Submitted by Laura George on

World Views and Christian Orthodoxy

There is a lot of discussion these days about various worldviews. A new adverb seems necessary – thinking “worldviewishly!” For the past 45 years, I have been involved in the theologically “orthodox” or conservative Christian world, doing counseling, teaching, etc. Even in this relatively confined “worldview,” there is a realization that numerous cultural and other factors contribute to each person’s broad view of reality, spiritual forces, morality, etc. It is recognized that this context varies greatly and colors any person’s interpretation of what they observe and experience. But, unfortunately, this awareness generally does not take the next few critical steps that would allow truly deeper understanding of and respect for the “other.” It falls short of aiding our common need to keep updating our worldviews and the smaller paradigms (organized interpretations) that comprise them.

I frankly don't have high expectations for most people in regards to really listening closely, seeking the other's perspective. In one sense, education (i.e., schooling) is not what is required. It certainly can and should help, especially the college level and beyond. Curiosity and openness are more critical, however.

This brings me to the trouble with "orthodoxy," whether of the theological, scientific, or any kind. (I'll speak of theology, my field, but have just as much concern with scientific orthodoxy, to which I also pay). Now, I can go light on the average lay Christian. But it frustrates and disappoints me greatly when highly educated, bright people in theology and apologetics do not do honest, open digging (or even listening) into the reasons people (like myself, now) work within malleable paradigms outside of orthodoxy.Some of them are former colleagues and friends.

Orthodoxy – almost by definition and certainly by practice – is focused on keeping within set boundaries of what has prior been established as right or true. Tinkering around the edges is okay or even considered good, but a serious re-examination of the paradigm itself (or intertwined sub-paradigms) is too threatening, would change too much. So the true, deep reconstruction that many young Christians (or scientists, etc.) seem to be pursuing and longing for is forestalled …. I understand why, but I feel it's better to have smaller doses of pain and adjustment now than to keep resisting and risk even bigger shake-ups later (as is quite possible with the ET question that is gradually coming to the cultural foreground, as just one example). Such shake-ups WILL come eventually.

My mission is to help orthodox folks see the significant common ground still in place, shared with heretics like me, and at the least be willing to actively work together for humanitarian ends.

Do you share this mission, or a similar one? How can all of us work more effectively to help humanity learn to cooperate and reconcile when it comes to different belief systems? How do we reduce armed conflict and provide basic survival needs and beyond? Am I right that we need to focus more on practical solutions than debating whose worldview is right or better?