Saturday, September 15, 2007
The curriculum I signed up to teach is called "The Truth Project". It is a 12 part series produced by Focus on the Family and it is designed to teach the Christian worldview.
I do not think that "Christianity" can have a worldview; people have worldviews. Since Christianity is made up of people, and since people have various perspectives of worldview, then worldviews within the community of Christianity will vary. If you were to probe the various views within my church alone you would get a cacophony of perspectives. If one were to take into account Catholic, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, Charismatic, conservative, liberal, traditional, progressive, liturgical, emergent, etc.; you would have to conclude that one voice alone may not speak for the Christian community. Many voices must be heard.
The Truth Project is a response to a decline in basic knowledge of scripture and doctrine amongst evangelical Christians. A Christian pollster concluded in 2005:
"Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most [professed evangelicals] have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life."
Stephen Prothero in his book, Religious Literacy, says:
"Ironically,the United States became a nation of forgetters at the same time it became a nation of evangelicals. Believing in Christ became more important than knowing about Christ. To evangelicalism, therefore, we owe both the vitality of religion in contemporary America and our impoverished understanding of it."
Having only watched the first hour teaching, it seems the Truth Project is attempting to GIVE the answers to Christians so they can have "a response". The presenter states that there is no area where God has not given the answers; and that these answers will be presented so the Christian will know what is "True" and what is "False".
What first came to my mind was that this premise was in contradiction to Paul who said that we only know and prophesy "in part". Paul seemed to feel there were aspects of our story that we would only know after death. (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).
In addition, the approach of the video may have unintended consequences. If the Christian community lacks education about its own theology, the solution is not to "give" them the answers. Teach them to study. I have taught for 16 years and each year I have students whose only interest is the right answer. They have no interest in understanding, comprehension, or application. They just want to know if they got it right, so they can be done. Christians need an education, not a list of answers.
I am going to list some of my disagreements in the order that they occurred in the video.
One of the first things the presenter does, and continues to do throughout the video, is refer to culture in a negative light. Culture is portrayed as "anti-God". I do not tend to agree with Mark Driscoll, but I think this quote by him is apropos:
"Fundamentalism is really losing the war, and I think it is in part responsible for the rise of what we know as the more liberal end of the emerging church. Because a lot of what is fueling the left end of the emerging church is fatigue with hardcore fundamentalism that throws rocks at culture. But culture is the house that people live in, and it just seems really mean to keep throwing rocks at somebody's house."
In addition, I think culture needs to be critiqued and looked at objectively, but it is neither good nor bad on its own. A demonizing of culture leads to an unhealthy view of those outside of the Christian subculture. This creates a fear response and often paranoia amongst many of the Christian populace. Yoda said:
"Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering".
A fictional character, but I think the quote is valid. It could be argued that the Christian fear of people outside their subculture has often led to hate. This is never a Christian response.
At the beginning the presenter poses the question "Why did Jesus come into the World?" His "class" gave varied answers, many of which could be justified scripturally, but he stated that they were wrong (he might argue that they were wrong in reference to his particular scripture reference, but he never made that clear). He uses Jesus' statement in John to build his case.
"In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." John 18:37b
The video seeks to prove to the listener that Truth is the point of everything God ever did and that one is either for or against it. Much of his argument throughout the video relies on proof-texting. Henry Neufeld gives a good definition of proof-texting:
"By proof-texting I mean the use of individual scripture texts to produce apparent support for a doctrinal position without adequate regard for the contexts of the individual texts which may indicate differences and nuances."
To discuss the scriptural reasons of why Jesus came would not have helped his argument. He wanted to divide everything into black and white terms. Therefore, other reasons were not mentioned and the answers of his class were dismissed.
Here are a couple of other reasons Jesus came: (these are just a few of the more blunt ones; inferred would be much longer)
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." 1 Timothy 1:15
"Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Hebrew 10:9-10
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me."John 6:38
These scriptures, and others like them, do not lend themselves to drawing a line in the sand. As I will get into in my next post on this topic, the purpose of this video was to bifurcate (his word) humanity to those who follow the Truth (by his definition) and those who do not.
I simply do not believe that is the way of Jesus. More later....
Read Part 2
Posted by Andrew at 5:13 PM