Points to Ponder/One Window to the World is Seldom Opened
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
As the issues of the day come at us via CNN, the newspapers, National Public Radio, various Christian stations, and other media, I am finding that many Christians use these sources to formulate their opinions and perspectives. These media are good to keep up with, however they come with biases (both the left and right lean in their preferred direction), even among the so-called Christian commentators.
Those who claim to believe in Christ and in the Bible as God’s inspired Word often have only a vague idea of what scripture may say on the issues. Test yourself: how many hours do you spend reading and listening to news programs on a given day, compared to the minutes you spend in the Bible? (I’m still trying to get people to open their Bibles in church).
The issues of life are serious. The best knowledge and the most articulate and well-researched arguments on all sides of every issue come from imperfect, fallible persons. Should we not measure these things according to the more consistent standard of scripture? Yet so many “believers” know very little about what they believe or why.
Barna Research Group has discovered that few people who define themselves as “born-again Christians” have a biblical worldview. Pollster George Barna says, “Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life. We are often more concerned with survival amidst chaos than with experiencing truth and significance.” (Source: Churchcoalition.com)
Everyone has a worldview but very few, even among the devoutly religious, have honed and defined their view of the world from a biblical perspective. Take for instance, the rebuttals I have received on gambling. Only vague generalizations were used to counter my scripture-based arguments in recent columns.
On the abortion issue, I have found the same thing. At my ordination exam I cited scriptural principles for why abortion is wrong. The examiner asked me, “Suppose someone gave you a biblical argument for abortion?” I said that I would love to hear it, because I have never heard a “pro-choice” argument from a biblical perspective.
I learn from my critics. They compel me to revisit my own perspective, to pour through scripture, and to prayerfully ask God to affirm or correct my conviction on a matter. It would be good for the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) to dig out the Bible and present a scriptural argument. If it is morally OK to kill babies before they are born, there should be something within those 66 books of Scripture to back it up. It is the same with the slots issue, euthanasia, or other moral or ethical dilemmas. Within the church we can find professing Christians on both sides of these issues; however, it is rare that a thorough scriptural study is done to put grounding under those stands.
Barna defines a biblical worldview as:
* Believing that absolute moral truths exist;
* That such truth is defined by the Bible;
* And a firm belief that
1. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life;
2. God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules today;
3. Salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned;
4. Satan is real;
5. A Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with others; and
6. The Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.
Barna’s research found that those who have a biblical worldview are less likely to accept cohabitation, to endorse drunkenness, to condone homosexual lifestyle, to accept profanity, and to describe adultery as morally acceptable. They tend to avoid viewing pornography, are less likely to buy lottery tickets or bet, and tend to remain faithful to their spouses. (See www.barna.org for complete results)
These persons are NOT perfect; however, it proves that those who seriously study the Bible as the inspired Word of God are generally influenced by it. (II Timothy 2:15, 3:15-17) As you fill yourself with God’s word, you will be convicted and convinced by a deepened perspective (read I Corinthians 2:9-16); a perspective which many others will not understand.
It is a problem in today’s church when we have unhindered access to various translations and formats of study Bibles and yet so few are using them. One day God may allow this freedom to be taken away because we abuse it by not using it.
Many sincere, decent people deal with the issues from a pragmatic, “realistic” perspective. What will balance the budget? What compromises are necessary, to meet our objectives? Folks who claim no allegiance or love for God are expected to think this way. But, those who call the Bible the Word of God, are supposed to look higher than that.
To compromise the principles for which we stand in order to obtain a short term goal is like tearing the bricks out of a building’s foundation in order to add an additional floor. The building will do well for awhile, but it will all come crashing down because the unseen foundation was compromised for the sake of a perceived, and transient good.
“If we fail to remain vigilant in our knowledge and defense of the foundation, how long will the building stand under the pressure of a demanding society that seeks to eliminate the Master Builder altogether.” (See Matthew 7:24-27)
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3 NKJV)
“Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:18 NKJV)
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.