Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Reading: The Big Picture: Building Blocks of a Christian World View #2

HarrisToday I am reading reading through chapter one of The Big Picture: Building Blocks of a Christian World View, by Brian Harris. Chapter One is entitled The Emperor’s New Clothes: On Acknowledging our Nakedness. I will be posting some quotes on my Facebook page and you are welcome to discuss the posts there. (The numbers after the quotes are Kindle locations not page numbers).

Harris asks the question if we have become the church at Laodicea (Rev 3.17) thinking we are doing well when actually we are “poor, blind and naked.” Why is it that the church, in the West, is declining in influence. He gives two basic answers: 1) We don’t really know our Bibles and 2)  We don’t fully practice Christianity. In other words we don’t really have a biblical world view and our lives tend to be self-powered, legalism, rather than Spirit powered. He quotes Alister McGrath,

‘Too often, traditional apologetics has sought to commend Christianity without asking why it is that so many are not Christians. It seems relatively pointless to extol the attractiveness of the Christian faith if this is not accompanied by a deadly serious effort to discover why it is obviously so unattractive to so many people.’ 251-253

Harris sees “six gaps, that he will develop in later chapters, between a biblical world view and the viewpoints of many Western Christians. The first one is “When we sweat the ‘how’ of creation instead of the ‘why’ of creation” It is alarming when we raise one interpretation of Genesis 1 to the level of the importance of the resurrection of Christ. This issue has always been a matter of discussion by people who take the Bible seriously.

..this is an exceptionally unfruitful approach and does a disservice to the biblical text, largely because it arbitrarily tries to force the Bible to answer questions of recent interest, rather than the truly significant questions the original authors set out to answer. 327-329

The 2nd gap is “When we idealize or villainize humanity.” A biblical world view balances its view of humanity between “total depravity” and the “image of God.” It honors the image of God in the most twisted of sinners and recognizes the absolute need for God’s grace and dependence on God to be what God intended for us in creation.

It is true to say that humans are made in the image of God. It is, however, an incomplete truth. When a partial truth masquerades as a complete truth it is in danger of becoming an untruth. A fuller account has to delve deeper into the creation story, and discovers in that narrative the explanation for the otherwise inexplicable cruelty and savagery shown by the human race. 364-366

The third gap happens “When grace is trivialized to legalism.” Anything that removes the cross from the center of Christianity, and from the basis by which we live our lives, is heresy. Everything we have, including forgiveness, is a gift of God and obligates our forgiveness and generosity to everyone else.

As people who bear the image of the God who made us, we know that we are made for relationship with one another. If we close our heart to another, even if they have wronged us, we fall short of who we are made to be.  417-418

Gap #4 is “When the Trinity is about mathematical improbabilities instead of transforming community.” The bottom line is that God is eternally relational – “God is Love.” This is why the essential evidence of relationship with God is love for others and unity.

The revealed God is never an isolated, lonely God, but comes to us in the rich relational life of Father, Son and Spirit. 446

The fifth gap between our world view and a biblical world view takes place “When stewardship of the world becomes exploitation and resisting change is assumed to be virtuous.” The human role in the world is to serve creation by representing God and “subduing” it to his standards of beauty, order, light and goodness. Thus, change, is always necessary and should be ongoing. 

God’s was the first creation, but in delegating the task of naming to image- bearers, God assigned humanity the task of building a world with a suitable name – one that reflects all the potential inherent in the original creation. 480-482

The final gap is “When eschatology becomes escapism instead of enticing invitation.” We should live as part of Jesus’ prayer that the Father’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Eternal life (and death) begins now and we should be walking, talking beacons of the kingdom and our churches and homes should strive to be heavenly colonies where God’s values are lived out.

..we should allow our convictions about the nature of our future reality to shape and direct, indeed to orientate, our present actions. 511-512

Within this biblical worldview there is much room for diversity and creativity. Our goal should be to live our lives within the wide parameters of God’s Word.

The broad lines of our faith give zones in which we operate and roam, and creativity is to be expected from those who are made in the image of the God who made everything from nothing. The Bible is the text from which we source our ideas  549-550

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