Category Archives: Worldview & Truth

The great lie about people

I’m feeling both sad and concerned at the growing animosity between American liberals and conservatives.  As the budget debate intensifies both camps are busy slinging slurs and pointing fingers in a growing chorus of anger.   It hit me especially hard this morning reading Facebook comments that were stoking hatred like a blacksmith bellows.

Lies kill, and there’s probably no more deadly lie than the notion that the trouble with the world is people.   It’s a subtle worldview that insinuates that “if we could only eliminate those ‘damned’ Atheists, Tea-Partiers, Christians, Muslims, Liberals, or Gays, then all would be right with the world.”   This same thinking permeates the doctrines of Nazis, Islamists, (those Muslims who take up the ideology of bombing infidels), and Marxists who sort through enemies like socks.  It’s OK to hate their ideology, but never the people.

Followers of Jesus must stand in the solid truth that people are not the enemy!   Sin is the enemy!  Pride is the enemy, judgment, arrogance, and lies are the enemy!  These are the things that divide communities and choke the life out of our souls.  And these very attitudes reside in the fallen flesh of each of us.  Will you purpose together with me to lay down the accusing finger and attack the problem not in the face of a friend, but at the level of truth and deception?    God’s word tells us “The thief comes to steal, to kill and destroy.”  (John 10:10)   The great enemy of God and of the human race carries out his work through lies and accusation.  Let’s purpose in our hearts to live in the opposite spirit of blessing and affirming others while standing firmly on the truth that sets people free.

Missing pieces: education and worldview

 

Back in the early seventies I learned at a liberal denominational youth conference that life is really “all about sex.”  No kidding.  One dear counselor casually unpacked the idea that all our relationships, all our dreams, and all our motives were merely hormonal spark plugs firing in our adolescent bodies.  It was so jarring to my impressionable mind that I could barely concentrate on Kum Ba Yah for the next couple of days, until another man stood up and spilled the real beans:  It wasn’t about sex after all.   It’s about racism and the struggle for equality among people.   I didn’t understand at the time that I was being bombarded with worldviews, and non-biblical ones at that.  These were ideas that fell like a fog around my mind.

 

A worldview is a story line we believe about the world, an over-arching idea that organizes our experiences into a meaningful whole.  If life truly is about hormones, then that explains a few things about why I do the things I do.  But if it’s about racism, then it explains other things.  Virtually everyone  believes some sort of story about the world.  It’s nearly impossible to live in a world of random pieces which cannot be assembled into a story line.  Marx’s story was about wealth and freeing ourselves from the damnation of capitalism.   Margaret Sanger’s story is one of sexual liberation and emancipating ourselves from old fashioned morality.   Timothy Leary told a story about the promise of drugs and flower-power to redeem the world.

 

But of course the real question concerns the truthfulness of the story we believe.  Any old story will do to a point.  But only the True story will bring all the pieces together into a coherent whole.  And of course the only person who can verify the correct story is the Author who brought it all into being in the first place.   “Once upon a time”, (“In the beginning”), is the platform upon which the whole story will be built, and if we begin on a faulty foundation it’s a sure bet the whole system will crumble at some point.

Modern Western education is a house built on the sand of a false beginning.  It’s all well and good to fill young minds with stories of man’s descent from primates until you expect him to act like a human being, and not steal the banana you brought for lunch.   It all works well enough until those eighth grade primates begin to actually believe the idea that there really is nothing special about being human, and succumb to depression and suicide.  Who’s to say we should work and not live off the government?  Who’s to say we shouldn’t cheat our way through school?  Who’s to say we shouldn’t accept bribes or steal the neighbor’s vegetables from his garden?   Because if it’s all about sex, money, power, drugs, climate change, racism, or tolerance, then I’ve got quite the latitude to invent any old story I choose.  And society begins to crumble.

Missing Pieces: goodness, truth, and beauty.

It’s been a delightful week here in Kona, (The University of the Nations), in a class of wonderful students grappling with the Kingdom of God.

When the first Universities, (Paris and Oxford), were founded in the twelfth century they featured a curriculum which focused on the three absolutes of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty.   Within that academic trinity can be found all the glories of ethics, law, science, philosophy, and the creative arts.   And when taken together the absolutes point to the wonder of God’s Kingdom.   “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)   To sit in holy wonder before these absolutes is to seek God’s kingdom.

That’s a fair summary of what we did in class this week:  We examined beauty, truth and goodness, identified them as reflections of the Trinitarian God,  surveyed a few of the ways these absolutes are under attack, and reminded ourselves that the Father of Jesus will not be satisfied until every lost glory of His Kingdom is restored.   And that, I believe, is a true education.

Missing pieces: a return to school

Hopefully my friends will forgive me if I confess that the reason I haven’t written lately is because I stumbled briefly into a swamp of despair.   My heart got slimed by news and politics and I lost sight of the dreams and promises of God.  But today I’m returning to the only foothold I can find in this messed-up world: the certain reality of Jesus and his kingdom.

I left off talking, (in “Missing Pieces“), about how the kingdom might influence the sphere of education.   With America spending in the neighborhood of 100 BILLION dollars per year on education, our schools remain in a state of crisis.  One National Geographic survey shows the disturbing trend that when American 18 to 24-year-olds were given world maps,

  • 87 percent could not find Iraq
  • 49 percent could not find New York
  • 11 percent could not find the United States

With such shocking results in a field as objective as Geography, who wants to even imagine our command of  Truth, reasoning, and understanding of the world itself?   In the diagram below the yellow circle represents Truth, which  ALWAYS produces life.  The red circle represents our beliefs.  Notice that when our beliefs intersect with Truth, the result is knowledge and life.  But when our beliefs fall outside the scope of Truth they produce death, whether it’s mathematical, scientific, psychological or spiritual.   Hosea 4:6 tells us “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”

So how would the Kingdom influence education?  Just a few thoughts:

1. The church would repent of it’s narrow message which idolizes “personal salvation” and “getting into heaven” to the neglect of “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Personal salvation is the entry point into the kingdom, (John 3:3), but it is not the end-all of the gospel.   The church must re-embrace the entire gospel, which declares a kingdom plan for every sphere of life from schools to science, from films to families.  (Eph. 4:10)

2. The basis of Education would return to the focus of “These things are True,” rather than “This is the stuff you should know in order to enter the job market.” We are not perishing for lack of information and opinions, but for the lack of Truth.

3. Parents would assume the God-given responsibility of teaching their children.  “Teach these things to your children, and talk about them when you’re at home or away, when you lie down or get up.” (Deut. 11:19)  That doesn’t mean we need to home school every child, but that parents, (and not the government), should assume a primary role in educating their children.  When we allow the direction of our schools to be dictated by government bureaucrats we get exactly the kind of students we have today, who can’t locate America on an unmarked map.

4. Schools, (both public and Christian), would turn their focus from teaching students what to think, to training them how to think; how to assess truth, how to reason, how to employ logic and exchange ideas in constructive and meaningful dialogue.

One more idea I’ll save until next week.

Missing pieces: discipling nations

Once upon a time God discipled a nation.   He took a group of bedraggled slaves and changed them into such a glorious nation that foreign dignitaries were left speechless.   When Jesus told us to “make disciples of all nations” he was thoughtful enough to give us the stellar example of Israel to demonstrate what he had in mind.

Consider:  When Moses led the Jewish slaves out of Egypt,

And yet in the space of four centuries God had so transformed this ragamuffin people that the Queen of Sheba was dazzled by the glory of Israel.  (1 Kings 10:4)   Such is the power of God’s transforming Truth for any nation from broken Bosnia to impoverished Haiti to floundering America.   And it is God’s dream for the nations.

The Gospel of the kingdom begins with the promise of redeemed hearts (Ezekiel 36:26), and goes beyond to the transformation of nations.  There’s not a hint of heaven or eternal life in this promise: “If you indeed obey the LORD your God and are careful to observe all his commandments I am giving you today, the LORD your God will elevate you above all the nations of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 28:1).  The commandments God is referring to here have nothing to do with heaven and the hereafter,  but about the everyday truth of living together in peace, ensuring justice, conducting business, educating children, caring for strangers and the environment, growing crops, practicing good health, and a host of other “how-tos” that will produce blessing and life.

The gospel of the Kingdom bids us pick up the dream of God for every person, every nation, and every sphere of life.   Check back soon for some pieces of God’s dream for government.

Tracking down the missing pieces

When Jesus announced his mission in the synagogue in Nazereth, (Luke 4: 14-30), he declared a kingdom that would transform the world.   God’s dream encompasses all creation from streets to stars, from jails to juries.  E. Stanley Jones expressed it succinctly: “The Kingdom is God’s total answer to man’s total need.”

Yet at the beginning of 2010 the tragedy, in the words of G. K. Chesterton is that “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Of course the gospel of forgiveness has been embraced by countless generations of glad people, but the gospel of the Kingdom has barely been taken off the shelf.

I want to initiate a little series here at the beginning of the year that will address the kingdom in regard to business, government, education and the “rest” of life.  It’ll take awhile to work our way through, (and I’ll almost certainly take some detours along the way), but I’m excited about the discoveries we might make in the process.  Not only will this help me to order my own thoughts, but hopefully it’ll help some others to grasp the Kingdom in a more concrete way.

Back in 1975 God spoke to three Christian leaders independently of each other about the imperative of reaching the seven “spheres” of society.   Loren Cunningham, (founder of Youth With a Mission), Bill Bright, (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ), and Christian thinker Francis Schaeffer were each impressed by the Spirit to begin focusing on raising a generation to reach these seven spheres with the truth of Christ and His Kingdom.  It wasn’t about Christians “taking control” of culture, (for the Kingdom is never a matter of “control”), but about serving and influencing these strategic spheres with humility, insight, and love.

Lets begin by having a look at these spheres:

“The same one who came down is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.” (Eph. 4:10)  The seven spheres include Education, Family, Media, Church, Commerce, Government and the Arts.

God’s kingdom plan is to bless the human race and to reveal his staggering beauty in each of these seven areas!   But the great tragedy of today’s gospel is that in forgetting the kingdom we have focused the spotlight almost entirely on the individual and the church.  And this in turn has banished the rest of life to the shadows, beyond the scope of God’s grace.

The consequence is a Christianity that is largely expressed within the brick and mortar walls of a church building while the rest of the “real” world slides quietly into darkness.   What are we to do?  What does the gospel have to do with media, classrooms, governments and Wall Street ?   I hope you’ll join me in the weeks to come as we try to shed some light on the missing pieces of the Gospel.

A shocking observation

I’ve made a shocking observation.  After nine years of teaching Worldview and the Kingdom of God to students from countless nations, I’ve just noticed in recent months an alarming increase in the number of young Believers who defend Socialism as the hope of the human race.  I’m speaking here of Christian young people, Christian Socialists.  It comes as no surprise, really, and the blame lies clearly with my generation and especially with the church of my generation.

When the church exchanged “Thy Kingdom come” for “Come quickly Lord” we opened a worldview vacuum that young people refuse to tolerate.  A gospel of death, (“Do you know where you’ll spend eternity?”) is a piddling crumb to throw at a generation that’s crying out to know “How then, shall we live?”

Greedy, materialistic capitalism remade us into an army of consumers, bankrupt, (literally), and bereft of spiritual values.  And now a younger generation surveying the landscape sees no alternative but the Babylonian “Yes we can” worldview of Utopian Socialism. “Let us build a city…. let us reach the sky… let us make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:3-4)  Socialism is a Kingdom without a king, or perhaps we should say a kingdom with the wrong king.   It’s a kingdom of fallen man with darkened hearts and blinded eyes; a failed Utopia that has never once succeeded since Plato wrote about it in 360 BC.

How could Socialism, formulated in the mind of Karl Marx, who boasted “My objective in life is to dethrone God and destroy capitalism” be compatible with the glorious kingdom of the One who came to reveal the true face of the Father?   It’s a substitute, a counterfeit, and we’re in a heap of trouble until the church repents of it’s kingdomless message and begins to re-educate itself in the ways of God.

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder: 1563 AD
An early EU Poster. "Let's build... reach the stars... yes we can."

On a personal note, It’s good to be able to unpack at my Mom’s house in Maryland after twenty-three flights, six schools, and eight weeks of travel.  Highlights of my trip included:

  • Teaching for the first time in the Middle East, (Lebanon), and experiencing the unbelievable warmth and joy of the culture.
  • My first opportunity in Milan, and attending an Alpha Course in an ancient church where Barnabas baptized the first believers.
  • Meeting a young Kuwaiti and hearing his AMAZING testimony of how Jesus met him in the midst of his Muslim background.
  • Celebrating Thanksgiving with my international YWAM friends in Budapest.
  • The honor of joining YWAMers in Denver as they remembered their friends and victims of the shooting that occurred there two years ago.
  • Meeting new students from all over the world and having a small part in their dreams and passion for changing history one person at a time.