Which world view do you follow?

People have a difficult time evaluating their own world view.

All people at all times have a grid or filter through which they understand the world.  All information taken in to a person’s mind gets filtered through their worldview.   There are certain things that are possible and certain things that are impossible or at least improbable according to one’s worldview.  One problem  is people have a very difficult time taking an unbiased look at their own worldview in order to evaluate it for its pros and cons. We automatically assume everyone for all time thought about their world in the same way we do, and this is woefully incorrect.  We get so busy experiencing our life that we do not want to examine our preconceived notions to see if they should be rejected or tweaked.

A tale of two worldviews

There are dozens (if not hundreds) of worldviews.  I would like to use 2 as an example of how each includes some aspects and rejects other aspects of differing views.

Worldview #1:  Naturalism – people who hold this view believe that matter and energy are all there is in the universe and because ALL things follow certain laws it is impossible for miracles to occur.  Yet when something out of the ordinary (they would say impossible) happens it is rejected immediately without ever carefully examining the evidence.  According to this view Jesus could not have been raised from the dead because this is an impossibility.  This does not fall into their categories of reality.  Jesus’ resurrection just could not happen because miracles do not happen, therefore Jesus could not rise from the dead.

Worldview #2: Christianity – this worldview says (among other things) miracles can happen and one can use reasoning to examine the evidence and determine the event’s validity.  It is not only possible for Jesus to be resurrection from death, but can be defended through the use of examination and corroborating evidences.  The reliable eyewitness reports (the New Testament gospels) can be scrutinized for their validity and accuracy.  In this worldview, however, certain scientific assertions are rejected out of hand without weighing all of the studies.  Concepts like the neo-Darwinian synthesis are rejected due to lack of convincing evidence. Many will dismiss micro-evolution because of the “disagreement” between science and the Bible.  Often a Christian will say ‘evolution does not happen because it goes against the Bible’, when the differences between micro and macro evolution need to be defined.  As quickly as many non-Christians reject the concept of a supernatural being, a Christian will reject assertions made and proven by science.

I would like to state that one needs to re-evaluate their own worldview to determine if they are merely stating something which comes from the culture or something that is consistent with their basic beliefs. Do people reject the existence of God because they have “proven” to themselves he does not exist or simply because the concept of a god does not fit into their preconceived notions?  Do people reject the idea of an “old earth” because they have made an assessment of the pertinent information to come to a logical conclusion or do they simply reject it because the people they read reject it and ‘the Bible rejects it so I reject it’?

What’s the point?

The point I am attempting to make is this: we all need to take a serious evaluation of our worldview and be able to support our beliefs with legitimate and sound reasoning.  Too many of us (not merely Christians but including Christians) believe something or a set of somethings just because other people believe it, not because the individual came to that conclusion through reasoning.  Often we believe something because people we respect say it’s true, yet we have not taken an unbiased, critical view of this belief.

A shift from Medieval to Modern to Post-Modern to . . .

As I stated in the beginning of this post, most of us believe people through all of history had the same worldview as we, yet this is just not the case.  There seems to be a worldview shift (at least in western culture) periodically at various times.

  • The Medieval Mindset:  If we start chronologically with the Medieval Period (AD 500-1500) there is a way of looking at the world that I would say is more ‘superstitious’ than later periods.  The medieval mindset put more thinking on a controlling god than on the science of ‘how things worked’.  The people back then just did not have the science background to look at how the world worked so they attributed phenomena to ‘evil spirits’ instead what we would now see were a scientific process.

  • The Modernist Mindset:  Somewhere from the 1500’s to the 1700’s (the time of the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the Enlightenment) there was a drastic worldview shift.  People changed their thinking from ‘more superstitious’ to ‘more scientific’.  There was a boom  in scientific and mathematical discoveries (actually there was a boom in many aspects of society) which changed the way people thought about their world.  This shift caused them to change the grid through which they evaluate their surroundings.  This worldview stressed logic and reason, where reason replaced faith in evaluating their world.  In this worldview there are objective truths in the universe which can be found through reasoning.

  • The Post-Modern mindset:  Somewhere around 1972 another shift took place.  This one started in art and literature and then moved into academia and eventually to theology.  In this mindset there are no objective truths (and even if there are it is irrelevant), truth is whatever my subjective experiences tell me it is.  Post-modernism is includes moral relativism, but encompasses all of reality.  In the religious realm post-modernism can easily be seen in the Emerging Church movement (a la Brian McClaren).

  • Post-post-Modernism- what comes after post-modernism?  I have no idea, but when I talk to people and do some research I will let you know.  The point for our discussion is Post-Modernism is waning and it will soon (or already is) be replaced by a new worldview.

Why the discussion on worldview?

May goal in discussing this topic is for more people to ask themselves the question, “Do I believe this thing is true, or am I merely following my culture?”  All intelligent people should take a close look at their beliefs, re-evaluate them and strive for consistency in their worldview.

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Will the real St. Valentine please stand up?

You mean there was more than one St. Valentine?

Since it is around Valentine’s Day and St. Valentine was a person of interest in Church History, I thought I would research and write about who this guy was and why he has a holiday named after him (I mean after all whatever he did he was no groundhog looking for his shadow to predict the end of winter).  So as I researched I discovered there were several men written about throughout history that bore the name Valentine or Valentinus (the Latin version of his name).  3 of these men lived around the year AD 270, and each has various degrees of information about their life and death.

So who were these three guys?

First off the name comes from the word valens which means worthy, strong , or powerful.  As such many followers of Jesus could and should have been called by this name.  As stated earlier there were three men with this name who lived around AD 270, so here they are (what little is known about some of them):

  • One of these men, legend has it suffered, for his faith along with several others somewhere in Africa.  Nothing else is know of this one.

  • The second, a bishop near Rome, was beaten and martyred for disobeying laws given by the Emperor Claudius II.

  • The third (a bishop in modern day Terni outside of Rome)was martyred (possibly beheaded) for his commitment to Jesus and this punishment was performed outside of Rome.

If that was not confusing enough

These last two stories have so little information and much is simply here say that the stories may be intermingled and convoluted so much that historians are unsure which did which.

What does he have to do with hearts and whispering sweet nothings (motorcycle cop (reference to The Muppet Movie)) to your significant other?

In a word ‘nothing’.  Apparently in the 18th century in England a couple of guys got together and wanted to supplant or replace a pagan holiday (that of Lupercalia) with a Christian one so they picked some obscure person of which little or nothing was known.

Orrrrrrr – Chaucer and his cronies mentioned Valentine in connection with a celebration associated with romantic love.

Sorry to burst your bubble about this guy who supposedly spread love and romance throughout the kingdom.

What can we learn from St.Valentine

I know this may sound trite or cliche but perhaps the thing best learned is the honoring of people who were willing to follow Jesus no matter what the cost.  Valentinus can be held up for not compromising the message of TRUE LOVE, that God so loved sinners He became a man to deal with sin in the only way that would satisfy His holiness, the death of a God/man. Valentine spread this good news until his beheading because of his concern for the souls of those around him.

Perhaps St. Valentine (and others) should be lauded more than once a year on February 14.

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What’s the big deal with monks?

Most people do not realize how significant the movement called monasticism has been throughout the history of the Church.  Monks have done some very significant things in history, it will take several posts to address all of them.

What is monasticism and why  do we care???

Monasticism stems from an ubiquitous idea in which all followers of Jesus ask “how does one define and put into practice allegiance with Jesus of Nazareth?”  or more simply put,“what is it that others should see in my life that shows them I am totally dedicated to Jesus?”  

A definition of Monasticism

I guess the 1st thing I should do is give a working definition of monasticism.  When I write of monasticism I am speaking of a movement where individuals decide to move away from their home and live either alone (such as in a cave) or with like minded others (such as in a monastery).  The purpose for this moving away from others ‘in the world’ is to separate oneself from the distractions of the evil world (that war against the soul) to be totally dedicated to communing with God.  The mentality is that the world is too much of a distraction and true holiness can only be achieved through isolation or communal living, where life is ‘just me and God’.

Many monks throughout history decided the other element that assisted them in becoming more holy was ascetism.  Ascetism is the practice of denying any pleasures of the body (including eating tasty food) in order to put ones body into submission.  The thinking was the more a person’s body is put into submission, the more spiritual they are.  This denial of one’s body stems from the permeating worldview of Platonism or Neo-Platonism.  Simplistically Platonism (among MANY other assertions) said that spiritual things are good, and physical things are evil.

The story of Monasticism

As I have studied these issues I see a pattern developing in the early church.  In earliest times (during the time of the Apostles until around 313 AD) the Roman Empire tortured and killed Christians because they would not worship the Roman gods or the Roman emperors.  Followers of the Way were accused of all kinds of atrocities such as paganism (rejecting worship of the Roman gods) and incest (calling each other ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ while holding ‘love feasts’ in the darkness of night), so the Roman leaders passed laws to punish the lawbreakers.  In AD 313 the Roman Emperor Constantine passed the Edict of Milan which banned all punishment of Christians for their ‘paganism’.  The question that came up after this event was ‘if in the early years showing dedication to Jesus was being willing to be tortured and die for my faith, what can I do now that the persecutions are over?’  So people decided to walk away from their life and move to a cave to dedicate themselves totally to God.

Monasticism has been a movement in one form or another for thousands of years.  But what is their significance, if any.

What is so important about Monks?

I could tell a myriad of stories involving monks.  Stories that involve the beginnings of a movement called Scholasticism, stories of widespread famine where the single source of healthy food are the monasteries, stories of the discovery of the oldest existing manuscript of the entire Bible being used as scrap paper and starters for fires.  Most of the stories will have to wait for another time, but I will tell one story the Irish Monks.

Nearly everyone has heard of St. Patrick.  Most, however, only know him from the holiday in March that is dedicated to him.  Few know the full story of his life and ministry and fewer still know the significance he had on the History of Christianity

How St. Patrick saved Christianity

After being born in England (c. 400 AD), Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and taken to the pagan land of the Celts where he worked as a slave for 6 years.  During his enslavement he spent hours praying to God about all sorts of topics not just his own rescue, and he learned the culture and language of the Celts.  One day he escaped from his enslavement and traveled back to his home in England.  There he studied theology in order to be a church leader (bishop).  After several years he had a dream or vision or something where he claims God told him to return to the land of the Celts and share the gospel to those pagan people.  So he did and spent the rest of his life sharing Jesus with the Celtic people.  Due to the Celt religion of Druidism, they had a notion of the sacredness of the number three.  So when Patrick shared the concept of the Trinity with the Celts they received and understood easily.  Christianity spread very quickly through the Celts and large numbers of the populace turned to monasticism.

Here’s where the story gets REALLY COOL.  The Celtic monks, remember they are way up north of the Roman Empire, took it upon themselves to make copy after copy after copy of any writing of antiquity, especially Christian writings.  So they copied the Bible (Old and New Testaments), they copied Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus, and Polycarp and many others.  At the same time, the Barbarian hordes (Huns, Goths, Franks, Vandals, etc.) were attacking the Roman Empire and destroying everything, including the sacred writings of Christianity.  Had the Celts not copied the Christian writings, it is possible (humanly speaking) for the entirety of the writings of Christianity to have been totally burned up.  In a very real sense the Celtic monks saved Christianity.  For we would now not have any writings (or very few) from before the time of St. Patrick.  HOW COOL IS THAT?????  MONKS SAVED CHRISTIANITY!!!!!