More Than a Worldview
Every month I receive a small check in the mail for our small Christian school from an older couple. Among my cherished acquaintances is an older woman who spends a significant portion of her waking hours praying for those whom she knows. Another friend of mine consistently shares the love of God with unsaved friends and family members. Hospitality has been shown to me by many in this congregation. All seemingly small and insignificant things. Yet here is a faith to which I aspire - a faith that works through love. It cannot be learned in books. No movies will be made documenting the lives of these individuals. They are not self-promoters, salespeople who sell themselves and their experiences at the expense of the gospel of our Savior. Like John the Baptist, they decrease. God increases through them.
On another front, I have watched with interest and frequently been a participant in the resurgence of interest in Christian worldview literature, conferences, and education. These are perhaps harbingers of reformation; they are certainly a blessed work of God’s Spirit bearing witness to the truth of his Scripture. Worldview interest is fueled by the assault of secularism upon the remnants of Christianity in the United States. While it is the perennial duty of Christians to bring every thought captive to Christ, it becomes a pressing need when the faith we love and cherish is universally attacked on nearly every cultural front.
With all of the emphasis upon Christian worldview, we should not forget that Christianity is more than a worldview. Without depreciating the Christian worldview movement, its goal must be "love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned" (1 Tim. 1:5). Truth, rightly understood and faithfully lived, produces love, a good conscience, and sincere faith. If this goal is forgotten, subsequent generations may look back upon our "worldview efforts" and characterize it as Christian intellectualism rather than a return to a full-orbed Christian faith.
Love is an imperative goal. Jesus said that all men will know we are his disciples by our love. It is imperative that our love be built upon consistently biblical truth, but if that truth does not produce love, it is worthless (1 Cor. 13:2). Some important questions, therefore, must be asked of Christian worldview instructors and pastors, including myself, and Christians that place a premium upon having and holding biblical doctrine: "Do we love? Do we love men more than books? Has our understanding of God’s gracious gospel, his unspeakably glorious attributes, and the details of his word increased our service to others, our compassion, our prayer life, our patience with the faults of others? Can we with Calvin embrace the whole world in a universal feeling of love?" We cannot simply dismiss these questions as issues that interrupt our efforts to refute Islam, expose the fallacies of evolution, and trounce the secularists. These are important concerns. Yet Christianity is more than an intellectual grid through which we defend our particular belief system against its attackers. It is the religion of love - of God’s love through Jesus Christ, of divine grace that enables us to die to self and prefer others, of personal, Spirit-produced loveliness that presents an unassailable fortress to our enemies. Love is not an argument; it is a way of life. God’s love saved the world; our love will be used by him to convert the world.
Men, moreover, do not truly, personally, or savingly possess truth if they do not also possess love. The Bible is quite clear on this: knowledge alone produces pride whereas love edifies (1 Cor. 8:1). A significant part, indeed, the crowning jewel of the Christian worldview, is love. Every new insight gleaned from God’s word should increase the fervency of our love for God, foster the desire to serve others with this truth, and reach out to others with God’s saving truth, not simply by proving our intellectual superiority, which, quite frankly, ignores the fact that many unbelievers are "smarter" than believers, but by demonstrating compassion for them in their lost condition and endeavoring to lead them to the fountain of love whereby they may be saved from everlasting destruction and the earthly misery brought about by following human wisdom. This is why Calvin is in a class by himself in the post-apostolic church. Calvin did not write "worldview literature" in the modern sense of the term; he wrote "love literature." He saw more clearly than those before him and more consistently than those after him that truth and love are two sides of the same coin. Knowledge of the truth leads to love and piety toward God and man. One without the other may be a theoretical possibility, but it is an ugly reality.
An emphasis upon love brings balance to our understanding of the Bible and the Christian worldview. It protects from intellectualism. While many segments of the church are rebelliously anti-intellectual, the proper antidote to intellectual laziness is not intellectualism. We must use our minds to know, love, and serve God, but the Bible knows nothing of the "primacy of the intellect." As consistent as we may think our worldview is, there are many things we do not know, and what we do know is known imperfectly. This is not a denial of the clarity of Scripture; it is an affirmation that I am fallible. There are some truths that we, dare I say it, feel more than we can fully comprehend or put into words. Love also allows for tolerance within an acceptable biblical range. We can learn much for those segments of the Christian community and individual believers who may not know as much as we think we do, but they often love more and better than we. I wonder whose legacy will be more lasting. There is a diversity of gifts within the body of Christ, but the one Spirit into whom we are all baptized works the grace of love in all. Our presentation and defense of doctrinal distinctives must be undertaken in love, or they are little more than intellectual tussles unworthy of the name "Christian."
I wholeheartedly support the effort to think God’s thoughts after him in the total spectrum of human activity. I also wholeheartedly support the Bible’s teaching that love is the fruit, goal, motivation, and attitude that truth produces. It is not either-or but both. You may not be able to convince an unbelieving co-worker of the truth of the gospel or a fellow-believer of some distinctive truth of Scripture. What you can manifest, however, is the spirit of Christian love. Service. Preferring others. Self-denial. Hospitality. Forgiveness. A warm friendliness. This often convinces where arguments fail. At the end of the day, the praying Christian woman, the giving elderly couple, and my gospel-sharing friend have experienced and often manifest the power of the gospel more than those who stridently march through life exposing every error and defending every jot and tittle of the Christian worldview. The kingdom of God is not a matter of words but of love. Its power lies not in logical persuasion but in righteousness, peace, and joy.
Love the truth. Defend the truth. Be broken by the truth. Love because of the truth. Do not, however, claim to have experienced the power of the kingdom of God simply because you can refute evolution and reduce postmodernism to absurdity. This you may only claim if you love God and man.