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I would like to structure this essay loosely around a few of the “Questions to Ponder.” I am not sure if that will cover the whole of my worldview (or outset on life) but I think it will cover a decent portion of it.
What is the nature of a human being?
When asked this question three or four years ago, I would have answered spiritual, easily beating out biological or other options. My answer now is still that of spiritual, but with a pause for clarification or clause. I believe we all have souls, that there is a world outside of our physical existence to which we are held responsible for and which play a part in our “post-death” life but I also think that the physical realm plays a large part in the physical realm. For instance, when a person meets a physical need (such as feeding a homeless person lunch), there is a strong spiritual occurrence happening concurrently. I am also persuaded that much of what Jesus speaks of is bringing heaven to earth. In my church going experience, a lot of attention has been placed on an “eternal” view of Christianity; that the “winning” of a person’s eternal soul was the ultimate goal of the church and that disregarding the physical need was, although not directly expressed in church, of lesser importance. However, while reading other authors or the Bible itself, I have come to realize that the Bible directs that it is our job to build a life here where it is “on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10).
Can we really know anything? How?
I am going to steal the adage that “all truth is God’s truth.” I believe there is an absolute truth out there. I believe God’s word (written or otherwise) is absolute truth. I believe that much of man’s creations, words, thoughts, etc have elements of truth and it is our job as Christians to find truth and claim it as the Lord’s. Throughout the history of Christianity, we have constantly been rediscovering what God’s truth means for the current generation. I once read the (perhaps cheesy) analogy that Christianity is like railroad tracks, viewed from ground level or from above or from the side present totally different ideas of what railroad tracks look like but the tracks themselves remain the same. I think it is important for us as Christians to keep this idea of constant interpretation of the Bible in the back of our mind as we live by its precepts.
To do some more stealing, I will use an analogy Rob Bell uses in his book Velvet Elvis: we need to view our faith as springs on a trampoline. If one of our beliefs is taken away, the trampoline still works. Opposite of that, if we view our faith as a brick wall and we take a brick away, our “wall of faith” is in danger of collapsing. With that said, I think it is easy for us, as Christians, to claim a stranglehold on truth based on our understanding of the Bible or life in general and become rather indignant of outside commentary. Reinforcing the last point made, we need to be humble in our claims of knowing absolute truth.
Is there a God? If there is a God, is God active today? How?
As far as “defending the faith” goes, there are much smarter people who can do that and prove that the Bible is 100% historically true and thus, Christianity’s claims are 100% true but then again, there are a number of atheistic intellects who can “100% defend” their worldview. But I have found that it has less to do with intellectually finding what religion or worldview is right and more about finding out who God is and realizing that He makes sense (Donald Miller makes a similar point at the beginning of the chapter titled Belief in his book Blue Like Jazz). The Bible’s words make sense but more than that, the Bible presents a God that earnestly loves His people and longs for a restored relationship. When Christians grab onto that and practically live it out, it is beautiful and I have a hard time refuting that.
The question of God’s activity today has been a recent rumination of mine. I recently read Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great. In essence, it is a bash on any and all types of religion and it defends an atheist’s point of view. I disagreed with a lot (well, most) but it furthered my thought process of wondering how much of what we credit to God is actually His doing. When Joe Christian prays for the healing of a friend and the friend is healed, is that God? When Joe Christian prays for a new car and he wins one on The Price is Right, is that God? When Joe Christian asks God to send a wake up call to the
What does it mean to be a good person? Are humans essentially good?
To answer the second question, no. I believe we are born with a sin nature and calling on Jesus’ name and living the life He has called us to is the only way of salvation (salvation for this life, and after death). Humanity has done some pretty awful things throughout history but they have also done some good things as well – both inside and outside of Christianity. Regardless, each human has a tendency towards sin, towards doing the wrong thing; it is our natural inclination. We need a savior.
I sometimes wonder if we as Christians do not put enough emphasis on works though. I am not suggesting that we bring back a religious spirit of requiring certain actions but rather, we should emphasize that a life transformed by Christ is something that should be displayed in our actions. The parable of the sons in Matthew 21:28 asks the question “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” of two sons: one who verbally agreed to what his father asked but does nothing and another who verbally denies his father but actually helps him. I wonder if the church today places too much importance on grace and not enough on living out a life of true sanctification (i.e. becoming more like Christ on a daily basis).
That is all the questions that I am going to answer. I feel as though I covered quite a few bases concerning my worldview. I can honestly say that my experiences over the last three years has aided me in thinking through what it is that I believe.