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December 16, 2017
Articles

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE

Jesse James • Workplace, City & Nation Transformation
He is a deputy in the Ukrainian Parliament. In a discussion with him and another Parliamentarian on October 8, 2005 in Kiev, Ukraine he made the following comment.



"Yesterday, I realized something for the first time in my life. I realized that the reason Capitalism works in the West is because God is the cornerstone of it; Communism did not work because God was taken out of it."



As we sat in that small group discussion with two Ukrainian Parliament members we were witnessing a collision of worldviews. In geological terms the shifting of tectonic plates is called an earthquake; in philosophical and theological terms it is called a paradigm shift.



 He is a deputy in the Ukrainian Parliament.  In a discussion with him and another Parliamentarian on October 8, 2005 in Kiev, Ukraine he made the following comment.

 

"Yesterday, I realized something for the first time in my life.  I realized that the reason Capitalism works in the West is because God is the cornerstone of it; Communism did not work because God was taken out of it."  

 

As we sat in that small group discussion with two Ukrainian Parliament members we were witnessing a collision of worldviews.  In geological terms the shifting of tectonic plates is called an earthquake; in philosophical and theological terms it is called a paradigm shift. 

 

We were witnesses of the impact of the biblical worldview upon a completely antithetical and godless Soviet mindset.  We were half way through our Leadership meetings at the Ukrainian House and this leader was making an admission of profound proportions.  We were seeing the first fruits of biblical Truth upon a system of thought called 'false teaching'. It is an awesome and humbling thing to see Truth begin to melt the iciness of frozen thinking.  "Begin" is the operative word here for it is indeed a process.  It is not a destination.  It does not happen in a single meeting or a moving presentation.  It happens often with difficulty, incrementally and always within the context of a relationship.

 

Soren Kierkegaard, in his diary states, "The peculiar thing about Christianity is that it cannot be taught.  It is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men's lives."  One of my professors at Dallas Seminary often said that Christianity is more 'caught', than taught. 

 

"The human mind requires a powerful set of philosophical and theological concepts in order to relate the pure and simple Word of Scripture to the complex body of modern thought.  By trying to take a shortcut and ignore the intellectual and social history of a people we can ensnare ourselves in pious simplicities which falsify reality."  Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.

 

Worldview (paradigm) shifts, like the slippage of tectonic plates, is at first hardly noticeable unless one is watching and listening very carefully.  It is not until worlds collide that it is obvious to us.  The very deep and often hidden slippages are the most determinative to change.  Without such there would be no surface manifestations of any consequence.

 

Each of us possesses a worldview.  It is often unconscious, yet powerfully impacts our ideas, concepts, beliefs and values ultimately influencing our behavior.  A friend of mine likens it to the lenses in a pair of glasses through which we view the world and life, organizing our impressions of all that we see and hear.  It is important that we possess the correct lenses otherwise our perception of the world around us will be distorted.  Reality will elude us.

 

It is important that we examine 'what' we believe, certainly.  However, it is equally important that we examine 'why' we believe it.  We ARE products of our culture.   There is no American, German or Ukrainian Christianity.  However, it is certain that our Christian experience is deeply influenced by our culture, and in most cases we are not even aware of it.  American Capitalism, German Socialism and Ukrainian Fatalism have shaped the worldview of the Christian experience of each culture, and it cannot be called biblical. 

 

Michael Novak informs us that it is a mistake to try to bind the cogency of Scripture to one cultural system.  God's Word is transcendent.  It judges each and every system and finds them gravely wanting.

 

Dallas Willard, in his book Renovation of the Heart, informs us that the Christian faith presents friendship and hospitality (relationship) not as luxuries but necessities.  God does not save us in isolation but in community with other people.  Some people (like Ukrainians) have been too starving, attacked, hated, full of hate and hurt to experience God's love.  It is the 'relationship' with another that brings us home.   

 

What is so good about the 'good news'?  It is different for each of us.  It MUST be effective to touch and change life.  It looks different in each life; however, one thing is the same.  It is the relationship that is the bridge over which 'good' travels to impart 'good news'.  Ironically, the good news IS the relationship. The very nature of the Incarnation is relational.

 

A worldview is exposed in relationship; it is understood within relationship; and it is the relationship with another that causes the 'slippage' in the philosophical and theological tectonic plates of our lives.  It is thoughtful, loving, kind and utterly non manipulative. 

 

Our world of ideas has consequences.  Authoritarian fatalism is all Ukraine has known for decades.  The Czar, the church, nature and destiny promoted it.  One can work against such conditions by thinking, creating and resisting and ALL within relationship. 

 

What we believe is informed by our worldview.  It has cultural, moral and economic consequences.  Do we have an over arching explanation of why we exist as human beings?  Christianity does not tell us to step out of life and become religious.  As Jeremiah informs the Jewish exiles in chapter 29, we are to enter into life and resist, encourage, engage and inquire.  Then worlds will collide within a context of community (relationship) and do so thoughtfully, intelligently and contextually; a life begins to change and a new course set.


 

 For more resources visit the Faith and Work Resources.com website link shown on the right side of this page.

 

 

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