I read novels but I also read the Bible. And study it, you know? And the more I learn, the more excited I get.
The man in black got fired up about the Bible. This isn’t too surprising if you know the role that the Scriptures came to play in the man’s life. The Bible provided a narrative about reality that Cash believed to be true. What I find fascinating is that his excitement grew with every new thing he learned about it.
Can you say the same thing about your faith? About your worldview?
Today I seek to defend the idea (relayed on the Kingdom Scene web site) that a biblical worldview is intellectually credible, existentially satisfying, and helpful to human flourishing. Or, more simply, a biblical worldview is full of truth, beauty, and help.
But first, I need to reiterate something I’ve written before. Namely…
You Have a Worldview. Take Time to Identify It.
No matter what you believe (or don’t believe), you have consciously or unconsciously adopted a worldview. I’ll use the term worldview, just in case you cringe at the thought of having a faith. But the two terms are almost interchangeable. Your worldview is a fundamental commitment that you’ve made about reality. It dictates the principles upon which you live your life. You can’t prove it to be true, but you believe it to be true.
If you have never identified your worldview, ask yourself what you believe about the following questions:
- How did everything come to be?
- What is the purpose of life?
- What is right and wrong?
- What happens at death?
Your answers will help you identify your worldview as well as the philosophy or religion from which it stems. And please be aware that “I don’t know” and “we can never know” are legitimate answers. Quite helpful actually.
If you answer “I don’t know” to each question, you most likely have an agnostic worldview. Your sense of meaning and values may change over time as you look to settle upon a more definitive worldview. Or you may find comfort in not knowing, and, therefore, settle on creating your own meaning and values.
If your answer is a definitive “we can never know,” you are a postmodern thinker, which is the prevailing worldview in our culture today. Similar to a comfortable agnostic, you will end up creating your own meaning and values in this life. Just be aware that you may be a victim of failed logic if you are adamant about this position. How can you definitively know that we’ll never know?
Now I want you to put your worldview on trial and ask three sets of questions relating to your head, your heart, and your hands.
- Head: Is it true? How do I know this to be true? Is my worldview intellectually credible?
- Heart: Is it beautiful? Does it captivate my emotions the more I dwell upon it? Is my worldview existentially satisfying?
- Hands: Is it helpful? How does it impact my values and my relationship with the world around me? How does it encourage human flourishing?
This is a very important exercise. These tests indicate a worldview’s validity and dare I say power. Again, the worldview you adopt dictates the life you live — its principles, values, ethics, and even everyday decision-making. Your worldview affects everything. So, why wouldn’t you take time to discern what it is and how it influences you?
Ok, I am going to put the biblical worldview through these questions, but you can do it with any philosophy, religion, or set of ideas.
Head: The Biblical Worldview as True
The first set of questions may be the most important, but also the most difficult for a biblical or any worldview. In regards to the Bible, how can we trust the validity of a book written by 66 different authors over a period of 1600 years? How can we trust in the Bible’s claim that it is God-inspired (II Timothy 3:16-17)?
The answer is found in recognizing the Bible’s overarching narrative and investigating this narrative’s central substantiating event. The story of the Bible, in simplest terms, can be summed up in a few words:
- Creation: God created the universe. God created man in his image. Everything was good.
- Fall: Man disobeyed God, which brought sin, suffering, and death into the world. Things got and continue to get bad.
- Redemption: God sent his son Jesus to live a perfect life and to suffer and die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus rose again three days later. Through trust in Jesus, one is redeemed and a right relationship with God (and eternity) is restored. Things can be made right.
- Restoration: Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection but promises to come back one day to restore all things and make them good again. Things will be made right.
This is the story of the Bible. According to this narrative, we are living in the time between redemption and restoration. But why should we consider it as true or intellectually credible? The answer lies in its central substantiating event–the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is a historical event that can be investigated. If Jesus rose from the dead, then his claim of divinity is true (e.g., John 10:30). Therefore, his recurring affirmations of the Scripture (e.g., Matthew 19:4) validate its credibility.
The logic is this – if Jesus claimed to be God and rose from the grave, then he is God. If Jesus is God and he affirmed the Scriptures, then they are valid. There is intellectually credible reasoning supporting belief in the Bible and its worldview.
Heart: The Biblical Worldview as Beautiful
Before delving into the beauty of the biblical worldview, allow me to make one observation. Because today’s post-modern culture is skeptical of truth claims, the existential notions of freedom and experience often supersede intellectual credibility when it comes to worldview. “If it feels right, do it (as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody)!” seems to be the prevailing dictate of our society. In other words, existential satisfaction or personal fulfillment often becomes more important than anything else. I make this observation only because I do not want you to adopt a worldview that simply feels good. Be aware that this happens almost unconsciously. Make sure you are satisfied with all three sets of answers — head, heart, and hands.
Does your worldview captivate your heart? Does it affect your emotions the more deeply you dwell upon it? Only you can answer that. Johnny Cash got more excited as his study of the Bible intensified. His biblical worldview affected his emotions. But why?
The answer lies in the Bible’s concept of ultimate reality. Whatever you believe to be ultimate reality — nature, God, self, “don’t know”, “we’ll never know”, etc. — has implications that affect your emotions if you choose to think deeply about it. I had a conversation with a friend who believes that the universe is all there is. For him, nature is ultimate reality in that there is nothing bigger. As he thought about that belief’s implications in regards to life’s purpose and future hope, he actually got visibly sad and said to me, “I can’t go there.”
At the heart of a biblical worldview is a holy, loving God taking on flesh and dying for his enemies’ salvation. No other god, philosophy, or form of ultimate reality comes close in regards to love for humanity. When this God becomes the foundation of your belief system and is dwelt upon, the result is awe. A stirring of hope. Sometimes even tears. Always thankfulness. He becomes more beautiful to you. He always has been beautiful, but blurry vision becomes clearer the more you focus and reflect. I believe this is what Johnny Cash was talking about. As he studied the Scriptures, his heart was captivated over and over again.
Hands: The Biblical Worldview as Helpful
A comprehensive worldview explains the world around you and your role in it. But does it offer help to you and to others through you? Your concept of ultimate reality will inform your worldview and impact your values. If your values are fixed, you most likely believe in some form of a god as ultimate reality. If your values are changing based off of opinion, culture, or utility, you most likely believe in the cosmos or self as ultimate reality. (Or, if you accept postmodernism, you will refuse to define ultimate reality with words.) I recognize that these are generalizations, but I want you to see how your worldview and values shift based on your foundational understanding of ultimate reality.
This leads to the biblical worldview. In the Bible, ultimate reality is Jesus (John 1:1-4), the loving God made man who died for his enemies so that they may live. If ultimate reality is a man who died for his enemies, then those who believe and dwell upon this cannot help but adopt love as a primary, fixed value. And, when the biblical narrative is reviewed, additional values surface:
- Creation: If God created us in his image, then there is purpose for life and inherent dignity in every human being.
- Fall: If Jesus had to die because of our disobedience, then we aren’t as great as we think. This understanding leads to humility.
- Redemption: If Jesus chose to die for us despite our disobedience, then we truly are loved by God. This revelation relays confidence.
- Restoration: If the resurrected Jesus promises to fully restore this broken world, then we can look to the future with hope.
Love. Purpose. Humility. Confidence. Hope. These are some of the core values of a biblical worldview. And they have not changed nor will they change over time.
I could extrapolate on each of these, but I think they speak for themselves. Can you think of a mother or father who would not want their children growing up with these values motivating their lives? Can you think of a society where such values would not encourage human flourishing from generation to generation? Can you think of a single day where drawing upon these values would be impractical or unhelpful? I can’t.
A biblical worldview is powerful. It holds up intellectually, existentially, and pragmatically while offering answers to life’s biggest questions. Does your worldview do the same?
Something to think about.