Worldview Bulletin: Kick the Buckets: Ditching the Sacred / Secular Divide

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:

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Worldview Bulletin: Defusing Polarization

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.

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TRUTH DECAY: Inside Christianity

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.

Reactionary Theology

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.

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Worldview Bulletin: Becoming a Thinking People: Slicing Through the Polarized Views

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.

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America: A Polarized Nation in Need of Truth

Watching this election coming down to such a narrow margin we can see that we are witnessing the effects of a divided nation. Perhaps we have become numb to our deep seeded divisions which have so polarized our nation. How do we participate in the healing of a nation rather than participating in its divisions? How do we do this without compromising truth? The answer is not standing in the middle of the road trying desperately to merge one worldview with another. It is not claiming neutrality for no worldview is neutral.

Theological Nature of Politics

Politics is both theological and spiritual, but it is not to be religious. There is a difference which I will flesh out. How we see nations and their inner workings on every level is deeply theological. The very idea of nation comes from the Bible. Majoring on personal responsibility or on programs to provide welfare for the poor are both derived from biblical theology. It does not mean that both arguments are equally correct, but that their origins are both coming from a Christian worldview expressed in how we look at economics and government.

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Worldview Bulletin: Perspective for Politics

We have entered the political season where there is a race of the century to see which path America will take. Worldview is a crucial component of this election. How we see what is going on and how we see people amid the political conflict is also a matter of worldview.

In this bulletin I am going to break down the different elements of this complex situation before us. To be clear, I am a conservative evangelical Christian. But I will be stepping on the toes of my own group as well as other groups in this discussion.

It is Only About the Kingdom

First, I want to speak to those Christians who believe being pro-Kingdom means being anti-nation. We hear from this group that Jesus is on the throne and all that matters is King Jesus. While I am ever so grateful for their devotion to Jesus, Jesus is not running for President. Our theology is useless if it does not make a difference on earth in the present-day reality. Jesus not only rules in heaven, but on earth. And on earth, God designed us to live within nations. We see this from His call of Abraham to be the father of many nations. Then we see the progression of Moses leading a people out of Egypt, training them in the laws of God to prepare them to be a nation in a physical land where God desired for them to flourish within its borders.

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Covid-19: Civil Public Square

America’s public square is in dire straits. The public square is the public discussion of all things cultural, political, religious, and societal. The people who participate in this discussion in America are citizens from every walk of life, background, gender, race, economic status, and from a vast variety of theological and political thought. This square becomes broken when conversation deteriorates into group think, quarrelling, and emotional attacks against thinkers with which we disagree.

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Speaking the Truth in Love

HOW we say something can be as important as WHAT we say. It is not enough that what we say is true. We can say it in a way that is brash or in a way that is kind. Sharing the truth in love does not mean that we share the truth because we love, but that we share truth in the way that love shares truth. Love always hopes. When we share what is true we are not rattling off the negative facts like a pessimist. We share the truth with hope.

When we speak of a problem it is not the end of the world (or the nation), it is an opportunity for a solution. Before you call me an optimist, neither optimism nor pessimism is Christian. To hope is Christian. Without biblical hope, all we are left with is the world’s philosophies of optimism or pessimism based on our personal preference. Truth carries a substance that is otherworldly. It is the reality of heaven infused in our very words. It is the power to release hope where there was fear. It is the power to give life where there was death. It is the power to give freedom where there was bondage.

Love does not dishonor others. Just because something is true does not mean we can speak it in a manner that brings dishonor. Love always protects. It does not just protect family and friends, but the stranger we have never met that we are talking about on social media. It does not just protect the one whose name we know, but the whole group we may be discussing. It protects celebrities and governing leaders too. I Corinthians 13 is not only how we are to treat those in our inner circle it is how we conduct ourselves in the way of love. A mature believer is one who speaks truth in love (Eph 4). Love is the way truth is shared not merely the reason truth is communicated.

Love is not easily angered nor easily offended. It speaks in such a way as to set people free, not to keep them bound by their wayward ways. It does not point fingers, it shields the one under attack. Not because the one has merited the love, but because Jesus did the same while we were yet sinners. “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Truth is not communicated in offense. Offense is communicated, and the truth becomes secondary.

Politics is not an excuse for negativity, dishonor, anger, offense, or ridicule. While truth can be partisan, love is not. This means that we still have the responsibility to communicate truth in love no matter what the position of the other may be. They are not idiots. They are not imbeciles. It is possible “they” are the ones who see something we need to see. It is possible “they” have never seen what we see and therefore cannot know what we know and think like we think. Most likely “they” are not doing anything to us on purpose. It is important not to assign motives to people. It only serves to maintain the culture of “us” versus “them” when we do that.

Governing how we communicate truth will require that we slow down and listen to ourselves and how we may sound to others. It also necessitates that we listen to how others hear what we are saying. I have found that communicating my ideas to people who do not believe them help me to learn how I sound to them. It matters. If I fail to understand how I sound to others, I cannot do better at letting truth be heard in a way that honors the one listening.

To be continued . . .

Biblical Theology of Nations

e-pluribus-unumJesus said that the world will know that we are His by the way that we vote. Jesus said He would one day separate the elephants from the donkeys. Anyone with any Bible knowledge at all will recognize the blatant misquotes above, but now I have your attention.

The Bible gives us theology for nations, government, law, justice, etc. However, the Kingdom is neither synonymous with a particular nation nor a repudiation of all nations into one big globe.

The Bible provides the theology for nations. The Kingdom provides the supernatural power to reform nations to the reality of heaven. It brings the transformative power of truth to the natural undiscipled infrastructure of a nation. The Kingdom of God does not just heal a sick person, but also a sick institution or nation. Read more

America, Christianity, and Avoiding the Ditches

I have loved American history since I was a child. Preserving the stability of my nation is a deep passion of mine. America is my homeland. In so doing, I wish to address a topic that we face today in modern theology. There are always ditches on either side of truth.

One ditch is to equate all things Christian with all things American. When we do this, we make America the center of God’s plan and its strength or weakness the barometer of our end time theology. Doing so creates fear at elections, and at the moral climate of our nation for we think it directly tied to God’s count-down to the end of the world as we know it. We tend to spiritualize everything to the extent where we are uncertain where politics end and Christianity begins. The two get so intertwined and lost in each other that we equate our Christianity with a political party making the “other party” not Christian in comparison. We are then judged, not by our works, but by our votes.

Now here is the rub. There is a ditch on the other side. Read more