I began writing a short book to help strengthen the resolve of the men and women in our Church on Apologetics. Below is the introduction to the book. I pray that even this introduction blesses its readers. See Chapter 1: The Foundational Necessity of Christianity.
There is an old proverbial cartoon that depicts a large elephant surrounded by a three blind men, each holding a different part of the elephant’s body. The blind man feeling the elephant’s leg says, “It’s a tree.” The blind man feeling the elephant’s torso says, “It’s a wall.” While the blind man feeling the elephant’s snout says, “It’s a snake.” The lesson from the cartoon is that we as individuals are like those blind men. We grasp at truth, but can only see in part. Many believe this is how religion and various systems of faith operate. Each system sees in part and no one view is able to see the whole truth correctly.
The cartoon however is fundamentally flawed. While each blind man sees only partially, and therefore incorrectly, there exists one outside the picture who is able to assess the truth, namely that the blind men are incorrect and that the object in the center of the frame is an elephant. In other words, the cartoon is attempting to demonstrate that no one person or system can make exclusive claims to truth because we are all blind, but insodoing the cartoon makes an exclusive claim to truth, namely that everyone is blind and seeing only in part. As it turns, even the attempt to say that ‘no worldview should be exclusive’, is itself an exclusive statement.
Every person on this planet operates under a comprehensive worldview. A worldview simply put is the lens through which one sees and interprets reality. Most of us are blind to all the unique factors that make up our own worldview. We are like a fish swimming in water. The fish is unaware of the water it swims in. It simply cannot imagine another environment. Similarly, most controversies and disagreements are a result of our unwillingness or incompetence at seeing through another person’s set of lenses, or an inability to evaluate the inconsistencies and weaknesses of our own set of lenses. As humans in rebellion to God, we naturally sway towards our own personal biases and find ourselves often incapable of seeing circumstances through another person’s worldview.
No two Christians share an identical worldview. As an example, a Christian who overcame a cancer diagnosis at a young age may have a unique perspective on the frailty of life as well as a powerful ability to relate to those who are suffering. On the other hand, a Christian who was born in a largely Muslim region of the world and who watched their parents lose their jobs and risk life and limb as a result of their faith in Christ may have a courageous spirit and an ability to withstand persecution that other less tested Christians might not share. Despite these very real differences, every Christian does share the same fundamental premises of the great story of God’s dealing with humanity. No matter a Christian’s particular culture, language, or set of experiences, each has the primary foundations of their worldview shaped by God’s story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration communicated to us through the Bible. In this way, we can speak of a particular Christian worldview.
When it comes to comparing worldviews, a common narrative in the West is that every worldview is essentially equal in worth and value. The great modern heresy is to claim that any one worldview is superior to any other worldview in any way. While on the surface this may sound respectful, any thoughtful person can quickly see that of course this view cannot be taken seriously.
After all worldviews have consequences. What should be done when a false worldview leads to the death of millions of children, or to the genocide of a people group, or to the religious rituals of gang rape, or to the genital mutilation of millions of infant girls, or to an entire religion that supports child marriages, or to the nation wide celebration of jihadism, or human chattel slavery, or live child sacrifice at the hands of witch doctors, or to a significant rise in suicides and depression among youth, to increased poverty, or to racism and ethnocentrism. Even with that short list, most would deny that the worldviews that lead to such atrocities should be respected.
Herein lies the problem. Who determines which worldviews and practices are acceptable and which are unacceptable? How do we determine what is true or not true, especially when so much of what constitutes a worldview is immeasurable with scientific tools? Again, while many like to imagine that we live in a world where all views are legitimate and acceptable, and that given enough time and left to themselves humans will somehow arrive at a utopia, the simple reality is that we do not inhabit such a world. In the real world, history has proven that given enough time and left to themselves, human society descends into anarchy on the one side or state sanctioned genocide on the other. The various worldview differences we might examine have major consequences, and should be considered seriously.
As I hope to show, I believe it is clear to any person who wants to meaningfully take the time to consider the evidence and the reasons for the Christian faith, that the Christian story and worldview is not only utterly unique, but is overwhelmingly true over and against other worldviews. To support such a claim, I want to compare worldviews against the standard of Christianity through five different approaches. These approaches have been meaningful to me as I have developed in my understanding and learning. The aim of these discussions is primarily to strengthen the convictions of the Christian, and to provide a substantial well thought through basis for confidence in their faith. I deeply desire Christians to know that despite the secular world’s claim that Christianity is not rooted in logic and amounts to nothing more than an elaborate fairy tale, Christianity in fact is the only worldview available to men that is capable of making sense of the universe we live in.
The outline of this book is structured around five distinct approaches to evaluating the truth of the Christian worldview. The five approaches state that Christianity is: Foundationally Necessary, Intellectually Honest, Existentially Satisfying, Personally Transformative, and Instinctively Beautiful.
First, I believe Christianity is true because it is Foundationally Necessary. This means that logically, life apart from the God of the Bible deteriorates into absurdity. With no God and no direction, life not only is ultimately meaningless but we also would have no way to account for laws of logic, rationality, morality, or the existence of the self. In other words, when someone who does not believe in the Christian God appeals to logic as the basis for an argument, or to a value system as a means for determining ethics, or to the scientific method as a way of discovering facts, they are unwittingly and unknowingly relying on the Christian worldview to do so. Non-Christian worldviews cannot support such ideas.
Second, Christianity is Intellectually Honest. Christianity has mistakenly been caricaturized over the years as intellectually backwards, as if to have faith in Jesus was to leave reason and logic at the door. In fact, the shoe is on the other foot. It is the Christian who can stand confidently in the position of having their faith fully supported by the facts of the real world we live in. While rooms full of books have been written on the evidences for Christianity, I want to highlight a few of the evidences that have most impacted me: the Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Argument, The Moral Argument, the fulfillment of prophecy, the archaeological record, and the case for the resurrection of Christ. None of these amount to a deductive proof of the Christian faith, but inductively they do amount to far more than enough to claim we have knowledge of the truth.
Third, I believe Christianity is Existentially Satisfying. Over centuries philosophers have debated the larger important questions of life. Who are we? Why do we exist? What is our purpose? What is wrong in the world? How do we fix it? Where are we headed? Every person alive should be interseted in these questions at some level. After all, we are all going to die one day, and even those who deny that the soul exists after death have no means of being certain of that claim. Just because a person denies in this life the existence of a judgment after death, has not bearing on whether or not a judgment after death awaits. The answers to existential questions like these cannot be discovered through the scientific method. Philosophy has failed to provide a consistent way of perceiving answers to these questions that amount to anything beyond nihilism. Rather, the answers God has provided us through His revealed word are not only clear and cogent, but they are truly satisfying to the deeper things we all search for.
Fourth, I believe Christianity is Personally Tranformative. If a worldview is to be considered true it ought to be effective not only at powerfully changing a person, but powerfully change them in a positive way. The unspoken reality is that across the globe, hundreds of thousands of muslims are turning to Christianity throughout the Middle East, many giving their lives as martyrs for their new faith. Millions of Buddhists and atheists in China have converted to Christianity and now live in the largest and fastest growing Church in world history, all while under intense persecution. Why is Christianity flourishing in these places? It is because their previous worldviews have failed them, but Christianity is having an effect that is clearly demonstrable and powerful to heal and to help. From the Apostle Paul to Blaise Pascal. Across history, Christians have primarily been responsible for the development of schools, construction and maintenance of orphanages, the organization of libraries, the development of just legal systems, and much more. The evidence for the effect of Christ upon a life is written all through the world’s history.
Fifth, I believe Christianity is Instinctively Beautiful. Humanity naturally strives for the transcendant. We love films and art and music that leave us breathless. We long for romance that satisfies our inner longing for oneness. We love stories of redemption, of the hero who is willing to sacrifice their life for others. From culture to culture throughout history we discover these themes. From Shakespeare to The Marvel Universe, I believe these themes are deeply woven into the human experience because each of them find their roots in a much greater story, the story of God’s dealing with humanity. The story of the true hero we all need and long for, Jesus Christ. The person who is willing to honestly examine what Christ has done must find themselves awestruck at the beauty and majesty of it all.
My aim is to equip Christians to think like Christians, to understand their own worldview more deeply, and to be able to engage with others from opposing worldviews in a more intelligent, humble, loving, compassionate, clear, and God honoring way. If others who are not Christians come across this writing and benefit from it, I am glad.
Great Intro! I’ve heard the same illustration of the elephant and observers used for Nouthetic (Christian) counseling. God Bless you and your book endeavors!
Thank you friend!