Monday, May 15, 2006

Remixing Worldivew?

Denver Journal - 9:0209 - Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire. by Craig L. Blomberg

This review of Colossians Remixed caught my eye for a lot of reasons, and admittedly Dr. Blomberg's basic endorsement of the book was one. I have not read the book, but I have read a lot about it and now this review puts me in a position of wanting to go ahead and read it.

In recounting the book's point of view, Blomberg notes this about its argument about worldivews:

A worldview that is truthful and viable, as it turns out, must share five characteristics: (1) comprehensiveness in scope; (2) coherence or internal consistency; (3) sensitivity to justice; (4) humility and openness to correction; and (5) ability, at least in part, to be put into practice.

It seems to me that this list misses something crucial and contains something ad hoc. The test of truth is ultimately coherence with reality. "Internal consistency" is the kind of notion that could apply to all sorts of false and even abhorrent worldviews. Whether one is able to justify one of their beliefs with another of their own beliefs is not what makes their worldview true. Truth, I believe, is not tested within a framework of beliefs, but in the interface of those beliefs with the outside world.

And then "sensitivity to justice" seems like a personal idee fixe by the authors to me. Certaily good Christianity is sensitive to justice, but is that really a crucial condition of a truthful and viable worldview?


Rusty said...

Being able, at least in part, to put one's worldview into practice would depend, at least in part, on how internally consistent the worldview is. A sensitivity to justice, I think, does not validate a worldview as truthful anymore than a sensitivity to, say, courage.

You've hit on the critical point, in my opinion, in stating that a worldview must do a good job of explaining and being coherent with reality.

Becky said...

I may be grasping at some straws here, but I have read some of Colossians Remixed, and the portions I have read I recommend without hesitation.

I don't think Blomberg would argue for a strict coherence view of truth, where propositions and beliefs are justified based on the strength and quality of connections within one's own web of belief. Rather, internal consistency is the requirement that we don't accept contradictory tenets, propositions, or practices as we develop our worldview. It must participate with a view of truth that judges truth based on facts in this world (i.e., correspondence). Further, internal consistency and a loose coherence (not coherence in the strict "theory of truth sense) helps us to manage, test, and reject those ideas we may incorporate because of their correspondence with reality, but don't in fact match up with or meet the other set of beliefs that are part of (and resemble) the Christian worldview.

Gordon Lewis has said that our worldview must (a) correspond to reality, (b) be internally consistent and coherent, and (c) be existentially viable. I agree, and maintain that these three ideas are mutually reinforcing and provide the foundation for justice to be done.

On this view, then, I'd argue that a sensitivity to justice is consistent with our worldview, but not necessarily foundational to it. It is an outgrowth of our basic beliefs with respect to Jesus, his life, ministry, and our salvation. It's a link in the chain to living the Christian message well.

This is an important discussion because it seems that postmodern and emergent groups have adopted an ad hoc position on social justice that can't be backed up adequately by the worldview notions proposed by these camps.

Phil Steiger said...

Thanks for your input on this issue.

Becky-It seems that this book does have a lot to offer, and I must admit I have been turned off to reading it due to a handful of citations that are the kinds of things that irk me. I don't want to pretend to be in a position to judge the whole work without reading it, and I am thankful for your input on its value.

And I would agree that when it comes to correspondence and consistencey, the answer is "both/and." I am afraid most believers have a form of correspondence but their worldview, when pressed, is rife with contradictions.

It is exciting to see a blog of fellow alumni! I hope to keep up with your discussion.

Anonymous said...

Phil--I think I can understand that the requirement of sensitivity to justice would often fail to strike people as a *necessary* part of a true worldview. Careful reflection on the ontological basis of justice, however, reveals that a true worldview must, in fact, properly “deal with” justice, and here’s why:
--from beginning to end, the Bible describes God as just (a few ex: 2 Chron.12; Job 40; Psa. 9, 36, 72, 140; Jer. 9; Isa. 9, 11; Matt.12; Luke 11; John 5; Acts 17; Rom. 3; I Peter 2; Rev. 19)
-i.e., justice is embedded in the nature of God/proceeds forth from God—the metaphysical grounding of justice is therefore God’s very nature

--Scripture reveals that our relationship with God is fundamentally based on justice:
-God says he betroths us to Himself “in justice” (Hos. 2)

-the essential aspects of Redemption are God’s love and God’s justice (Rom 3)—we often ignore the critical role of justice in Jesus’ sacrifice, and yet, that is what it comes to—if God were *solely* loving and were not also just, forgiveness would not have been grounded in such gruesome agony— there would have been no need for Jesus to die, no need for “payment” for sin

note here that many current “spiritualities” focus on God’s love, and ignore God’s justice—these worldviews therefore *necessarily* refuse to accept Redemption as the critical moment in history and as the sole basis for a relationship with God: ignore justice, and you cannot deal with the cross of Christ or the grave reality of sin

-we come to God on the basis of knowing He is Just (I John 1:9)—we need not fear a capricious God who may or may not forgive us depending on his/her mood, say

--as you have so often taught, eschatology should shape our theology:
-Scripture consistently encourages us with the hope of Christ’s future dispensation of justice—that God will judge justly, that righteousness will prevail, that evil will be vanquished, that God will avenge wrongdoing with true justice, etc. (a few ex: Psa. 89; Isa. 30, 61; Rev. 16, 19)
-Jesus openly claimed Messianic Scriptures re: His coming justice as His purpose, His destiny (Matt 12; Lk 11)

In summary, then, every worldview has something to say about justice; justice is a fundamental concern in the human world and the universe generally. Christianity has very particular things to say about justice: that justice is based on the character of God; that justice is and will be dispensed by God; that Jesus’ destiny, in his earthly life and His coming reign, focuses on justice (as the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, it can only be so, as sin necessarily entails issues of justice). Other religious views also posit all sorts of things about the basis and nature of justice. As with other fundamentals of ontology, a true Christian worldview will diverge from all others in what it has to say about Justice.

And so, a “sensitivity to justice” is, indeed, an absolutely essential part of a true worldview.

Daria : )