Getting to the Particulars: What This Christian Designer Believes and Why
April 22nd, 2009 in Web Design Worldview
by: Matthew Griffin
"Tell me in detail what you believe and why." This is the request I received from an old high school friend a few weeks ago on Facebook, and I have to admit it locked me up. After looking over my profile, this friend expressed surprise that I was attending a liturgical church. We went back and forth a little and finally she asked me if I would please explain in detail what I believe and why. "Oh, that's easy." I thought, and I started typing out my response. After all, I write a blog about worldview. Every week I go to great lengths researching topics, searching for truth, examining historical Christian positions on a myriad of topics. This will be a breeze. But instead of the free-flowing response I expected, I found myself in an intellectual stutter. I typed and retyped the first sentence several times and eventually found myself at a total standstill. Finally, I responded, "Let me think about it and I'll get back with you."
What's the Problem?
What was the problem? It wasn't a matter of substance or content. I could easily give a several hour impromptu lecture on the historical Christian view of reality. I'm submerged in it constantly; I eat it for breakfast. My problem was where to start. I immediately thought of Chesterton's illustration of the man who lives in civilization being asked why civilization is preferable to barbarism. "Well, uh... there's peace you know and, uh... you know... music." The problem is that when someone becomes fully convinced of a thing and assimilates it into his being as the very structure upon which all other ideals rest, it becomes difficult to discuss it from particulars. Or rather, it becomes much more complicated to discuss from particulars.
This is one of the reasons worldview thinking is essential for the Christian. Not only does it provide a true, cohesive, all-encompassing, fully Christian intellectual structure for us; it affords us the opportunity to step out of our own structure and into others in order to better understand and answer the questions of the culture around us. But, ironically, this is also the the key reason for my hesitancy in responding to the request. I am lucidly aware of the sway of other philosophical systems and I want to make sure I'm telling the story from the right starting point—with the right worldview in mind.
Telling the Ancient Story
The story of Christianity is amazing in that it can be told in an almost inexhaustible variety of forms. And depending on the culture and, more particularly, the worldview of the individual receiving the story, one form may be preferable to another as a starting point. Should I jump into Aquinas' rational proofs for the existence of God? Should I use historical narrative to lay out the covenants of the creator? Maybe I should start with the existential dilemma, or appeal to the poetic wisdom of Ecclesiastes. Rarely is there an opportunity for me to tell God's story in even two or three of the forms developed in the Bible and Christian history, much less all of them. Most of the time, I only get to tell it one way, so I want to make it count.
But In this particular case, I wasn't dealing with an unchurched secularist, or a pure existentialist. My friend grew up in a modern American evangelical environment and, admittedly, that's a worldview noticeably absent from the Mirificam Press archive of articles. I have spent a lot of time comparing and contrasting "mere Christianity", as C.S. Lewis called it, with overtly unchristian worldviews, but I haven't spent much time on the doctrinal particulars that make me the particular Christian that I am. I have told the story of God as compared with overt rebellion. And, for sure, that is an important story to tell. Our hearts have been initially pricked by some general summary of the story of God. But it's the particulars of the story that spur us on to greater holiness. I mentioned earlier that discussing Christianity from the particulars becomes increasingly difficult for me, and this is absolutely true. It's true because Christian understanding is deepened by particulars, not ignited. It's meant to begin with a simple story but it was never meant to eternally stay a simple story. On Mirificam Press I've told a lot of general stories, deconstructed a lot of worldviews, but It's time to break out the particulars, at least briefly. So, at the risk of losing friends and alienating people. Here is what I believe as a Christian and why.
On second thought, please refer to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the Nicene Creed. Why say what's already been said so well, so humbly, and so completely? If you'll excuse the sharp turn, I'll end with a bit of personal advice. If you don't know what these creeds and confessions are, or you go to a church where they're never mentioned or used, it's time to find a church that does. Our Christian heritage is too precious to sacrifice to the god of "relevance". I didn't fully understand this until one day I was sitting at the dinner table with my family. I asked my little girl, Emma (almost two years old at the time) the first question in the "Children's Catechism". "Emma, who made you?" She looked up at me with her big brown eyes ( that I'm told look a lot like mine), and half a smile and announced, "Gawd."
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