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What is a worldview? And why do the things we believe really matter? In this first part of a 10-week series, Todd Wagner takes a look at the evolution of man's worldview over the last several hundred years and the implications it has for our culture and our world. And discusses why it is impossible to separate facts from values.
Check out the video "Smart", available from Worship House Media.
What in the World Was He Thinking?
A Biblical Look at Life, Letting Go and Leading Out: Why We Have to Run with the Herd
Family: The Need to Define it Rightly and Lead it Righteously
Worldviews Matter. Just Ask the Congo.
Success: The Right Ladder Against the Right Wall
Believers and Their Government: What Governs Our Usefulness in It
The Remedy for Redemption: The Final Framework of Truth
Explaining Evil: The Second Framework of Truth
The Creation Foundation: The First Framework of Truth
The Importance of the Foundations of the Heart
Well, some predictions are better than others and some mistakes are worse than others and have greater consequences. That's what we are about to embark on: a little study of ideas. Now when you hear about a 10-week series that we're going to deal with ideas and what is now commonly called a worldview, you might go, "Really? I thought we'd study God's Word."
Well, we're going to, and we're going to let God's Word and God's revelation of ideas just fly up against the ideas of others. There's a Scripture that you will hear me quote often during this series. It's in Proverbs, chapter 14, verse 12. It says, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
Now what I'm going to make a case for is that we have been, if you will, in a tournament of narratives for centuries. In other words, people are arguing different ideas, different stories, and different systems of belief. The series is called What in the World Are You Thinking? Because when you sometimes talk with other people, they look at you with a blank stare and they have no idea how you can make certain value claims or come up with certain understandings or form certain premises upon which you build your reality.
You, likewise, look at them, and it's almost like you two come from two different planets. One of the best books ever written on worldviews was written by a guy named James Sire. James titled the book The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. Now he titled it that because right next to you are people who live as if they're from a different universe. Let's be fair. They think we are from a different universe. They're people who hold to a Judeo-Christian ethic or to hold what is commonly called a biblical worldview.
So what is a worldview? I'm going to give you many definitions of it, and hopefully one will stick with you. I'll give you some academic definitions. I'll give you some just easy sentence definitions. One of the easiest ones is a worldviewis just a conceptual filing cabinet. It's where you go to pull things from through which you can base your understanding of life.
My favorite, and the one that really made the cover…it's going to carry forward on this little series…is it's a lens through which you see reality. When you see our little cover slide, you'll see different glasses. There is only one little lens you can look through which brings the world into focus and that you don't have to take one off and put another one on in order to make some sense or live in a tenable way through some particular moment.
Let me just tell you this. Everybody has a worldview. Your worldview may not be consistent. It may not be conscious, but you have a worldview. A lot of people put on and take off worldviews in ways that really are only related to convenience, which is in and of itself a worldview. What I want to do is just kind of start by showing you what's at risk here. In 1999, a young lady down at Texas A&M wrote a little statement, a little essay, trying to explain to others who she was.
Now we have gotten really fond of naming different generations and talking about The Greatest Generation and Boomers and Busters and Gen Xers and there's a lot of debate about what to call the next evolving generation. But this is one of the most well-thought-out little essays that I had ever read, and I want to share it with you because I think it informs where we're going. This is what she says.
"I am a member of the upcoming generation—the one after Generation X that has yet to be given a name. So far, it appears that most people are rallying behind the idea of calling us Generation Next. I believe I know why. The older generations are hoping we will mindlessly assume our place as the 'next' in line. That way, they won't have to explain why my generation has had to experience so much pain and heartache.
'What heartache?' you say. 'Don't you know you have grown up in a time of great prosperity?' Yeah, we know that. Believe me, it has been drilled into our heads since birth. Unfortunately, the pain and hurt I speak of can't be reconciled with money. You have tried for years to buy us happiness, but it is only temporary. Money isn't the answer, and it is time for people to begin admitting their guilt for failing my generation.
I will admit that I wasn't planning to write this. I was going to tuck it away in some corner of my mind and fall victim to your whole 'next' mentality. But after the massacre in Littleton, CO, I realize that as a member of this generation that kills without remorse, I had a duty to challenge all of my elders to explain why they have allowed things to become so bad.
Let me tell you this: These questions don't represent only me but a whole generation that is struggling to grow up and make sense of this world. We all have questions; we all want explanations. People may label us Generation Next, but we are more appropriately Generation 'Why?'
Why did most of you lie when you made the vow of 'til death do us part'? Why do you fool yourselves into believing that divorce really is better for the kids in the long run? Why do so many of you divorced parents spend more time with your new boyfriend or girlfriend than with your own children? Why did you ever fall victim to the notion that kids are just as well off being raised by a complete stranger at a day care center than by their own mother or father?
Why do you look down on parents who decide to quit work and stay home to raise their children? Why does the television do the most talking at family meals? Why is work more important than your own family? Why is money regarded as more important than relationships? Why is 'quality time' generally no longer than a 5- to 10-minute conversation each day? Why do you try to make up for the lack of time you spend with us by giving us more and more material objects that we really don't need?
Why does your work (in the form of a cell phone, laptop computer, etc.) always come with us on vacations? Why have you neglected to teach us values and morals? Why haven't you lived moral lives that we could model our own after? Why isn't religion one of the most important words in our household? Why do you play God when it comes to abortion? Why don't you have enough faith in us to teach us abstinence rather than safe sex?
Why do you allow us to watch violent movies but expect us to maintain some type of childlike innocence? Why do you allow us to spend unlimited amounts of time on the Internet but still are shocked about our knowledge of how to build bombs? Why are you so afraid to tell us 'no' sometimes? Why is it so hard for you to realize that school shootings, and other violent juvenile behavior, result from a lack of your attention more than anything else?
Call us Generation Next if you want to, but I think you will be surprised at how we will fail to fit into your neat little category. These questions should, and will, be asked of the generations that have failed us. You have pursued your selfish desires for years, but now is the time to reap what you have sown.
Some rude awakenings like the Littleton massacre have occurred and probably will continue until you can begin to answer our questions and make the drastic changes to put us, your kids, first. Time is running out, for in just a few short years, we will be grown, and it will be too late. You might not think we are worth it, but I can guarantee you that Littleton will look like a drop in the bucket compared to what might occur when a neglected Generation 'Why' comes to power."
That's a pretty sobering essay. What she is saying is, "Why haven't you taught us how to live and how to look at life in a way that's going to give us a sense of value, a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning, and a sense of hope that will lead to life?" You see what's going on out there, right now in this tournament of narratives, is an incredible social experiment. It has been lived for years. It's been lived for years.
One of the things that I want to share with you is that a while back, I read a book. I continue to read it. Written by a guy named Paul Johnson. He is a British historian. Paul Johnson wrote a book called Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky. What he did is he went through and he looked at a number of individuals who adopted different worldviews. I want to read to you from his introduction because it explains to you why, in 1999, we had a young gal write what she did.
Thousands of years ago, by the way, thousands of years ago, a wise man said this. "Where there is no vision…" Where there is no plan, where there is no reality, where there is no story that reveals truth. "…the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law." In other words, there is an understanding in this writer who wrote thousands of years ago before Christ.
Solomon said, "Look, if people don't have a grid in order to form a reality, to develop meaning, morality, and ethic, then they are going to be unrestrained and it will be a tournament of narratives, and the outcome of those different social experiments will be incredibly tragic." Littleton will be a drop in the bucket.
Every day, people open the newspaper. They read stories in magazines. They look at news stories and they go, "How in the world did we get here?" The answer is, we have become unrestrained, and for centuries this has been going on. Now why? Here is why. Because when we take ourselves out of some anchored sense of truth, we will long to find meaning and purpose and truth.
So we'll put our best ideas forward and we'll test them over a period of time. The reason I love the book Intellectuals is because of what he did, and I'm going to explain it to you. I should let him do it himself. He said, "Let's take these great thinkers, these individuals who put forth worldviews, these understandings of truth, and let's test their own lives in the way they've been critical of ancient worldviews." Here we go. Brace yourself. There are some big words in here.
"Over the last two hundred years the influence of intellectuals has grown steadily. Indeed, the rise of the secular intellectual has been a key factor in shaping the modern world. Seen against the long perspective of history it is in many ways a new phenomenon. It is true that in their earlier incarnations as priests, scribes and soothsayers, intellectuals have laid claim to guide society from the very beginning. But as guardians of hieratic cultures…" Which is basically pertaining to the priesthood or an ordering or a rank.
"…whether primitive or sophisticated, their moral and ideological innovations were limited by the canons of external authority and by the inheritance of tradition." In other words, the intellectuals of the past were men who stood on a foundation that Solomon said, "Happy is he who keeps this foundation."
The difference between the intellectuals of today and the intellectuals of old, because there have always been educated individuals who've expounded on some concept of truth, is that the concept of truth itself was shattered and new foundations and new traditions were built. "They were not, and could not be, free spirits, adventures of mind." Here it says.
"With the decline of clerical power in the eighteenth century, a new kind of mentor emerged to fill the vacuum and capture the ear of society. The secular intellectual might be a deist, sceptic or atheist. But he was just as ready as any pontiff or presbyter to tell mankind how to conduct its affairs. He proclaimed, from the start, a special devotion to the interest of humanity and an evangelical duty to advance them by his teaching."
What I want to tell you is that, in effect, a worldview is a religion. So people who tell you that you can't drag your faith system or your religious values into the public square for discussion have themselves a faith proposition. What we need to do is test these worldviews. Let me just tell you. I am going to go after two crowds in the weeks ahead.
I am going to go after those of you who walk in here and think you have a biblical worldview, who way too often have assented to some doctrine, but it is not passionately consistent with your doing. My heart is to remind you why it's not enough to have a biblical worldview that is solid and is well thought-out and that is true. You must have a biblical worldview that is applied.
Our biggest problem is going to be to think that this is all about somebody else, people who have a different frame of reality. I'm going to tell you. The reason that they have pursued a different frame of reality is because those of us who said we had a frame of reality that is blessed if you keep it have not lived according to it. So they have thrown the proverbial baby, or if you will, they have shaken the foundation, thrown it out with those who said they built their life on it.
My heart is going to be to get us to passionately begin to follow our King and to begin to walk in the truth that we say we believe in. The second group that I want to go after is individuals who are very comfortable espousing naturalistic, existentialistic, relativistic, nihilistic, post-modernistic worldviews.
I want to just say, "Let's test them!" I want to tell you that it's fine if you say that these are the tenets by which you live, but let's just follow these out to their logical end, and let's see if it makes sense to live that way. That's one of the things I love so much about Johnson's book. He went back to the founders of so many of these ideas in terms of modern thought and he said, "Let's test these worldviews, because if anybody was going to nail that worldview, it should be its author."
By the way, that's what I want to tell people. When you see said believers, when you see Christians who say they build their life on this foundation… Have there been individuals who say they love Jesus, who say that God's Word is truth, that there is a Creator that they are accountable to who have built rather shaky houses on that foundation? In fact, have abandoned that foundation, still saying they follow it, and have built houses of straw? Absolutely!
But let's go back to its founder and let's watch how he built. Let's see who Christ is. The fact that there are hypocrites, the fact that there are people who are inconsistent, does not change the reality of the foundation which they chose to reject. Again, I want to get after us. I want to say, "This is not so much about that universe as correcting this universe. That we might be again a city on a hill which will not be hidden.
That others will see that, "By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches," Solomon wrote in Proverbs 23. See, the reason we want to be those folks is so folks will go, "Ah, that's a home I'd love to live in." Yet so much disorder and disarray is in our house that I am not at all surprised that folks have longed for other blueprints.
I mentioned to you last week. I am not at all shocked that we've created a generation of women who want to be liberated from a perverted view of masculinity where men have been oppressive, self-advancing, self-concerned, and often abusive. I'd want to liberate myself from that. But when you get men who love, who cherish, who honor, who lead, who care, who do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, women run to that man because we're not going to hold them down.
We're going to set them up to be everything that God created them to be and cheer them on instead of asking them to wait for us and order our world and serve our feet. Watch what he writes here. It says, these intellectuals "…proclaimed, from the start, a special devotion to the interests of humanity and an evangelical duty to advance them by his teaching.
He brought to his self-appointed task a far more radical approach than his clerical predecessors. He felt himself bound by no corpus of revealed religion. The collective wisdom of the past, the legacy of tradition, the prescriptive codes of ancestral experience existed to be selectively followed or wholly rejected as his own good sense might decide.
For the first time in human history, and with growing confidence and audacity, men arose to assert that they could diagnose the ills of society and cure them with their own unaided intellects: more, that they could devise formulae whereby not merely the structure of society but the fundamental habits of human beings could be transformed for the better. Unlike their sacerdotal predecessors, they were not servants and interpreters of the gods but substitutes. Their hero was Prometheus, who stole the celestial fire and brought it to earth."
Now watch this last paragraph.
"One of the most marked characteristics of the new secular intellectuals was the relish with which they subjected religion and its protagonist to critical scrutiny. How far had they benefited or harmed humanity, these great systems of faith? To what extent had these popes and pastors lived up to their precepts, of purity of truthfulness, of charity and benevolence?
The verdicts pronounced on both churches and clergy were harsh. Now, after two centuries during which the influence of religion has continued to decline, and secular intellectuals have played an ever-growing role in shaping our attitudes and institutions, it is time to examine their record, both public and personal.
In particular, I want the focus on the moral and judgmental credentials of intellectuals to tell mankind how to conduct itself. How do they run their own lives? With what degree of rectitude did they behave to family, friends and associates? Were they just in their sexual and financial dealings? Did they tell, and write, the truth? And how have their own systems stood up to the test of time and praxis?"
Folks, I'm going to tell you. For a lot of us here, our issue is not going to be our orthodoxy. If you are here and you come from a different world that the way that you see things, the way that you set the world straight in truth, is not with a consistent Judeo Christian ethic, I am so thrilled you're here. Let's test our ideas. Let's come and reason together and see if these things are so. We'll have some fun. We'll be very honest and open in our discussions.
But to those of us who have an orthodoxy, a straight and true doctrine, my hope is that we are reminded of what is at stake and why people have run to other places because they have not see us be straight in our practice. It is called orthopraxy. People ask me all the time about churches in other areas and even around here.
I say, "Do you want a church with a good doctrinal statement? There are many." Believe me, there are plenty that don't, but there are many that have wonderful doctrinal statements, but orthopraxy is a dinosaur. It is next to extinction. Part of my heart in doing this is that you might invite your friends to come and see.
That you would beg them to come and enter into conversation with you so that you could love them and serve them and grow in your ability to give an account for the hope that you have within you. My other strong hope is that we would become more passionately what we were always supposed to have been and that we would be able to enter into the public square with moral authority, actual love. You ready?
All right. Let me just go back and let me give you now, before we dive into some worldviews specifically, a couple of definitions. The first one I'm going to give you is just a wide array, if you will, of areas that a worldview affects. Now you might not typically think of this. Again, the idea of a worldview… It's just a lens through which you see reality.
Let me give you a scholarly definition first, and then we'll look at a few ideas that men have had over the course of time on what worldviews are and we'll begin to have some fun and put them to test. Here's a definition by a guy named James Sire. This is the guy who wrote the book The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog.
John Gray, by the way, he talks about why we have problems in just marital relationships. He wrote a book about worldviews between male and female. He titled it Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. You wonder why you can't get along and love each other and make your way through life.
It is sometimes because you have just two different systems that you are wired in how to relate to each other even though you're both human beings who often have the same worldview. You're different creatures within that created order. He had a lot of fun talking about the universe next door to you that's wearing a ring and says, "I covenant with you" and why you have a hard time. You need to understand each other.
There's a reason that people look at you cross-eyed and confused when you make a case for them about right and wrong. They're like, "That's just a category mistake to argue factually about that which is based on preference." Their understanding, by the way, that there is a fact/value split, is a worldview and it is the fundamental reason that our opportunity to engage responsibly in the public arena has been neutered in this age. We must learn to take that on. I'll explain it.
Here's the first definition by James Sire. "A worldview is a commitment..." I'm going to unpack this. "…a fundamental orientation of the heart that can be expressed as a story." Now that is an excellent definition right there, but we'll go forward and we'll come back to that sentence. Okay. By the way, what is the preeminent story of today?
The preeminent story of today is not Genesis 1:1. It's that impersonal force had some big bang that led to great chaos, that over a period of time plus chance began to slowly order itself into the cosmos where galaxies and then stars and then planetary systems and then earth and then life on earth slowly began to form into increasing levels of complexity until eventually that complexity developed conscious and reason. That is the prevailing story of the day. Now is it true and what are the ramifications of it? All next week.
That's what we're going to spend an entire week on. All right? So now you know, but watch this. It is"…a fundamental orientation of the heart that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and we move and have our being."
You have a worldview. You may not have a consistent one, but that in and of itself is a worldview. You have a worldview of convenience. It is not on a solid foundation. It is shaky and shifting. It is on sand, and it will cause your house to fall, but we should be a people with a solid foundation. It says, "Where there is no [clear worldview and] vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who [has the solid rock] ." Proverbs 29:18.
Now let's go back to this fundamental orientation of the heart. Let me just say this about the Bible. The Bible never really even wrestles with what is called philosophical atheism. Philosophical atheism is the idea that lovers of wisdom would believe that there is no God who always has been or ever will be. The Bible considers that worldview so completely absurd it never even bothers to address it.
Now the Bible acknowledges from here to kingdom come what is called practical atheism, that people would live as if that wasn't true, and it talks about the outcomes and consequences of that. Here's what I want to share with you. When it talks about the heart, the fundamental orientation of the heart… Let me just walk you through, if you will, a study on the word heart in the Scripture.
In Psalm 14:1, this is what it says. "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" When you look at the word heart, this isn't just emotion. You're going to see it has to do with intellect and will throughout the Scripture. In Proverbs, chapter 2, verse 10. "For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul…"
You see heart there is the place where wisdom resides, not just a place where feelings for someone of the opposite sex or some good food or pleasure reside. John 14:1. It's where emotions themselves are there. "Do not let your heart be troubled…" Acts 8:21: "You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God."
It is an inclination and a bent. Romans 1:21: "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened." I'm going to look at that verse specifically in a minute. Jesus said, "Look, the heart, the foundational inkling of your heart. It's where your thoughts, your passions, your desire, your soul, your mind, your appetite, your affections, your purposes, all your endeavors spring forth from."
When we talk about the heart biblically speaking or the foundational inclination of the heart, we're talking about this is what informs everything about who you are. This is why Jesus said in Mark, chapter 7… Follow this with me. He was getting on people who were all about dealing with the outside. Let me just say. For way too often, religion has concerned itself with the external behaviors of men.
People hate going to church because we think all we're going to do is tell them what they can or can't do. It is a fundamental flaw to try and get individuals to correct what they do when you do not deal with who they are. Jesus rebuked religious leaders. He said, "Look, man. The problem isn't what you're eating. It's not with what you're wearing.
There were times I told you about what to eat and what to wear because I was illustrating to you who I was. But all of that in revealing who I was was to correct how you thought about me. It never changed you by doing these external things unless they informed your understanding of reality." He says this in Mark 7:14:
"After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, 'Listen to Me, all of you, and understand…'" See, Jesus is trying to help their worldview. "…there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man." The thoughts and intentions of his heart.
"When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. And He said to them, 'Are you so lacking in understanding also?'" Don't you love that? Do you know who just said that? Jesus, you little meek and mild Jesus. He said, "Hey, are you guys that clueless? Come here. Sit down." Then he says this.
"Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside…" He is going to get pretty basic here. He is going to walk them out back to a hole in the ground and he is going to say, "'…whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?'
And He was saying, 'That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men…'" Out of the fundamental inclination of his understanding. "…proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness."
Gang, let me tell you what a worldview informs. I'm going to just knock them out for you. First, a worldview informs your theology. What is God like and what difference does it make? Aworldview informs your philosophy. What is reality? How do we know that it's true? It informs biology. How did life originate? What difference does it make?
Psychology. What is the basic nature of humanity? That's worldview ethics. What makes some things right and other things wrong? Sociology. What's the basis for healthy society? Law. Are there certain principles that rule our world and our lives? Politics. How should government be organized? Economics. What's the basis for making and spending money?
Don't you wish that the fundamentals of our society were informed by a better worldview than they apparently have been? Yes! We are where we are because ideas have consequences. I cannot think of anything more relevant to talk about. History. What's the flow of history? Where is it going? A worldview, whether you call it deism, theism, naturalism, existentialism, nihilism, on and on and on… They all have consequences. What's yours?
I mentioned to you before that I think our greater problem is not that this world has run to some of those other ideas. Our greater problem is that people who say their worldview is a biblical one have adopted an intellectual aspiring worldview but not an actual one. By the way, this is why Jesus said in Matthew, chapter 15:8 "You want to know what the problem is? The problem is that even the people who say they know me, 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.'"
This is why James said, "But prove yourselves doers of [your worldview] , and not merely hearers [and people who sign a declaration] who delude themselves." John said, "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." Because it matters big time. Folks, you have to really dig, and you have to say, "What do I say? What do I believe? What's the basis for my reality?"
Now look, in Romans, chapter 1, this is why we are where we are. This is fundamental with what I'm going to talk about. In Romans, chapter 1, verses 20-25, it says this. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."
Now let me just say this. Some of you guys have a real problem with that, but Romans 1:20, is saying, "Look, there are certain truths which are immutable and unavoidable." That is a worldview! In the worldview that is revealed in Scripture, by the way, is the one that says, "We can tell. We all know. It's just crazy to argue philosophically that there is no God. It is fundamental in creation. It is fundamental in our conscious. Everybody believes this."
Now you go, "What kind of idiots would believe that?" Answer: your forefathers. Answer: the men who founded the greatest nation that has ever existed in the history of humankind. How do I know that? Because I know the preamble to our Declaration of Independence from an oppressive tyrant who lived under a different worldview. "We hold these truths to be self-evident…"
Do you know what that says? What it's saying is, "We don't even need to discuss this. There is no debate." "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…" How can you say that? The men who wrote that could not get elected today. They could not.
They would be argued right off the platform and say, "That is a fundamental error. You have just brought your values into the factual debate of government." Our government was based on that fact! The fact/value split. Now what do I mean by that? Listen. Hang with me. All right? The fact/value split. The idea is that there's a private sphere and a public sphere. There are values and there are facts. There are personal preferences and there is scientific knowledge, and you can't mingle the two.
That's why Christopher Reeve, God bless him, this super man, this man above all men, when he was talking at Yale about the stem cell debate, he said this. He said, "…when matters of public policy are being decided, no religion should have a seat at the table…" I don't have any problem with Christopher Reeve saying that or believing that.
I want him to know, that is a religion. That is a faith proposition. That is a foundational inclination of your heart that there is a fact/value split. That's why, listen, people look at you like you're crazy. They think that you have your subjective or relative ideas, and they want to live in this objective, universal world.
They just go, "Look, I don't have a problem with the story that you live on, but I'm not going to build on the foundation of scientific fact we can all agree on…" By the way, are you and should you be as a follower of Jesus Christ, a fan of science? Yes! Science is our friend. There are certain laws that God has put in creation that are the normal operating system through which we can form some basis for our world.
Now God reserves the right at any time to interrupt what is naturally happening and to do things that are above what is natural. We call is supernatural. It's a problem. They say, "We're fine if you want to build on this scientific world, this fact world that we all agree on. Morality? One man, one woman? Right to life? We're cool with that. But what's good for you may not be cool for me."
Here's the deal. The problem is not that they have a problem with your second story. The problem is their first story is one where they separate truth into a spiritual and secular world. God says this. "There aren't two systems of truth. There is one. There is only one, and you cannot separate them. There are not different ways to think rightly about morality.
There are not different ways to think rightly about ethics. There is one way and that one way will set you free. But there is a Deceiver who says, 'Nah, go your own way. Don't worry about what is right. Do what thou wilt and work it out on your own.'" Now watch this. Romans, chapter 1, verse 20.
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…"
You need to note this. What we're about to follow as we go through Romans 1 right here is that in a sense the tournament of narratives, the different worldviews that are out there, are not what brings about God's judgment. It is part of God's judgment. Let me say that again. Different worldviews are not what makes God mad.
It's because God has said, in effect, "You don't want anything to do with me? Well then, go on with your bad self. Come up with some of your own ways of living, and let's just check out how that's working out for you." Which is why I say all the time to people, "Hey, if you like what you have, man, keep doing what you're doing.
I'm going to predict that if you keep doing what you're doing, you're not going to like what you have. I'm going to love you. I'm going to be your friend. I'm going to try and as best I can to race you to the end. Because even if you're a Mormon, you know that if you want to be a highly effective person, you begin with the end in mind.
So let me just tell you where your little naturalistic, atheistic, humanistic, existentialistic, post-modernistic world is going to take you. You're not going to like it. So rather than wait until then, why don't we figure it out now and start to have a life that at the end you go, 'It is well with my soul.'" Okay?
So worldviews, craziness, ideas are not what makes God mad. It's often because we've left God and he said, "Okay, here's my judgment. I'll leave you alone." Can you think of a worse judgment to rebellious kids? "Tell you what, here's $20. Go work it out." In your little 8-year-old rebellious, little 4-year-old rebellious, and your little 13-year-old full of self-confidence, world by the tail. "Here's $100. Go get them." How long before they're back home? Not long, but if you do it, we'll arrest you because it's too abusive. All right. Watch this.
"Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."
We are like kids who lost a father at an early age. We have a huge chasm in our heart and we are seeking to fill the void and so we come with ideas. We're writing our own little Lord of the Flies. We're killing each other. God is saying, "Hey, I have another idea. Come on back. I'll make provision for why you ran off in the first place so that I can forgive you and not compromise my holiness and not make you experience the pain of you leading without me."
This is what Paul went for, and this is where we're going to just kind of end our little time together today: in Colossians, chapter 1. We're going to start in verse 28. Paul says, "My whole life is about this." He says, "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
For this purpose also I labor…" It's my life purpose. "…striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face…" I care about all men. "…that their hearts may be encouraged…"
Not that doesn't mean, understand that, doesn't mean that they would feel good. It means that they would know truth in their central operating system. That the foundational inclinations of reality would be informed by truth that would make life blessed to them. "…and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument."
Oh, get ready! My little fourth-grade daughter was in a class last week and the teacher said, "Is there anything that is perfect?" One brave little boy raised his hand and goes, "The Bible." He goes, "That is not true. It might offend you, but that's just a collection of stories and the fact that you think that's true is just your opinion." All those little kids went, "Uh!"
That used to happen your freshman year at Yale. I love that it happened in fourth grade. So I said, "Landry, let's go. Let's talk about that. By the way, that is your opinion. Is that a good opinion or is that just because I've told you that and you're just in fourth grade, but when you become an 18-year-old, I'll pull you aside before you go off to Sodom and Gomorrah U and say,
'Hey darling, that was really just to make my household more livable, but you are free. Go get them.' No! Let's see if it's true. Let's test it, but I want you to know something. What your teacher said is also an opinion and opinions have consequences." Because she is in fourth grade, I had to stop there about him and others like him, but I explained to her the rational basis for her faith.
Paul said in Colossians 2:4, "I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument." Now look at verse 5. "For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…"
In other words, don't just say he is your King. Walk with him. "…having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it…" This is it. Are you ready? This is why I'm doing this thing. "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. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…"
True or false? What in the world are you thinking? True or false? Let me just do one little thing with my buddy Rousseau, who was the first one in the book, Intellectuals. In Johnson's book, Intellectuals,he quotes from a guy named Lester Crocker who wrote a biography on Rousseau's life. He went through. This is what he says about Rousseau.
This is what Crocker said after observing all of Rousseau's life, who was the founding father in the 1700s, the eighteenth century, of the beginning of the Enlightenment and rationalism and abandoning, if you will, all the foundations and traditions of the past. He had no moral code which he built on. He just went after it himself, and he was one of the most beloved and chased-after men in all of the Enlightenment area. This is what he says.
If you want to know really about Rousseau… By the way, David Hume, another man who was in that branch, his ideas of Rousseau, and others like him, and other philosophers that you may know vaguely thought the same thing. Watch this. Jesus said, "Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds." You will know a tree by its fruit.
"One modern academic lists Rousseau's shortcomings as follows: he was a 'masochist, exhibitionist, neurasthenic…" Which means he was just neurotic. "…hypochondriac, onanist…" Which I can't even tell you in a mixed crowd what that means. Look it up and chuckle. "…latent homosexual afflicted by the typical urge for repeated displacements, incapable of normal or parental affection, incipient paranoiac, narcissistic introvert rendered unsocial by his illness, filled with guilt feelings, pathologically timid, a kleptomaniac, infantilist, irritable and miserly.'"
How's that for a eulogy? All right? Not a great one. God wants you to have a different eulogy. He wants your life to end differently. I had a buddy. I told you. I was friends with his dad. I listened to them bury this man. For a while, this man did not live. He lived according to the tenets of religion, but later in his life through his children, he started to live through the tenets of relationship with God and through Jesus Christ.
This man's life was eulogized on Wednesday in a way that I just stood there and I just thought… In fact, I'll tell you what I did. I asked both of his sons to be here, and what we were going to do this Sunday, if they could, is I was just going to let you hear them talk about their dad. That was how I was going to start the whole series. It just didn't work out.
One of the things I love is the oldest son had promised his son that he would take him camping and canoeing. He said, "Todd, if I did that, I would back out of what I told my son. And I think the best way to honor my dad, even though I'd love to speak about him in front of 5,000 people three times on Sunday, is go do what I think he would've done, which is spend time with my boy." I said, "You go so your boy buries you like that." Because it wasn't about him.
Why does a dad love that way? Because of truth that has informed him. Because of a worldview that makes you a lover and servant. Gang, you have to figure this thing out because it has major consequences in your life. What in the world are you thinking about work, about economics, about morality, about a woman, about a wife, about conflict, about pleasure? It matters, and I want to set you free.
Father, I thank you for a chance to be here with my friends today and to talk about these things. Boy, it matters. It matters if we think theology, philosophy, biology, psychology, ethics, sociology, law, economics, politics, and history matter. It matters. I pray we tune in and I pray that we are informed by a rock, by a foundation that we will then build on, not just aspire to, but in reality.
I thank you for my friends who would come. I would just say, "Hey man, let's talk about it. Let's just see where these ideas lead to them." If you live according to that worldview, really live according to it, what will be your eulogy? Will it be, "Well done," or will it be, "What a mess"? Does it even matter? Are we just the product of time and chance? Are we just naked apes in an impersonal world?
Help us to wrestle through these things. We thank you, Lord, that you tell us not just to love you with our emotions, even with our physical strength, but with our mind. What you tell us is to not be conformed to the way the world thinks, but to be enlightened by the way a loving Father thinks so that we can see clearly. Walk wisely toward life. You are a good God, a glorious God who loves us and reveals. May we listen to you. Amen.
How do you look at the world? What influences your perspective on the challenges and people you interact with every day? In this 10-part series, Todd Wagner explains why your worldview ? the lens you look at the world through ? matters. You?ll discover what it means to have a biblical worldview, and how our failure to look at the world through God?s "lens" impacts our lives, culture and our world.