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Miranda Writes: Worldview Wars, Part 2




by Omar Miranda



Last week we talked about the importance of worldviews and looked at what a worldview is and how it shapes and defines how we view ourselves, others, and the world. We talked about not only how it is important to be solidly rooted in what we believe, but also how important it is to study and understand what others believe in order to build relational bridges. As we find similarities between us and them, we are able to share the gospel message effectively with them.

In this last installment, I want to briefly discuss the most influential worldviews. Our worldviews are in collision. Thus we should know at least something about the worldviews that are central to the conflict.

Look, let me be honest with you: this week it’s going to be like reading a textbook . . . and I won’t apologize for it, because I want you to understand that if you want to reach other people with the gospel, you’ve got to do some “homework” to understand who they are and what they believe. There, I’ve said it, and I feel better.

Come on, it won’t be that bad. I hope you’ll keep reading. I know you’ll learn a lot, and God will be able to use you to bless others through the information you’ve learned.

Here they are

The most influential worldviews are (in no particular order): Christian theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism, and New Age pantheism or New Consciousness.

Deism, an important worldview during the eighteenth century, has almost entirely left the scene. The deist believes that God exists, but He created and then abandoned the universe. A famous deist we all know well was Benjamin Franklin. And William Miller, a founder of the Advent movement in the 1830s, was once a deist.

Nihilism, a more recent worldview, is alive among many young people and some intellectuals (aka eggheads). Nihilists see no value in reality. To them, life is absurd.

Existentialism is prominent and can be seen frequently, even among some Christians who don’t think they are existentialists. The existentialist, like the nihilist, sees life as absurd, but sees man as totally free to create himself in the face of this absurdity. Here we see Satan’s Garden of Eden lie rearing its ugly head: “You shall be like God.”

Christian theism, naturalism, and New Age pantheism are currently the most influential worldviews in the United States. We’ll look more closely at each of them:

Christian theism

Christian theists believe that an infinite, personal God created the universe out of nothing. Man was originally created good in God’s image, but chose to sin, thereby infecting all of humanity with what is called a “sin nature.” So man is endowed with value by his Creator, but his sinful nature causes rebellious behavior. Death is the gate either to eternal life with God or to eternal separation from Him. The destination is dependent upon the response we give to God’s provision for our sinfulness. The guidelines for our conduct are revealed by God, and God is the only being who can tell us what is ultimately right or wrong. Our reason and our experience through the five senses can be legitimate teachers, but an immutable, transcendent source (someone or something outside of ourselves that never changes) is necessary. We know the most important things only because we are told of them by God, mainly through the Bible and His Holy Spirit. History is linear (goes in a straight line) and is a meaningful sequence of events leading the human race to the fulfillment of God’s purposes.

Christian theism has a long history in Western culture. However, this does not mean that all people who have ever lived in Western culture have been Christians. It simply means that this worldview was once the most influential and dominant, even among non-Christians. But this is no longer the case. Western culture has experienced a transition to a worldview called naturalism.

Naturalism


Even though naturalism in various forms is ancient, we will use the term to refer to a worldview that has recently risen to considerable influence in a relatively short time within Western culture. The seeds were planted in the seventeenth century and began to flower in the eighteenth. Most of us have been exposed to naturalism through what is called secular humanism.

The basic principles of this worldview are:

1. God is irrelevant. This idea is the direct opposite of Christian theism, which is based on supernaturalism (whatever is outside of the natural).

2. Progress and evolutionary change are inevitable.

3. Man is autonomous, self-centered, and will save himself.

4. Education is the guide to life; intelligence and freedom guarantee full human potential.

5. Science is the ultimate provider for both knowledge and morals.

These principles have permeated our lives. They are apparent, for example, in the media, government, and education today. Remember what Paul said to the Colossians? “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ” (Colossians 2:8, NLT).* We should be constantly alert and on guard for the influence of naturalistic principles.

After World War II, postmodernism began to replace naturalism. Postmodernism is the idea that truth, in any real and absolute sense, doesn’t exist. This appears to be the next major worldview that is taking hold of our culture. It is very popular in high schools and on college campuses.
At the same time, though, the past few decades have brought to us another ancient worldview, dressed up in Western clothing: New Age pantheism.

New Age pantheism

Various forms of pantheism have been prominent in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. But it began to have an effect on our culture in the 1950s. It took the form of what became known as the New Age movement. When I learned and taught martial arts, I was introduced to and involved in a lot of this type of thinking and philosophy, and for many years I struggled to combine these beliefs with Christian theism . . . and couldn’t. I ended up getting entangled in the New Age ideas of pantheism.

What are the basic principles of the pantheist worldview?

1. All is one. There are no ultimate distinctions between humans, animals, or the rest of creation.

2. Since all is one, all is god. All of life has a spark of divinity.

3. If all is one and all is god, then each of us is god.

4. Humans must discover their own divinity by experiencing a change in consciousness. That’s why a lot of people do things such as yoga and transcendental meditation.

5. Humans must travel through unending cycles of birth, death, and reincarnation in order to work off what is called “bad karma.”

6. New Age disciples think in terms of gray, not black and white. Thus they believe, like the postmodernist, that two conflicting statements can both be true.

On the popular level, these tenets of belief are presently asserted through media such as books, magazines, television shows, and movies. Perhaps the most visible teacher is George Lucas in the Star Wars movies that became so popular. But these beliefs are also found increasingly among intellectuals (aka eggheads) in fields such as medicine, psychology, sociology, and education.

See, reading that wasn’t so bad, was it? Now that you’ve been informed about the major worldviews, what will you do with the information? I’m hoping that as you interact with others, read stuff, or watch TV, you’ll be more alert to how sneaky the devil is, but even more important, learn how you can bridge the differences between you and another person in order to share the life-saving truth and awesome hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Next week we’ll begin a new series on apologetics called “Unapologetic About Apologetics.” Curious? I knew you would be. OK, I’ll give you a hint: it’s like and not like evangelism.

Until next time, remember God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Make God first above all in your life and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.





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