Every belief system will ultimately bear fruit—and the fruit will be consistent with the root from which it comes.
Sadly, in our culture, people are generally not concerned about their worldview. They act as if they can separate their ideas from their actions—in effect establishing a worldview in which worldviews are irrelevant! If this ironic paradigm, rooted in relativism, is allowed to stand, it strips all worldviews of their functional value.
Nearly 30 years ago, in his landmark bestseller A Christian Manifesto, Francis Schaeffer described the fragmentation that has accompanied the shift toward relativism in our society. Schaeffer suggested that the basic problem with our culture was that parents and leaders had only “seen things bits and pieces instead of totals.” The result was an inability to deal with the full scope of society’s dilemmas.
“They have very gradually become disturbed over permissiveness, pornography, the public schools, the breakdown of the family, and finally abortion,” Schaeffer said. “But they have not seen this as a totality—each thing being a part, a symptom, of a much larger problem….They failed to see that all of this has come about due to a shift in worldview—that is, through a fundamental change in the overall way people think and view the world and life as a whole.”
In other words, according to Schaeffer, part of the reason it has been so difficult to address the cultural challenges of our day is that we have largely ignored the fact that these changes in our society have occurred primarily because of changes in our thinking. Not only have we failed at times to acknowledge the consequences of our ideas, we’ve often failed to recognize the ideas themselves. We have not clearly seen how our worldview affects our decisions and our values. If we are to have any hope of maintaining a civil society, it is essential that we recognize not only that ideas matter, but that having the correct ideas makes all the difference. If we fail to see this basic reality, we will be morally and culturally hobbled.
In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul expounds on the ill effects of a life lived without regard to the consequences of ideas:
God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts….
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead….Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshipped the things God made but not the Creator himself…..
That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved.
When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, fighting, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. [Sad but true today!] They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, and are heartless and unforgiving.1
In the wake of September 11, some people sought to attribute the terrorist attacks to the judgment of God. But according to Paul, God’s wrath has already been revealed against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of people. In fact, God’s judgment against those who embrace a God-less worldview is to allow them to experience the consequences of their lifestyle choices. God gives them what they ask for! The resulting bad ideas, unhealthy practices, and addictive tendencies reveal that God’s judgment has already been released. It is revealed in the degenerative lifestyles of those who reject absolute truth. When we refuse to honor God and instead begin to present vain, foolish speculations and assertions, our hearts are darkened and those beliefs lead us down a deadly spiral, as individuals and as a nation. Professing ourselves to be wise, we become a nation of fools.
For example, some people in our society will defend the rights of plants and animals with greater zeal than they do the rights of people. They worship the creation more than the Creator, just as Paul predicted in the first century. Others defend their right to engage in unnatural sexual practices, and anyone who disagrees with them is immediately labeled an extremist, a hatemonger, homophobic, or intolerant. Who would have thought we’d see the day when a woman’s freedom of choice would not be constrained by her unborn child’s right to life? Who would have thought that an individual’s freedom to choose to have a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex would not only be defended as normal, but would become that basis of proposed changes in our laws governing marriage and family? A nation of fools—one with a God-less worldview—cannot long preserve a productive and healthy society.
Still, we should not wish God’s punitive judgment against those who engage in self-destructive behavior. Under no circumstances should we ever encourage unkindness, discrimination, or attacks on those with whom we disagree. Instead, we must extend the love of God to them, demonstrate compassion, and show them the way to find healing for their deep-seated spiritual unrest. Corrupt ideas and their harmful consequences will not be redeemed through condemnation and shame. The underlying illness can only be healed by love, truth, and a reaffirmation of the absolutes.
The founders of our nation made certain to ground their hope for building a great society of freedom and liberty on the established principles of the Judeo-Christian worldview, which they knew had resulted throughout history in the world’s most remarkable flowering of the arts, freedom, prosperity, and progress. For all the shortcomings of the West, no other society has known the kind of independence, affluence, and advancement as those founded during the Christian era. Pray along with us that our population will return to a biblical worldview.
Taken from The Absolutes (Tyndale) by James Robison.
1Romans 1:18-19, 21-22, 25-31, Holy Bible, New Living Translation, emphasis added.