Worlds in Collision – An Introduction
This morning I want to begin a 4-Sermon series on developing a Biblical Worldview. I’ve entitled the series Worlds In Collision. A Christian-worldview will always be on a collision course with any other worldview. It’s appropriate that we begin this series when we do. Tradition holds that the Apostle Paul was beheaded on June 29, AD 67. Paul was executed primarily because his worldview of “Christ-is-Lord” came crashing headlong into Rome’s worldview of “Ceasar-is-Lord.”
Everyone has a worldview. Whether or not we realize it, we all have certain presuppositions and biases that affect the way we view all of life and reality. A worldview is like a set of lenses which taint our vision or alter the way we perceive the world around us. Our worldview is formed by our education, our upbringing, the culture we live in, the books we read, the media and movies we absorb, etc. For many people their worldview is simply something they have absorbed by osmosis from their surrounding cultural influences. They have never thought strategically about what they believe and wouldn’t be able to give a rational defense of their beliefs to others. Christians, however, are commanded to be able to give a well-reasoned explanation for the hope we have in Christ.
Why does your worldview matter? Because your worldview is the foundation of your values and your values are the foundation of your actions.
Any worldview—and there are many—needs to answer three significant questions:
1) Where did we come from?
2) How did we get to where we are, i.e. What has gone wrong? and
3) What is the answer to what has gone wrong?
I. INTELLECTUAL SLOTH IS DESTROYING AMERICA’S CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION
- one of my greatest concerns for our culture in general and the church in particular is that we have become a nation of intellectual sluggards
- too many Americans do not want to learn, or study, or engage their minds
- if someone cannot distill their thoughts into a 30-second sound-bit, we don’t want to pay attention to it
- students want to be spoon-fed answers
- teachers are so busy trying to teach test-taking that they no longer have time to teach critical thinking
- because we have become a nation of intellectual sluggards we are wasting our minds
- ILLUS. Michael Gorman, a British-born librarian, and the former president of the American Library Association, writes: “There is a present danger that we are “educating” a generation of intellectual sluggards incapable of moving beyond the Internet and of interacting with, and learning from, the myriad of texts created by human minds over the millennia and perhaps found only in those distant archives and dusty file cabinets full of treasures unknown. What a dreary, flat, uninteresting world we will create if we succumb to that danger!”
- ILLUS. Did you know that in 1959 the vocabulary of an average 9th grader was 25,000 words. In 1999 the vocabulary of average 9th grader is only 10,000 words.
- Proverbs 1:20-22 “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; 21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech: 22 “How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?” NIV
A. TOO MANY CHRISTIANS SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS IN THE BIBLE
- Mark 12:24 "And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?" KJV
- folks, let me be blunt
- a lot of Christians make horrible decisions—not because they deliberately set out to sin—but because they do not know what God says in His Word about a particular topic
- God has an opinion on every single sphere of human culture and society
- God has an opinion about government and the politicians who run governments
- God has an opinion about economics and trade
- God has an opinion about justice – both social and criminal
- God has an opinion about education
- God has an opinion about raising children
- God has an opinion about caring for senior citizens
- God has an opinion about money and investments
- God has an opinion about sex
- God has an opinion about entertainment
- God even has an opinion about how to eat, and how to drink, and how to dress
- sadly, the vast majority of believers have no idea what God has to say about these things because they are biblically illiterate
- ILLUS. In 2002, ABC News conducted a poll focusing on the faith of American citizens. It was the proverbial ‘good-news-bad-news’ scenario. 92% of Americans say they believe in God. 83% consider themselves “Christian.” But when they were given a test, asking about their core beliefs that affect their daily life and decision-making, only four percent could be said to have a Biblical Worldview. A decade ago at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY., the dean of the School of Theology asked incoming students to list the Ten Commandments. Only one out of 50 were able to list all ten. The seminary now requires all incoming students to take a course called Introduction to the Bible.
- the Christian faith was never meant to be a faith devoid of thought or intellect
- Proverbs 9:10-11 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 11 For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.” NIV
- ILLUS. The late John R. Stott, one of the great preachers and scholars of our day, wrote: “By our anti-intellectualism, in which we either refuse or cannot be bothered to listen to God's Word, we may be storing up for ourselves the judgment of Almighty God . . . God has constituted us thinking beings; he has treated us as such by communicating with us in words; he has renewed us in Christ and given us the mind of Christ; and he will hold us responsible for the knowledge we have.”
- the Christian who has not cultivated his mind by cultivating the mind of Christ, is a Christian who is useless for Kingdom Work
- knowledge of what God thinks about things is indispensable to Christian life and service
- if we do not use the mind that God has given us, we condemn ourselves to spiritual superficiality and cut ourselves off from many of the riches of God's grace
- knowledge is given us to be used, to lead us to higher worship, greater faith, deeper holiness, better service
II. CHRISTIANS ARE ENGAGED IN A BATTLE FOR THE MIND
- Colossians 2:8 "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ."
- Paul warns the Colossians to look out and to beware of those who would try to hijack their faith
- the Apostle does not want these believers to be robbed of truth and the blessings of their salvation
- he writes that they watch out for the "philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men"
- Paul is reminding his listeners that there are many competing worldviews in their culture
- in the Apostle Paul’s era, the two great opposing worldviews were polytheism and theism
- polytheism is the belief in many gods
- theism is the belief in one supreme and sovereign God
- Christians today are faced with a menagerie of worldviews, all of them claiming to represent reality
- they compete for the loyalty of our mind and soul
- Socialism is a worldview
- Islam is a worldview
- Humanism is a worldview
- Multiculturalism is a worldview
- Christianity is a worldview
- and they all compete for your consideration and loyalty
- why do we need to talk about this?
A. WORLDVIEWS SHAPE OUR MIND AND GUIDE OUR ACTIONS
- once you adopt a worldview—or even synthesize several worldviews into your belief system—it will determine how you make decisions and how you act
- the Scriptures have always understood this
- Proverbs 23:7 "For as [a man] thinks within himself, so he is . . . " NASB95
- a worldview is a set of presuppositions or assumptions that we hold (consciously or subconsciously) about the basic makeup of the world
- a worldview is like a pair of glasses through which we view our culture
- basically, it is a view of the world that is used for living in the world
- it sounds complicated, but it’s not—it’s really pretty simple
- in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contrasted two worldviews:
- the first was based on Old Testament Law
- the other was based on New Testament Grace
- Matthew 5:38-42 "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away."
- one worldview says that retaliation for personal wrongs is acceptable behavior
- the other says that retaliation for personal wrongs is unacceptable behavior
- you’re gonna clean their clock
- you will forgive them, and you will bless them
- it’s usually assimilated from the culture
- ILLUS. At one time, a child could grow up in America would assimilate a worldview that was largely Christian. He or she would grow up believing in a God and that God was the God of the Bible. He or she would grow up believing that sin existed, that there is a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’, that ‘good’ and that ‘evil’ are real. There was a time when children, growing up in America, would know that actions matter, and behavior has consequences which you can’t excuse by calling it a disease, a disorder, or a syndrom.
- and so we’ve got the schools teaching things like “values clarification” to help children decide on their own what values they will adopt
- folks, 45 years ago, schools were teaching values clarification – it was called “the Bible”!
III. CHRISTIANS MUST ADOPT A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW
- 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
- the significant conflict of our culture is not between ‘red states’ and ‘blue states’, between ‘republican’ or ‘democrat’, ‘rural’ or ‘urban’, ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’
- the significant conflict of our day is between those who have a Naturalistic Worldview that denies all truth claims and those who have a Biblical Worldview that claims to have absolute truth
- a Christian worldview is diametrically opposed to a Naturalistic worldview
A. THE NATURALISTIC WORLDVIEW
- naturalism teaches that nature is all that exists—there is no such thing as the supernatural
- ILLUS. Carl Sagan, American astronomer, was famous for his oft-repeated quote: “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”
- a naturalistic worldview is based on the philosophical foundation of Darwinian Evolution
- a naturalistic worldview teaches that life arose from a chance collision of atoms, evolving eventually into human life as we know it today
- ILLUS. The Naturalistic Worldview says that humans are nothing more then highly evolved social animals. There is nothing that truly separates us from the other creatures that inhabit the earth. Our behavior, therefore, can be explained in terms of doing what helps us to survive and reproduce, i.e. ‘survival of the fittest’. The shaping force in our lives is a little bit of heredity and a whole lot of environment.
- ILLUS. Depending on what special interest group you’re listening to, you will get an astonishing array of answers as to what has gone wrong with the world. The Environmentalists will tell you that human beings are the problem. The Feminists will tell you that men are the problem. The Multiculturalists will tell you that Western Culture—especially Christianity—is the problem. The Psychoanalysts will tell you that sexual repression is the problem. The Educationist will tell you that ignorance is the problem. The Socialists will tell you that economic injustice and private ownership of property is the problem. And each of these sub-groups has its own idea of what must be done to fix our problems.
- ILLUS. You’d think that after 6,000 years of recorded human history, we would have figured some of the world’s problems out by now, wouldn’t you?
- ILLUS. In the Sound of Music, Maria captures this modern ethos perfectly in her song “I Have Confidence.” In the end she sings, “I have confidence in confidence alone, besides which as you can see I have confidence in me.”
- there you have it – our culture’s statement of faith
- but there’s a sad irony here
- ILLUS. The real Maria von Trapp began life as an atheist who had confidence in herself alone. But then she had a life-changing encounter with God. She spent the rest of her life as a passionate Christian, even doing missionary work later in life. The picture of Maria in The Sound of Music—which is one of my favorite movies—is an utterly secularized one, a picture stripped of what the real Maria considered to be the most important thing in life: God.
- autonomous individualism, narcissistic hedonism, and moral relativism are now the cornerstones of Western society
B. THE BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW
- in contrast to a naturalistic worldview, Christianity teaches that a transcendent God is the ultimate origin of everything
- the universe is dependent at every moment on His providential governance and care
- Colossians 1:15-17 "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." NASB95
- a biblical worldview teaches that man was created by God and is God’s crowning achievement in creation—that we were created in His image
- a biblical worldview teaches that man’s fundamental problem is sin—all the world’s woes and problems flow from that reality
- a biblical worldview teaches that redemption through Jesus Christ is man’s—and society’s—only hope
- and though it is a radical worldview it is the only worldview that . . .
- One: Has all the answers to the questions, and . . .
- Two: Really works
- He is the source of absolute truth
- John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." KJV
- Hebrews 1:1-2 "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." NASB95
- this revealed truth is authoritative, it is infallible, and it is inerrant
C. THE CHALLENGE BEFORE US
- when we understand the importance of worldviews, we see the mission of the church in a new light
- our task in this new millennium is nothing less than producing believers who will engage the culture and who will seek to wrest it free from its neo-paganism and re-establish Christianity as the primary cultural force
- this has always been a task of the church
- Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." NASB95
- ILLUS. Brit Hume of FOX news telling golfer Tiger Woods to convert. In March of 2010, Fox News' Brit Hume gave Tiger Woods some personal advice Sunday morning, telling the scandal-plagued (and Buddhist) golfer to 'turn to Christianity' to make a full recovery. "The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith," Hume said. "He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."
- he was lampooned and excoriated in the secular press for making that statement
- what’s the difference between a belief and a conviction?
- a belief is a fact, or an attitude or an opinion that you hold
- a conviction is a fact, or an attitude or an opinion that has hold of you
Genuine Christianity is more than a relationship with Jesus. It is more than a relationship expressed in personal piety, church attendance, Bible study, and works of charity. It is more than believing a system of doctrines about God. Genuine Christianity is a way of seeing and comprehending all reality. It is a worldview.