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Cultural plate tectonics.


Western civilization, in the broadest sense the nations of North America, Europe, and Australia, is more a philosophical designation than a geographical one. Under the influence of ancient Greece and Rome it has largely been characterized by the Christian worldview. Advancements in technology, theological study, communication, education, and travel, to mention a few, have questioned many elements of that standard. Today, numerous worldviews predominate in the Western world. And, they collide, creating what the people at Ligonier Ministries identify as "cultural plate tectonics", that is, shifts in the foundational principles that guide the nations values, morals, and ethics (see https://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-worldview/).

Google "worldview" and you will note 45,700,000 results in .47seconds. As previously mentioned, it is a complicated topic and a quick surf through that much data will reveal why. The professional observers note numerous worldviews prevalent in our Western civilization, some listing as many as eight, others with four, and great diversity in between. Since I am a novice in worldview study I have chosen the reference material by Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of American theologian R.C. Sproul, as the most suitable study in this area. The website for Ligonier is listed above. You can click here to study the material further. Use of this data in this context is authorized by their copyright policy and restrictions.

Ligonier Ministries identifies six worldviews most apparent in our world beyond the traditional Christian worldview.

  • Naturalism: there is no God; humans are just highly evolved animals; the universe is a closed physical system.

  • Postmodernism: there are no objective truths and moral standards; “reality” is ultimately a human social construction.

  • Pantheism: God is the totality of reality; thus, we are all divine by nature.

  • Pluralism: the different world religions represent equally valid perspectives on the ultimate reality; there are many valid paths to salvation.

  • Islam: there is only one God, and He has no son; God has revealed His will for all people through His final prophet, Muhammad, and His eternal word, the Qur’an.

  • Moralistic therapeutic deism: God just wants us to be happy and nice to other people; He intervenes in our affairs only when we call on Him to help us out.

Pause over these brief descriptions for a moment. Do any of them resonate with how you view life? Whether yes or no, they are the stuff of these "cultural plate tectonics", or worldview collisions, so prevalent in our culture today. They distort traditional values, morals, ethics, politics, and many of the definitive markers of American life. What is more, numerous Americans advocate an eclectic worldview that is a little of this and a little of that, selectively choosing those elements that fit their lifestyle. It's one of the reasons people avoid any mention of worldviews, contemporary morality, belief systems, or religion beyond the family dinner table. Reasonable debate about the fine points of these important matters depends on who you ask.

Even liberal revisionist historians will admit that the traditional Christian worldview formed the plate tectonics envisioned by our founders. Our representative republic, the government system that makes it work, and the legal precedents that forms our laws are biblical in semblance if not origin. That is to conclude that the cultural plate tectonics described by the fine people at Ligonier Ministries aren't the workings of that traditional view, but of the confusing counterfeits that challenge and supplant it. The cultural chaos in our educational systems, the market place, the voting booth, and even the church, are not failures of the Christian worldview to guide us, but of our misappropriations of that worldview to accommodate our lifestyle choices.

Scripture challenges believers about lifestyle choices and living the worldview attested by traditional faith---

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that

by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and

perfect.

Romans 12: 2, ESV

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to

human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to

Christ.

Colossians 2: 8, ESV

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving

thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3: 17, ESV

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,

for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1, ESV

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.

1 Peter 1:14, ESV

These worldviews are real. So are cultural plate tectonics, the clashes so visible in contemporary culture today. The believing community must cling to the traditional Christian worldview if we are to fulfill our founders dream of a secure and moral nation. Thomas Jefferson, a strong defender of religious liberty said---

“And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only

firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of

God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country

when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

Cultural plate tectonics? Yes. But, the traditional Christian worldview is not their cause.

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