Want to better understand the Christian worldview? Check out the four-part video study based on my new book Christ or Chaos. It’s like a worldview analysis crash course. You can download the study here. It’s available for use with small groups or for a discounted rate for individual use. The kit includes four teaching sessions, an outline of the material covered, discussion questions, and more.
Here’s your weekend worldview reader with links to articles, essays, reviews, and videos that I consider to be interesting or important from a biblical worldview perspective. Any work that I point to is not an endorsement, but rather an invitation for you to think deeply about your faith and the world around you.
⊕ Why Mere Christianity Won’t Go Out of Style (Posted at The Gospel Coalition)
⊕ Can we trust robots to make moral decisions?, Quartz (Olivia Goldhill)
⊕ Why a Christian Anthropology Matters for Liberty and Love, Letters to the Exiles (Charlie Self)
⊕ Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on C. S. Lewis, Reasons (Kenneth Samples)
⊕ The Darkness of Porn and the Hope of the Gospel, DennyBurk.com (Denny Burk)
⊕ The ages of distraction, Aeon (Frank Furedi)
⊕ Kierkegaard and the Paradox of Religious Diversity, George B. Connell
∴ Review: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
⊕ You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, James K.A. Smith
∴ Review: Reformedish
The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist is a riveting read that’s sure to spark the sort of controversy that was common to its central figure “the Contrarian.” It’s likely to expose many modern Free Thinkers as anything but as it demonstrates that their patron saint of secularism was more open minded than they care to admit. Readers will either love or hate it.
I loved it. To get a behind the scenes view into the world of the celebrated atheist known by friends as “Hitch” is fascinating. Larry’s close relationship with Christopher, particularly at the end of his life, is inspirational in a way that might be lost on some. It reminds me of the kind of relationship that George Bernard Shaw, an outspoken skeptic, and G.K. Chesterton, an equally outspoken believer, seemed to share.
What Larry does in the book is tell the story from his perspective without watering down his convictions to placate a broader audience. That’s what will make it controversial. What he doesn’t do is try to convince readers that Hitchens had a secret conversion.
The title of the book with words like faith and soul shouldn’t strike skeptics as misplaced. Larry, as a Christian, believes that Christopher’s atheism was indeed a faith commitment. It was a fundamental orientation of the heart regarding the nature of reality, a commitment that could not be verified or falsified through science. And Larry believes Christopher has a soul. That’s why faith and soul are apt descriptions. I recommend this book as a valuable exploration of both in the life of a man who described himself as an antitheist.
I interviewed Taunton about his book at Boyce College’s event “Dialogue with the Dean.” The audio s available here.
The twentieth-century journalist and Christian apologist G. K. Chesterton once said, “There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place.” Chesterton’s point was that truth might be closer than you realize, perhaps right under your nose. And sometimes, like with the prodigal son, truth is found at the end of a long road back to the Father’s house.
Chesterton was specifically speaking of Christianity. And in his book The Everlasting Man he contrasted two helpful forms of analyzing the Christian faith. The first is from the inside. The second is from a million miles away. As he said, “The best relation to our spiritual home is to be near enough to love it. But the next best is to be far enough away not to hate it.”
In other words, sometimes stepping just outside the front door of a particular worldview leaves you too close to have a clear perspective. You can be standing beneath the awning while complaining of the shade. Your proximity itself creates emotional and intellectual blind spots.
As Chesterton put it, “The popular critics of Christianity are not really outside of it. . . . Their criticism has taken on a curious tone; as of a random and illiterate heckling.” The modern-day terrain of heckling, as Chesterton describes it, is fraught with emotional landmines and intellectual blockades. Safe passage to meaningful conversations can be hard to find.
The sun will probably kill us.
That’s what scientists tell us. The large warmth-giving star our earth orbits around will continue to heat up until it burns all its nuclear fuel. Feeding its insatiable hunger for energy, it will grow into what experts call a “Red Giant.” In its hot wrath this giant will gobble up all life on earth and burp out a silent planet.
That’s how the curtain closes in one storyline at least. And that’s the outlook many embrace today. The plot begins in a murky prebiotic ocean and ends in the heat death of all of civilization. And if that’s where life came from and where history is headed, there’s not much we can do about it. After all, wishful thinking has never slain a giant.
I loved giant stories as a kid. They involved mysterious beans, cunning heroes, and defeated Goliaths. But the Red Giant isn’t my idea of an inspirational fairy tale. I think I like the Jolly Green Giant, who advertises canned veg- etables on television, a whole lot better.
If it were up to me, the Green Giant would trounce the Red Giant, and we would all walk off into the sunset holding hands and snacking on sweet peas. In all seriousness, there actually is a fifty-five-foot-tall statue of the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota. If things end the way scientists predict, this monument will one day melt beneath the heat of the expanding sun, a reminder that life doesn’t have to mirror fantasy.
Not every story has a happy ending. Not all giants are jolly. When I was a child I thought like a child. Perhaps it’s time to put away childish things.
But we’re all suckers for a good story. That’s why we squirm a bit at gloomy projections for the human race. We want a comedy even though our meteorological forecast forces us into a tragedy. I think deep down we’re all hold- ing out hope for a David figure to step in with a humble sling and defend us from the cosmic foe threatening our existence. We simply want a better ending.
Every perspective of reality contains an inherent narrative. Every worldview is a novel. Each has an author, a beginning, and an end. The task for thinking people is to consider not which story is the most interesting, but which one is actually true. In the end we may find a story compelling and true in which we can lose ourselves. Better yet, we may discover a story in which we can actually find ourselves. That would be novel indeed.