What is an Authentic, “Biblical Worldview”?

And the Lord said:  “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder, and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”  Isaiah 29:13-14 ESV

The term “Biblical worldview” is, perhaps, the most overused one in all of the “religious speak” that has developed around the Christian faith.  It’s a term most commonly coined and used by those in the branch of American Protestant Christianity that has come to be known as the “Evangelical right,” or the “Conservative Evangelical” branch.  When it is used by leaders of that particular branch of Christians, it generally applies to a codified set of principles they have developed which blend their social agenda and their political perspective with selected interpretations of bits and pieces of Biblical principles.

In that context, “Biblical worldview” means a set of beliefs based on the presuppositions and assumptions that are part of the religious dogma of the Evangelical right which are used to justify, and claim to support, specific and identifiable parts of an agenda, and to contrast other beliefs not consistent with the presuppositions and assumptions that can be labeled “liberal” or “left wing.”  Sometimes it is couched in language indicating that your Christian faith is open to questioning if you don’t accept these assumptions at face value.  It’s a “populist” Christian perspective, with enough bits and pieces of scripture thrown in to make it seem genuine, and to make it palatable for those who accept the written and spoken word of the populist leaders, rather than read and study the Bible in depth for themselves.

Though it has taken on some new characteristics over time, it has some issues that have formed a core foundation.  The linking of the belief in the sanctity of human life almost exclusively with the issue of abortion is one of the primary characteristics.  Opposition to any kind of same-sex marriage or union has been another perpetual issue.  Unqualified support for Israel on the grounds of a premillenial, dispensational view of Biblical eschatology is also high on the list, and goes hand in hand with a Reconstructionist view of the American Republic, with faint echoes of “Anglo-Israelism” and a belief that the founding fathers intended the constitution to be interpreted from a pro-Christian perspective.

I’ve been a student of the Bible for most of my life, a study that involves as much as my church could offer, that I could gain on my own, and through formal coursework in Biblical studies at a Christian university and a Theological seminary.  So I know that a worldview that is genuinely founded on, and rooted in the principles of the Bible is not nearly that shallow, nor is it that slanted in its interpretation of Biblical principles.  You’ve missed the point completely if you think that a Biblical worldview has, as its substance or its ends, anything having to do with American politics or politicians.

The clearest, and strongest Biblical source for worldview development is Jesus.  Go figure.  The idea that God’s plan for the redemption of his creation was to come and be here himself, in the form of his son, Jesus, is the very crux of a Biblical worldview.  That answers the basic questions about the origins of humanity, and its nature.  The words of Jesus, recorded by the authors of the gospel, are the words of God in the flesh.  The actions of Jesus, recorded by those same authors, are acts of creator God interacting with the humanity that he created in his own image.  If you want to know a genuinely Biblical worldview, then Jesus is the place to start.

This isn’t difficult to figure out.

One of the most definitive statements about Jesus in Matthew 5:17, is at the very core and crux of a Biblical worldview.  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets” he says.  “I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.”  The religious leaders of his day considered those words pure blasphemy.  He meant it, too, and declared it when he screamed, “It is finished!” while hanging on the cross.  Put those words together with something else he said.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:37-40 ESV

There’s Jesus on a Biblical Worldview.  You’re right, it doesn’t sound much like anything we’ve been hearing about it, does it?  Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, and then simplifies all of both into these two simple commandments.  Love God, and love your neighbor.  And we know how he defined that.  So a Biblical Worldview comes down to these two very simple things.  Loving God, and loving the humanity that he created in his own image.

We could leave it there, and let this be a definitive statement on a Biblical worldview, and it would be more than adequate.  But everything in Jesus’ ministry was an example of how these things got fleshed out.  He was all about demonstrating his love for his “neighbor” by serving them, unconditionally.   He sought out the neediest people to heal, and did so in such a way as to restore their quality of life, unconditionally.  In a few cases, he demonstrated his love by raising the dead to life.  He chose to serve the people who were social, political and religious outcasts by preaching and ministering to them, unconditionally, exhorting them and restoring them as God’s people.  He advocated for the poor.  And if you hold to a belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of the scripture, it is hard to re-interpret, redefine, or simply dismiss his words about the rich, or his contempt for the religious establishment of his day.

His church, in its early days, immediately following his resurrection, was inspired by the Holy Spirit to live out this same “Biblical worldview” by the surrender, and communal distribution of its private wealth.  A committee of seven deacons was appointed to make sure that the poorest and neediest members of the community, mainly the foreign-born, Greek speaking widows, were included in the distribution of the goods.  Once again, this was done unconditionally, to love their neighbors as themselves.

Jesus, and the early church, demonstrated their belief in the sanctity of human life by serving the needs of the poorest, and neediest people around them.  They healed.  They met physical needs.  They included.  They offered grace.  And look how blessed they were!  The narrative in the first third of the book of Acts is as exciting a description of revival as you can find.  The Holy Spirit was a clear presence.  They gathered to worship daily.  Their meeting place was shaken by the Holy Spirit.  People were healed, had their physical needs met, and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 

If you’re looking to twist this into some kind of political position, good luck.   Protecting the unborn is just one aspect of the sanctity of human life.  Turning it into a political issue, and then setting it against legislation that restricts human access to affordable health care is self defeating.  Jesus doesn’t mention same-gender marriage or relationships, and while I don’t believe that his silence can be taken as approval of it, I also don’t believe that his approach would be more consistent with his treatment of taxpayers, sinners, and the woman caught in adultery than it would be with the current interpretation of a “Biblical worldview.”  And after he cleared the money changers out of the Temple, and determined that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven, I don’t have to wonder what he would think about a government health care proposal that gives the rich a huge tax break, while at the same time cutting off the ability of the working poor to afford health insurance, and have access to health care.

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord…..

 

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