Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm Not Sure I Believe in the Christian Worldview/Metanarrative or I Might Be A Christian Humanist

Many thinkers espouse the idea of the Christian Worldview or the Christian Metanarrative. A worldview and a metanarrative are not the same thing. However, they are similar in that they both, at times, offer a totalistic conceptual framework for thinking about all of life.

I'm not sure there is a totalistic conceptual framework given for all of life in the scriptures or the Christian tradition. Now, don't burn me at the stake -- hang with me here.

Often Christian Worldview thinking and Christian metanarrative thinking is highly ideological. Not in the sense that it espouses a particular human idealogy, but rather in the sense that these approaches function ideologically. They create a framework that is intended to answer all questions of life. If a question or answer does not fit, it is rejected or chopped off on the Procrustean bed of worldview/metanarrative thinking.

I think the Bible leaves a lot more questions unanswered than answered.

Let's think about economics as an example. Jesus did not set out an economic program -- he was not an economist. Just because he was God incarnate does not mean he was an expert in economics. I think one can hold a high and robust Christology -- as I do -- and say Jesus was ignorant about how an economy works. In other words, a heathen economist at Harvard or the University of Chicago might be a better source for economic thinking than Jesus is. If that is true, than when Christians think about economics, they ought to be very reticent about offering hard and fast "Christian" answers to economics.

Now to balance what I write. This is not to say that Christians ought not to think about economics, nor that there is nothing in the Christian tradition to guide how one navigates the questions of economics. However, it is to suggest that Christians ought to be wary of giving THE Christian approach to economics/war/rock and roll/smoking/divorce and remarriage -- etc.

Any Christian humanists out there?

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that I have always been attracted to the idea of a Christian worldview/metanarrative. I am temperamentally predisopsed to like totalistic answers -- I like ideology. I am now questioning my assumptions and wondering if they are correct.


Samuel Lago said...

Re "UPDATE": ha! I think you are incorrect.

Seriously though, while I agree that "Jesus" doesn't give us "answers" to economics, he doesn't need to, for the Bible to still offer us a worldview which should affect or thinking, including the sphere of economics. And this doesn't mean that "secular Stan" from Harvard is useless either.

Rather in God's self-revelation in His Word (incrnate and written) we can get a clear idea of how God intends the world to "work" (particularily in the principles that drive the Mosaic law).

These principles surely give us guidelines with which to "work", (although certainly no all the answers) while at the same time accept and "use" and appreciate the work of humanist academics.

For example, can one really be both a devout (orthodox) christian and be a CONSISTENT marxist?

The Scylding said...

Samuel: Can one be a devout (orthodox) christian and be a CONSISTENT capitalist / libertarian? Equally valid questions.

The only serious attempts, and I say ATTEMPTS, towards a (self-conscious) Christian economical theory has been through the Distributivists - ie Chesterton, Day, Schumacher and Illich. their is of course no final answer, but it is at least an attempt at one.

But I agree with Peter - the many "Christian worldviews" are ideologically saturated. worldview thinking is too "van Tilian" / presuppositional for me, - and i don't agree with those epistemologies. They are also not esposed outside of a narrow section of reformed thought - and not really being Reformed anymore, they have become somewhat foreign to me. But that's just me....

Samuel Lago said...

"Samuel: Can one be a devout (orthodox) christian and be a CONSISTENT capitalist / libertarian? Equally valid questions."

Well, capitalism is the direct economic outwrking of calvinism so...