It’s amazing how important worldview can be.
Take the secular vs. the Judeo-Christian view of bad behavior and unfairly advancing self, family or friends.
The secular worldview, if it were honest, would not criticize such selfish behavior, because if we are just batches of matter put together by chance and constantly evolving, how can there be right and wrong? Where do those concepts come from? Not from the survival of the fittest, for sure. In that system, everyone is someone else’s meal.
But most secularists sidestep that 800 pound question and, without evaluating why or how, adopt some sort of normative standards for individuals and society. Then they bolt evolution back to the process, and look for ways to improve and perfect us.
The other worldview believes that we are fallen, imperfect people who always will be, at least while passing through the finite time we are given on this Earth.
As someone who has grown up in the Judeo-Christian faith, I believe that I am separated from God’s perfection by my own sin and pride—of wanting to be God myself. I can be transformed and begin to change for the better by accepting Christ and having the Holy Spirit live within me—but He still has to work every day with my imperfect, sinful nature. I will never be perfect, and if you give me enough opportunity and enough power, watch out—I will inevitably look out for my own interests over yours
So the Judeo-Christian’s worldview brings the bad news that we are fallen, sinful people. All of us. But the good news is that because we are so consistent in pursuing our self-interests, we can turn this individual weakness into a social strength. That’s what our Founders did.
And the opposite is also true. We are in peril when we ignore our natural state and instead believe that people are basically good, and that we can even further improve them with the right programs and motivators.
Secularists who believe that we are here by chance and are constantly evolving can easily slip into the belief that we are becoming smarter, gentler, kinder, better people—or at least we will if the right people are put in charge and can mold us with the right programs.
The worst, most violent recent promoters of societal perfection were Lenin, Hitler and Mao. Much more pleasant and smiley-faced, but still powerful in a free society, were some of the programs of Woodrow Wilson, Margaret Sanger, Lyndon Johnson, and other progressives, who are constantly seeking ways to intervene to improve us, either as individuals or as a nation.
How has that worked out for us? Think about big government, big business, big unions: all are full of recent examples of otherwise “better” people using their power to lie, steal, put down and take advantage of the rest of us.
Why did they? It turns out that these enlightened people were not actually “better”. Without faith to teach or constrain them, they were free to believe that “It’s all about me”, “Might makes Right”, and “I know what’s best.” Why not?
Add to this combination of (1) power and (2) lack of moral values the (3) belief that you are not accountable to anyone, and there is big trouble. Consider the examples. The CEO with a docile Board which rubber stamps and never checks details. The incumbent who thinks that he or she will always be re-elected. The union which can never be de-certified. The government administrator who can create rules without the need for a vote. The banker who thinks that his institution is too big to fail.
If you are not accountable to anyone, have no faith with truths to guide you, and have power over others, human nature dictates that there will inevitably be disaster, suffering and pain. You can count on it. This is always the end-game of the best intentions gone awry, as power overtakes freedom. Look at the French Revolution, modern totalitarian states, and, to be fair, religious atrocities like the Inquisition and today’s pedophilia scandals—too much power can decimate when that power wears robes.
So how did the Founding Fathers use their Judeo-Christian worldview to strengthen our nation at its birth? Why was our revolution so different from the almost contemporary French debacle, which quickly descended into death, chaos and dictatorship?
First, our Founders endorsed every form of Christian education, at all levels, to weave into the culture the moral truths of righteous behavior, servant leadership, strength through humility, giving, and brotherly love—all traits which were modeled by Jesus Christ (and not necessarily by all of the human institutions which claim to have followed him). If anyone doubts that this was the intent of the Founders, he should do a little study on the subject, or read back through some of our earlier posts. There is simply no doubt that the Founders expected this to be a nation based soundly on Judeo-Christian principles, and worried deeply about the outcome if we ever slipped from that rock.
Second, they turned our natural self-interest into a strength by setting up a series of checks and balances, along with the institutions that gave our self-interests the means to interact and to challenge each other. Three independent branches of government. Regular elections. A free press. The free exercise of religion. The Bill of Rights. Rule by Law. All of these are extremely important to our continued freedom and strength.
Being mostly Christians, they knew that anyone given power would eventually succumb to human frailty, no matter his first intentions. Believing that people cannot be perfected, they didn’t try. Instead they made sure that different self-interests checked each other. The system which they enacted was intended to use our divergent self-interests to keep anyone or any institution from becoming too powerful.
We must pray that these checks and balances remain strong and vital, and protect them from those who want to weaken them in the name of short-term “mandates”, i.e., “Give me extra power today so that I can solve this issue for us.”
The foundation for both of these actions by our Founders was their faith. On the personal level they encouraged the teaching of Judeo-Christian values and the Christian faith. Openly. Purposefully. At all levels and in all places. And on the social level, they put in place institutional checks and balances, because this same faith told them not to trust any one person or one institution—all are by nature imperfect and always will be. Forget about perfection. Depend instead on our ongoing sinful nature to help the country stay free.
And ask about worldview. It’s important.