The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

The Private-Zoo Factor

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"ArtIm:

There are numerous Christians who believe that a personal, private faith is all the gospel requires. Os Guinness described this as “The Private-Zoo Factor,”[1] a religion that is caged so that it loses its wildness. When true Christianity is applied to any part of the world, it blossoms far more fully and colorfully than any other worldview. Contrary successful worldviews must borrow from the Christian worldview in order for them to work. When pagans stopped believing that they lived in “an enchanted forest” and that “glens and groves, rocks and streams are alive with spirits, sprites, demons” and “nature teems with sun gods, river goddesses, [and] astral deities,”[2] at that moment the world and everything in it changed. Everything seemed possible within the boundaries of God’s Providence and law. A Christian worldview made science possible and civil government ministerial rather than messianic. Stanley Jaki, the author of numerous books on the relationship between Christianity and science, comments:

Nothing irks the secular world so much as a hint, let alone a scholarly demonstration, that supernatural revelation, as registered in the Bible, is germane to science. Yet biblical revelation is not only germane to science—it made the only viable birth of science possible. That birth took place in a once-Christian West.[3]

Over time, Christianity ceased to be a comprehensive, world-changing religion. “[W]here religion still survives in the modern world, no matter how passionate or ‘committed’ the individual may be, it amounts to little more than a private preference, a spare-time hobby, a leisure pursuit.”[4] Theodore Roszak used an apt phrase to describe much of modern-day Christendom: “Socially irrelevant, even if privately engaging.”[5] It wasn’t always this way:

The Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, comes out of the background of a Hebrew mindset. The basic idea behind the Hebrew mindset is that God and accompanying spiritual principles permeate all of life here on earth. . . . I believe one of the causes of [cultural disengagement is a Greek mindset], which tells us Christians should be concerned about saving souls and going to heaven rather than paying much attention to material things like transforming our societies.

[James Davidson] Hunter, to the contrary says, “Most Christians in history have interpreted the creation mandate in Genesis as a mandate to change the world.”[6]

As long as Christianity remained nearly exclusively “privately engaging,” the secularists had no interest in disturbing the sleeping giant. When Christians begin to make their faith a worldview faith rather than a thimble faith, everything will change. It’s not enough only to believe in a larger role for the outward expression of the kingdom of God (the definition of worldview Christianity), there must be a practical outworking of specific principles and the application of them to areas not usually considered Christian or even religious. There is a tendency among worldview-minded Christians to gravitate to the academic fields of history, philosophy, and theology. If we got our education priorities right early, these subjects should be mastered at the high school level. Sure, there will always be those who will specialize, but those with average intelligence can be as well-taught in these areas at an early age as many seminary graduates are today. Advances in technology will make it all possible.

What we need is advances in the way society works. This means theory and practice of healthcare, technology, entrepreneurship, and everything else under the Son. Our opposition will be doing it; they’ve been doing it. What we offer as a non-competitive selling point — something the materialists cannot manufacture in a lab — the moral worldview to make it all work.

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Endnotes
[1] Os Guinness, The Gravedigger File: Papers on the Subversion of the Modern Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 79.
[2] Nancy R. Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton, The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), 23–24.
[3] Stanley Jaki, “The Biblical Basis of Western Science,” Crisis 15:9 (October 1997): 17–20. www.catholiceducation.org/articles/science/sc0005.html
[4] Guinness, The Gravedigger File, 72.
[5] Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends (New York: Doubleday, 1973), 449.
[6] C. Peter Wagner, Dominion! How Kingdom Action Can Change the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen, 2008), 40, 41.

 
Article posted July 28, 2009

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