Maurice: I am glad to meet you, Paul. I would like to know if your Christian worldview provides a satisfying ‘system’, one which enables you to bring all your experiences and knowledge into one consistent whole? In short, does the world make sense to you?
Paul: Yes, I think the Christian worldview ‘covers the ground’ in a way that no other system does. I ought to explain that I am not just a detached student of metaphysics. I want to know the truth in such a way that I become a part of the truth, and the truth becomes a part of me. And this hasbeen my experience since I became a follower of Jesus Christ, who said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me’ (John 14:6).
Maurice: But you realise, Paul, that in taking this exclusive position, you are saying that all other ways, all the other worldviews, are wrong — none of them can bring a person to the Father. Isn’t that a rather arrogant and narrow attitude to adopt? Surely you would acknowledge that there is good and wisdom among the followers of other religions, some of which are older than your Christian faith?
Paul: I do understand what you are saying, and I agree that it would be foolish to say that there is no truth or wisdom in non-Christian communities and writings. This is brought out in the New Testament, where the apostle Paul quotes Greek, pagan poets to illustrate his argument to the philosophers in Athens (Acts 17:28).
Also, in his letter to the Romans he appeals to the testimony of human conscience as a confirmation of what he is saying (Romans 2:15). There is wisdom in many human sources, but it is residual wisdom ‘left over’ from what was originally given to man by his Creator. However, man has misused his God-given intelligence and has brought himself down into mental and spiritual darkness. Because he has sinned and rebelled against God, man’s natural wisdom has not turned him to God but rather to god-substitutes.
Which brings us back to Christ’s claim to be the Truth, the only way to the Father. There is no way that unaided human enquiry can find the way to God. Because of his rebellion and corruption, man’s nature is so blinded and distorted that it does not naturally feel after the truth (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Maurice: But does that mean that nobody can know the truth? Are we all doomed to lifelong ignorance and darkness?
Paul: What it means is that we are entirely dependent upon God to give us an understanding that he is the Creator and to bring us to himself. We need help from outside our own personality and experience. We need what is called revelation, in which God reveals to us the truth about himself and his creation that we could not discover for ourselves. This is why God has spoken to the human race, from creation onwards.
Maurice: But there are many people who claim to present God’s teaching to us; how can we know which, if any, is genuinely from God?
Paul: God who spoke to us ‘in times past … by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his Son’ (Hebrews 1:2). God’s revelation has been preserved in the Bible which, Christians believe, speaks for itself.
In his mercy and providence God has ensured that the teachings he gave first to the Old Testament prophets and later to those who heard his Son Jesus Christ, have been preserved in the sixty-six books of the Bible. There have been many attempts to destroy, suppress and tamper with these Scriptures but they have survived and are available in most of the languages of the world.
A fallen world
Maurice: Does the Bible give a distinctive worldview which makes sense of the world?
Paul: Yes. It begins by affirming that the heavens and the earth were created by God alone. There is no other god and all that exists is from his hand. God does not share his rule with other gods and, as the sole creator of all things, he is supreme in the universe.
The book of Genesis which tells us this, also tells us that, prompted by a fallen angel, Satan, man rebelled against his Creator and brought death, disease and sorrow into the world by so doing. He also brought upon himself God’s wrath and judgement.
Maurice: So this is the Christian explanation of the presence of evil in the world. Not that God designed a fallen world but rather that man’s rebellion brought about this entry of corruption into a good creation, thus spoiling it and making it different from his original design.
Christ the deliverer
Paul: Yes, but God did not leave the matter there. Even in that situation of ruin and rebellion, he promised to provide a remedy for man’s predicament. He said: ‘The seed of the woman will bruise the serpent’s head’ (Genesis 3:15).
This cryptic statement says a number of things. Deliverance would come via a woman. This is a prediction of the virgin birth of Jesus, a birth that ensured his sinless perfection as a man. He would overcome Satan, the enemy of God and man, and deliver men from his power. This prediction of a victorious champion was fulfilled in Christ’s birth, death, resurrection and ascension to glory.
By his sinless life and atoning death Christ atoned for all the sins of all his people (Matthew 1:21) and delivered them entirely from Satan’s power. God’s Holy Spirit imparts spiritual life to them (they are ‘born again’) and they are given the power to repent and believe in Christ, becoming his followers and witnesses in this world.
Jesus will return
Maurice: But this still leaves us in a spoiled and sinful world. I can see that the example and teaching of Jesus can help his followers to cope with the trouble and distress of the world, but people still suffer and die, even if they are Christians!
Paul: True, but this is not the end of the story. When Christ ascended, the angels on the Mount of Olives told his disciples: ‘This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven’ (Acts 1:11).
Jesus, who obtained salvation for sinners by his death on the cross, and his triumphant resurrection on the third day, promised to come back again in glory (Matthew 16:27). Christ’s Second Advent will finally make sense of the universe by punishing the wicked and rewarding the righteous (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).
Maurice: Thank you Paul, for giving me such a clear presentation of the Christian worldview. I can see that this is not founded on speculation but on the authority of God’s Word, the Bible.