There are two worldviews prevalent in the world today:
The first view says that everyone is basically good. Everyone is trying hard. Given the right environment and circumstances, that innate goodness will surely come out. This worldview then puts the responsibility for all that is wrong with the world on injustice and inequality. Crime and inhumane acts are caused by people who have come from unfair circumstances.
This worldview is encouraged in self-esteem, self-help therapies. (“You are perfect just the way you are.”)
Since we were made by God in His likeness, we must be basically good, don’t you think? I remember hearing a friend argue with a priest that original sin made no sense…we look at babies and are in awe. They are so pure, so perfectly made, so beautiful. They were born good. Surely, this is the worldview we should have, is it not?
The other view says that everyone is born with the stain of sin. After the Fall of Adam and Eve, humans became susceptible to temptation. In early childhood, children are self-absorbed. The role of parents, then the church and then the community is to direct and guide so that virtue is learned. We know that we are sinful, we fall short of the label of “goodness.” Darkness and evil continues to exist in the world.
This worldview places the ultimate responsibility on the individual. It, however, also says that we are called to nudge each other toward truth and goodness because we are connected in a spiritual way.
This second worldview may seem pessimistic to some. But truth is not gloomy. It is freeing. This second worldview does not deny that we are made in God’s image. We have that inner longing for God which He planted in our hearts. And when that spark is given fuel, it becomes a fire which burns away the darkness! That is our hope and our vision.
The issue of worldviews has to do with how we respond to evil. According to the first worldview, everyone is trying their best, so evil is blamed on society. Yet, we must ask, who created society? This worldview asks the State to create different circumstances so that the good can flourish more effectively. We then need new laws to control speech, and control circumstances. The State then takes over in monitoring what is true and good. If children are born good than families are secondary…not really important at all.
The second worldview says that we need God because God is the source of all that is Good. We recognize that we keep slipping back…we give in to temptation and do bad things. I remember reading the Bible and wanting to shake the ancient Israelites because they had a cloud column, a fire column, and miraculously-appearing food, yet they still worshiped idols!! “What is wrong with them?” I would think. Except I realize that I too keep sliding backwards.
We are responsible for our personal sins but we also know that we can’t get rid of evil without His help. We know there is a higher authority that can save us.
We must, in this second worldview, recognize that each one of us has to keep calling out evil for what it is, otherwise it gets obscured. It a fallen-world tendency to rationalize sin–to make sin appear to be good! The followers of Moses melted their gold to make a golden calf to have something to worship. Did they think first, “God wouldn’t want us to do this?” Probably not. But we can imagine they rationalized it as a good thing until Moses came down and slammed the 10 commandments on the ground! They were called out for sinning.
To name an evil does not mean we are judging the soul of anyone else. It means we see the direction of our society and must say, “This is wrong.”
This issue of worldviews has come to my attention because I have heard young people espousing the first. And, as a result, they think that every behavior is excusable because everyone is “trying their best under difficult circumstances.” And no one wants to be the one to slam down the 10 commandments.
It has been reading about the lives of the saints that helped me change. The saints all understood that we human beings are unworthy. We have allowed sin to spread in the world. In a thousand ways we participate in sin.
Jesus told us clearly, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” We can’t look to the State for truth. The State can’t put an end to evil. We start with ourselves to feed the fire of His love and then we work to build that fire in the world.
What is your worldview and what will you teach?
Copyright 2016 Judith Costello.