hat is your paradigm of the world? Whatever it is, your worldview provides the lens through which you see this world. It determines how you evaluate and give meaning to people and events. In this post-modern world, we are bombarded with a myriad of paradigms. Which one is true? Or, as many will say, there is no one true paradigm; instead, we should simply find a paradigm that fits and, if necessary (or, in some cases, if just convenient), change that paradigm to suit our changing needs or the latest fad.
The biblical paradigm is not in vogue these days, but the ultimate question is not what is popular, but what, if anything, is true. Ironically, to say that there is no ultimate truth, or that all truths about and roads to God are equally valid, is to still make an ultimate truth claim. So why examine the Christian faith as a possibility? C. S. Lewis, in his inimitable way, put the matter quite succinctly in God in the Dock: “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
The biblical paradigm of the world is one where God is not only Creator of the universe, but a personal Being who acts within historical events and in the individual lives of men and women. Moreover, as set forth in Ephesians 6, ours is a world engaged in a cosmic, spiritual battle between the forces of good and evil.
An invisible spiritual world is the antithesis of the modern day emphasis on materialism, empirical evidence, and human reason. And yet, every Sunday millions of Christians around the world recite in the Nicene Creed that “we believe in all that is, seen and unseen.” I have often struggled with this notion of spiritual forces at work in this world. An epiphany moment occurred when I stumbled upon a story told by Jostein Gaarder in The Solitaire Mystery, where he writes:
A Russian cosmonaut and a Russian brain surgeon were once discussing Christianity. The brain surgeon was Christian, but the cosmonaut wasn’t. “I have been in outer space many times,” bragged the cosmonaut, “but I have never seen any angels.” The brain surgeon stared in amazement, but then he said, “And I have operated on many intelligent brains, but I have never seen a single thought.”
My thoughts are as real to me as the chair in which I sit. As soon as I read this, I understood the spiritual world in a way that finally made sense.
What is the biblical paradigm of human beings? It is a complex, seemingly paradoxical view. On the one hand, we are told in Genesis that we are created by God in His image; Psalm 8 says that humans are considered just below angels and even God. Yet, Jeremiah tells us that the human heart is “desperately wicked,” and Saint Paul reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Thus, we humans are seemingly caught in the paradox of being immeasurably loved by God and yet separated from Him through sin. Moreover, this view of humanity points to the importance of our spiritual, as well as our physical, reality. As the French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, once wrote, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Next page »