As I write today in the University Center, I am surrounded by the masses of undergraduates all celebrating Halloween. The myriad of dark angels, ghosts, and movie icons is astounding. In the midst of all this, I read recently that today is also Reformation day (something often missed in the focus on ghouls and goblins on October 31st). So in memory of Martin Luther, and those theses on Wittenberg Cathedral, I figure I should use this opportunity to post my single thesis against the culture in which I live, and the Church into which I have been grafted here in the west.
The fact that we need a common understanding of the universe in order to be able to have a moral compass that all of us can follow was dealt with in the last posting. But to review, the words of David Wells (in “Losing Our Virtue”, Eerdmans 1998) are germane:
“Lying between law on the one side, and freedom on the other, would be a middle territory for the cultivation of character and the affirmation of truth… … unless it can be recovered our society will stand in greater and greater jeopardy” p.63
Thus we need character, and without a common worldview, the there is no ability to develop a character which would be beneficial communally. Now I hasten to say here, I do not mean that the worldview must be imposed. Indeed, that’s largely impossible. As the communists found in their race to found a society of commonality, to silence a person is not to convince them. No, for the development of a common world view, something else is needed.
On the other end of the scale, some (like Margaret Somerville) would say that we can negotiate a common worldview. This seems largely unlikely in a society so based on freedom and the affirmation of plural worldviews that the worldviews in question are never allowed to conflict and thus alter (and one would hope, better) the individual worldviews involved. What is needed is conversion to a common worldview, and given that I believe democracy, freedom, scientific endeavour, and a respect for people all stem best from a Christian worldview, that means I think we need to start actually convincing people of the truth of Jesus Christ.
Now, the more astute of you have noticed that this is not the standard Christian argument for the need for all to believe in Jesus; that belief in Jesus is necessary for eternal life, that it is the means by which we are reconciled to God, and that is the way that society will be perfected and blessed by God. I believe all of that to be true, but even from the secular concept of earthly benefit (and contrary to the ruminations of activist antitheists like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett) it seems to me our society would benefit greatly from a renaissance, a reformation, a wholesale turning to a Christian worldview that can ethically base and structure our development as a society.
I note that the Christian worldview also places stricures on how such evangelism is to be done ethically. Tomorrow, I’ll deal with that. :-)
Happy Reformation Day!