Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Influence of Creation and Eschatology on Worldview and Mission: Part 4

     In his book, Heaven Is A Place On Earth, Michael Wittmer states that ‘worldview’ is “a translation of the German word Weltanshauung, [and] has been variously described  as ‘perceptual frameworks,’ ‘ways of seeing,’ ‘the set of presuppositions…which we hold…about the basic make-up of the world,’ and ‘the conceptual framework  of ones basic belief about things.’”  Wittmer continues by pointing out that “The common theme running through these definitions suggests that a worldview is a framework of fundamental concepts or beliefs about the world.”  “In short,” says Wittmer, “a worldview comprises the lens through which we see the world.”   Everyone has a worldview, whether they are cognizant of it or not.  Everyone has a set of presuppositions that determine how they interpret the world around them.  N.T. Wright argues that worldviews are “profoundly theological,” and offers the following questions as a means of determining the worldview of an individual or group:

  1. Who are we?

  2. Where are we?

  3. What is wrong?

  4. What is the solution?

We will now attempt to answer the above worldview questions within the framework of each of the stories we have outlined thus far. From this point on, we will refer to the first perspective as the “Escapist” view, and the second perspective as the “Restorationist” view.

An Escapist Worldview
1.  Who are we?
We are immortal souls (spiritual essences) encased in immoral bodies.  We were created in the image of God, but that image has been so damaged that it can never be recovered in this life.  We are the Covenant people of God who believe the right things and uphold God’s moral code.

2.  Where are we?
We live in a fatally damaged world.  When our world was created by God, it was “perfect,” but very early on in our story we made a decision that damaged it.  It is now either spiraling into oblivion or simply existing until God destroys it.  It can still, at times, be quite beautiful, and that beauty reminds us of our Creator.  However, our world is irredeemably damaged and will be burned up on the last day. This world is fundamentally not our home and we exist here as “aliens” and “foreigners”.

3.  What is wrong?
Human beings made an incredibly destructive choice near the beginning of the story (Gen 3), and ruined the perfection they were charged with maintaining.  Our souls are immortal, but are separated from God because of individual sin.  Destruction is inescapably coming to everything physical, and our (individual) “immortal souls” are bound for eternal punishment.

4.  What is the solution?
God became a man and died vicariously for our sins.  We must simply believe and obey to save our individual immortal soul from eternal punishment.  Ideally, these “saved” individuals will share the basic propositions one must believe and the “plan of salvation” with others so that their “souls” will be “saved” as well.

A Restorationist Worldview

1.  Who are we?
We are the people of God, created in His Image. That image is distorted by the Fall, but is still there.   We are the Covenant people of God, who are blessed in order that we might be a blessing.  Our understanding of ourselves in holistic and cannot be broken down into “parts”.

2.  Where are we?
We live in God’s world which he created and loves.  God loves Creation simply because it exists.  We believe that this world was created “good”(in the dynamic and “loaded with potential” sense), and not perfect (in the “complete” and “static” sense).  We believe that God created us and this world to live in harmony with each other and with Him.

3.  What is wrong?
Human beings make an extremely destructive choice very early on in the narrative.  That choice has far reaching consequences and knocks the entire Creation project off course.  The Shalom or harmony that is supposed to exist between God, people, and creation is shattered.  The world is not what God dreams for it to be and all Creation seems bent on moving in the opposite direction.

4.  What is the solution?
God does not give up on his dream for Creation.  He enacts a plan to bring about the “restoration of all things”.  This plan involves covenanting with a community of people to operate as agents of Shalom in the midst of a broken world.  God becomes a human being (Jesus) whose life, death, and resurrection open the door for a renewed creation of Shalom between a) God and human beings; b) Human beings and other human beings; and c) Human beings and Creation.  God calls a group of people to live in His reality now in the midst of a broken world.  He calls us to partner with Him to make it more and more so.  He promises that one day Jesus will return and that Heaven and Earth will be renewed.  He insists that we will be resurrected and glorified so that we may enjoy the fulfillment of His promise and his dream for all Creation.
(To Be Continued)

1 comment:

jimkastkeat said...

great words. great post.