Worldview Foundations Part 2: Man and Morality

What's Your Filter

Date: September 21, 2014
Study: What’s Your Filter? Christian Apologetics and Worldview
Teacher: Casey Haase

Study Thesis: A Christian worldview enables us to look at all of live through scriptural lenses, which in turn equips us to defend the faith, evangelize wisely, critique unbiblical thought that pervades our culture, and bring God glory in all of life.

Worldview Definition: A commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.

Six Reasons to Study Worldviews: 1) to develop ours, 2) to defend the faith, 3) to evangelize better, 4) to identify and reject false teaching, 5) to grow in cultural discernment, and 6) to glorify God in all of life.

Five Worldview Foundations: God, Reality, Man, Morality, Knowledge.

Main Idea: Who are we as humans and what are we supposed to do?

Three Views of Humanity  

  1. Christian View
    1. We are created in the image of a personal God (Genesis 1:26-31)
      Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology points out that the image of God in us should not be identified with one specific characteristic, such as our reason, will, or creativity. Rather, being in the image of God simply means we are like God and represent him. Being in the image of God means we are to demonstrate to the world what he is like. There are five implications of this view of mankind:

      1. There is purpose and meaning to human life: to glorify God (Ephesians 2:10)
      2. We can know God
      3. We are distinct among creation (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Psalm 8:3-5)
      4. We are capable of moral goodness and creativity in our labor (Genesis 1:28-29; Ecclesiastes 5:18)
      5. Every human has inherent—and equal—spiritual worth
    2. We are fallen and sinful: the image of God in us is distorted (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:23)
      Because we are sinful, we are not born into communion with a holy God, and cannot earn or divine our way into communion with God. Our intellects, our wills, our conscience—everything about us is fallen. The idea that we are evil and fallen stands in direct contrast to elevating emotion or reason. For many, it is among the most offensive traits of Christianity to our culture.
    3. We can only be renewed in God’s image by God’s grace, through faith in Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18)
      The only way we can be reconciled to God, be renewed in the image of God, and progressively overcome the effects of sin is by God’s grace, through the gospel, by the power of the spirit. This means that we believe all merely human efforts at self-improvement are ultimately futile.
  2. Modern View
    1. Enlightenment
      Enlightenment thinkers held that “man is distinct because he has the capacity for reason”, not because we are made in the image of God. Enlightenment thinkers who continued to believe in God tended to view mankind as in communion with God by virtue of having and using reason.  Enlightenment thinkers agreed with Christians that mankind is distinct and that we can know God. They also held that we are capable of goodness and meaningful labor—but they believed the goodness and meaning flowed from our reason, not from our being in the image of God.
      The implications of the Enlightenment’s view of man are enormous. There are no grounds in the Enlightenment worldview for according children, the mentally ill or handicapped, intellectually challenged, or mentally diseased (ie Alzheimer’s) political rights. This is the origin of modern racism, eugenics, and a host of other social ills.
      It is understandable that the Enlightenment would give birth to such evil, because this worldview ignores the problem of sin. Enlightenment thinkers, in holding that we can know God through our reason, saw no moral or spiritual obstacle to knowing Him—only intellectual obstacles. They came to see mankind as inherently good or at least infinitely perfectible, and thus developed a blind spot for the human capacity for evil. There is in Enlightenment thought a naiveté about human’s capacity for evil that inexorably blossoms into hubris, arrogance, and a will to power.
    2. Romanticism
      Romantics tended to view mankind as distinct in the world by virtue of his inner communion with the divine, by some inner capacity to intuit the order of the universe and find communion with God. But at the same time, they also see him as an integral part of nature. Human nature is part of the whole of Nature; we fit in with some seamless cosmic web of stuff.
      We are accustomed to thinking of emotions as a spiritual phenomenon, something that we should take direction from; something that we should heed and that has authority. We’ve got it exactly backwards. We do have something inside us that we should heed and take direction from; it is the Holy Spirit, not the emotions. The Romantic idea of man conflates the two because the Romantic believes the spirit of man is the Spirit of God. We hear this everytime we hear “just follow your heart,” “what does your heart tell you?” and “don’t deny your heart.”
      Thus the romantic view of man is similar to the enlightenment view in that both reject any radical notion of sin and view man as the solution, not the problem.
  3. Postmodern View
    1. Humanity isn’t distinct
      Postmoderns say that we are distinct because of our ability to create meaning for ourselves. However, many, if not most, humans do not believe they create their own meaning. If fact most of us derive our meaning and purpose from religion or some external source.
    2. Humanity has no special meaning or worth
      The most profound implication of the postmodern view of mankind is that they deny there is purpose or meaning to human life, except what meaning we invent for ourselves, which of course has no authority over our lives. In other words, the bottom line about man is that his life is meaningless. The Bible recognizes that this would actually be true apart from God’s saving grace in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:14-19)
    3. There is no such thing as “self”
      Postmodernists believe there is no fixed truth, only “narratives” of “truths.” In this philosophy, our own identity is just another “narrative.” Therefore, postmoderns argue that human beings make themselves who they are by the languages they construct and the stories they tell about themselves.

Three Views of Morality

  1. Christian View
    1. We are freed from sin, death, and the law (Romans 7:4-6)
    2. We are freed by God’s grace in the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
    3. We are freed to glorify God by keeping his commandments (Psalm 119:31-32)
      The purpose of our freedom is simply to be free in God to enjoy and glorify Him. True freedom comes in glorifying God by keeping his commandments.
      Many modern and postmodern thinkers have a purely negative view of freedom That is, they view humans as possessing freedom if we are free from any external constraints that command or bind us in any way. Christians, however, have a positive view of freedom. We believe that it’s actually freeing to obey God—freed from ourselves to do what we were created to do: worship God.
  2. Modern View
    1. Enlightenment
      Enlightenment thinkers believed we were to be freed from our base passion and, politically, from illegitimate authority; by our reason and our elevated intellect; to advance the progress of the human race. There are some similarities with biblical Christianity here, in that we Christians should agree that we need to be freed from our base passions. We believe our passions are part of our sinful nature, and that we should not be controlled or enslaved by them. We should also agree with Enlightenment thinkers that it is a good thing to seek progress in the world and to alleviate suffering.
    2. Romanticism
      Romanticism takes us further than the Enlightenment towards today’s postmodern mess. Romanticism sought to free us from emotional repression and social convention; by inner sense, intuition, psychotherapy, and communion with nature; to…glorify ourselves and enjoy ourselves forever. The contrast could not be starker: Biblical Christianity wants to free us from our sin nature; romanticism wants to free us for our sin nature.
  3. Postmodern View
    Jean-Francois Lyotard has famously defined postmodernism as “suspicion of metanarratives.” Metanarratives are basically complete, all-embracing stories that interpret all of life and establish a system of right and wrong. We’ll discuss the issue of metanarratives more next week, but the point for us to consider now is that postmodernism wants to free us from metanarratives, from all illusions of social control, from any restraint of any morality. Postmoderns free us by their purely negative tools: deconstructionism and resistance.
    And what do they want to free us for? Whatever we want. The goal of postmodernism is to allow us to wallow in our sin nature uninterrupted, unburdened by any outside authority, be it church, state, or family. Postmodernism erodes the ground on which it stands—and it does it in the name of freedom.
    This is partly why there grew up in certain circles a glorification of resistance. It didn’t matter much what you were resisting—it could be fascism, or democracy, or the church, or the state, or the culture, or Marxism, or Hollywood, or Starbucks. What mattered is that you were resisting. Not resisting meant you were suckered into being part of the system; in fact, it meant that you were immorally participating in and perpetuating that system, and thus helping oppress others. In the upside down world of postmodernism, it is moral to resist and immoral to obey.

Apologetics and Worldview, Lesson 4. Capitol Hill Core Seminars
The Universe Next Door by James W. Sire


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