Day 1: A Renewed World
If you are reading this blog, it is because you have a desire: a desire to dig deeper and to explore the biblical questions that have been nagging at you for a while. Questions that have been answered in the traditional way or through basic doctrines of church. Questions that, to most people, may not make sense. Over the next thirty days, we will be learning about a new way to understand the Bible. This is not some radical or extreme viewpoint, nor is it about having some type of secret knowledge. Instead, it is a return to the original languages, the context, the culture, and the history in the Bible. Our goal is to investigate and dig into these parameters which have the potential to bring about an illuminating, fascinating, and compelling change of perspective.
Each day we will send out an email that will examine a specific word from a scripture verse. All of these studies were originally researched and written by Dr. Skip Moen, my mentor, who has allowed me to reproduce and make a few additions that pertain to our community and culture. All of these studies are designed to help us see how different the Biblical Worldview is, and how far our twenty-first century American perspective has departed from its origins. To begin this journey, we must look at some of the unexamined fundamentals of our Western heritage. This discussion will be longer than the rest of our articles, but it is necessary to understand the direction we are heading.
The Man of Athens – The Man of Jerusalem
Our contemporary civilization is like a cake. The icing on this cake is the overlay of Judeo-Christian morality, but the cake itself is thoroughly Greek. Our approach to epistemology, justice, economics, community, politics, education, and business are derived from Greek philosophy, tempered by Judeo-Christian moral influence. Meaning, how we think about everything in life has been predominantly shaped through the lens of a Greek philosophy. Once the icing on the cake is eaten away (and a lot has been consumed in the last 500 years), what’s left is the Greek cake itself. Our task is to examine the real Greek cake underneath. We need to do this because we must understand the inevitable consequences of sustaining ourselves by eating Greek cake. Today’s Word is simply an investigation of the difference between the Greek-based worldview and the biblical, Hebraic worldview. The God of the Bible is not Greek. The men and women of the Bible are not Greek. Even the books of the New Testament are not Greek. Of course, some of them were written in Greek, but the men who wrote them, and the thought patterns they employed, are thoroughly Hebrew.
What we must first understand is that the Hebrew worldview is radically different from our twenty-first century, Greek-based worldview. As the differences between these views become apparent, we begin to notice and uncover new truths, which aren’t really new, they are only new to our understanding. Hopefully, these new pieces of information will be used to enhance or maybe even transform your daily walk with God. Our hope is that these discoveries change the way we treat each other and how we live in obedience to God.
One of the reasons that we have such a hard time putting our faith into practice every day is that we have never taken time to understand these differences. We are part of a heritage that reaches back to ancient Greece, hundreds of years before Christ walked the roads of Galilee. We are also part of a society that was reshaped by Christian and Roman influences over two millennia. The world of the Greeks was not at all like the world of the Hebrews. The Greeks are the fathers of western thought. The Hebrews are from eastern backgrounds. The Greeks were a culture of city-states, a government of the rule by the people, ethnic diversity and an intellectual history of reason and theory. The Hebrews were a genealogy of tribal descent, a government by God’s revealed character, a culture of nomadic wanderers and an intellectual history of practical wisdom and cultic ritual.
We are the product of both of these streams. What we don’t realize is how these two great streams affect our lives. We don’t realize that the answers to life’s biggest questions has a chasm between these two worldviews. Since we don’t realize this chasm, we run into all types of problems, and questions regarding how to practice our faith. How do you apply a very Hebraic culture within the framework of a Greek based society?
Trying to live on both sides of the chasm caused by the great differences between the answers to these questions is very difficult. This difficulty shows up in stress in Christian living, Biblical interpretation, and fellowship with God. It affects how we think about ourselves, how we treat others, and how we worship God.
These two cultural streams answer the fundamental questions of life very differently:
· Who is man?
· What is the nature of the universe?
· Who is God?
The Greeks would answer our questions like this:
Man is unique in the world because he is the only creature who can exercise reason. It is rational thinking that makes Man who he truly is.
Man can know the truth through his rational abilities.
The world can be fully understood through rational investigation.
Knowledge is power.
Societal institutions are extensions of Man’s knowledge and abilities.
Man is capable of solving the world’s problems.
Man has no cognitive limits.
Self-sufficiency is the attitude needed to accomplish whatever can be imagined.
The destiny of Man is to control his world.
Man has a spark of the divine within him. Self-fulfillment takes us toward this divine inheritance.
All religious paths lead to spiritual enlightenment.
How would the Hebrews answer these questions?
They might say something like this: (pardon me if we use a Greek technique to do this).
All creation begins and ends with God.
Man is no different than all the rest of creation (he is finite and dependent) but, at the same time, he is created to have a different and special relationship with his Creator. This relationship is a gift from God.
Man is completely dependent on God even if he does not acknowledge this dependence.
Every aspect of Man’s life is under God’s sovereignty and control.
Man’s greatest problem is his choice to rebel against His creator.
Man cannot solve his most fundamental problem on his own.
God will judge Man’s deeds according to the standard of absolute holiness. Even though God is Holy, Mercy outweighs his justice standard is absolute holiness his judgment is filtered through absolute grace
God is the central focus of all creation, not Man.
Knowledge, self-reliance and self-sufficiency are seductive foolishness with regard to Man’s real problem.
God’s Truth is power.
Wisdom is the application of God’s Truth.
God is the only Being who can determine what is finally good and true.
The Torah expresses God’s desire for all men. Torah expresses God’s will, but not His essence. His will Is relational for man and the earth.
As we review these two views we see how different they really are. In the Hebrew- or Biblical- worldview, God is the principal player in the universe. Everything revolves around Him, His purposes, and His control. In the Greek view, the man is the central player on the world’s stage. Man’s goals, creations, abilities, and decisions are the most important elements in this world. These two approaches are not compatible.
Over the next thirty days, we will attempt to show just how Greek our approach to living really is – and how much our way of thinking and behaving can be really opposed to the Biblical point of view. This discovery will take some time, and it may even be a struggle for some of us; but like working out in the gym, the pain we endure brings about the change we desire.