In the last post we took an introductory look at the worldview elements of theology, metaphysics, and epistemology. This time we’ll learn a little about ethics and anthropology and why they are essential aspects of one’s total world and life view.
Christians readily confess that they do not have a monopoly on ethical living. Everyday there are believers and unbelievers living moral lives. However, Ron Nash shows that in relationship to worldview thinking, the question of how one justifies his or her ethical beliefs and conduct is quite another question. He says:
“ethics as a worldview factor is more concerned with the question of why that action is wrong. Are there moral laws that govern human conduct? What are they? Are these moral laws the same for all human beings? Is morality totally subjective…, or is there an objective dimension to moral laws that means their truth is independent of our preferences and desires?”
The Christian worldview claims that why one “ought” to behave in a certain way and what conduct is permissible or impermissible is grounded in the character of God. Christians claim that it is God’s good, righteous and holy character upon which the Christian ethic is grounded. Furthermore, Christians assert that God has revealed laws, rules and principles by which Christians are to live. There is no dispute, therefore, that unbelievers live ethical lives. The Christian responds, however, that only belief in the Christian God can truly justify ethical behavior. The unbeliever either borrows from the Christian worldview or lives by personal preference. Christians further maintain that because of God’s general revelation to all humanity, there is no reason to believe that the ethical systems of other religions should be totally different from Christianity’s. Arthur Holmes has said that “all truth is God’s truth wherever it be found.” However, Holmes does carefully follow up that statement by reminding his reader that, “We do not affirm that everything men take to be true is God’s truth.” This statement is important to understand. Though all truth is God’s truth, not every credal statement or worldview ethic is a representation of that truth. Christianity claims to properly have the fullest revelation of God’s self-disclosure.
The second area we want to look at is anthropology. Nash suggests that every worldview should include a “number of important beliefs about human beings. Examples include the following: Are human beings free… Are human beings only bodies or material beings? …what is the human soul or mind, and how is it related to the body? Does physical death end the existence of the human person?” Quoting William J. Abraham, Nash considers what the Christian worldview believes about human beings. Abraham states:
“Human beings are made in the image of God, and their fate depends on their relationship with God. They are free to respond to or reject God and they will be judged in accordance with how they respond to him. This judgment begins now but finally takes place beyond death in a life to come. Christians furthermore offer a diagnoses of what is wrong with the world. Fundamentally, they say our problems are spiritual: we need to be made anew by God. Human beings have misused their freedom; they are in a state of rebellion against God; they are sinners. These conclusions lead to a set of solutions to this ill. As one might expect, the fundamental solution is again spiritual… [I]n Jesus of Nazareth God has intervened to save and remake mankind. Each individual needs to respond to this and to become part of Christ’s body, the church, where they are to grow in grace and become more like Christ. This in turn generates a certain vision of the future. In the coming of Jesus, God has inaugurated his kingdom, but it will be consummated at some unspecified time in the future when Christ returns.”
Christianity purports to know where human beings came from, why human beings are here, and what will happen to human beings after death. The questions of origin, purpose and destiny are answered by Christians by pointing once again to the God who has revealed himself. For a worldview to even be taken seriously, it must deal adequately with the human condition. Christianity claims to offer the most realistic analysis of the fallenness of the human condition, and only Christianity knows how this fallen condition has been solved.
Next time we’ll take a look at the person and work of Jesus Christ and conclude this series.