You are a committed Christian. You’re not just nominal. And you aren’t simply emotive or thoughtless. You know you are supposed to love the Lord with all your mind. The Bible applies to all of life. You want to take every thought captive to Christ. You have a Christian worldview.
And for that reason, you may be blind.
This is not because the Christian world view is false (thought the visual metaphor may need some balancing). It is because you are taking shortcuts and are too confident in what you know to think that you need to check yourself.
Just because the Christian world view is essential to fully understanding the truth doesn’t mean you need nothing else to learn the truth. You are called to take God’s word and apply it to all of life. But you are perfectly capable of taking God’s word and applying it to your imagination—or to some fictional constructs that you have been taught and have never investigated for yourself.
Think of the culture war and American politics. There are people who need your vote in order to gain their place in the political structure of the United States of America. They know you are a Christian. They know they need the support (at least on Election Day) of people who possess a Christian World and Life View. Do you really think that, even if they plan to go in an entirely different direction, they don’t have ways of appealing to you to deceive and manipulate you to get your endorsement? If you wave the Bible, you are inviting people to use your values to lead you in a direction that might end up being the exact opposite of where they claim they are going.
It is simply not enough to know the truth about God, Jesus, and his ethical directions. You have to know something about your world, your time in history, and the people around you.
Is Islam the biggest threat to Christianity? Knowing that Islam is a false religion and that Christianity is true does not mean you have enough information to decide that question. If Islam is an independent international power, it may be such a threat. If, in fact, Islamic power is dependent on the cooperation and sponsorship of Western governments, then you might need to adjust your estimate and give first place to modern secular totalitarianism.
Should American Christians support Israel (or to what extent and in what way)? Should they support the Federal Government’s containment policy against China? Should Christians regard Putin as a thug and demand more civil liberties for Russians, or perhaps regard him as a thug and figure he shouldn’t worry about “Western” secular civil liberties? Unless they have done due diligence on the history, Christians have no right to hold an opinion on such topics. Knowledge of the importance of the Trinity to the question of the one and the many or the importance of private property to a social order won’t be enough to tell you anything.
Another complication is that Christians may not correctly understand the Christian world view, and they might actually profit from correction on those points from a non-Christian, despite the non-Christian’s central error. It is quite easy to prevent a Christian from receiving such correction by pointing to the unbeliever’s destructive beliefs and practices. I think virtually every Christian critique of Ayn Rand I have seen on the web could easily be used in this way.
One might recommend that Christians simply confess their ignorance and stay out of matters they know nothing about. But that is impossible for Americans today. Everyone—everyone—is recruiting Christians to a foreign policy or domestic cause on the basis of the alleged demands of the Christian worldview. If man-made global warming is real, then Christians must participate and support whatever scheme might fix it on the basis of “stewardship.” But the Bible doesn’t tell you whether it is real or not. If the agricultural developments of the twentieth century were the natural and spontaneous progress of scientific development providing cheaper food on the free market, that will demand one stance from Christians. If those developments were a patent monopoly used by US cold war policy to destroy indigenous agriculture and make other nations dependent on petroleum fertilizers and other purchases from a cartel, that will demand a different stance. Again, the Bible doesn’t tell you any of it.
And many don’t want to face up to how complex our situation really is. They want to add the Bible to a few unquestionable facts. You learn what those facts are, typically, when you hear your favorite Bible teacher or worldview think tank leader refer to anyone who questions or denies them as an “idiot.”
Calling people idiots and denying that they should ever be heard or considered has a far greater role in the “Christian world and life view” as it is actually practiced by Christians than anyone wants to admit.
I realize no one can know everything. But if you’re going to express an opinion on what God thinks about something, you’re going to have to study not only God’s Word but also that “something.” As much as Americans need to read more of the Bible, they also need to read more history and international politics. There’s no way to do otherwise and still claim to have a Christian view of the world as it actually is.
John Calvin famously compared the Bible to the lenses of eyeglasses. That is the point. You are supposed to look through them at the world. Too many Christians stare at the lenses or use them to stare at pictures a few influential Christians have painted for them.
(Cross-posted at Christendom Underground)