Thursday, May 1, 2008

Changing the World

Culture Makers by Josiah Vencel, husband to Brandy of Afterthoughts (where they have some copies of the book to sell)

Mr. Vencel spends a lot of time talking about what a worldview is, specifically what a biblical worldview is, and how the worldview we hold determines our interactions with the world and other people. I feel compelled to point out my worldview would not fit his definition of a biblical worldview. You see, I'm Catholic...Roman Catholic.

I don't want to spend too much time on the differences between our worldviews, especially since I'm well aware I would do a pathetic job of properly defending my faith against someone who has so thoughtfully defined his own. That's one of the reasons I married a Catholic theologian (though he wasn't Catholic at the time we were married); he's a wonderful defender of the faith and I invite you all over for spirited discussions! (Last Sunday's homily asked what we would do if a couple of those finely dressed young men and women stopped by our home to ask if we know Christ. I leaned over and whispered to Kansas Dad, "Invite them to return when my husband will be home." I meant it, too. We'd love to have them sit down for a while and chat with us, mostly with him. I'll serve tea.)

If Mr. Vencel would allow me to say we both have a Christian worldview and move on, we can find much that is useful to those of all Christian faiths who want to see Christ at work in their relationships and in the world. Mr. Vencel believes our culture needs Christians to reach out and fight against ungodly worldviews and I heartily agree!

Mr. Vencel argues that a Christian worldview is one we have to practice and develop, and that we must then act on it to make a difference in our culture.

Some Christians delude themselves into thinking that their "pet sins" will not endanger their faith or worldview. But in order to justify their immoral choices, they must deny or ignore the scriptures [or Church teaching] that condemn their sin. Doing so creates a slippery slope that readily discards other inconvenient biblical truths that interfere with selfish pursuits. When this occurs, believers judge the Bible [and the Church] rather than allowing it to judge them. Their sins become the filter for interpreting the Word.

I added the references to the Church, of course, but this quote reminded me clearly of times my husband and I have bowed to Church teaching on issues that didn't make sense to me. I did not fully understand the reasoning behind a teaching, but made a conscious decision to follow the Church's lead. I trust the interpretation of scripture and tradition over the last 2000 years developed by many who have surpassed me in faith and understanding. To be more precise, I trust God to help me to understand the teaching of the Church in this life or the next.

Whenever you hear an actor draw a moral equivalence between two diametrically opposed actions, one right and one wrong, Postmodernism is at work, seeking to dull your belief in moral objectivity. Stay on guard!

I liked this exhortation to stay on guard. I've found it's essential to be vigilant when watching movies or television (or even reading a magazine) to the worldviews being presented. There are some programs I cannot watch anymore, either because the underlying worldview jarred against mine too much, or because the effort to wade through the inaccuracies was not worth the enjoyment. It's even more important to be on guard when protecting our children. Especially when very young, children do not have the ability to discern truth in media. They must be protected when young and taught as they grow older to recognize the worldviews and fight against them.

Recognizing our own worldview and those of others, especially those popularized by mainstream American culture and the media, helps us to battle within ourselves for what Christ and the Church tells us is right and true.

Mr. Vencel doesn't just address our own fight to remain true to Christ. He encourages us to reach out to others. As he says, "Cultures will develop based on true ideas or false ones. And people with false worldviews are only too happy to make culture as they see fit." I must admit, I do not evangelize. I have no desire to talk to someone I do not know well about Christ and salvation. It's easy to forget, though, how I can have an impact just by living out my worldview. I do not discuss religion or politics at work. I have been continually amazed, though, at how much of my worldview my co-workers recognize just through my actions -- taking time off for Holy Week, always attending mass when traveling together on weekends, apologizing when I've sinned against a co-worker.

To make a difference in our culture, Mr. Vencel says "believers must be present and obedient" (emphasis his). Later, he says (emphasis his):

Viewing the various aspects of our lives as isolated compartments enables us to give Christ lordship over one area but not another. We are free to pick and choose what to surrender. Because Christians should attempt to be fully devoted to our Lord in all things, we must constantly strive to align our behaviors with our beliefs. Simply put, we must work to forge integrity, or consistency, between what we claim to believe and what our lives tell others we really believe


1 comment:

  1. Kansas Mom,

    Thank you for the good review, and I hope you enjoyed the book. I am encouraged by your desire to think about life through a biblical lens. It is definitely a skill that takes daily practice. Brandy and I try to filter our decisions, especially big ones, through the grid of God's Word. Being a theologian, Kansas Dad sounds like a good partner in this task with you.

    May God bless your efforts to create cultures that embrace His design, beginning at home. The rewards of living out the biblical worldview are, literally, divine. Thanks again.

    Josiah Vencel


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