Once more civilization finds herself resurfacing into the bigotry culture of relativism absent from moral objectivity, hence the intention of this blog is an attempt to answer the question, how did the Church of Jesus Christ, the custodians of God’s revelation of reality, allow this to happen on Her watch? As we reflect upon the purpose stated in Kevin G. Smith’s book, A Practical Guide to Biblical Ethics, undoubtedly a valuable book written to address several important factors, for instance, the reasons for the moral dilemma in the world and a Church that behaves accordingly (Smith 2012). Smith, specifically focuses on challenging Christians and pastors to reconsider the philosophical necessity of having a sound biblical worldview. Which he argues is Her answer to internal cohesion and relevance and for believers to make sense out of reality (Smith 2012). Another object is to consider that even with the exponential growth of evangelical Christianity, one would think by now we’d be experiencing a cultural revolution and that secular values would be diminishing in its influence? Our endless prayer meetings, countless responses to our modern-day Charles Finney styled “alter calls” and still the question we asking despite the presence and growth of evangelical Christianity, why have we hardly caused a ripple in secular culture (David 1993, 295)? Could the “miles wide but an inch deep” reality of the Church’s intellectual inability to make sense out of reality be hindering the Church’s witness?
1. Truths To Consider
In this section, I’d like to discuss three truths I’ve learnt in Smith’s book, A Practical Guide to Biblical Ethics and explore why I believe these truths are most expedient for the Church to yield to.
Worldviews shape behaviour
There is no question that (your) mentality determines (your) reality (Proverbs 23:7), on top of this, Smith points out that reality determines morality (Smith 2012). That is to say that how we behave is determined by what we believe or think. If we ask the question, what is reality? We may answer that reality is the lens we use by which we make sense of life or existence. This lens is important because we’ve learnt that it defines our worldview. Our worldview is important because it shapes our behaviour (Smith 2012).
Component of a worldview
We’ve learnt that whether people realise it or not, everyone has a worldview, yet, not everyone’s worldview is sound. Adopting the matrix of what makes for a sound worldview by both Ronald Nash and Glen Martin, I’ve learnt that whatever your religious presuppositions may be, one cannot merely assume what one believes about reality is true. A sound worldview must answer or argue with a statement and premise, concluding in a truth claim which best argues (Isa 1:18) the facts at hand (Moreland 2017, 168), based in the following basic questions of: Origin – the origin, nature, role and destiny of both universe and mankind; Ethics – how life is structured; and Knowledge – how do we know what we know (Smith 2012).
Three main ways Christians use to gain knowledge
I’ve learnt that we all are entitled to our viewpoint but every viewpoint must be substantiated by the simple question “how did you come to that conclusion”? How do we warrant what we believe or disbelieve (Moreland 2017, 175)? There are three ways Christians learn. In order of importance, they are Revelation, Reason and Experience (Smith 2012). Of course, the Atheist deifies reason while rejecting revelation, the seen above the unseen, the free above the pre-determined (Moreland 2017, 435). The Biblical Christian understands that God Himself is the source of truth and reality, the seen and the unseen (2 Cor 4:18, cf. Heb 9:11).
2. Questions I Have
We’ve uncovered the shocking reality of precisely how few Christians have a biblical worldview, as Smith mentions, as he further cites Barna’s shocking states which say that only 50 per cent of pastors and only nine per cent of Christians living in America live their lives consistent with the “why” the Bible describes. Evangelical Christianity is growing, yet when this impact is measured against social transformation indicators and cultural impact, the Church has not even caused a ripple. The question then begs: even if only half of pastors or one-tenth of Christians hold a biblical worldview, how is it possible for the same to still maintain a liberal worldview? How can one hold a biblical worldview and still vote for a political party that has endorsed nonbiblical values? How is it that we host national prayer meetings, large evangelical crusades, extend endless altar calls, pray for God’s will to prevail, invite the lost to forsake the kingdom of darkness for the Kingdom of light but still, vote for the values of darkness or live like the world? A recent example that illustrates this is the Trump and Biden elections which caused much division within the Church. Trump may not have been diplomatic and perfect but his political views were closer to biblical values than Biden’s, whose endorsed abortion and same-sex marriage. In South Africa, it is not uncommon for the Church to stand with political parties who have anti-biblical agendas. One could ask, how are such double standards possible and where do we begin to fix this?
3. Changed My Thinking
The ultimate goal of the Scriptures is to equip us for good works (Eph 2:10). If God is the source ( 2 Pet 1:21) and the four functions serve to guide us in our decisions and in helping us decide right from wrong (2 Tim 3:16-17), then Scriptures provide us with an authoritative source about reality. God tells us what is true. He then shows us how to live. Paul used the same approach in his letters to the Colossians and Ephesians. He first focuses on theology and then on practice. Again one observes that. what one believes determines how one behaves (Smith 2012).
Due to the compromise of the inability to define reality within the Church, we are seeing the cultural re-emergence of first-century Roman-Greco beliefs intensify its opposing views and ridicule Christian values. We are seeing the Bride oscillate between the impact of seventeenth-century intellectual liberalism (Enlightenment) and Her centuries of old and distasteful dogmatism and legalism as she grows deeper and deeper, decade after decade, in irrelevance and weakens in unity, mainly due to the absence of unified biblical worldviews. We sense the urgency for Christians and pastors to reconsider the question of “what is reality”, using the Bible as the only lens of interpretation.
- David F. Wells 1993. No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? United States: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
- Moreland JP., and William L. Craig, eds. 2017. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Illinois: IVP Academic Intervarsity Press.
- Smith, G Kevin. 2014. A Practical Guide to Biblical Ethics. South Africa: South African Theological Seminary.