety, totally missing the boat on the REAL Good News of the Gospel. Soon, he just became wearying to us all, and we began telling him we were no longer interested in conversing about that topic, and he disappeared. Haven’t seen him in a year. I mean, truly…this guy would talk about NOTHING else.
“Wikipedia” has a good (I think) and brief discussion on “Christian worldview” that may clear up some of the confusion. As for John Lennox, a quick online search tells that he is a distinguished scholar and writer. I see a worldview as the way one looks at life, perhaps something like a philosophy of life. As a Christian, I hope my worldview is shaped by the Bible’s teachings about God and humans, focused on Jesus Christ, thus a Christian, or a biblical, worldview.
On another note, do we have to have personal put-downs of people who comment?
One thing for sure: Jesus Christ used Scripture in no way like senecagriggs!
Ben, there are influential Culture Warriors on the religious right who use the term “Biblical Worldview” in a way much differently from the way you describe. For them, it is cudgel of condemnation against secularism, and Christians who, in their estimation, don’t have the view right.
First impressions (before I get carried away with replies):
Because the story’s bogus?
(Like a LOT of TRUE(TM) Sermon Illustrations?)
Note that it fills all the niches of and reinforces Persecution Porn attitudes.
All the above filtered through the TRVTHs of Fundagelicalism; 5 = YEC, 6 = Altar Call Magic Words, 7 = Spiritual Warfare DEMONS! DEMONS! DEEEEMONS!
With some additionals:
8) Dispensationalism including
9) Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist; END TIME PROPHECY! (clock is ticking clock is ticking tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick…)
10) It’s All Gonna Burn
11) Culture War Without End, Amen (Take Back America! Christian Nation! Barton Says So!)
Ah, yes, Peretti. Specifically, EARLY Peretti.
And a LOT of Christians believed those books were FACT (not Fiction) and acted accordingly. 68th & 69th books of Inerrant SCRIPTURE (“Late Great Planet Earth” being the 67th). To the point that Peretti himself had to discontinue his own genre (a common fanboy problem with imaginative fiction authors).
At 1995 Worldcon I was at a panel and interest-group meeting where Peretti came up. One panelist that knew some inside info said that “Frank Peretti is the type of author who NEEDS a strong editor, and he didn’t have one until much later in his career.” So the above two were EARLY Peretti, with all the bad writing of a younger inexperienced author coming through to the published version (instead of being sent back for revision by an editor). Didn’t help that a lot of it was also Conventional Christianese and reinforced existing Christianese tropes.
Which is the new normal across the board, with Christians jumping on the bandwagon and going “ME, TOO!”
“For in the Devil’s theology, the most important thing is to Be Absolutely Right and prove everyone else to be Absolutely Wrong.”
— Thomas Merton, “Moral Theology of the Devil”
Because MY Biblical Worldview is CORRECT and His is FALSE — “DIE, HERETIC!!!!!”
And THAT says it all.
(And GOD Agrees Completely With ME!)
Like aging Rock Stars.
“Many Christians are more interested in The Antichrist than in Christ.”
— J Vernon Magee
While taking the Mark of the Trump on both forehead AND right hand…
Seneca always misses the point.
I’ve been there.
Way too often.
Thrown into something cold, overwhelmed by massive complexity, can’t get a straight answer to any of my questions, and under pressure from unrealistic expectations of Utter Perfection — “BUT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE A GENIUS!!!!!”
(i.e. Wesley Crusher and Doogie Houser are the FANTASY. Dallas Egbert and me are the Reality.)
And it can kill.
Satan quoted Scripture.
And what happened when He quoted it? How did He use it?
“It is written to do THIS… But I say to you, do THAT instead.”
“It is written… and in ME, this is fulfilled in your hearing today.” (and often not in an obviously literal way)
Or, my personal favorite…
“You dilligently search the Scritpures, thinking that in them you have eternal life. They testify about ME, but you refuse to come to Me to have life.”
This reminds me of the divide between the viewpoint of the U.S. Constitution, whether to be an “originalist” or a every changing interpretation based on current social, cultural and political viewpoints. Is the “right” to be happy in the Constitution or the pursuit of happiness etc. What was the intent of the Founding Fathers or should we just go with what we now interpret to be right and the Supreme Court should do what they think right now. Can the states regulate state sanctioned marriage or is happiness trump that viewpoint? Again interpretation is elusive even in a pretty “straight forward” man made document.
The Bible was written for people thousands of years ago to guide, comfort, educate and give them a blueprint to live. Inspired by God it was given to mankind to last from the bronze age on, to be interpreted and used then and now to be interpreted and used in our modern world.
Is the Bible a science book, a medical book etc. of course not. Does it explain things we now take as “fact” , of course not. It is a book of faith.
I tell my little Granddaughter I love this much, outstretched hands as far as I can and she does the same and we let it go at that. Why do I believe the Bible? God loves us no matter what from day one. We are made in Gods image, our DNA has the imprint of God:’s love. So when my children and grandchildren came along the moment I heard they were created, I loved them as God loves us. may disappoint me, hurt my feelings etc. but I will love them from beginning to end. Is there science involved in this, probably but this is beyond my worldly knowledge and I accept it as the work of God. Jesus was sent to teach us how to act here and believe in God. We should try to be like him , knowing we cannot not. That is my worldview and I do not fret about it.
Do I have a worldview based on the Bible, I guess that would be case but it my interpretation of it that I individually live with and if I am wrong then one day to the Lord , I will have to say oops and he will forgive me, because I believe in Him and I tried.
Sorry Robert but every time I see the phrase “Satan is Real” I flash on this-
I enjoy Frank Peretti. His works are somewhat more literary versions of Chick Tracts which I also enjoy. I am an avid consumer of Christian kitsch. (I have seen all three ‘God’s Not Dead’ movies!) These works are truly postmodern, however unintentional. They manage the impressive feat of being at once themselves and their own parodies.
That sounds like a believable contextualization.
Sorry, I don’t really share your reaction, which seems to be driven by things which are outside the actual subject matter.
I wouldn’t sweat definitions too much: I don’t have any trouble reading biblical worldview and Christian worldview as synonymous. To me it means trying to faithfully apply the story I read in the Bible to my experience of the world, to the science of the day. No claims of infallibility, just muddlin’ through.
That aside, the chimp analogy is funny, but inaccurate, because as interpreters we may be imperfect, but we are not so totally incompetent as to be compared to chimps, neither are we (I believe) incapable of improvement. And the analogy thus hides a different truth. Tweaking it slightly: if you gave the compass to a child, it totally would make a difference if the compass was actually a compass, or just a piece of metal.
Ian Lovejoy is partially right “the foundation of the whole of science as an enterprise is that it is the study of nature through investigating purely natural causes from purely physical evidence”. But it wasn’t how the early scientists started out, and it certainly wasn’t their intention that people should end up believing that purely natural causes and purely physical evidence were all that exists.
Interesting question: is there such a thing as a scientific worldview? And does it’s mere evocation make you react as strongly?
It’s sad that so many Christians are so worried about being fooled by The Antichrist, being Left Behind, and recognizing the so-called Prophetic Signs so that they can avoid The Wrath to Come that they ignore and back-burner the New Testament teachings of Jesus, as if these are secondary and not primary in our relationship to God and others. Folks, if we’re going to be judged, it will be on our failure to love God, neighbor, and enemy, not on our inability to recognize and avoid the so-called Mark of the Beast.
Exactly. A previous reply I made to seneca to this effect went missing in cyberspace: Jesus was constantly “correcting” not just the Pharisees, but Scripture with other Scripture, and also with his own actions and words.
I think you’re missing the point Eeyore is trying to make. The SCRIPTURES called for adulteresses caught in the act to be stoned—Jesus refused to participate. Jesus and the disciples violated SCRIPTURE by harvesting and eating grain on the Sabbath—and Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, not man made for the Sabbath. Repeatedly in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said (paraphrasing) the SCRIPTURES say, but I SAY UNTO YOU. Jesus had a sacred view of SCRIPTURE, but he did not have the view you seem to imply he had. He always went to the heart of the meaning, he wasn’t tied to the LITERAL view of the meaning. Like Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3:6 says, “Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
Tell me the truth, Seneca, had you been alive at that time, how wouldn’t you have sided with the Judaizers against Paul, they had SCRIPTURE on their side.
What is quite clear: Jesus viewed life thru Scripture.
He quoted it 84 times. You might call his a “Biblical Worldview” actually.
This appears to be anathema to the Mainline protestant churches.
It is certainly, and understandably, anathema who have rejected the tenants of Christianity.
If John Lennox’s experience at Cambridge was similar to mine as an undergraduate at Oxford some years later, retiring to someone’s rooms after dinner for a bit of discussion / argument on various random topics was a fairly common occurrence. It maybe that this is what has happened and Mr Lennox has simply completely misunderstood what was going on, seeing it as some sort of interrogation or intervention directed at him, with the intervening years and perhaps the evangelical need to see persecution around every corner magnifying it unto something completely different to what it was.
Now there’s a pedigree!
The Bible does not present a single “worldview” (whatever that is). Variant interpretations are not only permissible but necessary to make sense of the diverse Biblical texts. For Christian faith, it is true that Christ is the lens through which we read the rest of Scripture. But a paradox is involved in that hermeneutic approach, since it is from Scripture that we derive the impression of Christ by which we evaluate the whole of the Bible. In addition, the texts from which we get that impression are not a piece of technical writing from which we can derive a clearly defined diagram; instead they offer views of Christ from various perspectives, from which we can distill a shifting and moving hologram-like representation that offers very differently faceted impressions, depending on which text or texts we are seeing it through. I think that to see and interpret Scripture through the lens of Christ is to see and interpret it through his Eucharistic presence in and to the Church and the world, which means that our view should be dynamic and plural, living, rather than static and frozen, dead. That is the closest we can get to a Christian “worldview”, though that is a misnomer, since such an approach is one that welcomes and accepts various interpretations and understandings.
Richard Hershberger wrote:
“Christians in science are utterly unremarkable.”
Like those unremarkable scientists Galileo, Boyle, Newton, Kepler and many others?
“””Here were some of the consensus ideas that I have derived from multiple sites which seem to define what it means to have a “Biblical Worldview”. . . . “””
You nailed it.
Peretti’s fiction is the love child that would exist if the The Silver Chair (Narnia) had a drunken misguided one night stand with The Late Great Planet Earth. And then that love child’s baby-sitter/day-care-matron was a friendly, but a bit overly talkative, member of BADD (Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons) because the guy she had a crush on – but didn’t want to go out with her – played D&D.
Not all important aspects of Christian belief and practice are included in the Creeds — for instance, the Eucharist. If anything is part of an essential Christians “worldview” (if that means anything), it is the Eucharist.
Although belief in the devil may not rise to the level of creedal affirmation, there can be no doubt that the vast majority, if not all, of the Church Fathers not only believed in the existence of the demonic and Satan, but would have refused to baptize a catechumen would refused to avow belief in them. Rejection of the devil is indeed a normative part of the required traditional baptismal/confirmation affirmations in the Western Church to this day, and that’s because they’ve come down to us from the early centuries of the Church, when they were not just normative but intrinsic to Christian initiation.
I never heard of Frank Peretti before reading this post, but my religious education as a child and young adult in the Roman Catholic Church included the teaching that Satan is real, and that belief in his existence is an intrinsic part of the Biblical witness and the Christian faith. You attribute way way too much influence to this Frank Peretti.
I am overall down on Worldview-ism. The – maybe sad – reality is that most circumstances make sense through an Economic lens. Add in some animosities, such as racism, and a dash of nonsense, such as nostalgia, and you’ve covered nearly everything.
Trying to impose something else on top of this mess feels like wasted effort. That doesn’t mean anything else is not “true”, yet certainly not required to basically understand the world.
[ Sorry for the caps; at work, wasn’t paying attention Eeyore ]
CHRIST’ LENS HAD A REMARKABLE FOCUS ON THE WORDS OF SCRIPTURE. HE WAS ALWAYS CORRECTING THE PHARISEES BASED UPON SCRIPTURE.
>>”chimp with a compass.”
> a classic
Yep. The story has sniff test problems.
Perhaps a university experience is distinct; in the times I have brushed shoulders with the elite/brilliant/powerful I do not recall ever being asked what I believed. That would be strange, why would they care about this muggle’s intellectual predilections? The elite/brilliant/powerful do not spend their energies policing the muggles – – – that they would do so does sound very Peretti’s World [where they are in on some ideological conspiracy].
ASIDE: I know that Mr. Peretti is a bag of nuts. However, I read his books, as pulp paperbacks I feel they were above average [that’s a low bar] and at least had a distinctive voice. Distinctive is a complement for pulp paperback fiction, as many of them feel like sausages from a sausage-grinder, just add the category spice. If the guy could chillax I suspect he would be legitimately funny.
This. Christians in science are utterly unremarkable. The account does not right true, absent more details that would make it less self-satisfying.
As I often point out, go to any university town on a Sunday morning and you can find many faculty members, including the science departments, in church. You are less likely to find those scientists in an Evangelical church. Once you get past the childish and offensive equating of “Christian” with “Evangelical,” the whole narrative falls apart.
People who speak of a “Biblical worldview” invariably mean their worldview, which they have imposed on the Bible in order to misuse its prestige. In practice, someone speaking of the ‘Biblical worldview” serves as a handy signal to me that I know what is coming, and can skip over it.
Absent from these persecution narratives is often the antagonistic preamble of protagonist; we only hear about the response to the antagonism.
“Through that lens, it doesn’t matter how old [the world] is…”
I can’t answer for them, but I will answer for myself –
When looking at the world, its systems, and ourselves, we try to look at it through the lens of Christ. Through that lens, it doesn’t matter how old it is, it is a gift and a legacy to be preserved and used wisely, not exploited. Through that lens, the people despised and hated by culture – ESPECIALLY religious culture, since Jesus’ harshest criticisms for religious types – are to be accepted and welcomed. Through that lens, all truth is God’s truth, whether mathematics, physics, sociology or theology – but we are, as Mike Bell said above, limited in our ability to grasp and correlate those truths. That lesson I had to learn the long, hard way. THAT is why a “Christian/Biblical worldview” cannot be primarily seen as a structure of philosophical/theological propositions that are coherent and self-evident from reading the Bible. I think a good Christian/Biblical worldview is to read what the Bible says about Jesus, see what He thinks about us and the world, and mold our thinking to that. And you don’t have to be a philosopher, theologian, or professional apologist to do that – in fact, you may have an easier time doing it if you’re not.
CM, Mike the Geologist? – [I-monk authors.]
Would you consider yourselves to have a Biblical or Christian world view?
A quick Google search has John Lennox down as an old earth creationist, denying evolution (or at least human evolution – what I read was unclear) but not insisting on a 7 day creation. He’s written books about how OEC is compatible with the Bible. There are plenty of scientists who are Christian, even at Cambridge. I suspect his story is not being told 100% straight, and is peddling the disingenuous lie that Christian = creationist. It was also 50 years ago and he’s now making a living persuading YECers that OEC is biblical so one wonders if at the time he was YEC himself.
If what he was told in no uncertain terms was that YEC or creationism was incompatible with making a career in the natural sciences, this would make much more sense. Creationism is incompatible with the natural sciences: that is not anti-Christian bigotry but stark fact – the foundation of the whole of science as an enterprise is that it is the study of nature through investigating purely natural causes from purely physical evidence. Creationism emphatically rejects this approach. (Mathematics is different as being purely abstract, which is why John Lennox is able to progress in it.) That it was creationism that he was being warned off, not theism, is further evinced by the fact that Bergson whom.he references as being referred to in his article appears in fact to have believed in God.
You don’t think maybe John Gresham Machen had a lot more to do with that? After all, Perreti was outside the genre commonly used to affect such changes so directly. Obviously some Christians derive their demonology from religious fiction just as The Shack influenced their pneumatology, but I don’t think such trends apply to the academics who generally set the tone and direction of the major traditions.
I certainly believe the devil is real. But I do wonder how important it is in comparison to dogmas which, for example, are specifically dressed in the ecumenical creeds.
And while I would definitely prefer a world without a devil, that unfortunately does not appear to be the case!
Was just thinking that maybe Peretti was the influence that made Satan such a significant part of a Biblical Worldview framework.
“While the Bible is supposedly inerrant, none of those who interpret it are inerrant interpreters. That’s a problem. If there is a perfect compass, and you give it to a chimp, what have you got? A chimp with a compass.”
a classic 🙂
reminds of a special-education teacher trying to illustrate what encountering the world FELT LIKE her severely learning-challenged students. She said, ‘imagine being placed into the cock-pit of a jumbo jet and being expected to learn to fly it’ . . . . and so she was able to help us understand the feelings of being overwhelmed, which while trying to please, we would likely struggle immensely for a very long time indeed, most of us never getting off the ground so to speak
But about that quote,
and yet, maybe the chimp has a better God-given instinctive sense of direction than we know. After all, Our Lord DID say this of the Father:
“You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. . . . . .for this was well-pleasing in Your sight ”
To me, ‘inerrancy’ is one of those worldly heresies that could never be ‘biblical’ because it ignores Revelation 5:9 ““Worthy are You to take the scroll and open its seals, because You were slain”.
Those who came up with ‘inerrancy’ had already turned away from Jesus Christ as the ‘lens’ through which the fullness of sacred Scripture would be revealed. Instead, they chose to make their OWN interpretations ‘inerrant’, and so, in their pride, their attempts to control the great narrative were doomed to fail.
Ha! This quote is brilliant. However, I would suggest, as all analogies have their limit, that only an impotent pneumatology allows that the scriptures can give you nothing you do not bring to them.
Sure, we love to see ourselves in them. But if that was the limit of their potential, I cannot imagine they would have survived to this day.
If you think a literal view on the existence of Satan traces back to Peretti, you probably haven’t read enough Luther. There is nothing new or recent about that view.
But I will give you that Perreti may have influenced it’s popularity in recent days. Just not with Lutherans, because they haven’t heard of him. Yet. In 10 more years, they’ll think he’s the latest relevant craze.
The Bible is a mirror: If an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out.
– Georg Christoph Lichtenberg