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December 02, 2003

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Does a single biblical/christian worldview exist? Even with the 6 beliefs listed, do you not have a christian worldview if you don't believe that satan is a physical being, or don't believe in sharing your faith? While I would say our American society is in need of some serious help, I would say the problem(s) is very complex, and not just due to this one issue.

i think barna's pollings measure only in a modern mindset kind of way ... to define a biblical worldview in modern definitions no longer works

I think I'm hearing what you're saying, Shok -- but I'm kind of inclined to respond by saying "to define a biblical worldview in modern definitions no longer works for you."

My understanding of postmodernity is that modern empirical methods are not discarded under postmodernity, but rather embraced along with other realities (community agreement, experience, etc.). True postmoderns are not anti-empiricalists, just against the former exclusivity claims of empiricalism.

for whatever it's worth, i believe those 6 things.

it seems sort of odd to measure a biblical worldview by those 6 things. i've even argued in the past that we all hold a worldview, but that there's no such thing as an exclusively christian world view. i've argued that all worldviews are culturally based, and that christianity needs to infiltrate each world view.

i don't know what i think anymore.

but i do believe those 6 things.

I think I'm hearing what you're saying, Shok -- but I'm kind of inclined to respond by saying "to define a biblical worldview in modern definitions no longer works for you."

(... that is very true chris)

My understanding of postmodernity is that modern empirical methods are not discarded under postmodernity, but rather embraced along with other realities (community agreement, experience, etc.). True postmoderns are not anti-empiricalists, just against the former exclusivity claims of empiricalism.

(... this is also very true)

Tammy - you've got me thinking again (you're really good at that)! When I was a Christian School principal, I was doing a fair amount of work with various "worldviews." One's worldview, or I guess you could say "value-system" or "perspective", becomes a "lens" through which you view, interpret, and understand the various "disciplines" of life (e.g. science, economics, philosophy, etc.). Without nit-picking, I think Barna is measuring that extent to which Americans are "interpreting" these various aspects of life through the lens of classic Christianity. Of course people have different definitions of Christianity -- that's to be expected in a culture that's overly individualistic. BUT, I think what Barna is seeing, is that many, many "Christians" are using a syncretistic worldview to view economics and politics, and science, etc. rather than a classically Christian one. My own personal belief is that Christianity should affect culture, rather than the other way around. I think Barna is encountering some level of evidence that it's the other way around (upside down?), and that the "lens" of Classical Christianity (one might even say "Orthodox") just isn't being used by the overwhelming majority. What that all means -- now that's an entirely different matter.

Afterthought: I'm wondering --what gives any of us the right to "pick and choose" which orthodox Christian beliefs we want to affirm or hold and still be "Christian"? I'm really beginning to wonder if THIS TOO is a residual effect of individualism at work in our culture. Any reactions or thoughts on this out there?

"what gives any of us the right to "pick and choose" which orthodox Christian beliefs we want to affirm or hold and still be "Christian"?

Nothing. Except the sin of pride. :)

(Did you know that the Greek word for "heresy" literally means "to pick and choose"?)

What you ponder here is a powerful question, especialy if you follow it to its logical conclusion...It was one of the key questions that lead me to where I am....

A couple of thoughts, Chris:

1st (from original post) - I wonder if it's possible that the wording of the poll effected it's outcome. I've found than many professing Christians have very different interpretations of key words/concepts...

I'll bet that many Christians don't have a problem with " Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned;"

But that the following statements describe many different images to different people: "Satan is real (guy in red suit with horns?); a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people (stand on a corner & pass out tracts?); and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings (literal history - world created in only 7 days?)."

just a thought, and not that I don't think that this still could represent problems...

My 2nd thought is more a question. You said "My own personal belief is that Christianity should affect culture, rather than the other way around."

Can you expound on this sometime? I've been questioning what this might imply, recently. This was someone's response to me at theOoze in a discussion recently - and it led me to think about the possibility that this is a false dichotomy. Unless you define culture only as "art, music, movies...". But it seems to me that our world-view is shaped by our culture - and it's far deeper than the surface manifestations of art, etc... Can we really have a Christian worldview or belief system that's not shaped by our culture? I believe that Christianity should shape our ethics! And I love art, music, etc.. that is informed by Christianity. But isn't the way we view the world even deeper than our ethics and art?

I'm not sure I'm making any sense...

You know Chris, I had some similiar thoughts about Barna's methodology and definitions when I first read his findings. I don't exactly know how to answer the questions you've asked (they're good ones) -- but I have a "hunch" (ha! pomos put more stock in "hunches", right?) - even if Barna were to clean up his definitions or polling procedures, and even though I think it WOULD change the results, I don't think it would change the results SO radically that the basic trend would be reversed. I think he's on to something here despite some of the polling's funkiness. What do you think?

Well, I do think differences in 'cultural language' could account for a lot of this poll's results. But you are probably right that, overall, there's a wide variety of differing beliefs in those who call themselves Christians in our society. Of your ideas about why - I wonder/somewhat agree with your second two points - moral relativism, etc..., and religion as convienence and maybe tradition? I don't know about the fallout from too much seeker-sensitive stuff, I don't have enough experience there...

But back to the language issue - I took a short biblical history class a couple of years ago with some neighbors of mine. One man is an ex-Catholic priest (married to an ex-Catholic nun! - they're both still practicing Catholics...). This man LOVES the Lord, his gentleness and compassion really move me. Yet sometimes the differences in our language about Christianity amazed me - we had obviously come from very different backgrounds...

I think polls like that are going to more and more show "poor" results as we become more post-modern in our society - and less comfortable with language that sounds "absolute"... I think it's going to become ever harder to be sure of what real beliefs are represented by such a poll...

i agree with ChristopherRobin -- in that it's only getting more difficult to trust a poll, as language is barriers increase between modern and postmodern mindsets. we don't know what our words mean anymore.

i think we need to learn:
1. to discern the mindset of the person we are with, and
2. to become bilingual with regards to modern and postmodern understandings of language.

then we will be able to converse with all kinds of people.


and this sentence stayed with me:

"what gives any of us the right to "pick and choose" which orthodox Christian beliefs we want to affirm or hold and still be "Christian"? I'm really beginning to wonder if THIS TOO is a residual effect of individualism at work in our culture."

i'm thinking about it, i like it, and it leads me in one direction only - to orthodoxy. what a thought ....

1)Do you believe Jesus Christ lived a sinless life?

... i really like how he hung out among with those that the leaders saw as sinners of the worst kind ... i also like how he must have ate and drank enough to get the wine bibber and glutton labels ... thats my kind of sinless life hero

2)Do you believe God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today?

... i often refer to him as the mystery man in the sky and do acknowledge his above listed credentials with the added aspect of his mysticism

3)Do you believe salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned?

... it's a mysterious combination of "gift" and "working out" my own salvation with fear and trembling ...

4)Do you believe Satan is real?

... i spend very little time thinking about satan ... real? ... what is real ... hummmm ...

5)Do you believe a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people?

... we are "living letters" known and read by everyone ...

6)Do you believe the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings?

... define accurate ... define teachings ...

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