Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Jim West and worldviews

Over at Biblical Theology, Jim West has presented a thoughtful case in favour of a “Christian worldview.” He suggests that “it is precisely the duty of the Christian faith ... to offer a perception of the world, reality, life, eternity, and even death.”

I think this is partly right. Yes, Christian faith should speak about “the world, reality, life, eternity and death.” But is it our role to draw these things together into a “worldview”? Or is our role rather to speak of such things from the standpoint of faith, i.e., to speak the gospel? Should we be offering a cosmology (a “perception of the world”) or a metaphysic (a “perception of reality”) or even a religion (a “perception of eternity”)? If we did all this, would we have fulfilled our task and calling? Or would we in fact still have neglected our true task and calling—namely, to speak the gospel?

So whereas Jim believes that the neglect of a distinctively Christian “worldview” is “the most profound weakness of present day theology,” I think theology’s “most profound weakness” can only ever be its failure to speak the gospel. And rather than being a word about the “centre” of any worldview, the gospel is precisely a word from outside us (extra nos), a word that breaks in from beyond—i.e., the word of God.

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