Category Archives: Worldview & Truth

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.
  • Why I am a Christian

    Eight years ago I wrote a piece entitled “Why I Am A Christian” that generated a lot of response at the time. Now eight years further along the journey, I’ve revised it for those who may have missed it the first time.

    I am a Christian because the Biblical story offers the most complete and workable answers to life’s most enduring questions: “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” “What’s wrong with the world, and how can it be fixed?” “Why do I love beauty?” “Why do I have a passion for justice?”  While the Darwinists, the Marxists, and the Postmodern intellectuals wrestle to make sense of the world, the Biblical record quietly assembles the pieces into a storyline that offers a full accounting of life and existence. No other worldview even comes close.

    I’m a believer because Biblical Christianity produces beautiful and enduring fruit. I’m not talking so much about religion, or the institutionalized church, but Kingdom Christianity as practiced by the early church, and small groups of faithful believers over the centuries. No other worldview has built so many hospitals, fed so many poor, emancipated as many slaves, or established so many organizations to serve, educate, heal, and bless the human race as the true followers of Christ, who recognize that “inasmuch as you did it to the least of these, my brothers, you did it unto me.”

    I am a Christian because creation itself demonstrates a wondrous order that points to a loving Creator. Not only is the hand of God evident in the miraculous intricacies of animal instincts, hearing and sight, reproduction, the seasons, the water cycle, and the natural laws of nature, but man and animal alike exhibit a capacity for love and relationship that could never have arisen out of an impersonal time-chance worldview.  It’s just impossible for me to believe that dead matter could somehow spring into life, organize itself into DNA and living systems, become self-conscious, and write a symphonic masterpiece, apart from the work of a personal God.

    I am a follower of Jesus because the Biblical worldview offers the best and most enduring foundation for a civilized society.  It’s no accident that without exception the most stable, democratic, prosperous, and technologically advanced nations of the world have all find their historic roots springing from the soil of Biblical Christianity.

    And finally I am a follower of Christ because of the deeply personal way God meets me in everyday life; because of the way he steps into my darkness,  despair and separation with a redemptive love and quiet assurance  that I am not alone.

    As the years of my life pile up, the certainty of my soul deepens into the experience of C.S. Lewis, who so aptly expressed, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; Not only because I see it, but because by it I see all things.

    Different crowd, different worldview, different results

    Normally I would hesitate to point this out as a matter of manners, but I can’t resist this stunning example of how worldview makes a difference.  The first photo is a shot of the Capital Mall after the January 20th inauguration.  The Second is a photo following the Tea Party on September 12th.  You can draw your own conclusions.  (Thanks to for the photos)

    Inauguration A Nation GathersTea Party2

    Standing in the midst of insanity

    Because I passionately believe in the Kingdom of God I am not an alarmist.  I find great encouragement in the fact that King of the Kingdom is not panicked by world affairs.   American politics will not thwart the Prince of Peace who has already made provision for the restoration of the entire cosmos.

    But neither do I believe we can sit back and just “trust” everything will be sorted out in the end.  (Or even worse… naively “hold on” until Jesus rescues us out of the mess!)  If God’s people abandon wisdom, reason, and prayer, humanity will reap the consequences of added generations of brokenness and injustice.  So I humbly submit a few guidelines that have helped me maintain a hopeful and responsible equilibrium in an maddening world:

    • Daily press into the prayer we’ve been taught:  “May thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”
    • Continually ask God for wisdom and insight to see things as they are, and not as they appear to be.
    • Educate yourself about the world and the way it operates.  Believers are called to understand the times, and it is impossible to do so without a basic understanding of economics, government, the causes of poverty, Marxism, Islam, Postmodernism, art, culture, and certainly a Biblical understanding of each of these concepts. “My people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge.” – Hosea 4:6
    • Maintain objectivity:  Truth has nothing to fear, and it is on the safest of grounds that we are commanded to “Test all things; Hold onto what is good.” – (1 Thes. 5:21)   We must engage on the level of facts, and not just opinions.   Very few people and ideas are one hundred percent good or evil, so with the greatest of reverence we ought to sift through every idea for the bare facts.
    • Don’t be bullied by political correctness:  Once the facts emerge we must present reality as it is, whether socialism, racism, greed, economic irresponsibility, or old-fashioned foolishness, it has a name.  (I, for one, am quite tired of people acting as if the word “Socialism” is a slanderous invective coined by “right-wing nut-cases.” It is what it is – an objective, definable worldview – and we’ll never move on as long as it’s bad manners to call it by its name).   When the whole aim of political correctness is to wrap the truth in harmless euphemisms it’s good to remember that God pronounces “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.” (Is. 5:20)
    • Stand in love.  We must never forget that those with whom we disagree are passionately loved by the Father of Jesus.  All of our truth-telling, regardless of its accuracy, will be reduced to malignant judgment if it is not framed in the love of Christ.

    The seeds of Auschwitz…

    Almost two weeks down the road I’m still thinking about Auschwitz and what led up to the gas chambers of Birkenau.  Ideas have consequences.  They are the cultural seeds that grow into movements which either build or destroy the civilizations of the world.  The seed-ideas of Democracy, the Reformation and the Enlightenment quite naturally gave us the Modern world just as surely as the seeds of Darwin led to the Holocaust.

    The evolutionists have been teaching us for 150 years that human beings have no special value.  Evolved from nothingness into a quivering mass of organs and blood, we’re merely animals of the highest order.  And among the children of primates are some, (in the case of Nazi Germany it was the Aryans), who are more highly evolved that others.  Nazism at its root was a demonic device to speed evolution along by exterminating the inferior races.  What could be more logical or more inevitable?   Hitler was a great fan of Darwin.

    The horrifying thing, of course, is that those same ideas are fueling another holocaust of terrifying proportions: to date, over fifty million unborn children, (one third of an entire generation), have been aborted in America alone.

    Genesis confers mankind with honor, dignity and purpose while evolution strips away human value until we’re left on equal footing with the animals.  Auschwitz was a wake up call for me: It’s time we in the church learn better to counter the ideologies of death with the simple, articulate Truth that leads to life.

    Beauty … and terror

    Yesterday we took a brief excursion to the Terror Museum, a building in downtown Budapest that formerly housed the Secret Police during the occupying Nazis and the Communist years of Hungary’s history.  Story after story of betrayal, persecution, forced labor, deportation and execution led us through the gloomy halls of the edifice.  It is a truly shocking reminder of man’s capacity for cruelty and rebellion towards God.

    Exiting the building into the tree-lined avenues of the city felt like a drowning man sucking in air.   Budapest is a city that could have been built around the theme of beauty:  Statues are strewn through parks and facades, trees and flowers are carefully set among the grand architecture of the Austrian-Hungarian empire while the beautiful Danube glides peacefully through the center.   It’s a dream-city of wonder and charm and contradiction.

    How the same human race who created such a magical city can turn around and send its neighbors to death camps and torture chambers is a question that only the Biblical account of man can answer: Fashioned in majesty to reflect the glory of His Creator-King, mankind has fallen under a spell of darkness that perverts and corrupts everything he sees.  Man writes symphonies and sonnets.  And he gasses his neighbors in death camps.

    The good news for Budapest is that her exiled King has returned.  Having entered our human darkness, He fought his way through the lies and deception and broke the evil spell of sin.   The kingdom He holds before us now would make the Austrian-Hungarian Empire look like a poor starving village.   Pray that the word will spread to the streets.

    To love the Truth

    I don’t know which gripped my heart first: a love for the Kingdom, or a love for Truth. There’s no difference, really, because the Kingdom is the totality of Truth, and Truth is the Kingdom. In fact, the King himself declared “I am the… Truth.”

    One of the greatest grievances I carry in my soul is the abandonment of truth I see in today’s culture, (both Bosnian and American, I’m sad to say). Living here in Sarajevo has worked in me an utter detestation of lies: They kill. They destroy. They create wars, poverty, bondage, prejudice, broken relationships and emotional illness. I suppose its simpler to recognize it here because it’s always easier to see someone else’s lies than your own.

    Several years back my friend Bill Burtness gave me a little formula for knowing truth:

    • We’ve gotta be honest. A dishonest person can never grasp truth because his very being rejects it.
    • We must know why we believe what we believe.
    • We must know why we don’t believe what we don’t believe.
    • We must be willing to change.

    It’s all such hard work, really: thinking and honesty, and being willing to change. I have to say it’s a daily challenge for me to to sift through information and news and even the perceptions of my heart. But for all the annoyance, it’s worth it to occasionally find a little nugget of the Kingdom hidden under the rocks of illusion. It’s like discovering treasure in a field.

    “The pursuit of truth shall set you free – even if you never catch up with it.”
    – Clarence Darrow

    Jumping up and down on our brains

    I’ve had some encouraging conversations the past few days. I needed them, as I’ve been distressed by what feels like a hard place in the minds of so many friends. What’s the deal with us humans that we can want change so badly, and yet dig our feet in at the smallest suggestion that maybe our ideas need to be changed? Stanley Jones says we should take our brains out every so often and jump up and down on them just to keep them from calcifying.

    Ideas are like seeds: they always produce predictable results. If you want tomatoes instead of beans, then you simply exchange the bean seeds you’ve been planting for the past generation and plant tomato seeds instead. Presto! Good and true ideas ALWAYS produce good results. And ideas that have no basis in truth ALWAYS produce death, poverty, joblessness, and despair. Whoever we are, whether American, European, or Bosnian, it’s a good exercise to investigate our ideas to see if they’re producing the results we’re wanting. And if they’re not, it’s time to consider a change. I’ve encouraged today because I see a few friends asking the right questions about their ideas.

    The Truth in Sandals

    Earlier this week I had an opportunity to teach a conversational English class in another Bosnian city. It happened to be all girls, which was refreshing in itself. But it was also exciting because these young ladies were real thinkers, mostly university students with active minds. And we were talking about the worldview concept that “ideas produce consequences.”

    Year ago, I learned that it never actually works to tell a person, or even to suggest to a person what he/she ought to believe. Even the Father of Jesus didn’t demand unreasoning belief. But rather he placed the evidence before us and challenged honest seekers to “Come… let us reason together,” (Isaiah 1:18) and to “test all things, and hold onto what is good.” (1 Thes. 5:21)

    In a world where all truth is God’s truth I’ve seen that when people are challenged to honestly seek the Truth, they will inevitably be led towards the God of all Truth. Even though most of these girls fit squarely into a secular worldview, (products of an educational system that avoids even the mention of God), by the end of our class the conversation had gravitated quite naturally and squarely towards Him.

    I love the way Jesus doesn’t make demands. He simply entered our world and walked among us as the Truth in sandals. And yet it feels like I’ve only begun to understand what that means.

    I’ll have another opportunity to speak with some of these girls next week. Please pray for all of us here in Sarajevo.