Conscious ConsistencyPosted: September 24, 2011
For some reason I thought that when I graduated from SIBI, I’d have time to catch up on the mountain of reading accumulating on my bookshelf – despite the fact that I was taking a position working with youth.
Nevertheless, I’m moving along. I just recently finished reading The Universe Next Door by James W. Sire, which is a self-described “worldview catalog”.
First, a definition of the concept of “worldview”:
A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic construction of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being. (p.20)
Surely, there’s a lot to unpack in this definition. Sire’s comments on the aspect of the conscious/subconscious and consistent/inconsistent nature of worldview presuppositions are especially interesting:
…sometimes we are aware of what our commitments are, sometimes not. Most people, I suspect, do not go around consciously thinking of people as organic machines, yet those who do not believe in any sort of God actually assume, consciously or not, that that is what they are. Or they assume that they do have some sort of immaterial soul and treat people that way, and are thus simply inconsistent in their worldview. Some people who do not believe in anything supernatural at all wonder whether they will be reincarnated. So… sometimes our worldviews – both those characterizing small or large communities and those we hold as individuals – are inconsistent. (p.21)
I think there’s an important observation to be made in light of these comments. In short, the life of a Christian ought to be one of conscious consistency.
It’s good, right, and necessary for Christians to point out to people that there are often discrepancies between the implications of the worldview those people claim and the way those same people reason and behave. It’s good, right, and necessary for Christians to show people the marvelous consistency of the Christian worldview. This is nothing more than evangelism – telling unbelievers that, in fact, there is a God, that he has revealed Himself in His Son Jesus, and that there is a commitment of mind and manner that this truth demands.
Inconsistency is fairly consistent. As Sire suggests, you’ll probably come across several people with a professed naturalistic worldview who inconsistently believe in some kind of life after death. But it’s also pretty easy to find professed Christians who are woefully inconsistent in their commitments to the infinite, personal God who defines the worldview they claim, and thus do not live as they should before death.
Christians are fooling themselves if they think they can love God with all their strength without also loving him with all their mind. And when the mind hasn’t grappled with faith’s implications, there is often a corresponding lack of strength for faith’s imperatives.