Third in a series of five.
I want to know the content of my worldview. I want to know how I discern Reality. I want to know the philosophies, teachings, doctrines and propaganda in competition. I’m inviting you again to listen in to what I am discovering and what needs to be reassessed.
A reminder. Worldview…
“In Western nations—From earliest childhood, Western people are trained in deductive reasoning; we draw conclusions based on rules of logic to guide our lives. The presuppositions of our society encourage us to think this way. The assumptions of most Eastern, African and South American societies do not.” (Wimber)
Word and phrases like assumptions, presumptions and the following draw pictures of how we interpret the basic fiber and laws of the world.
“Our worldview is like a lens; it colors, clarifies, classifies, warps or partially excludes the world. It is, in Charles Kraft’s words, our ‘control box of reality.’” (Wimber page 125)
We acquire paradigms—thinking patterns—through which we interpret experiences (or data) from our parents, the media, art, education. Some are conscious and other unconscious. Most paradigms are like the huge catfish lying on the bottom of the Mississippi too big for a man to lift. When the new bridge was built across the river in our town, it was said that workers found catfish big enough to swallow a person. They are quiet unless threatened like worldview elements which will protect themselves. Our worldviews are our way of understanding reality.
When I wrote my Stress Management seminar and book, You Can Control It, I talked about worldview without knowing or naming it. I talked about phrases that we heard that stuck in our brains and in some measure motivated behavior. Think about, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. How about, We don’t discuss family business outside the family.”
I’m looking and listening to the words I heard when young that became a filter to relationships and evaluation of people and events. Like those catfish, worldview components just lie there a lifetime unless an upheaval hits us like an emotional hurricane. Given that, let’s look at how the average Western Civilization civilian views the world in this time frame—in this season that seeks to dismantle us.
With the Enlightenment era came three main ideas: Reason, Scientific Method and Progress. Those thinkers believed with these three dominant, guiding ideas, they could build better humans and societies. Other thinkers did not always agree, nor did the Common People fall into line. That kept the guillotine busy and the prisons full. But that elitism and mindset remains.
In recent decades no one has escaped the impact of Rationalism, Individualism, Materialism and Relativism. Together they birth Secularism which as a package is taught in all school levels as the mutually exclusive source of Reality. The package of four have captured the modern Western Civilization mind. While personal worldviews are caught rather than taught, students and consumers of news and entertainment are taught these:
Rationalism, or a belief that we come to knowledge through the use of logic, and thus independently of sensory experience, was critical to the debates of the Enlightenment period, when most philosophers lauded the power of reason but insisted that knowledge comes from experience. (Google)
One of my images of God is Him standing in front of large marking board—black or white—and beginning His presentation of Reality with…
“Come, let us reason together…” (Isaiah 1:18a).
There are at least three kinds of knowledge. The kind we gain 1) intellectually, 2) observationally and 3) experientially. Intellectual knowledge alone seldom changes minds or changes lives, only when observational and experiential knowledge is added do people begin to consider accepting new information as potentially a life-changer.
I was pastoring while going to the university. The church or the parsonage had a water issue. The property people came by one evening to track water lines. One of the men “witched for water.” He used a certain piece of wood looking like a large Y. He held the wood in front of him and scanned the ground. When the witching tool crossed a water source, the tool bobbed up and down. I recall it was accurate. Ironically, the next day in French Class, someone talked about witching for water. It was surprising, given my experience the evening before. I had never seen water witched and had to tell the French class. It is totally unreasonable and clearly not scientific that a piece of wood could nod where water could be found, so my classmates moaned and hooted at my non-scholastic views and opinion. I still agree with them, but I saw what I saw—stone sober.
Rationalism is the model of churches of the last century. Even evangelism was and generally still is, based on an intellectual approach. Worship services were designed to lead up to the main event. The sermon. When Pentecostal churches and then Charismatic gatherings saw emotion-involved worship as a better way to do church, the more intellectually-driven churches and pastors got really nervous. Those of us who used Campus Crusade’s Four Spiritual Laws format or booklet warned us that reality was about facts to which faith would respond. Feelings were a mere caboose on that train. In recent years facts have not lost importance, but emotional involvement has found a rightful place in healthy settings. (There is still craziness around!)
The scientific method gets a lot of air-time these days. In Western Culture, knowledge and solutions are provided only by science. Politicians of a certain brand tend to name science as the only source of truth. Perhaps you’ve noticed that only one acceptable “science” is considered legitimate in this season.
Reflecting on studies comparing “Self-reliance” during the Great Depression and how students experienced the COVID Pandemic, the generations practice of self-reliance empowered our parents, while the inability or unwillingness to develop self-reliance hobbled our children and grandchildren in 2020/2021.) Dr. Tim Elmore in his book, The Pandemic Population (2020) says,
“(During the Depression) Adults trained kids to be self-sufficient yet interdependent, frugal yet charitable—an interesting mix that seems to be missing today. (P.19)
Individualism is good or bad depending upon the politics and worldview of the person describing it.
“Individualism places an emphasis on independence and self-reliance, and with it the desire to control everything—people, things, events and even future events. Thus, the individual, not the group (family, clan, community) reigns supreme.” (Wimber)
Socialism and Marxism find self-reliance and individuality undesirable. Those governments build on communes and dependence on a centralized government. I think that this is the basis of Mr. Obama telling business-owners that they did not build their business on their own.
The True North movement and Small Group movements over the past four or five decades have been about building community in response to isolation. A man presented me his current dream and projected plans. I asked the man about his competition and where was he looking for heads-up warnings and positive ideas. He hadn’t and he wasn’t going to. His “individuality” was built on pride and fear of not being adequate. Self-reliance is the ability to take what you have and survive until you thrive.
There is a homestead movement in Western nations—moving to the mountains or plains to literally build their own home and farm or ranch. My wife takes notes on homestead ways on cooking, raising sheep and how to hang drywall. I don’t get why she refuses to strap on a nail apron when I tell her that the garage needs to be roofed. Self-reliance is a good thing and part of free-markets, capitalism, self-satisfaction. Genuine self-reliance is not about attempting to control everything and everyone. It is not refusing instruction, advice or assistance. It is the opposite of depending upon the government.
“…nothing exists except matter and its movement and modifications; only what can be seen, tested proved to be real.”
From materialism comes the pleading to depend upon science and trust only that which survives the laboratory tests.
“Relativism denies that there are absolute truths, making all “truth” dependent upon personal experience.”
You hear the expression of relativism when people say, “That may be your truth….”
The list and quotes come from John Wimber’s study. He says…
“Secularism is a lethal combination of the above; the idea that we live in a material universe that is closed off from divine intervention.”
“We live in a pluralistic society that is skeptical of any objective truth—whether scientific, religious or philosophical—as a way of understanding reality. Thus, post-moderns believe there is no ‘true truth’…” (Power Evangelism, John Wimber & Kevin Springer, Regal Books ©2009).
Those are the teachings of recent decades. Those ideas have brought us to where we are in Western Civilization. With the influence institutions denuding itself of tradition and nation-building values and virtues, I’m wondering about John Adams’ statement:
“Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Where will Secularism take us? Restrictive Totalitarianism.
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This article comes from the studies and writing of John Wimber, Tim Elmore, Charles H. Kraft. On his podcast, Dr. Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education, reads from an article by Andrew Sullivan which I found illuminating.
Two more Benton Blogs follow:
- What is a Christian worldview?
- What is a Kingdom of Christ worldview?
D. Dean Benton