Beware of Christian Worldview and Apologetics!
Life lessons of a loving gay Christian
Christian: a person who stays aligned with Jesus
Worldview: the lens through which we see and make sense of the world
Apologetics: the religious discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic argumentation
I love Jesus. I understand the concept of worldview. And I hate apologetics. Here’s why.
At age 21, I gave my life over to Jesus — and we will forever love each other. At age 43, I became a vice president at Focus on the Family (a.k.a., Focus). Then and only then did I learn the concept of “Christian worldview” and “apologetics.” I had been all-in on Focus’ emphasis on parental (especially dads) engagement with their kids, plus their idea of the permanence of marriage.
My role at Focus was the president of their one-semester college institute. In that academic program, I learned the vital importance of the concepts of Christian worldview and apologetics. In my youthful lack of knowledge, I assumed every Christian had one common worldview — and that it was the duty of every Christian to succeed in apologetics. Silly me.
Now I know better.
In our college institute at Focus, we dedicated one full academic course (of five mandatory courses) on the subject of understanding and living out the Christian worldview. We always had excellent instructors who were steeped in the study of that discipline. I learned a lot!
And what I learned was that to be a Christian, one must have a Christian worldview. The logic went like this.
- All Christians are endowed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not whimsical nor dual-minded, and therefore all Christians think alike.
2. To know the Christian worldview is to know “the mind of God.” Armed with a Christian worldview, the Christian can be certain of what to do. We Christians will know what “right” is and what is correspondingly “wrong.” Guided by this superior, infallible, godly knowledge, Christians can live righteous lives (and become sanctified into holiness).
3. Furthermore, we Christians can help the rest of the planet “live properly” by helping non-Christians know the Christian worldview. In other words, there is a “light in the darkness;” we Christians have it, and the rest of the world doesn’t. It is our duty as Christians to save others from their inevitable demise. In fact, it would be unloving to do otherwise.
The odd thing is that only the evangelicals seemed to give a twit about the Christian worldview.
Evangelicals presume the other Christians faiths (i.e., Catholics, mainline protestants, Orthodox, and Latter Day Saints) are not applying the Christian worldview.
So, say you, what exactly is the essential info contained in the Christian worldview? It all hinges on a doctrine called “sola scriptura.” Sola scriptura is a protestant dogma that posits that God inspired the Bible (and therefore it contains 100% Truth) and it is “the only infallible source of authority for Christian faith and practice.”
However, the “Christian worldview” should more aptly be named the “biblical worldview.” Presumably, a Christian worldview would be all about Jesus. In contrast a biblical worldview would be tied to the bible. And to be even more precise, there currently exist two biblical worldviews: traditional and progressive. Both traditionalists and progressives revere the bible — they simply interpret and treat it differently. But rest assured, both traditionalist and progressive Christians consider themselves to be Christian!
So here is my rub. I am a Christian, having committed myself to align with Jesus. Many Catholic, mainline Protestants, Orthodox, and Latter-Day Saints would claim the same thing. Perhaps understandably, all Christian faiths that are not evangelicals are prone to viewing evangelicals as arrogant (i.e., as though the only valid Christian is an evangelical Christian with a traditionalist biblical worldview)!
Let’s see a show of hands of all you readers who like to be around someone who stands above you, presuming to have sole knowledge of the mind of God and speaks down to you. Crickets.
Well, what helps evangelicals (sometimes referred to as fundamentalists or traditionalists) get so “smart?” Drum-roll, please. Apologetics.
Apologetics is the systematic process of learning the prompting questions that, if properly given, will persuade the “non-Christian” that he has the wrong worldview lens. Christians trained in apologetics (and trust me, their training rivels the process of getting a law degree) are like hunters awaiting the right animal to trap. And once trapped, apologists have just the right arguments to paint their prey into a corner.
The apologist often utilizes something called “systematic theology.” The premise of this form of theology is that if one dedicates himself to learning the Bible in exactly a certain way, he will know the mind of God. Perfect in knowledge.
The presumption is that if the apologist can just keep talking and properly deliver his well-practiced legal position, his opponent will relent and see the light. Some of my friends tell me that conversing with an apologist is like a boxing match. The apologist perseveres in throwing punches until his opponent is punch-drunk — and gives up. Victory to the apologist!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I can be uninformed (even immensely ignorant and dangerous) on several issues. However, if someone I consider to be a wise mentor conveys some information to me, then I am all ears. In fact, I pay a very wise Christian mentor to listen well to my life story. Adeptly, the mentor surgically lets me “see” what was impossible for me to understand otherwise [emphasis on listen and then providing as few words as possible]. My mentor never attempts to bludgeon me with prepared arguments and counter-arguments. Rather, the mentor is loving, peaceful, patient, kind, good, and gentle — exactly like the Holy Spirit.
There exist many different forms of Christianity. All worship Jesus. Some Christians, however, idolize the bible above Jesus. Thus, knowledge becomes their goal. Knowledge of the bible — in systematic order — can be a source of hubris for some Christians.
As for me, I am suspicious whenever any Christian presumes that he has all of the Truth — and that I am lacking. In the words of my friend and colleague, Dan Foster:
“One of the most despicable attitudes among Christians is the one that says, ‘I have the truth. You don’t have the truth. You need what I have. You are lost. I am saved. You are walking around in the dark. I am enlightened. You need to learn from me. You have nothing of value to say to me, but what I have to say to you is of infinite value.’
As a gay Christian, I know that many of us have experienced religious abuse from evangelicals. All-too-many times, we gay Christians have been assumed to be non-Christians— as if we do not align with Jesus. All-too-often, gay Christians are presumed to selfishly “re-write” scripture whenever we apply well-studied, progressive interpretations of the Bible. Also, many of us have been pummeled by an apologist (who, when finished, smugly assumed he just did us a favor).
So, beware of the Christian worldview and apologetics. And instead of strutting with knowledge, please love me exactly as I am. After all, that is how Jesus loves me.
“Yes, we know that we all have knowledge about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.” (1 Corinthians 8:1b-3)
Dr. Mike Rosebush is the founder/author of GAYoda and writer for Backyard Church. He has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor with nine years of counseling and mentoring thousands of gay Christian men. A short synopsis of Dr. Rosebush’s life can be found at I Lived the Most Unusual Gay Christian Life Ever. Please read the complete set of his articles here. You may contact Dr. Rosebush at firstname.lastname@example.org.