Humans chronically compartmentalize. We separate work and play, school is divided into subjects, even church can become a collection of programs instead of a unified body. The result is often that we assign each aspect of life its own place, and consequently begin to think of them as not interrelated, that how we think or behave in one context has nothing to do with how we think or behave in another.
Fairly absurd ideas grow out of this attitude. Scientists and clergymen agree that science and religion are not of a piece, and that religious doctrine should keep its nose out of "serious" inquiry; or parents let their kids watch morally reprehensible programming on television because "we teach them differently"; or civil governments interpret "separation of church and state" to mean you can't act as a Christian when you're acting as a citizen (though presumably you still ought to act as a citizen when acting as a Christian).
A lot of it boils down to allegiances—are you more commited to scientific truth, or God's truth? to raising your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, or to getting them out of the way for a few hours? to the secular state, or to God's Law? It's easy to balk at drawing such hard lines, but the truth of the matter is that Christians are at war with the world, and there is no neutral territory.
But surely it's a spiritual struggle? Surely a TV show can't make that much difference? Yes, it's a spiritual war, but we are both spiritual and physical beings, and there is necessarily a material element to our engagement with the enemy. If that wasn't true, why would Jesus command us not to steal, or fornicate, or lie, or be cruel? The fact is that our physical behaviors shape (and are shaped) by our spiritual state.
If that's true (and we absolutely believe it is), one TV show might be the difference between Andrew Jackson's Battle of New Orleans and Napoleon's Waterloo. Of course, one show probably won't make that much difference; but a steady diet of similar shows almost certainly will. We become what we do and think and say; what we regularly ingest comes out as thought, word and deed.
Does that mean Christians should never watch television, or vote in elections, or read novels, or listen to music, etc.? Or does it mean, perhaps, that we should only participate in Christian versions of those things? Certainly not. As the earthly presence of Christ, we are called to establish His name over all things, whether cultural or religious or philosophical or political. He has already redeemed everything through His death and resurrection, now we are to "take it back" in the name of the Lord.
Our attitude toward (and perception of) everything constitutes our worldview. More than just a pair of spectacles we look through, worldview is a fundamental mindset through which all things are filtered, often times subconsciously. What we do and think shapes our worldview, making it essential to compare everything to the Word of God, the only true standard for a Christian attitude. Therefore, watching a TV show (or whatever) is fine as long as it's not overtly corrupt and as long as the viewer watches with discernment and analyzes the program using Christian principles.
Is worldview just for Christians, then? No—everyone has a worldview, whether or not they can articulate it. Knowing our own helps us live as we ought and it helps us preach the Word to those outside the Church. The natural practical corrolary of a worldview then is the work of apologetics, defending our faith from any and every attack.
Ironically, apologetics is almost the opposite of what its name implies. We aren't supposed to apologize for what we believe, to present the Gospel in embarrassment, to soften the force of the Christian message or always remain on the defensive instead of asserting our right to preach. No, our apologetic goal is to carry the Gospel to every corner of society and culture, using its light to reveal the emptiness of human philosophy and endeavor without God as guide.
Worldview and apologetics, then, form the core basis for the Church's work in the world. We start by understanding as fully as possible what we belive and what we ought to believe (worldview) in order to present, defend and live by the faith we share (apologetics). The least we can do at Exodus Books is provide our brothers and sisters with appropriate resources for shaping both endeavors. It is our sincere prayer that the ones we offer are those best suited to the glorious and daunting task before us.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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