Friday, April 23, 2010

Clash of the Worldviews

The popular movies of the day are “Clash of the Titans” (a remake of the 1981 movie, loosely based on the central mythological story of Persius—“and all the other ‘-us’-es”) and the modernized version, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” Any summary for these tales contains the central word “overthrow,” as this is the theme of the story, no matter how it is told. In short, the Greek gods are at war. For the most part, the story marks a certain and definite theological shift in the minds and lives of the ancient Greeks. That the stories have any significance or draw today is a bit of a mystery, as these deities no longer have the center of worshipful attention they once had . . . or do they?

This is the age of so-called “tolerance,” where every viewpoint is to be received, and none rejected. A small exercise in logic demonstrates the impossibility of this worldview. There is a vast difference between viewpoint (“the way I see it”) and truth (the way something actually is). I met a man who worships Thor, god of Thunder and war. His entire worldview is built around what he perceives to be true as far as Thor is concerned. I could not help but wonder, “Why worship such a small god? An after-effect of something more powerful and stronger?” Putting perceived deities aside, where how could he possible exercise morality without a knowledge of the truth? When Stephen and Polycarp (and millions of others martyrs) stood up in biblical truth, they stood in the midst of the clash of worldviews. There is no tolerance in the face of truth. Their situation was not “religion vs. religion” but truth vs. rejection of truth.

One suggestion has been made, that secularism, relativism, postmodernism, naturalism, even hedonism are all forms of religious faith. While these may be simplistic categories of repeated action (the literal meaning of “religion” connotes doing over and over again), these are actually forms of separation from truth. Biblical teaching is very clear that man is without an excuse for not believing God. Notice the difference between “believing in God” and “believing God,” and this is where the clash of worldviews begins. A naturalist may believe in God just as I believe in God, but the God we say we believe “in” may be entirely different—his may be deistic and removed, while I understand God to be very personal. Tolerance says we are both right; however, if one allows God to be who He says He is and another rejects that truth, there is no context for tolerance.

Man is without excuse because God has made Himself known through general (or natural) revelation and special revelation. I was talking with a man who told me He did not know there was a God to believe. I told him, “That’s ok. I don’t know there are architects or artists either.” His jaw dropped. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he said.

I reinforced with, “that’s right. And there is nothing you can say or do to prove otherwise.”

He blurted out, “haven’t you ever seen the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Chapel?”

Since I haven’t, I said, “No, and neither have you. You’ve only seen what someone said where those things.”

Desperately, he pointed to the Starbucks behind me. “Well, how did this building get made without an architect?”

I smiled. “Are you suggesting that because a painting exists you assume there is a painter, and because a building exists you assume there is an architect?”

“YES!” He said, surprised.

“In the same way,” I explained, “you can open your eyes and see all of creation and know there is a Creator. You are standing on the evidence.” His friends laughed.

Men would rather not acknowledge their Creator because they love their sin so much. That’s the bottom line. Instead of worshipping the Creator, they would rather worship the creature or their perceptions of what they perceive to be God—a god of their own understanding (an idol). This might mean their god may have been a man, or would never create a hell, might be a woman, or might even be a body part. Sounds gross, but its’ shocking to realize what people will love with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. People have their own ideas about God are drowning with immorality.

Carry this forward into ethics: if there is no God to believe, then man is an animal and survival of the fittest is the rule. When man practices abortion, eugenics and euthanasia, he is cheating the rule because natural order cannot impose those things on the level that man brings them. With all due respect, death may occur in the womb naturally but to force death into the womb is unnatural. Eugenics occurs in the test-tube, not in the natural order. Euthanasia is not to be confused with death by natural causes, either (hence the misnomer).

Go another step: which God is to be believed? Listen to the testimony of Wafa Sultan who (to date) is not a follower of Christ. She has just witnessed the shooting death of a lecturer while the killer shouted the Muslim cry, “Allahu akbar (Allah is the greatest)!” She writes:

“The sound of the killer’s voice glorifying God mingled with the sounds of the shots. Ever since that moment, Allah has been equated in my mind with the sound of a bullet and become a God who has no respect for human life. From that time on I embarked upon a new journey in a quest for another God--a God who respects human life and values every human being.“ (Sultan, “A God Who Hates.” New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009)

Wafa is moving closer to the true and living God as He has made Himself known in the Bible. The rest of her story is worth reading.

The laws of the universe bring destruction to those who do not abide by its rules. Those who reject the law of gravity and step off a high cliff will experience the “wrath” of gravity. If someone chooses not to believe in trucks and steps in front of one will experience the consequences—the human brain is not powerful enough to individualize truth in a tolerant way.

The Bible teaches that the wrath of God is poured out on those who reject the truth about God. God has also made it clear that it is NOT His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. A choice must be made concerning God: is He cruel, or loving to offer the soul who rejects Him a "way out?"

Polycarp was accused of overthrowing the gods of Rome. They missed the point that biblical worldview was and still is overthrowing the gods of this world. Polycarp was just the messenger of biblical truth and his story was the one that happened to be recorded. When we speak biblical truth to the unbelieving age, we are confronting idols. When we confront idols, we discover how much people love their gods with the degree they oppose the gospel of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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