Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Worldview & Vision: Part 1

Herescope has been looking into the topic of Worldview. We have previously noted Chuck Colson's recent partnership with Rick Warren to package and market their particular "brand" of Worldview education to the rest of the world. This new partnership is illustrative the convergence of the three main branches of evangelicaldom around the doctrines and practices of dominionism.

Worldview is a tool to move individuals and churches through the Transition process towards Transformation. There is a rapid rise in articles, projects, activities, programs and ministries devoted to changing the Worldview. Aside from a surprising amount of doctrinal unity about what Transformation will look like, these diverse groups also all agree on two key points --

1) It is necessary to change the Worldview of not only Christians, but also the entire planet. In the future everyone will need to share a Kingdom Worldview;

2) It is necessary to change the integral structures of society to fit into this comprehensive, holistic, Kingdom Worldview. This is dominionism.

It is therefore important to understand what Colson's ministry means when it speaks about "worldview." A series of articles were published by the Wilberforce Forum (Colson's Worldview ministry) in Findings, Spring of 2004. As a matter of overview, David Dockery wrote in 'Toward a Foundational Worldview" that:

"What is needed is a comprehensive life system that seeks to answer the basic questions of life for individuals, families, Church, government, and society. A Christian worldview is not just one's personal faith expression, not just a theory. It is an all-consuming way of life, applicable to all spheres of life." [emphasis added]

Visions & Paradigm Shifts

In a lengthy article entitled "Toward a Future Different from the Present," by T.M. Moore [http://tinyurl.com/l76ou], an outline of this future Worldview is presented. In this key article, Moore discusses the importance of "vision" in transforming the evangelical church. Moore takes this one step further, however, to a "Vision Beyond the Evangelical Church." Developing a new "vision" is connected with acquiring a new "worldview." Moore states,

"Discussion of vision and its role in human and institutional development is currently not limited to evangelical theologians, church leaders, and ecclesiastical theorists. A growing body of literature is appearing on the importance of vision in such areas as social order, the sciences, business and organizational leadership, education, and the arts." [emphasis added]

Moore continues by describing the potency of these social visions in transforming society.

"Whenever. . . accepted practices are challenged, cherished presuppositions become threatened, social tensions increase, and the possibility of a change in a society’s vision is introduced. During such times of challenge and tension, social theorists engage in the work of reconstructing social reality or articulating a new vision for society. And, while this work may take place only among a relatively few social theorists, the consequences of a change in vision will ultimately affect every member of the society. . . . " [emphasis added]

Continuing this discussion, Moore describes quite accurately how this social change is maneuvered and manipulated:

"Changes of vision are accomplished in some cases by force; however, more durable and far-ranging changes of vision are achieved through various forms of discourse, including, myth, ritual, and ideology. As challenges to accepted practices come to be deemed less threatening, and more the new norm, the presuppositions undergirding those practices are regarded as less controversial and coalesce to provide the outlines of a new vision of society. New social visions, thus achieved, provide a new sense of social identity, foster new values and practices, spawn new rituals and myths, and establish new boundaries for legitimacy within the social order." [emphasis added]

This reference to "rituals and myths" parallels the Outcomes article Herescope reviewed several weeks ago (Feb. 28), "Paradigm Change: More Magic than Logic" by John C. Hillary. Of note here is that religion and/or spirituality are apparently a springboard for social scientists to shift paradigms/worldviews. The nature of man is such that he is vulnerable to such manipulations. "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." (2 Cor. 11:3)

Moore describes the "transition" of American society during the 1950s through the 1980s, particularly in values and practices, and notes that even the evangelical churches went through this same transition from modern to postmodern. Moore observes:

". . . [I]t is precisely this transition that has brought about the current sense of urgency for the renewal of vision among evangelical churches.

"In recent decades, evangelical social theorists have also tried to introduce a vision of social order more in keeping with their understanding of the teaching of Scripture and, thus, to affect the vision of what constitutes the good society and to reshape the social consensus on matters of morality and social justice. . . . To date, that effort has been only marginally influential; further, there has been no concerted effort to bring together the vision of evangelical social theorists and evangelical church leaders into a larger, all-encompassing, cogent, and persuasive whole."

Who are/were these "evangelical social theorists" and how have they tried to "reshape the social consensus"? And why did they fail? Moore's article describes a new strategy that may be more effective for their use in the future -- the use of Vision.

In laying the necessary groundwork, Moore explores the area of "Vision in the Sciences." Moore cites Thomas Kuhn's "landmark and controversial book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." Moore gives legitimacy to Kuhn's "Paradigm Shift" theory which has been applied outside of hard science to theories of social change:

"Since the 1970s Kuhn’s book has been debated and discussed throughout the scientific community and beyond; his basic premise, however, seems to have been received, at least tacitly, by all, for the work of identifying a new vision for science is accelerating and expanding . . . . Michio Kaku writes concerning the scientific endeavor today: 'Clearly, we are on the threshold of yet another revolution. . . . But these rapid, bewildering changes are not just quantitative. They mark the birth pangs of a new era. . . .' Kaku predicts a powerful new age for the work of science, in which the visions now being promoted at the extremes coalesce into a new, all-comprehending vision of science and society, unlocking new powers within and producing new benefits from the enterprise." [emphasis added]

This reference to the term "paradigm shift" is indicative of how frequently that term is used interchangeably with the word "worldview." The two words are frequently used together in the same context. An Internet dictionary comments on this phenomenon:

"Probably the most common use of the word paradigm is in the sense of weltanschauung. For example, in social science, the term is used to describe the set of experiences, beliefs and values that affect the way an individual perceives reality and responds to that perception. Social scientists have adopted the Khunian phrase "paradigm shift" to denote a particular social phenomena rather than what was originally meant by Khun's study on the practices and development of science. Even occultists, notably chaos magicians, use the term - to describe a shift in personal belief systems concerning magic (magic theory). Some language purists feel that among "business philosophers" and advocates of any type of change whatsoever, the term paradigm is so widely abused that it bears no meaning whatsoever. " [http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/paradigm]

In Part 2 we will examine this concept of Vision and how it is to be used to shift the Worldview Paradigm.

The Truth:

"But we renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." (2 Corinthians 4:2)