Worldviews-Christianity

by Matt Lefebvre

If you are wondering what a worldview is, you might want to read the introduction to this series before reading this article.

What do Christians believe?

Christianity gets its name from Jesus Christ (Messiah, Anointed One). Though Jesus would be considered the founder, having lived in the first century AD, it is worth mentioning that the roots of Christianity began and remain in the Old Testament or the Jewish Scriptures.  The break with Judaism comes in that Jesus is considered to be the Messiah by Christians and not by Jews (though when a Jew accepts Christ, they do not cease to be Jews).  It may seem like Christianity would then just be like any other off-shoot religion, but I believe that the claims of Christianity represent a radically different message from other religions.  First, Jesus lived in history and it is crucial to the message.  Christ actually became a human, flesh and blood, while still being God.  Other religious founders could have had their message told by someone else, but without Jesus, the God-Man, and the salvation through His atoning death and resurrection, there is no Christianity (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17).  Second, humanity is not merely beings who do wrong occasionally, as in other religions, but are spiritually dead.  They cannot fix themselves.  Third, connected with the last point, God is absolutely holy and cannot tolerate sinners in His presence.  There is a gap between this holy God and people, so we cannot get ourselves over that gap.  We cannot just do enough good to get to God.  Fourth, as mentioned already, Jesus rose from the dead, so He has conquered the power of death.  In this death for our sins and subsequent resurrection, Jesus offers life to all those who believe.  Fifth, this salvation offered through Jesus’ atoning death is a free gift and cannot be earned.  To suggest that a person can earn grace is a contradiction in terms (based on Dean Halverson, The Compact Guide To World Religions, p.26-28)

  1. Origin-Genesis 1:1 shows God creating the heavens and the earth in the beginning.  Christianity affirms that “God is the infinite, personal (triune), transcendent and immanent, omniscient, sovereign and good being who created the universe.” (James Sire, The Universe Next Door, p.23, 26).  To say that God is infinite is to say that He is a necessary Being and there was never a time when God did not exist.  God is transcendent in that He is not part of the creation, but separate from it.  However, He is also immanent, in that He cares for His creation, enough to reveal Himself to mankind.  The God of Christian theism is distinct from the God of deism in that God is not merely the Being who created the universe, but is intimately involved with it.  God is also sovereign in that He has the power to create the universe in the first place, but also to intervene in history to bring about His purposes, as in raising Jesus from the dead.  The God of Christianity is also good, always wanting the best for His creation.  Within the Christian worldview, the question of origins is entirely rooted in God.
  2. Meaning-Genesis 1:27 says that man was created in the image of God.  As Saint Augustine wrote in Book I, Chapter I of Confessions, “Thou hast prompted him, that he should delight to praise thee, for thou hast made us for thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee.”  Who we are and why we are here in Christianity is very much connected.  To be created in the image of God is to say that we have things like a mind and a personality, as God also has, and as such, we are creative and on a smaller scale, we can create, and in so doing, point back to the creativity of the Creator.  According to the Westminster Confession, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  To glorify God is man showing the greatness of God’s creation, the pinnacle of which is man in God’s image.  However, we are not only to glorify Him, but also to enjoy Him for who He is.  John 17:3 sums up the point of life: to know God.  If there truly is this all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good God of which the Bible speaks, of course He would be the One worth knowing in this universe.  Man was created in God’s image, so his life’s ambition should be to find what that image is and who that God is.
  3. Morality-Though mankind was created good, according to Romans 5:12-14 sin entered the world through one man, Adam.  Thus, man has fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); the very glory he was intended for, as explained above.  While this means that humans are inclined to disobey, there remains a standard by which they can know right from wrong.  That ultimate standard is God Himself, and He is holy, separated totally from evil.  Since all humans are created in the image of God, all are equipped with a conscience, being able to generally distinguish right from wrong, or in other words, realizing when we are not holy.  This does not mean that everyone knows exactly what to do in every situation, but it does explain the basic agreement of teachings such as the Golden Rule.  In a more specific way, God has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ and His words to His followers as recorded in Matthew 28:19 command His disciples to make other disciples and to teach them to observe what Jesus had commanded them.  Jesus lived a sinless life and told His disciples to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:34).  So the standard of morality is present in all humans in their conscience, but ultimately exemplified in Jesus Christ, so the Christian is to follow God’s moral standard.
  4. Destiny-From the point above, it might seem like Christianity is all about being morally perfect like Jesus was and this can lead to many feeling condemned when they do not live up to that standard.  However, the good news is that destiny for the Christian does not depend on our moral perfection.  Because humans are sinful and disobedient to God, nobody would be able to say they were in a position to be saved if moral perfection were the requirement.  No, according to the Christian worldview, no one can earn salvation and our destiny is thus not in our hands.  The hope for the Christian is in Jesus and His promise of forgiveness of sins.  In the passage from John 17 quoted above, it does not only say “life”, it says “eternal life”.  The hope of believers in Christ is that they will share in God’s new creation after this old creation passes away.  The Bible indicates that those who trust in God for salvation in Christ are reconciled to God, having been separated by sin previously.  Then, as Jesus was resurrected from the dead, we will also experience resurrection and will be given a heavenly body, dwelling in the new heavens and the new earth.  So the Christian destiny is redemption, of our lives and our bodies and even the whole of creation, the heavens and the earth.

How coherent is the Christian worldview?

  1. Logical consistency-The beliefs of the Christian faith are founded in who God is believed to be, so it is internally consistent.  The world is here because a sovereign God created it, humans have value because we are created in the image of God, humans have a purpose in that we have been created to know God and glorify Him, humans can know morality in that there is a holy God who is the standard of good, and destiny of eternal life in a resurrected body that awaits Christians has already been shown through the raising of Jesus from the dead, the One who promised forgiveness of our sins.  Even the Trinity, often thought to be the most contradictory thing about Christianity, finds it’s consistency in the fact that we have relationship and love.  Obviously it is a difficult thing to understand and often raised as an objection, but is it in line with what we see in reality?  Christians believe that God is love (1 John 4:8), but how could God love from all eternity if there was no one to love?  God is one in essence (God), but three in person (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  In this relationship, we have the source of our relationship and catch a glimpse of why God would create in the first place: to share the gift of love with us.
  2. Factuality-The suggestion that the universe was created by an intelligent Being is consistent with the principle of causality and big bang cosmology (please see the cosmological argument for God’s existence).  The origin of life from non-life, consciousness from unconsciousness, ordered from random, and the origin of information itself also suggest an intelligent Creator.  Although these and other arguments for God’s existence are shared with other monotheistic religions, the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, based on widely accepted minimal facts (for more on the minimal facts approach to the resurrection of Jesus click here), points exclusively to Christianity.  Even the fact that we have a personality intuitively points to a Person as the cause of it.
  3. Viability– Because I believe I am created in the image of God and that you are also, we are both moral beings who should respect the value that God has assigned to His creation, while also discovering the creativity He has placed in us.  Getting to know who God is allows us to discover who we should be, both morally and creatively.  Understanding God’s character reveals more about the nature of reality, for He has created the world.  According to Johannes Kepler, in reference to science, “I was merely thinking God’s thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature, it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God.”  The aspect of Christianity that causes some people some hesitation is that to be a follower of Christ, you have to put down your own selfishness, which might lead to personal suffering or even death for belief in Christ.  Christians have been persecuted throughout the 2000 years of history and the Bible is repeatedly telling people to not worship any god but one, laying down their own pursuits that take people away from the true glory of knowing God and knowing who people are in God, as described above.  In the words of G.K. Chesterton, “The Christian faith has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult and left untried.”  A problem with Christianity, in my opinion, is somewhat in line with this quote, even within the Christian world.  The problem is not with the Bible, but with Christians not knowing or taking the time to understand the Bible; calling themselves Christian, but not living by biblical standards.  This is not the place to describe this, nor do I think it speaks against the validity of the biblical Christian worldview, but I did want to mention that Christianity is not immune to criticisms of its practice.  However, I also want to emphasize the good that Christianity has brought to society through adherence to the biblical worldview.  Paul Copan highlights some of these and proceeds to give specific examples. “Historians have documented that the values of human rights, tolerance, social justice, and racial reconciliation are the legacy of the Christian faith, not some secular Enlightenment ideals.” (Is God a Moral Monster?, p.217)

In regard to the coherence and uniqueness of Christianity, Antony Flew, a former atheist who recently changed his mind on the question of God has stated, “As I have said more than once, no other religion enjoys anything like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like St. Paul.  If you’re wanting omnipotence to set up a religion, it seems to me that this is the one to beat!” (There Is A God, p.157).

Based on this Christian perspective I have also evaluated four other worldviews:

Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism

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