A Christian Worldview Revisited

Last Friday’s post, The Need for Christian Worldview SF/Fantasy, generated some great discussion.

I especially liked J’s comment:

So, a Christian worldview in writing is essential to understanding our universe.

I think that’s true. But what do we mean by this worldview term? Some people may be yawning right about now, thinking that we’ve been around this block more than once. Undoubtedly so. I defined the term, as I understand it, when I first started this blog. And just this past year, J. Mark Bertrand and I discussed the subject in conjunction with his book Rethinking Worldview.

But maybe this is one of those subjects that can never be discussed enough. I mean, we’re talking about the basic framework upon which all the rest of our beliefs hang. On top of that, the culture in which we live is racing further and further from a Christian worldview, so it seems to me that this discussion should be ongoing.

I ran across an event recorded in the Gospel of Luke that made me realize Jesus’s followers when He walked on earth faced some of the same issues Christians today face. I’m thinking here of our need to separate the trappings of cultural Christianity from an actual Christian worldview.

Too often people, both Christians and non-Christians, have this external do’s-and-don’t list associated with Christianity. Case in point: when I mentioned in the newspaper office that I would be attending a Christian writers’ conference, one editor immediately responded to the effect that they better start watching their language. Clearly, to him Christian meant something about being offended at bad language.

But back to the Biblical example. Jesus sent out seventy of his followers to preach, heal, cast out demons. Told them to go all over. Told them to take no money, food, change of clothes, nothing. Told them to stay with the first home they came across in a city. AND told them to eat whatever was set before them.

Why this last? It dawned on me, some of those seventy might have been offended if they knew they were eating food that didn’t adhere to Jewish dietary laws. So Jesus told them, essentially, don’t ask. Don’t research the matter. Take what they give you and don’t worry about whether or not the food passes “kosher” requirements.

On the other hand, Jesus also told the seventy to shake the dust from their feet on their way out of any city that didn’t accept them.

The point is, What divided the seventy from those showered with dust was not to be a matter of food.

Soon after recounting this event, Luke chronicles a parable Jesus told, one we commonly refer to as the Good Samaritan. Most noticeable to me as I read it was that the priest and the Levite who did not help the mugging victim were most likely concerned with their own safety and/or their own ceremonial purity. They well might have been doing what Jesus told the seventy NOT to do—ducking out of relationship for fear of breaking a Jewish law.

It strikes me, then, that we Christians of the twenty-first century must not accept a definition that marginalizes what we believe. A Christian is NOT defined as a person who reads the Bible every day, doesn’t drink, cuss, snort, and who shows up at church at least once a week. Mind you, that actually does describe me, so I am not advocating their opposites.

But the key is, those externals don’t define me as a Christian. My relationship with God does—a relationship I enjoy solely because Jesus Christ willingly took my just due, swapping in His righteousness instead.

That’s who any Christian is, and it colors how we see Truth.

5 Comments

  1. Another excellent post, Rebecca. I think “Christians” have done a disservice to the notion of what a Christian is. It is certainly not. In my Christian worldview, Jesus came to do away with the Law. He replaced it with two commandments:

    1) Love God.
    2) Love others.

    Thanks for writing!

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  2. But that relationship is based upon continued obedience to the teachings of Christ, the daily Bible reading, weekly worship and everything else that the Scriptures command us to do. If I were to be a drinking, smoking, swearing complainer at work, my co-workers would likely be shocked if I self-identified as a Christian. As James said, a faith without works is dead. The two put together define what a Christian is.

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  3. But that relationship is based upon continued obedience to the teachings of Christ Kameron, I think I understand what you’re saying because of the James verse you quoted. The “works” show that the faith is real. But what works? In James’s book it seems he’s saying it’s care for widows and orphans and keeping oneself spotless from the world. Can we say, then, that any of us is doing all we should? If we give to a pregnancy crisis center, is that caring for orphans? Are we mowing the lawn for the widows in our churches? And what about this idea of being spotless? As Jesus defines it, wrong thoughts are equal to wrong actions. Is any of us spotless?

    Rather than obedience to the teachings of Christ, I think the relationship we have continues as it began—by God’s grace. That seems to me to be consistent with what Paul says in Galatians. Take 3:3 for example: “…Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Then this in chapter 4: “But now that you have come to know God … how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things …” And from chapter 5: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [referring to the law] …For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh…”

    That last is significant, I think. Like any growing, healthy, vibrant relationship (in Galatians, the image is of sons inheriting from their father), we should act with the other person in mind. So even though grace gives me freedom, I still want to please God. Thing is, when I was young in the faith, I understood that on a shallow level. As I grow in my relationship with God, as I learn to know Him more, I understand what pleases Him more completely.

    I think this, in part, explains why Christians don’t agree on how we should behave. Quite frankly, we don’t all have the same knowledge of God and what pleases Him. Consequently, I can not look at a person who still cusses up a storm and is covered with piercings and tattoos and conclude he isn’t a Christian. Those external things don’t define a Christian. And his learning what pleases God is between him and God.

    If God chooses to give me some part to play in that person’s life, I would counsel him from Scripture on the things he asks about, but I am not the Holy Spirit. It is not my job, nor am I able, to convict another Christian of sin.

    So what does that have to do with fiction? Simply that I don’t think a good portion of people who talk about Christian fiction give any room for a person who is new in the faith. It’s almost like, if a character in a novel is a Christian, then they have to have all the P’s and Q’s lined up, all the I’s dotted. But so, so often we define that by externals, not by the weightier things, as Jesus mentioned — justice and mercy and faithfulness.

    BTW, J, I’d have to disagree with you about Jesus replacing the Law. He said he came to fulfill it and that the two things you mentioned actually sum up the entire law. So no coveting translates into, Love your neighbor. Same with no stealing, killing, lying. And as Jesus said, Love your neighbor also translates into no hating, no lusting, and treat the person who hates you with respect and care. Rather than being easier, Jesus’s explanations make it clear that whether 10 or 2, keeping the law is impossible. Which brings us back to grace and living to please God, not living to fulfill a list of do’s and do not’s.

    Becky

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  4. Thanks, Becky for touching on this topic again.

    I think the verse you talked about is fascinating in that Jesus basically said:

    “Let the ‘outsiders’ determine whom you reach out to … don’t limit who you reach out to based on their beliefs or behavior … if they reject you fine, then leave … if they receive you, then reach out to them and don’t let unimportant things get in the way.”

    Not that this is talking about, per se, fellowship within the church, but rather who we reach out to. i.e. What is the scope of our ministry?

    How does that apply to us as fiction authors? Hmmmm. Maybe that if the ABA will receive us (without watering down what God has individually called us to write), let us minister there. If they won’t receive us then move on and find where God wants us to minister. Maybe that’s the CBA, maybe that’s self-pubbing. Maybe that’s through something other than writing novels.

    Very interesting.

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  5. Well said! “Fulfilled” is a much better word. And I think your responses have been excellent. I totally agree. A fallen human being can never truly be “good” unless the law has been fulfilled for them through Jesus Christ. Our “goodness” is a reflection of His perfect character, a character we could not possess without Him.

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