From The Christian Post comes an article about a recent Rick Warren sermon. Warren tells us:
You don’t need to apologize for voting for a Christian worldview which stands up for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sex and the sanctity of marriage. You don’t need to apologize for that because everybody votes what they believe.
Rather than delve into all the current issues related to life, sex, and marriage, let’s just consider the language Warren uses. But first, let’s consider the language he doesn’t use. What he could have said was something like this:
You don’t need to apologize for having your voting guided by the sixth and seventh commandments.
Obviously that approach isn’t as eloquent and may have had the Saddleback congregation leafing through their Bibles to figure out what the sixth and seventh commandments are, but let’s put that to the side as well. Instead, what is the difference between these two types of appeals?
Now let’s look at what Warren didn’t do in this quote: refer to the Bible. If he had referred to the Bible, there would at least be the form of deriving his exhortation from the scriptures. That kind of reference would direct attention to the commandments and their scriptural explanations. If some of the pewsitters were catechized, they might have even thought “The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.” The momentum of the “commandment” language is to drive the hearer to consider what the scriptures have to say about the matter, what the church’s shared understanding of the scriptures have to say about the matter, or even to discover that they don’t say anything at all about the matter. It might also stir up some thoughts about the uses of law we see in the scriptures – as the civil law of Israel, as an instrument convicting of our need for a Savior, and as a guide for the Christian life. In short, replacing “worldview” with a scriptural reference(s) puts the matter in a distinct and helpful context.
This isn’t a critique of Warren as such, and presumably he makes frequent reference to the Bible. If so, that’s because it’s pretty much the job of a preacher to tell us not about sociology, archeology, or philosophy, but, rather, to tell us what God has revealed in the scriptures. But “worldview” isn’t the scriptures, so the preacher isn’t telling us what God has revealed. By grounding his message in “worldview,” the preacher has left his primary task and is telling us about something other than the scriptures.
As to what that something else is, “worldview” points to what is now a kind of pop-philosophy. It tells us, for example, that there is a certain coherence and consistency among basic thought categories. Its basic structure was set forth by Kant, entered Reformed Christianity through Kuyper, and has since entered evangelicalism through men like Francis Schaeffer and Charles Colson. And it is evolving; one wonders how Kuyper might view today’s evangelical version of his project. Whatever it was and whatever it has become, it is not the Word of God.
Then, worldview is something more than a statement about how thoughts hang together. Listen to when and how it is used, and you will see that “worldview” has action embedded in it. It has become a trumpet call to do things to change our culture and politics. And the momentum of that kind of appeal is to set the preacher’s imperative in the context of political parties, conservatism vs. liberalism, and the latest article on Drudge Report. Again, without commenting on the best place to be in that context, it is assuredly not a context as suitable for discerning God’s Word as the context invited by a scriptural appeal.