Worldview – Biblical or Not?

Adam Hamilton posted a couple weeks ago about a “Biblical Worldview.”  He cites Dave Kinnaman’s work in unChristian, which discusses the Barna Group’s research finding whichshowed only 4% of adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making.”

Barna defines a “Biblical Worldview” in this way:

For the purposes of the research, a biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that

  1. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life;
  2. God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today;
  3. salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned;
  4. Satan is real;
  5. a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people;
  6. and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

Hamilton suggests the following additions to Barna’s list:

  1. There is a God who created all things, and in and by and for whom all things exist.
  2. Human beings struggle with sin.
  3. God desires justice, kindness and love.
  4. We are meant to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
  5. Jesus is God’s definitive Word to us – he is the clearest picture of the nature and character of God and of God’s will for our lives.
  6. Jesus, by his death and resurrection, brings salvation to the world.
  7. Human beings are meant to display sacrificial love.
  8. God, by his Holy Spirit, works in our hearts and lives.
  9. Jesus calls us to acknowledge the reign of God and to seek to invite others to acknowledge God’s reign and to live accordingly.
  10. This life is not all there is to our existence, but we have the hope of eternal life.

The thing that troubles me most about Barna’s list is that I get really concerned when middle -aged or older white American males start talking about moral absolutes.  It almost always comes across as “my way or the highway” kind of stuff.

In fact, I’ll go this a step further.  I shudder whenever I hear or read someone claim there is a Biblical Worldview.  It almost always aligns almost exactly with the worldview of the speaker/writer.

What do you think?  Is there a “biblical worldview”?  is it yours?


Jack Nicholson was probably right. Tom Cruise couldn’t handle the truth.

Can you? Can I? Can we?

Claims about truth get thrown around like scud missiles.

Some in the church lament the loss of the day when we believed there was absolute truth (or should I say “Absolute Truth”) and that we (the church) had it.

Some in the church are glad that imperialistic and xenophobic presumption to Truth have gone the way of the slide rule.

But what about truth?

Ryan Kiblinger lent me his copy of the book, Why we’re not emergent: by two guys who should be while we were at Annual Conference last week. I perused it and came across, among other things, their concern that “emergent” Christians deny “propositional truth.”

I don’t make such a denial; I am, however very concerned that most of the people who have argued in favor of “propositional truth” are, in the next breath, trying to tell me that the United States is the New Israel.

It isn’t.

Knowing that my brother Richard, who blogs at Bandits No More, is smart, better read, and much more articulate on such matters than I, I asked for his insight on the “truth” thing.

With his permission (suggesting I head it as “provisional thoughts on Propositional Truth,” I give you what he shared with me:

1. Some propositions are true.

2. “Is true,” is an evaluative phrase used with propositions.

3. There are non-propositional uses of “is true.” There are forms of truth that are not propositional.

4. There are things that are the way they are regardless of our desires or perceptions.

5. While we always experience and interpret what we run into in terms of our previous experience, we always – when we’re sane – are impacted and affected by that which we run into.

6. Some true propositions are important. Some are really unimportant.

7. Some true propositions deal with theology.

8. It is possible for a proposition about God and God-things to be true.

9. Propositions are not “out there” somewhere for us to find.

Propositions are linguistic constructions used as tools to interact with reality, usually with other people in mind.

10. Some true propositions are true timelessly. Some true propositions are only true at certain times.

11. No amount of true propositions will enable us to be sure about everything we could possibly want to be sure about.

Has this cleared up the debate/discussion on truth?

Good, I thought so.

Fish on Liberalism

Stanley Fish does it again.  Challenging the presumptiveness of liberalism is nothing new for Fish.  He has been doing so well, and with the same basic argument, at least since There’s No Such Thing As Free Speech (and It’s a Good Thing, Too), published in 1994.

Please note: I am not here decrying liberalism as versus conservatism, in the pop-political sense of the word.  Liberalism here means the philosophical basis of the modern west.  Yeah, it’s that big.  Let me follow Fish, then, and point out that

In saying this, I am not criticizing liberalism, just explaining what it is. It is a form of political organization that is militantly secular and incapable, by definition, of seeing the strong claim of religion….

The modern, liberal notion of religion is something that is relegated to the internal, the personal, the private.  That’s not the kind of religion Jesus calls us to.

Thank you, Stanley Fish.

Thank you, Richard, for pointing out this piece to me.

Label Me

Do you collect labels? Some companies offer some sort of refund or reward policy for returning their labels. I suppose it is a way for them to track sales and usage.

I collect labels, but I don’t collect them for any particular corporate demographic or marketing research. I collect labels because there are so many of them flying around out there.

Some of the labels I have collected over the years are: liberal, conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical, loser, Christian, nobody, freak, aloof, insensitive, punk; I could go on, but you probably get the idea.

Some of these labels I accepted, some I rebelled against. Some felt like they drew blood when I heard them. I suppose every one of them fit in one way or another.

Like all the various labels we put on one another, some of my labels say more about the person giving me the label than they do about me. Some of them mostly remind us what a disjointed society we live in, and how sad it is that even as adults we too easily resort to name-calling and label-hurling.

Here’s a different take on labeling for you. Back when God first called Abram (who was later renamed Abraham), God labeled ever person on earth. There were two kinds of people, God told Abe. God was calling Abram to be and to begin the family of God’s own people – special people identified by God for a very special purpose. So there were to be God’s people, and everyone else. Pretty simple labeling, huh?

Here’s the side we don’t often hear, though: The way God labeled all of us wasn’t “My People” and “everyone else.” God’s desire was that everyone become one of the people of God. The whole reason God declared Abram and his descendants to be God’s people was so that through them we ALL might become God’s people.

Try that label on everyone you meet this week!

With all due respect…

Who am I to disagree with Billy Graham?  And yet I must.

In an interview with Jon Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek, well revered Evangelist Billy Graham admitted candidly that he has softened his views on some things.  The one with which I must take issue is his view of scripture.

Then again, as I re-read the article I can’t help but think that perhaps I am hearing a modern man through postmodern ears.  He was right all along.  Or was he?

He said, regarding how he has come to understand scripture, that “I’m not a literalist in the sense that every single jot and tittle is from the Lord.” 

Yet the way Graham explains it makes me think he is not being careful with his words.  Meacham explains that Graham has moderated in that he understands that the meaning of the Bible is “open to interpretation.”

We, excuse me, but, DUH!  Tell me what words do not have to be interpreted?  The function of words and of language is to convey a message, the receipt of which requires interpretation.

My real concern is that Graham gives up too much when he says that not every jot and tittle is from the Lord.  I’m afraid talking like that will leave the supposed high ground of claims of biblical authority to the Falwells, Hagees, and Robertsons of the world.  I, for one, and not ready to do that.  Nor will I ever be.

To say that “one may not have to understand the Bible exactly the way I do to be faithful to the text and to God” is not the same as to say that not all of it is “from the Lord.”

If it isn’t all from the Lord, which part is?  Which isn’t?  Call me simple minded, or say I am nit-picking at words, but if we get to decide which words of the scriptures are from God and which are not, we are left in the St. Thomas Predicament.

You know who I mean.  St. Thomas Jefferson, the patron saint of American Constitutional Democracy. St. Thomas; the one who literally cut out the part of the Bible he couldn’t buy.  That means all the supernatural, all references to Jesus being divine, all miracles.  He took a knife and excised those parts.

I do not understand how we do any differently when we decide some of it is and some of it isn’t from God.  It is all or nothing. The Bible is all from God, or none of it.  If one chooses anywhere in between, then one is actually identifying whatever is in one’s one heart and mind as “from the Lord.”  So, worst case scenario, What Hilter “feels” is from the Lord” has as much validity as what Mother Teresa staked her life on.

The place this leaves us is that the half-baked or over-baked theologies of the Falwells, Robertsons, and Hagees of the world are the only ones left claiming the whole Bible.

I don’t think the Bible is happy with that.

If we have trouble with the way a yahoo like Robertson interprets the scriptures, the answer is NOT to say, “Oh, well, that scripture just isn’t from the Lord.”  The answer, my friend, is to challenge Robertson, not the Lord!

If there are scriptures that seem very difficult to read and understand in light of everything else we read in scripture and have come to believe about God, and there are, for ALL of us, then we have to do the hard work of figuring out how to read it all to make sense coherently.

With all due respect, Rev. Graham, I think that’s really what you meant.