How do you make decisions? What aspects of life influence them? What experiences have touched you? What purpose drives you? What thoughts run through your head?
These questions (and many more) are integral in my discussion of a Christian ethos. I hope and pray to begin building a definition of Christian life and involvement. Using Scripture supremely, wisdom from the past, and personal experience as my guides, I endeavor to show the importance of Christ in all things. But I must start with the basics.
James Sire defines a worldview as:
a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.1
Sire’s definition assumes absolute truth and reality, but one’s personal worldview may not regard them (often to the detriment of the holder and those around him or her). Everyone has a worldview; however, they may not be aware of it. Influenced by family, friends, movies, music, books and experience (along with many other factors), a worldview develops early. As humans learn and grow, their worldview shapes the attitudes and directions they choose. Sire further defines it as:
our essential, rock-bottom answers to the following questions:
- What is prime reality—the really real?
- What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?
- What is a human being?
- What happens to a person at death?
- Why is it possible to know anything at all?
- How do we know what is right and wrong?
- What is the meaning of human history? 2
I have started with worldview instead of ethos, because I find it to be deeper, more foundational within life. Therefore, in order to determine a proper Christian ethos, we must first determine a proper Christian worldview.
Developing and maintaining a Christian worldview demands humility, devotion, and reliance; humilty before God, devotion to Him, and reliance upon Him. The world, our flesh, and the devil rage against us. They fight viciously hoping to keep us deaf, dumb, and blind to reality. We must turn ourselves toward God and the Scriptures, praying that we may gain eyes to see and ears to hear. But I am getting ahead of myself.
A Christian worldview states that ultimate reality revolves around God. It immediately insults human pride and self-interest by declaring that we are not the ultimate being in the universe. “In the beginning God3” has profound implications for developing a worldview. It declares a supreme being exists, which places man at a lower level than he would like. We must, however, read on to learn more about the character of this supernatural entity. The Genesis creation account starts this explanation. He began with nothing; a blank canvas. And created, ex nihilo, from the depths of His supernatural imagination, wonders and intricacies the human mind has still yet to fathom. On what became the first day, He spoke and creation began. The power of His words holds life itself. But it does not end there. The master artist has just begun. As an oil painter brushes layer upon layer, He too, painted with a purpose. First, the light was made and then the heavens formed. Third, was land and sea followed by plants and trees. Creations from the Venus flytrap to the Giant Sequoia sprung from the ground. All of these things immensely beautiful in their own respect, and God saw that they were good. While creation continued with gradual increase toward climax, the fourth day filled the heavens with the sun, the moon and stars; magnificent bodies to guide the seasons and years. The fifth day brought birds of the air, and creatures of the sea. Gorgeous birds from the Green-winged Macaw to the majestic American Bald Eagle soared through the sky. The oceans teemed with life, from the tiny krill to the gigantic Blue Whale, and these too, God saw that they were good. Finally comes the sixth day. God said “let the earth bring forth living creatures4” and the beasts were created. All things from common dog to the huge elephant began to roam the earth. Now, we have reached the climax of the story. Creation waits, anticipating what will come next. Everything created so far has been slightly more complex than the previous, more majestic. And then, God said “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.5” Now we begin to have a handle on the character of God, and therefore, a basis for the Christian worldview.
Genesis chapter one gives many clues into the character of God. His use of words in creation shows Him to be reasonable insofar as words are a product of reason. His use of language also shows personality, for to use understandable language shows He wants to be known. Also, the use of “us” in verse twenty-six shows communication to another. This, tied with the Hebrew word for God, elohim, in its plural form suggests a community in heaven existing even before time. Next, the grandeur of creation, and God’s proclamation of its goodness, attests to His love of beauty. And finally, we know him also as a creator. And thus, the opening chapter of the Bible gives us a picture of a God who creates, is reasonable, personable and knowable, and loves beauty.
That’s enough for this post, more to come soon.