The Importance of Worldview Issues

Sep 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: Culture & Wordview, Featured Issues

This edition of Issues in Perspective is devoted to worldview issues—the thoughts, ideas and convictions that explain the nature and qualities of organized civilization.  If you believe that there is no God to which you are accountable or that there is no God who has provided redemption for you, you will live your life quite differently than one who affirms such propositions.  Consider the very famous British philosopher of the 20th century—Bertrand Russell, one of the founders of analytic philosophy.  One of his most famous books was Why I Am Not a Christian. For Russell, there is no God.  What was absolute for Russell was the material world, which is all that there is.  If one traces the origin of all things, one arrives at impersonal matter and nothing else.  There is no spirit or material world and there is absolutely no personal God.  The God of the Bible, to Russell, was myth and human concoction.  His worldview actually did not produce optimism or a sense of anticipation for the future.  Instead, his worldview produced acute despair.  From his book mentioned above, he wrote: “[Here then] is the world which science built for our belief:  That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievements must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of the universe in ruins. . . Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built” (p. 107).  How tragic!

Contrast Russell’s despair with the hope and purpose of biblical Christianity.  The Bible makes clear that humanity does die, but that reality is due to sin and rebellion against God.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ, preceded by His substitutionary sacrifice for sin, paid the penalty for sin and conquered the mortal enemy death.  God did all of this because He loves His creatures and seeks to reconcile not only humanity but all of the physical creation to Himself.  The Bible helps us to see reality the way God sees it:  There is sin; there is salvation through faith; there is hope; there is eternal life; and there is a God who created us, desires to fellowship with us and provides an abundant, purpose-filled life.

So, humanity must choose:  Either the despair-based view of only materialism or the hope-filled salvation through Jesus Christ offered by the living, transcendent and loving God.  Blaise Pascal, a brilliant French thinker during the Scientific Revolution, posited his now famous “Wager:”  “If there is no God but I have believed that there is one, when I die I have really lost nothing.  But if I believe there is no God and I die, I have lost everything.  Which proposition are you willing to embrace?”  [My paraphrase.]  I have been in an academic ministry virtually my entire adult life.  I am more convinced than ever that worldview does matter:  What you believe about creation and the origins of all matter; whether there is indeed a God; and whether the condition of humanity requires a plan of salvation are critical issues.  They are important—indeed, they are eternally significant!

See John Piper’s essay on Russell in World (24 October 2009), p. 46. PRINT PDF

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