Anthropology of a Worldview

This week over at http://lovegodwithallyourmind.wordpress.com/:

islamophobia

James Sire presents an interesting concept in chapter six; he mentions in passing, the effects of a worldview on a people group. He illustrates a Hindu family from India vs. that same family in America and presents the possibilities of many “rebellions” against the family’s cultural worldview. In my opinion, Sire left open-ended what would be a worthwhile to parse out in this chapter, that is the role of culture on ones worldview. The culture of a family, the culture of a country, and the culture of a religion all shape an individual’s worldview. Ultimately, why do you believe what you do? Are you thinking freely, or are you being molded by culture?
Let’s examine the culture of a family first; I was raised as a Christian, from the earliest memories I can only recall being a Christian, or at least having a Christian worldview. My mom’s side of the family is traditional Mennonite Brethren, and is very devout. In fact, if I go to a family get together, there will likely be 90 year old women who will still wear an apron and a bonnet, and men with the half beard. We begin every family meal by singing a doxology, and usually led in prayer by one of the uncles. This side of the family is very proper, they keep the top button done up all the time. On the other hand, my dad is the son of Christian & Missionary Alliance missionaries. My dad grew up on the mission field, and my grandparents continued to be full-time missionaries to South East Asia until about the year 2000, and still reflect much of the culture they lived in for some 40+ years. As you can see, from the beginning I was going to be influenced in the way of some evangelical faith system. For me, I grew up with a presupposed position of there being a God, and the God was the God of the Bible. This was never questioned by me as I formed my worldview. That is, until my early 20’s when in rebellion I began questioning the validity of this system. Through my questioning I became convinced I was always on the right track, and held firm to my conservative evangelical beliefs. I say this to demonstrate the role of the family’s culture has on an individual’s worldview.
Next, allow me to address the culture of a country (or nationality); the culture of a people group tends to dictate the worldview of that people group, this is a major thrust of anthropology. Examine much of Africa, the Middle East, and Indonesia and you will find these areas dominated by worldviews that hold to Islamic leanings. A look at South East Asia will provide worldviews dominated by Buddhism, among other eastern mystical teachings. A glance at Russia and much of Europe will provide worldviews dominated by atheistic thought (naturalism). A look at the western world will show a worldview that can be argued is more evangelical (unfortunately a convincing argument can be made this is quickly changing). My point is a worldview is dictated by the geographical location and culture of that location.
Lastly, and as a conclusion to this progression, the culture of a religion; I just briefly presented two different cultural paradigms that form a worldview, that of the family and the country. In pointing these out I hope you will notice the progression this makes, the family is located in the country, and the country typically is a hub of a specific religion, therefore the countries predominate religion tends to be the religion of the family. This can have a profound impact on the people of each of these sub cultures. Take for example, a 19 Muslim female who lives in a traditional Muslim family who reside in New York City. This young lady has been brought up in the religious/family culture of Islam, and this has shaped her worldview for her 19 years of life, but she lives in America; the land of the free and the home of the brave. She begins to desire an education, she desires to live a life like the girls she sees riding the subway, and she desires a little freedom to ask questions about her religion. Sadly, all these things are fiercely forbidden, and are grounds for execution via Sharia Law in the Muslim countries; but in America these things will result in her being disowned and abandoned by her family.
So here is the question worth asking; what do you believe and why do you believe it? Are you dictated by any of the three sub-cultures I present? Have you actually sat down and processed your beliefs? Have you challenged them, scrutinized them, been open to others? Or, have you blindly walked behind those who went before you? From experience, it is in examining ones worldview that you can take ownership in it and in taking ownership in your worldview you can pave the way for others following you to do the same. The best part of this process for me is that I have become more convinced than ever before that my Christian worldview is the true worldview, and would challenge anyone to disprove me.

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The Mind of the Church

This week over at http://lovegodwithallyourmind.wordpress.com/

Transformed-by-the-Renewing-of-Your-Mind

Is the church doing enough for the people in the pew’s week in and week out? Has the church relegated itself to preaching on Sundays and a Bible study on Wednesdays? Is there enough discipleship to help the members grow in every aspect of their Christian walk? Or, has the church failed in many aspects of its duty to train the Christian for the long race ahead of them? I will give the church the benefit of the doubt on this one, and say it has done its job, that is until recent years. I could present dates, stats, and theories; or I could simply have you examine your own church.

Does your church have a new believers/members class aimed at those new the faith and the church? These courses are designed to come alongside those who are less knowledgeable about their faith. Also, they help the common members know why the church they are members at believe what it believes. These classes have the potential to open a whole new dynamic to the individual, who never would have otherwise would have explored them.

Does your church teach basic Biblical evangelism methods? Is there a class that teaches your members how to effectively present the Gospel of Christ to a non-believer? These classes not only get the local church to engage in local outreach, they also provide an additional avenue of factual knowledge surrounding Scripture. These courses are enjoyable and easy to teach, and it gets a combination of young and old together to teach, learn, and encourage one another.

What do you do if someone says to you during an evangelistic encounter, “I don’t believe in God?” Has your church prepared you for that conversation? This conversation is one that is necessarily outside the Bible. Using a source that simply declares God to prove His existence is circular. This is where it is vital for every believer to have the intellectual capabilities to engage in a conversation of this philosophical genre. I do not mean to say that every believer must be a polished philosopher, but being able to articulate the philosophical foundation for the hope that is in you. Reader, have you the skills to engage a true skeptic?

I present these questions as a challenge to everyone who may read this; faith is necessary, but do not be so quick to dismiss the value of intellectual processing. It is good for you to engage your faith from an intellectual standpoint. It is good to regularly evaluate where you stand on the things of God. Walking through your faith blindly will get you to the end prize, but you will miss so much on your way to glory. You will miss the opportunity to be an effectual witness to skeptics, you will miss the joys of being able to articulate a confusing premise surrounding Christianity, and you can miss the opportunity to lead a lost loved one to salvation. Dear friends, and readers, the goal of the church is so much more than weekly preaching and potlucks. Oh yes, it is much greater than holiday socials and choir programs. The goal of the church is to be a beacon of light in a community that is in a lost world. The goal of the church should be to educate and equip members to go into the community and transform in from the inside. Every member should be charged as a missionary of the Gospel of Christ into the world weekly, and they should be adequately prepared to do so, until He returns. I end this by quoting Revelation 22:20 “AMEN!!! Come, Lord Jesus (emphasis added).”

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Tools of the Creator (Part Deux)

I just happened across a video this morning produced by Dr. W.L. Craig. Dr. Craig is a philosopher who specializes in theistic thought as well as cosmological argumentation for design by an intelligent creator. This six and a half minute video provides a good discussion of the precision with which the universe boasts of, and which I modestly addressed in my last entry. I hope you take a few minutes and let yourself be challenged to think things through a little bit. God gave you an intellect, use it to glorify, and glory in, Him.

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Tools of the Creator

The following is this weeks contribution to http://lovegodwithallyourmind.wordpress.com/:
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A scalpel is a medical tool consisting of a single razor sharp blade; which in the hands of an uneducated and untrained individual, can lead to anything but a positive outcome. When misused, this instrument that is intended to save lives can easily harm them, or even end them altogether. But when placed in the hands of an experienced surgeon, this potentially dangerous tool becomes an instrument of vitality. This utensil is capable of getting into the minutia of the human anatomy in order to remove cancer, alleviate pressure, and to aid the surgeon in exploring the various health concerns of a patient who is in need of life saving treatment.
It is necessary for this tool to be razor sharp, and nimble in the hands of the health professional. If a surgeon were to enter the O.R. and use a dirty butter knife, the level of precision would be less than that of my two year old trying to use a fork to eat supper with. The point; precision is necessary for life. In chapter eight Moreland addresses creation, more poignantly, design. In his conversation he presents the dichotomy between necessary and contingent (primary and secondary), as well as precision and chance. In this conversation he presents, if you will, a roulette style of thinking. That is, he presents the idea of playing the odds.
The idea of chance, as it pertains to design, is the counter argument for the one who maintains intelligent design for the origin of species (reference intended). Even more, the implementation of logical thinking is apparent. Is it plausible that everything you see right now is the product of chance? Yes it is. Unless you or I were there at the very beginning of the universe we have to admit to this being possible, however minute. The question then has to be; is it plausible the universe was established through the pleasing will of an all-powerful all-intelligent designer? By implementing the same line of reasoning one is obligated to agree with the chance that this is true. Once plausality is established the gambler can spin the wheel at the roulette table and play the odds of which case is more likely.
As we approach the game of odds we have to examine everything we have at our disposal, sadly this is not done nearly enough. Moreland presents the reader with just a few examples, although he mentions the 30 scientific discoveries the have recently come to the surface of scientific inquiry. The consequences that would abound of the force of gravity exceeded 9.86 m/s^2, what would happen if the earth was spinning slower or faster than it is, what would the fallout be if the earth was one foot closer to the sun, what if it was one foot further away? These examples do not even address the precise nature of this argument on the atomic level.
What does this mean? I contend that one is highly more likely to beat the house if they were to place their money on an intelligent designer. While acknowledging the plausibility of chance, it seems far more likely that the universe had its start in the will of a Creator. This Creator is the ONLY necessary being, and everything He created is contingent on Him. More specifically, the Creator is the ONLY primary cause, and the universe is the secondary cause. This is because down to the smallest implement in the universe it is evident that “chance” is very unlikely. This is why I rejoice with the Psalmist when he says “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork,” Psalm 19:1. It is in creation that I find reason to place my faith in the Creator. AMEN.

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The Christian Teeter-Totter

I am blessed to have a wonderfully creative professor, at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who had the great idea to have a class create a blog for the semester. Our assignment for each week, is to write a blog entry conversing with some aspect of the weekly reading. So far this has been an enjoyable, and unique way of doing things. The class blog can be found at: http://lovegodwithallyourmind.wordpress.com/. Additionally, my professors blag can be found at: http://johndwilsey.com/.

The following is my entry for the week. The unique part of this entry is it comes less than 2 hours after coming home from a three day Bible Conference, that really was more of a revival than anything else, and it was AWESOME!!! I hope you enjoy this, and respect the intellectual back and forth that this piece is rooted in:

In this week’s reading, Moreland introduces the reader to the discipline of logic. I call the activity of thinking logically a discipline because it requires great practice, focus, and of course discipline to carry out effectively. Additionally, I believe the Christian should resemble the logician, in that I mean Christianity is not an illogical worldview. In fact, Christianity is the only logical worldview. I understand this statement requires a certain level of argument to affirm, but that is not the point of this entry. That being said, it is a very logical progression that Moreland follows the chapter on logic with the chapter on apologetics and evangelism.
I say all this by way of introduction for one purpose; throughout chapter five Moreland discusses logical fallacies. As I read, I was deeply dismayed by the fact that in the course of my Christian walk, I have heard every one of the informal fallacies mentioned multiple times from the pulpit. Building off the first chapter of the book, and what Moreland calls anti-intellectualism, it seems to me to be very likely pulpits throughout the Church are not doing their part to challenge the minds of the congregants listening Sunday after Sunday.
Considering what I just proposed allow me the liberty to present a question for consideration; is emotion bad? My answer is no, but it can be dangerous. I have struggled with this topic greatly, for a number of months now. What I have arrived at in my pursuit of this question follows: God created us in His image, God shows emotion (He can be grieved Eph 4:30, He can be angered/become indignant Ps. 7:11, He can be happy Col 1:19 the Greek word for pleased here has the same root Eudo/Eudai as the Greek word for happiness, et al), because we are made in His image, and He shows emotion, logically we show emotion. Not only do we simply exhibit emotion, I believe in many cases emotion is warranted. Example, genuine repentance is rooted in the emotion of sorrow and complete brokenness over one’s own egregious sins against God. The caveat here, and what I think gets over look far too often, sorrow over sin can only come when one understands (renewing of the mind) sin itself. So, what lies before us now is the emotional obligation one has to understand one’s own sin.
Consider this proposition; I believe this reconciles the two fields of competing views. The danger in not having a balanced approach to this is two-fold. On one hand, the strictly logical thinker can quickly become an ardent skeptic without realizing it. This person then questions everything, and has the tendency to overlook the necessity of faith. The divergent view is the emotionalist; this person reasons through emotion. The danger in this is that emotions are fickle things, and everyone experiences emotions differently. Because of this it is easy for a person to respond in an emotionally charged state, and completely miss the truth of a situation. For example; the emotionalist can easily get caught in the moment at a revival meeting, and profess faith not fully knowing what or why they are professing in the first place. The skeptic will sit at the same meeting and negate the work being done by the Holy Spirit as being only emotion. The value of the balanced approach is that one can utilize all God has intended him to in coming to an understanding of salvation. That it is the recognition of sin against a holy God, and the brokenness of heart to repent and be saved.
I am sure somewhere I have a gap in my thinking, and I invite my readers to constructively critique this view. I thankfully wait for input, and feedback.
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Camp Meetings, Revivals, and Today

I am unashamedly Baptist. I have sat in the worst of the worst of business meetings, and I have eaten of the worst potluck casseroles. I have heard the arguments for hymnals as well as the arguments for screens. I have heard some of the worst things said in a church, and witnessed the most despicable treating of a pastor one can imagine. I have also seen hundreds come to Christ in local out reach, and rejoiced on the mission field as I have seen the Lord work in unexplainable ways. I have seen the local autonomous church impact a community for the advancement of the Kingdom. As well as seen local associations, state conventions, and the national SBC affect the world with the truth of the Gospel of Christ.

One of the ways Baptists have done outreach historically, is through revivals, or camp meetings. Most of these events have taken place in generations past, and if they are still utilized today they are done so with a new contemporary bent. A fancy logo is created in Adobe that employs bright colors and appealing geometric shapes. An edgy name is thought up, and an intriguing theme is used. Now, if an “old fashioned” revival is had, it is usually at a small country church that only does it out of tradition. For the last 75 years FBC of So and So has been having an annual revival, and every year the same people experience the same emotionally charged preaching. These same people habitually walk the aisle crying, snotting, and slobbering the whole way. The meetings last maybe a week, but soon everyone is back to the same day to day grind they always are; until next year anyway. People like to think back about the good time preaching, and the music of yesteryear, but why? Why is there such a gap in the praxis of this tool. Is this tool still effective?

The reason why these meetings have been used in the past is because the Holy Spirit has often used them to instill a great awakening in people. In the past however, people were more willing to think, process, evaluate, and conclude the truthfulness of what was being preached. The people of generations past were more inclined to critically evaluate what was being said because they were in the practice of using there God given faculties. In today’s emotionally charged world people are distracted by: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (is that still around?), linkedin, foursquare, tumbler, wordpress, blogspot, instagram, ESPN (2, News, and the ocho), ABC, FOX, MSNBC, TMZ, CBS, PBS, CNN, Yahoo, snapchat (do not even understand this one), ad nauseam! If you not know the meaning of ad nauseam, than you prove my very point.

In today’s church the spoon feeding method is more desirable than pulling out the steak knife to get into the meat of the Word. As Paul says to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:2 he has had to feed with milk because the people were not ready for the solid food. This is backed up by the author of Hebrews who says his audience should be teaching but because they had not matured they had to continue on milk. Is today’s church still nursing? Where is the steak?!?! We have allowed ourselves to be infiltrated with laziness and ignorance. We let ourselves be driven by emotions and not fact. We sing “Just as I am” 17 times, pray, and dismiss. Where is the intellectual growth in this? Does the neglect of the intellect honor God?

The ironic thing about this post is, this coming weekend the church I serve on Pastoral Staff at is hosting our second annual Bible conference. This conference is a twist on the revivals of the past, but what we commit to do is challenge our audience. Yes, there will still be alter calls. Yes, there will be an emotional aspect to the three day event. Yes, the services will be evangelistic in nature; and all of these things are good! Emotions are good, God created us in His image and God shows emotion. I do not want to undercut the importance of emotion. Without emotion there is no conviction. We may logically deduce that we have sinned, but true repentance has an ere of sorrow surrounding it. In that aspect I acknowledge there is no real change in the formatting of our event and those of the past. Where we differ is that the preaching will not only be evangelistic, it will also be geared at the Christian. Again, emotions are good; when our people are convicted, instructed, or exhorted they will logically understand these things, and this understand invokes an emotional response.

I am so proud of the people in my church. They not only respond appropriately with their emotions, they take time to think about why they should respond in the first place. In that sense, I am more blessed than most in my position to serve such people. If you are reading this today, and you have the habit of saying things like, “I feel that,” or “My feelings are,” STOP IT! I argue, those feelings are actually thoughts. Without your initial thoughts your emotions are misguided. God gave you a brain, glorify Him by using it. As a Baptist, I would love to see a church full of people willing to use there mind in worship during a revival. I believe in so doing, they will actually be more effective witnesses for the Kingdom of God.

All this being said… If you are in the Houston area and want to experience powerful preaching, and phenomenal music; plan on attending Southview Baptist’s second annual Bible conference this weekend. Services begin at 7pm on Friday and Saturday, and 9:15am on Sunday. Click the link to the church page for more information, and directions.

http://www.sview.org/

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Contraceptions Role in the November Election

The following is my res ponce to a question that was presented to me concerning the role contraception will play in the upcoming elections, in light of the Hobby Lobby case, and whether it will play a large role:

Unfortunately I believe the issue of birth control will influence the vote in November. I say this for two main reasons; the climate surrounding sanctity of life issues (this inevitably encompasses birth control) has become increasingly agitated in the last year with the passing of strong “pro-life” bills. Texas finds itself in the center of this discussion after the controversial passing of HB2, or the infamous omnibus bill of the last legislative session. Because there has been a strong wave of “pro-life” movement in the last year I believe there will be a reaction, like the snapping back of a rubber band, from the other side of this discussion. I believe the vehicle that will be used is the issue of birth control. As mentioned in the question, this does get a bit murky when it comes to religion, but I think it is important to understand a couple issues before moving on to my second point. First of all, not all religions particularly evangelical Christians, believe birth control is wrong. Catholics practice NFP (Natural Family Planning) in which the use of birth control is prohibited by the church. This method is affective due to the use of the “rhythm” technique. In evangelicalism there is a wide spectrum of beliefs stretching from all birth control is sinful to only the use of mechanical methods are allowed, and everything in between. Sadly, there is a percentage of evangelicalism that believes abortion is acceptable, but this rabbit trails into another discussion entirely. Secondly, not all methods of birth control actually prevent pregnancy. In fact two leading birth control pills (Yasmin and Seasonique, but there is a growing list) are classified as abortifacient. In short, these pills work in two ways: prevention and the creation of a hostile environment (produces a miscarriage). What this means is 99% of the time the pill does its job at preventing conception, however there is the small percentage where ovulation does occur and a pregnancy is started. The pill then ends this pregnancy, or aborts the process. This is an issue that impacts conservative evangelicals.
My second point, I believe contraception will take center stage because the voting public is not well enough informed to pay attention to other issues that play larger roles in national security and budgeting. The boarder is a mess, the world is a tinder box, and sadly the powers that be will influence the general public into believing birth control is more important than safety and national debt that is over $17.6 trillion.
As I close, I want to point out; no one is forcing people to work for Hobby Lobby. If employees do not like the outcome of the SCOTUS ruling they should resign their possition and find a place of employment that better suits them. The people need to understand, it becomes quite dangerous for the government to increase what they can demand a company to do, and provide. The logical conclusion of this would be the dismantling of the free market and capitalism as a whole.

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