Part 5: Relevance Reasons - In a world filled with conflicting ideologies and morals, God's "Plumbline" is needed for us to know what to believe and how to live.
In my four previous posts, I covered three reasons for naming my blog “The Plumbline” – personal reasons, biblical reasons, and symbolic reasons. In this final post of the series, I will look at relevance reasons. As already noted in a previous blog, God's Word is a plumbline for truth, morality, and justice. As such it is relevant for every aspect of Christian life. In a world filled with conflicting ideologies and morals, God "Plumbline" is desperately needed for us to know what to believe and how to live.
One need not look far to see that our fragmented world lacks an objective, accurate, and reliable standard for truth, morality, and justice. Even a cursory glance at the news, entertainment, politics, the curricula being taught in schools and universities, and the current moral norms of society, shows this to be true. At nearly every turn, there is great confusion over right and wrong. Conflicts over different values and heated debates between opposing truth claims are frequent. The underlying cause behind the confusion and conflict that is so apparent in our world is differing world views.
A worldview is a mental pair of glasses through which one sees the world. In one sense, a worldview is very individualized because each of us has had unique experiences, education, influences, and perspectives that have shaped our lives. But in another sense, a worldview can also be collective because of the shared influences such as education, religious upbringing (or lack thereof), culture, and entertainment that shape a group of people. These and other shared influences can shape the collective thinking, values, morals, customs, beliefs, and behaviors of a particular group, a political party, or an entire culture.
When the deeply held beliefs and values in one group’s worldview are vastly different from the deeply held beliefs and values that comprise the worldview of another group, major conflicts can arise. For example, conflicts repeatedly arise in economics and politics because of the very different values and beliefs of capitalism and socialism or conservatism and liberalism. In fact, there is a great chasm fixed between those who hold extreme leftist and rightist positions on these views.
In the moral arena, conflicts arise between prolife and prochoice positions based on differing beliefs about the beginning of human life (at conception or at birth), about whose rights are primary (the unborn baby’s rights or the mother’s rights), and about the value of unborn life. Other ethical conflicts arise between those who hold to absolute moral values based on divine revelation (a view held by various religious groups including Christians) and others who adhere to moral relativism based on individualism and societal norms.
Finally, conflicts over different belief systems are abundant. One example would be the public and private debates between atheists and theists. Atheists deny the existence of God and embrace materialistic naturalism as the cause of the universe, while theists believe in God and hold to a divine intelligent design as the cause of the universe. The list of worldview conflicts can go on and on - different views about climate change, the efficacy or danger of vaccinations, child rearing practices, approaches to sex education, the censorship of free speech, and more.
When worldviews are in conflict, how do we determine whose view is right if there is no objective, reliable, and accurate standard for truth and morality? If there is an objective and reliable source of truth, then who determines what that source is and what the grounds are for doing so?
Some say, “There are no absolutes; all truth is relative." Or, "There is no right or wrong; all morality is a matter of personal conscience." Or, "There is no authority for truth and morality. Your truth is your truth, and my truth is my truth. Let everyone believe what they want. After all, all views are equally valid.” But is this relativistic perspective really defensible?
Conflicting truth claims cannot both be true and equally valid at the same time. (Though they can both be wrong and equally invalid, such as the claim that 2+2=3 versus the claim that 2+2=5. But this is a discussion for another time.) The reality is that some views are exactly antithetical and they simply cannot both be true. For example, theism which believes in the existence of God and atheism which denies the existence of God cannot both be true at the same time, just as a glass cannot be full of water and empty of water at the same time. For one of these statements to be true, the other statement must be false. It is impossible for theism and atheism to coexist as equal and valid truths.
Some views also have inherent contradictions. To say that “There are no absolutes; all truth is relative,” is itself an absolute statement and hence self-contradictory. Also, to say that “all truth is relative,” would be to claim that this statement is also relative and therefore cannot be absolutely true. Consequently, to claim the “truth” of relativism is self-defeating. Further, to claim, “There is no authority for truth and morality” is to claim authority for making a truth statement that denies truth and morality. Again, self-defeating.
In future blogs I will seek to present evidence for the Bible as God’s inspired and trustworthy authority for our beliefs and morals. However, that is not my purpose in this blog post. Since the purpose of this post is to share relevance reasons for calling my blog “The Plumbline,” for now I will simply assume the traditional Christian view that Jesus is God in the flesh and He has the authority to claim our obedience. Further, that the Scriptures are God’s written authority for faith and practice. So, Christ and the Scriptures are a collective plumbline for our lives.
The subtitle of my blogsite is “Exploring God’s Truth for Today’s World” and the motto of Plumbline Ministries is “Aligning Lives to God’s Word.” These two statements reflect a complementary purpose for this blog: to bring a biblical perspective on relevant issues that Christians are facing today so that they can better align their lives to God’s Word. The goal is not external conformity to law or even principle, but a heart surrendered to Christ and transformed by the power of the Spirit, resulting in greater Christlikeness and a life that pleases God out of sincere love for Him and others. External conformity and Phariseeism is no more Christlike than hypocrisy.
I believe that God’s Word is the lens through which we should evaluate the beliefs, morals, and practices we encounter each day in the world around us. Christ and His teaching should shape our lives and our perspectives so that we develop a biblically Christian worldview. It is clear from the events and teaching in Scripture that a truly Christian worldview will often conflict with the beliefs, values, and morals of the world around us; however, the Scriptures also outline the Christlike attitudes and responses we are to have when facing these conflicts.
The Bible speaks authoritatively on a wide range of issues that touch every area of life– spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, vocationally, ethically, theologically, philosophically, and more. In the months and years ahead, we will look at a biblical perspective on dozens of topics that are relevant to Christian thinking and living including the following:
Jesus as our example
God's plan and process for conforming us to the image of Christ
Living in the power of the Holy Spirit
The Bible’s role in teaching, reproving, correcting, and training in righteousness
Qualities and practices of Christian love
Discerning truth and error
Confidence versus certainty in matters of faith
Essential elements of saving faith
Grounds for assurance of salvation
Essentials and nonessentials of Christian belief (orthodoxy)
Essentials and nonessentials of Christian morality (orthopraxy)
Handling matters of conscience
Biblical standards for sexual morality
Dealing with sin and incongruence in our lives
Historical reliability of the Scriptures
Evidences for God
Evidences for the resurrection of Christ
Christ’s view and use of the Old Testament Scriptures
Rightly dividing God's word (principles for Bible interpretation)
Marriage and family
Grace and forgiveness
Acceptable and unacceptable forms of judging and discrimination
Limitations of tolerance
Insights on prayer
Trusting God in difficult times
Various theological topics
Stewardship of time, treasure, and talents
Working to glorify God and benefit others
Worshipping in Spirit and in truth
And much, much more
God’s living revelation through His Son and His written revelation through the Scriptures together form the worldview glasses through which we are to view all of life. Together, they are the plumbline for aligning our lives. As such, they are highly relevant for Christian living in the 21st Century.
Sadly, many Christians today are not solidly rooted in a biblical worldview. Their thinking, attitudes, and behaviors have not been aligned to God's plumbline. Too often, their thinking and practices have been shaped more by worldly values, morals, and beliefs than by their faith in Christ and obedience to His teaching. Statistics show that there is little difference between the values and lifestyles of most "Christians" and that of the world. Many Christians are functional atheists. They claim a faith in God, but they live as if God and His Word were not relevant to their lives.
Sadly, rather than the church being a shining light to the world around us, often our hypocritical behaviors have caused scandal and brought reproach on the name of Christ. Or at the other extreme, our holier than thou condemning attitudes have alienated people. Either way, our salt has lost its savor and our light has been dimmed..
My purpose for this blog is to present a biblical perspective on many issues that Christians are grappling with today. My hope is that each post will be written with a Christlike blend of grace and truth, humility and authority, and redemptive conviction. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will use this blog as a searchlight in your heart and help you develop a biblical worldview. May this blog lead you to a deeper walk with Christ and direct you to His enabling grace that can empower you to live a life pleasing to Him.