Thou Shalt Not Worldview Thy Neighbor

Some people are nicer than me.  Well, okay, to be honest a lot of people are nicer than me.  Not only that, plenty of people are smarter and more accomplished than I am. I’m glad for them all because they make my life more pleasant.  And, when I personally receive a kindness or personally witness an accomplishment of note, I give my thanks and commend the accomplishment.  I’m pretty simple that way. I’m content with this arrangement.

Worldview, though, isn’t content with this arrangement. It wants me to take a different look at my neighbor.  And that relationship gets complicated quickly, because I’m supposed to assess his spirituality and peer into the details of his epistemology. Popular worldview author Nancy Pearcey begins to tell us that “in reality very few people in the West are either completely amoral or completely skeptical.” then goes on to say

Why not? Because they “cheat” by borrowing ideas from the Christian heritage.. . . Are we convinced that concepts like freedom and human dignity have no basis outside Christianity? We need to press people to stop “cheating” and face squarely the bankruptcy of their own belief systems.”

Total Truth, pp. 320-21 hardcover. This is a standard worldview apologetic method and an explanation for the “problem” of unbelievers being nice, smart, or accomplished.  Personally, I don’t see any such problem, so all this time I’ve been thanking my neighbors without fully realizing that they were cheating in a pernicious epistemological kind of way.  Then, whereas my neighbors sometimes seem to have a largess of kindness or talent, I have failed to do the accounting that would establish the bankruptcy of their belief systems.

In a more serious tone, it strikes me as a regression to view our neighbor in this way, and it’s not a very congenial or grateful way of interacting with him.  Worldview responds to our neighbor’s intellectual abilities and practical accomplishments by asking if he can live in the world of his thought-life, i.e., by doing a cross-examination on his epistemological consistency.  That strikes me as inferior to “thank you” and “job well done,” and not especially stimulating for more good deeds and accomplishment.  Anyway, if the point is evangelism, how about dealing with actual sin?

There’s a real question as to whether worldviewists themselves can consistently live in the world of their thought life. I can’t tell you for sure if I was in an epistemological frame of mind when I kissed my wife on the cheek this morning, and I’m not sure the quality of my kiss would have been enhanced by epistemological musings. Perhaps worldviewists have more profound marital kisses and this is one more example of others being on spiritual planes I’ll never reach.  But I doubt it.

If the worldview examination of our neighbor is strictly a hypothetical academic exercise on paper, that’s one thing. But if we are really supposed to do it to our neighbor, I’ll go with simple: I wouldn’t want it done to me and I’m not inclined to do it to anyone else. So I think I’ll stick with doing unto others as I would have them do unto me. We can all live with that kind of view.


Filed under Epistemology, Worldview

4 responses to “Thou Shalt Not Worldview Thy Neighbor

  1. Life becomes so much more less complicated when you throw worldview out the window- especially in dealing with other people. You can actually enjoy others rather than being constantly suspect of them (even those who do not share your beliefs or “worldview”). You had me laughing on this one. I’ve been busy at work and my brother has been visiting from Florida (not my Arminian brother, the other one) so I have not read your new blogs. Good stuff MM!!

  2. 3821, you bring up a good point about enjoying others and avoiding suspicions. I mean, my neighbor is snow blowing my sidewalk for me and I’m plotting how to tell him he’s doing it with borrowed Christian capital? Maybe authentic thankfulness is appropriate, ya think?

  3. You also do have a point about getting to the place of dealing with the sin problem. That is one we all avoid with as much relish and suppression as possible. I am not sure it helps much to keep reminding others of it and being a good neighbor is not always the most rewarding way to go. I think you get what I am trying to say. Just getting to a comfort level with others I normally would not associate with is something which I am very conscious of these days. You get surprised what you can learn from those who you know don’t particularly like you. I have found it reaps benefits if you can handle some of the humiliation they may throw at you.

  4. It is a delicate and sticky issue. I am not sure I am being clear or getting across what I am trying to say. It is just when you read the Gospels you notice that Jesus went right to the people whom the religious establishment of his day would have nothing to do with. And it is these people who responded most gratefully to the Gospel. It is all over the New Testament.

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