Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis
This Week at Plymouth, November 3, 2023
“There is no single worldview among Christians—nor in the Bible itself, which is multivocal, written over thousands of years by dozens of different writers. Christians today disagree profoundly on countless doctrinal issues.” —Peter Wehner
When a cable news interviewer asked the newly elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives about his beliefs about the issues facing the American people, he responded that the Bible is his worldview. What does that mean? Assuming that one could distill a coherent, consistent set of precepts, principles, and propositions gleaned from ancient books written over thousands of years in diverse locations, languages, and cultures, my mind reels trying to harmonize the worldviews of the 66 books of the Bible to address or support the myriad concerns, challenges, and questions facing the current world. In reading, questioning, and interpreting biblical texts, I am always overwhelmed by how resistant the Bible is to any attempt to beat it into one all-purpose response to everything under the sun. Alas, there are many determined to make it so.
The God-talk I’ve heard has shown me that a biblical worldview is nothing less than an ideological or political worldview. All my life, I have heard people tell me what God wants, likes, hates, or desires. When I began to study the Bible formally, it became clear that all the things people said God wanted, liked, hated, or desired were often not biblical at all. They often talk less about God’s promise of shalom—peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility for the whole creation—than about God’s wrath against feminists, secularists, LGBTQ people, and people of other faiths or no faith. From the people who espouse a so-called biblical worldview, God looks amazingly like what they personally want, like, hate, or desire. There appears to be no imagination about the kind of world God envisioned or promised to make in which all creation will have what it needs. We have a startling capacity to limit, confine, and domesticate a God who, over and over again, reveals just how imaginative, unpredictable, and boundless the Divine prerogative is.
I have yet to see those who claim to approach every issue or question with a biblical worldview engage with the vision of God’s creation having everything it needs to live and thrive and be whole. The religious imagination often fails when needed to challenge our political and economic institutions to reflect God’s lovingkindness in policy and governance. When we aspire to a world without war, hunger, and poverty, where there is peace, equality, and harmony, the imagination fails. We read, sing, and worship with an understanding that God is doing a new thing, creating new heavens and a new earth, and invites us to perceive it, believe it, and live it. A God who is still speaking, changing, and doing new things—that’s a biblical worldview I can get behind.