The second issue relates to using proper procedures for arriving at the meaning of the Biblical text. The truths and principles that comprise a Biblical worldview are taken from the text, according to the intended meaning of the text. Therefore, efforts to arrive at the correct meaning of the text are of great importance.
Some individuals use a text to prove or defend ideas they desire to believe. This is known as “proof-texting” or eisegesis. Others use passages like Leviticus 20 in an attempt to prove the idea that we have outgrown all Biblical standards since we no longer enforce commands made in such a passage. It is then claimed that Biblical statements about other sins are meaningless or should be reconsidered.
Honoring the text with proper hermeneutics within the total context of the complete document is very important in the effort to arrive at a well-rounded, helpful, Biblical worldview.
Many believe there is a distinct division between faith and reason. This has had an unfortunate affect on both faith and reason. Reason, in the minds of such proponents, is substantial and meaningful while faith is simply a form of wishful thinking or believing things that one has no reason to believe, grasping for and believing the unbelievable. This is where the concept from which we get a “leap of faith.” This approach toward human reasoning places too much trust (faith) in human reasoning. This view has led many to assume we, therefore, have no need for faith (as thought of in the aforementioned perspective). Some people, on the other hand, embracing faith, resist intellectual activity (reasoning) because they believe it to be contrary to faith. Both of these approaches are detrimental.
We must realize that the faith Scripture calls for involves having trust and confidence in that of which there is evidence for such trust. Identifying the evidence involves an intellectual process that includes, rather than ignores and excludes, reasoning.
Confidence in the Word of God and the God of the Word is reasonable. As well, the process of understanding the truth and principles revealed in God’s Word includes the use of human reasoning. Proper use of our reasoning capabilities honors man’s God-given design as those created in His image.
The Word of God and the Biblical worldview established thereby are not merely intellectual information; they are to lead to a very practical approach toward life, personally and culturally. Once understood, the truth and principles revealed in the text becomes the standard upon which we are to structure our lives as individuals and society. There are three considerations I’d like to address in this regard.
Tell Me What to Do
In years of pastoral ministry, I have encountered many who want sermons that present practical instruction yet do not want to understand the truth upon which such practical instruction is founded. In other words, they do not want to think, they simply want to be told what they should and shouldn’t do. First, this does not necessarily mean they will do what they are told and, second, without conviction generated by understanding, it’s not likely to result in the type of stability needed to produce fruit that remains. Such an approach tends to set the stage for people being tossed back and forth by various teachings and will not produce the Biblical worldview that is capable of discipling nations.
I Know That
We must guard against the approach that simply sees Christianity, Biblical truth, theology and doctrine as intellectual gymnastics on par with other philosophical systems. Though there is always a tendency for one’s philosophy to influence the way we live, we must be cautious of seeing the intellectual process as an end in and of itself. This is a caution that applies to both academia and “the street.” Academia can easily foster an intellectual pride that falls prey to this error. As well, my work in the local prison has taught me that many people have a head full of information that never seems to alter the practical approach taken in their lives. They want God’s blessing but fail to realize that blessing does not flow out of knowing but out of doing.
Faith is Personal
Finally, there are those who assume that the practical application of their Christian faith (Biblical worldview) only applies to their “personal” life but they must keep it out of their “public” affairs. On one level, this should be impossible. If we truly apply our moral convictions personally, it will affect our public conduct and activities. Most people would likely concede this fact. Where this concept is most often applied in a detrimental fashion is in the realm of cultural practices. It is often assumed that our “personal convictions” should remain separate from “public policy.” There are two thoughts worth engaging in this regard.
First, the idea that a Biblical worldview is simply your “personal conviction” fails to fully realize and emphasize Scripture as revelation from the Creator, truth that is true whether anyone believes it or not.
Second, public policy is always set by some worldview or ideology. By keeping our “faith” (Biblical worldview) to ourselves, we relinquish our nation to any one of the ideologies that vie for control. The truths and principles communicated in Scripture are for our good always.
In love, we must speak the truth and destroy speculations being raised up against God, His truth and His kingdom.