Summary: What you believe about God and man will impact what you believe about truth and knowledge which will in turn impact what you believe about morality and ethics – which is what the final question a worldview must answer deals with.
The View: A Matter of Perspective on Morality and Ethics
Cascades Fellowship CRC, JX MI
January 29, 2012
Series: Christ in the Home
There’s a joke my buds and I used to use when driving through town. We’d say that the word “stop” on a stop sign was an acronym for “Slow-to-Peek.” In other words, we obeyed traffic signs and signals according to our own interpretation to them. This is one of the reasons why my mom would always say that it was by grace alone that my friends and I lived to see thirty and beyond.
The reality is that the word “stop” meant exactly that – stop. Quite frankly, my friends and I were arrogant, young idiots that God demonstrated extraordinary mercy towards. This became abundantly clear to me when I was in Talcahuano, Chile while in the Navy. A friend and I were heading out on liberty to check out the town. To get from the port to the city we had to take a bus – it was a nice bus, too; plenty of elbow room.
We were beginning to relax and enjoy the ride as we approached the first traffic light. With a jolt of fear, I realized that the bus was not slowing down; instead the driver began laying on the horn. Now, I do not exaggerate in any way when I tell you that there were cars already in the intersection and we were hurtling straight toward them – horn sounding the entire way. As we whizzed through the intersection, I came to a startling conclusion; in Talcahuano, traffic laws were optional and only one law really mattered – the law of gross tonnage and right of way was earned relative to the weight of your vehicle.
We have been talking over the past couple weeks about what it takes to build a family altar in the home – to make Jesus Christ the center of family life. And if you remember we said that the way you build a family altar is by beginning with the correct worldview. So we have been endeavoring to understand what a worldview is and what goes into forming a worldview.
A worldview, as you remember, is a set of beliefs one holds to be true that s/he uses to put things into context and make sense of our world. It is how we define reality and ourselves in the context of reality. Ultimately, our identity is shaped and our lives defined by our worldview. The importance of understanding this concept of worldview is because our behavior, choices, and actions will all find their basis in our worldview. In other words we will live out what we believe.
We also said that the beliefs that form our worldview can be expressed in a series of paired questions – big questions that get at the nature of existence. The first pairing we said a worldview must address is “Where did come from and why are we here?” In other words, what do we believe about God first of all, and consequently about man. What we believe about where we come from – whether God exists or not – will largely determine what we believe about man; his origin and purpose. In fact, everything else we believe flows out of what we say about God – whether he real, present and engaged with his creation. Our view of God shapes everything else. When you get right down to it the worldview we embrace is simply our theology manifested – what we believe about God lived out.
The second pairing of questions our worldview has to address is “What is true and how do we know?” In other words, our worldview must inform us about what is real – and how do we know it is real. So we looked at how we might answer Pilate’s question – what is truth? And having determined that truth by definition is that which corresponds to reality we concluded for something to be true it must express, explain or lead to experience that is consistent with what really is; it must conform to reality.
We then said that there were two ways for us to know what conforms to reality – the first, if you remember, was special revelation or how God has revealed himself. Our view of knowledge springs from our understanding that all Truth is grounded in the person and character of God, so all knowledge must begin with a correct understanding of who God is and who he has made us to be. Put simply, we must know God and who we are in light of God if we are to gain real knowledge and understanding. Any knowing apart from God is flawed at its foundation and cannot ultimately be true.