I’ve been thinking a lot about worldviews lately. People often talk about the Christian worldview over and against the secular worldview or the Hindu or Muslim worldview. I’ve actually been thinking about the different worldviews that exist within the Christian faith. On one hand, it seems perfectly understandable that Christians living in Africa and Christians living in Asia would have some differences in their outlook. The “worldview” differences are shaped by their cultural context, no doubt. Not only is it understandable, I think that’s okay… as long as those cultures do not take away from the gospel or gospel mission, go to it! And if you want to contextualize things so that you can incorporate cultural practices for the sake of God’s mission, cool!
So while there are different “worldviews” within different Christian cultures, there are also different worldviews found within the lives of Christians that are, in my estimation, in direct opposition to a truly Christian worldview. Here’s an example of what I mean:
- The Christian who says that people can’t change is in direct opposition to a true Christian worldview because it directly contradicts Jesus’ own words that “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).
- The Christian who says that God doesn’t heal people anymore, despite the fact that we are told that the Spirit gives “gifts of healings” (1 Cor. 12:9) and that the apostle James implored the sick to call for pastors to pray for their healing (James 5:14).
- The Christian who says that God isn’t involved in the minute details of life regardless that Scripture says that Jesus “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3) and that God “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11).
Clearly, God can work in the hearts of people so that they can change, he can heal people of sickness, and is involved in some level in everything. At least that seems clear to me. I’m sure some might want to differ on some exegetical points here… but that’s not even my point.
My point is that there is a clash of worldviews within Christianity and it’s not always based upon ethnic differences! Sometimes it’s bigger than that. In fact, Alexander Venter summarizes this up nicely when he writes,
“Many people, Christians included, struggle to accommodate the spiritual and supernatural dimensions of reality as normal and natural. It is difficult to relate to – let alone experience and practise – supernatural healings and miracles. Most of us are Doubting Thomases in this regard. Why? Because of how we see things, how we view reality in terms of our material consciousness.” (Doing Healing, emphasis his)
I think it’s important to state that the Christian worldview is a worldview of faith. Not blind faith or a faith that turns into empirical certainty on every level; rather, the Christian worldview is a worldview of reasonable faith. Yet there are some who want to suggest that if it’s not intellectually stimulating enough (according to them, of course) or recorded on a camera, it’s not real. God isn’t real, angels aren’t real, miracles aren’t real, etc. In other words, if you can’t see it or touch it, it’s not real.
This is an issue of worldview though. I know some will try and argue that it’s entirely an exegetical issue and that the Bible teaches that the gifts of healing, prophecy, tongues, etc. have ceased to exist, but I’m going to call a spade a spade and say that I think it’s probably more like 99% an issue of worldview. People who argue that Continuationists (Pentecostals, Charismatics, Third Wavers) base all of their theology on experience probably need to recognize that most non-Continuationists base their theology on lack of experience… which is still experience based. Of course, as a bona fide Continuationist who is very much an evangelical, I’ll come out and state as a matter of fact that I became and remain a Continuationists because of Scripture, not because I had some sort of emotional experience.
So when our worldview reduces God to a distant and uninvolved being, I take issue. God is involved in the Christian life, specifically via the Holy Spirit applying the facets of redemption! Or, as Gordon Fee once said:
“For Paul, the Spirit was an experienced, empowering reality. Paul would not have understood most historic Protestantism. I know that sounds unkind but it is true. The reason he would not have understood it is because he would not have understood a Christian life in which the experienced life of the Spirit was not the key to every dimension of that life.” (quoted from a talk at Holy Trinity Brompton in 1996)
Would your worldview line up with the worldview of Paul? Peter? John? How about the worldview of Jesus?
If you are like me, you need to adjust some settings on your worldview!