Christians far too often operate in what is called the “secular / sacred divide.” We bifurcate reality creating a private personal religion and a secular “neutral” public world. We essentially create two buckets. We erroneously categorize our lives to where God’s truth applies and where we believe it does not. We misjudge the secular as neutral, even sending our children to “neutral” secular education. Consider the two buckets where we compartmentalize sacred and secular.
In the religion bucket we have:
Deception lurks in the unknown, or so we tell ourselves. Often what we do to guard against deception is precisely what opens the door to it. We want to stay in our current comfortable level of knowledge. If we explore beyond it, if we journey to the edge of what we know, we cannot be assured that that book, that speaker, that preacher, that journalist is not going to draw us into a snare of deception.
The Bible is safe. Perhaps we will only read that. We can eschew all other books and stay in the safety of only reading the Word. If we hear controversy surrounds an author, we steer clear. We wouldn’t want to get deceived. Is that not how the thinking goes?
However, we cannot grow staying cloistered in what we believe is the totality of safe truth. Maybe we have been unknowingly nursing bondage. What if someone has the truth that unlocks us from our entrapment?
If we had a modern-day Martin Luther, a reformer compelling us to see differently, would we want to shun him or her or grow in that greater truth despite becoming a rebel?
Modern evangelical conservatism is creating a surge in liberalism. Unlike many headlines, my provocative statement is not an overstatement device simply intended to garner your attention. Though I hope I have your attention, because this is a very important observation for which I have great hope in seeing this trend reversed. In fact, my thoughts are often arrested trying to solve the puzzle of this all-too-common occurrence.
While a great deal more thought is required, I will share the insight I have thus far. Some I have shared before because it is ever present on my mind. My writing returns to it again and again as of late.
Avoid the Extremes
The more extreme our perspectives become the more nuance is discarded. When our worldview reduces to the party line it becomes combative of the other party to an extent that any common ground is lost. We stand on opposite sides with a large gulf separating us leaving no room for interchange. We create the false idea that we cannot come to any agreement together. Polarized thinking requires that we label any idea that takes any step towards the other party as joining the other party. I am not advocating a middle of the road merging of two extremes – but a return to thoughtful argumentation which requires exploration and understanding of the worldviews we do not hold as our own.
When truth is lost error grows exponentially in many different directions. We are watching the consequences of the loss of truth playing out in our nation. As a result, powerful people and businesses compete to control information as if it is a commodity of consumerism.
Information alone does not create knowledge – that requires wisdom to take accurate information of real facts and produce knowledge of what is true. Careful investigations take time, discipline, dedication, and integrity. Instant tweets, pictures, and videos from a variety of vantage points all dumped into social media do not produce knowledge. It takes more work to arrive at truth. We would do well to remember that when combing through all the instant information looking to make sense of it.
I understand in a world where we do not trust the professional journalists and investigators that we would want to look for alternative sources of information. But sometimes those who try to fill in the gap are simply not equipped to handle the burden of suddenly becoming an expert in investigative research and reporting.
In these trying times it is imperative to practice patience, pausing before believing the latest meme claiming to have the real truth which fits neatly on a digital square. What is true would fill more than a book and still we would have unanswered questions. We can have partial information instantly, but truth takes time. Knowledge requires patience.
Another loss of truth is in theology. There is a great deal of reactionary theology going on today. We witness the ugly results of one theological extreme and we pull hard the other way to avoid being like the ones we critique only to fall into the ditch on the other side. Case in point, I hear people react to extremism in support of the President with a denouncing of what gets termed “Christian nationalism” or “white nationalism.” As I have written before, at length, nationalism has no color. However, the very concept of nationhood comes from Judeo-Protestant theology. We cannot eschew nationalism without embracing a non-biblical theology destructive to modern nations.
The last few days of 2019 found me suffering with the effects of a bad cold that had me sleeping instead of watching the ball drop as we passed into the now infamous 2020. Little did I know that instead of a year of 2020 vision we would have a year of great confusion, deep divisions, a health crisis, economic uncertainty, social turmoil, and a mad dash for toilet paper!
Despite such a tumultuous year, I have experienced deep enjoyment of the Lord and all His bounty. I have found joy in the smallest of things, a well-made sandwich, a juicy strawberry, a walk along the shore or around the block on a pleasant evening, or a great conversation with my husband. When all the fast-paced parts of life are sidelined the important things come into focus.
I have paid close attention to the ensuing cultural battles polarizing our nation. I watch the dueling swords wielded with unrestrained tongues. I see the fearmongering and shock tactics, the victim mentalities, and carelessness and strife in social media posts.
“Christianity is the greatest intellectual system the mind of man has ever touched,” wrote Francis Schaeffer. When we consider the Christian worldview, it is to be contemplated in the context of total reality. Only then can we begin to explore what it is and how to think within its massive structure.
Os Guinness professes that everyone thinks from their worldview, but only a few thinks about it. Our worldview is that lens from which we process life. It is a pair of glasses we look through to interpret the world. Sometimes the pair of glasses has been melded from a variety of sources along with scratches, smudges, and smears of dirt. Our worldview has been shaped from life experiences, education, books, television, podcasts, movies, parents, teachers, pastors, leaders, peers, marketing, as well as the technology and the products we use daily. All these things affect how we think. They grow in influence when we do not become those who think about our worldview and forms it on purpose.
Deconstruction is not a Christian practice. Truth comes from divine revelation. It is received, it is not constructed. Theology is not the practice of constructing truth, it is the practice of applying true revelation to every area of life.
Some applied theology has taken centuries for a culture to change the way it thinks to accurately apply the truth. We have seen this in how Christian societies have shifted from people who persecute heretics to a people who enumerate civil law to protect freedom of religion. Continue reading
When we see truth in a non-Christian worldview, we see what it adopted from what is real, what is true, what is Christian. We did not need to go to that worldview to find it, for it is already present in what God has revealed as true. They borrowed from truth, not the other way around. We notice it only because we know what truth looks like as the Holy Spirit and Scriptures are our tutor. However, when we borrow what is not Christian, what is not true, from a foreign worldview we borrow that which belongs the prince of lies. We borrow that which deceives, binds, destroys, Continue reading
Eschatology can make or break a nation. Our worldview has practical ramifications on our nation. Thinking the goal of the Christian life is more souls in heaven has a particular result in the here and now. Thinking the goal of the Christian life is to have more heaven on earth will have another result in the here and now. The power of the Kingdom to affect our world depends upon where we put it. If the Kingdom of God is where we go when we die, or waiting in our post-rapture life, then it does not do much for society now.
But if we are already seated in heavenly places with the ascended Christ, then Continue reading
Every year I set out to read 52 books, the equivalent of one a week for a year. I have never reached my goal, but I aim for it every year. This year I read 37 books. These included history, theology, poetry, and fiction. Here are a few highlights from my 2018 reading. Continue reading