Saturday, December 26, 2009

Clashing Worldviews

A good friend of mine posed a couple of questions that I think are worthy of careful consideration for anyone who recognizes what seems to be our descent into a post-Christian culture and society. I offer the questions and my attempt at answering them below. These are things that may become more important than any of us care to believe in the not-too-distant future ...

If your worldview does not have a self-protection mechanism, and other worldviews have belief systems and/or views of superiority and conquest, your worldview will eventually be overtaken by the other. Do you agree with that statement?

I guess it depends what you mean by a "self-protection mechanism." I think correspondence to reality (the definition of Truth) is on the side of the Christian worldview. For that reason, the Truth is a defense mechanism that supports the Christian worldview intellectually. When the Truth is on your side it has a way of eventually vanquishing all challenges. Our victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War is evidence of that. Communism is a hollow system based on an improper anthropology. Its philosophical understanding of human nature is just wrong -- and the system collapsed under the weight of this central lie.

But if you mean a pragmatic, physical mechanism, Christianity also has a "Just War Doctrine," that includes:
Just cause
Comparative justice
Legitimate authority
Right intention
Probability of success
Last resort
Proportionality
It was first defined by Augustine and has been refined since but I would consider that a means of self-protection. It is an ethically sound doctrine that, one cannot help notice, is violated almost completely by the unethical, indefensible actions of the Islamic terrorists who are the latest threat to peaceful coexistence. We just need to have some leaders with actual Christian convictions to understand it and carry it out. Lately, I'm not optimistic on either of those counts.

Does that statement apply to Christianity and Islam? Does that statement apply to Western Culture and Islam?

Yes to both. The difference (as you seem to infer by asking this as two different questions) is that Western Culture used to be almost indistinguishable from Christianity. Not so anymore. This is not to say that America is or was a God-ordained nation meant to carry out His will on Earth. But the foundations of America were based in a solid Christian ethic even if it was (and still is) sometimes corrupted by the human beings who implement it.

Christianity does provide a means of defense and the power (intellectually and physically) to turn back Islamic aggression. But Western Culture -- infected with postmodern human autonomy, consumerism and relativism -- is showing signs that it does not, in my humble opinion, have the conviction to do so. Instead of critiquing that culture from a Biblical point of view, we seem more likely to continue to accomodate the culture into the church. We are already seeing the effects of that wrong-headed practice.

If we don't change that I think we are looking at the further decline of America as an honorable and trustworthy representative of the Christian worldview. All you have to do is look across the Atlantic to see where an abandonment of Christianity in culture will eventually lead. Unfortunately, absent some serious changes, we seem to be headed in the same direction.

This trend is discouraging but not hopeless. What it should do, however, is force serious believers to fortify their intellectual positions in defense of the Christian worldview. Not only so, but force them (us) to consider that those convictions may lead beyond preaching to the choir in our Sunday School classrooms. The ramifications of our convictions may be leading us toward peaceful defiance of the expectations of a god-denying society. It is a sad state of affairs, but I believe that projects like The Manhattan Declaration are just the beginning of a call to see who really holds the convictions I'm talking about here.

More on The Manhattan Declaration to come, but the link on the left side of this page will take you to see for yourself what it is all about.

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