“If You’re Anti-Gay, Indiana Wants You To Visit”

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Truth Encounter Ministries
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This headline, from the HuffPost, is a great way to introduce the “Headlines and Between” feature. Headlines have a way of making us think that they are not just a ‘truth claim’, but they are, in fact, a ‘true’ truth claim.

Back when journalism, and our culture, believed in absolute truth, journalists were held to a standard that was transcendent…you reported on the facts. Your job was not to interpret what was happening, but to report it as factually and faithfully as you could. Why? Because there was a general desire to seek and report truth. It was the badge of honor and the standard of professionalism to report in this manner and the journalist, and the newspaper, went to great lengths and effort to reach and maintain that standard.

Therefore, when a journalist wrote an article, we accepted it as a faithful and true report of reality. The headline was therefore a summation of that faithful report and we instinctively believed it to be true.

But, something happened in our culture, and therefore in journalism. Absolute truth was rejected and the man became the source of truth. It became more and more about me. My motive moved from reporting what is “real” to reporting what I “feel”. But the format didn’t change and the reporting continued to look as if it were a faithful picture of reality. But, between the lines, there was now a growing agenda. The articles and the headlines became more and more tainted with underlying purposes. Some purposes were to sell more newspapers. Some purposes were to make a name for the reporter. Not to say that these purposes didn’t exist before. But they existed within the boundaries of a commitment to the Truth. So, you scrambled to be the first to report the news, the “scoop”, to sell more newspapers and you worked hard to explore and research and write skillfully the Truth to become the best reporter. But when you walk away from absolute Truth, you make your own “scoop” and you create headlines that sell, rather than tell.

And, you begin to write, driven not by Truth, but by an Agenda.

It is a sad thing to say this, but it is a wise thing to acknowledge the true state of our culture: we must begin to retrain ourselves to see the headlines and the articles through the eyes of wisdom rather than naïve acceptance. Increasingly, the media carries an agenda and we must, sadly as it is, read them with a healthy skepticism and the question: “What is being sold here” rather than “faithfully being told here?”

This is “Agenda Journalism”. Now, for sure, not all journalists are this way, nor are all articles and headlines. But, in my opinion, it is the increasing trend, especially for key issues in our culture.

If you are anti-gay, Indiana wants you to visit” is actually quite silly and childish to write. It is certainly most unprofessional to do so. But, in a journalistic age where achieving the Agenda is the prime issue, and not Truth, this headline makes sense.

We need to simply learn how to read the Agenda between the lines and headlines.

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11
What is a Worldview?
The classic definitions of “worldview” take some form of “the lens through which one sees the world around them”. I think it is much deeper than this and much more complicated. In fact, I think there are two, yea three, different categories that we should keep in mind when we try to define “worldview” or attempt to understand what it is. For sure, we need to understand it not as a mere linguistic term or academic study, but as a critically deep and profound aspect of our own life. Formal vs. Personal When we speak of a “worldview” there are two fundamentally different ways this can be used. The first is to refer to a “formal” worldview and the second is to refer to one’s “personal” worldview. These are vastly different from each other and should be defined separately. A formal worldview is a set of truth claims that purport to paint a picture of reality. Formal worldviews are often titled, such as Marxism or Islam or Christianity. One can find a good number of publications that lay out the truth claims for each of these formal “worldviews”. This just simply means that the “book” for each of these worldviews makes the strong assertion that its truth claims are really real. A personal worldview is also a set of truth claims, but these truth claims aren’t written in a book, they are written on the heart. They are truth claims that are embraced so deeply that we “believe” they really do match reality. But the critical factor here is that once we believe that a truth claim is really real, it will drive our behavior: how we act, how we think, and how we feel. If you believe that you are unlovable unless you weigh less than you do now, that belief will drive how you act. If you believe that your happiness and significance is based upon circumstances working out the way you have planned them and it appears that the chances of that happening are growing less probable, then you will find yourself worried. Jesus dealt with the issue of worry and He clearly jabbed His finger upon the source: our beliefs. This is the power of the personal worldview and the impotence of a formal worldview. No one acts on the ideas in a book. They act on the ideas in their heart. You can make up your own new formal worldview. You can write a book about it or maybe even a hundred books about it. You can give it a snazzy name, like Avatarism. But if no one embraces your truth claims as being really real, then you will have nothing but a dusty old book. But if hundreds, or thousands, or even millions of people begin to read that book and believe your truth claims to be really real, even if they are totally false, then you will rule them with your ideas. This is why Dave Breese wrote a book entitled “Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave”. How do they continue to rule? Because they each wrote a “book” with their own ideas in them, mostly false ideas, and people began to believe those ideas and in so doing, even long after the authors of those books were dead, their ideas continue to drive how people think, how they act, and how they feel. They are ruled by those ideas. Why? Because they are written in their hearts. They believe they are real. They became a part of their personal worldview. This is the power of ideas and the power of a worldview. But until it becomes part of one’s personal worldview, it is powerless. This is why the Scripture warns us to “guard our heart” (Proverbs 4:23). That is not to guard ourselves against being emotionally hurt by someone, it is to guard what it is we end up believing to be really real. And if you were to write your book and only one person began to believe your ideas were real, you would be ruling that one person. This should be enough for us to take seriously another warning from Scripture: “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1) If you are going to teach or write, you better make sure that the “truth claims” that you assert are really real. And the only way that I know to insure that, is to make very, very sure that your words are consistent with the Truth of God. If not, woe to you if some “little child should stumble” (Mark 9:42) because of your false teaching. There are more differences in these two: - A formal worldview is usually quite comprehensive, dealing with most areas of life, if not all. - A personal worldview, can be quite spotty or incomplete. * Studying a formal worldview is fairly easy. * Trying to understand one’s personal worldview is not. + A formal worldview can be crafted to appear quite logical (although a false worldview will always be filled with contradictions if you are willing to examine them). + A personal worldview can be quite illogical. It can embrace ideas or truth claims that are very contradictory. It can be driven by selfish motives and desires, rather than reality. In fact, one’s personal worldview can be quite “unreal” and in certain areas it could be said that we are living in a “dream” world because our beliefs are so contrary to reality. When this is the case, it is usually because of our selfish motives: we believe what we want to believe. Source of Truth What is common to both, however, is that each relies upon a source of truth. For the formal worldview, this is fairly easy to determine. A Christian worldview believes that truth has been revealed in both the creation of God and in His written Word. Islam believes it has been revealed in the Koran. Latter Day Saints believe it has been revealed in the Book of Mormon and other revelations to their prophets, such as The Pearl of Great Price. Naturalism believes that the source of truth is found in science alone. Marxism and Leninism rests upon the writings of Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels, who also happened to stand upon a worldview of Naturalism. For the personal worldview, consistent with its inconsistency, we could find multiple sources of truth. However, in the truly selfish worldview, it is sometimes expressed that the individual’s heart is the source of truth. So, “My heart tells me that…” is one’s source of truth. Sometimes a person begins to believe that a formal worldview is right in its understanding of the source of truth and adherents will attempt to mold their personal worldview to the doctrines of the formal worldview. However, it is quite unusual for an individual to have a personal worldview that perfectly matches a formal worldview. When selfishness or other motives drive our beliefs, then we can declare that we believe in a formal worldview’s source of truth and its truth claims, but act in a different way. And why do we act in a different way? Because we have other truth claims that have captured our heart that are deeper than the truth claims of the formal worldview. All of this leads us to the third type of worldview: the “professed” worldview. This is a complicated thing, but not too much so. It is the thing that happens when we believe that it is in our best interest to “profess” a particular belief when we don’t really believe it is real. And why do we believe that it is in our “best interest”? Because we have believed another truth claim that says so. For example, if I believe the truth claim “I will be happy if people accept me and think well of me” then I might act in a way that would make people accept me and think well of me. If I were in a Christian group and I wanted to be happy, then I would say “Jesus is Lord” when I don’t really believe it. I might even memorize Scripture passages or go to church or raise my hands in worship to show that I am really worthy of the honor and praise of those who see me do such things. This becomes my “professed” worldview and it is often difficult to separate the “professed” from the “personal”. Often times, the “professed” is the open profession of things consistent with the formal worldview, but it may be miles away from the personal worldview. I believe God is speaking to this when He declares “These people draw near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13) This is a “professed” worldview in action. But the omniscient God is not fooled by the “professions” we make for He “looks at the heart”. (1 Samuel 16:7) This doesn’t mean that He simply knows how you “feel”. It means He knows what you really believe despite what you “profess”. This is why we must not fool ourselves in thinking that our “professed” worldview is equal to our “personal” worldview; nor that our “personal” worldview is equal to the “formal” worldview that I am associated with…just because I am a member of a church or synagogue or mosque or Free-Thinkers Society. Mark records that Jesus knew what people were thinking in their hearts. (Mark 2:8) We can become quite good at crafting beautiful masks…the kind of mask that people love to see…and we can become masters of which mask to wear in the presence of certain people. We do this because we believe, in our hearts, that our significance and pleasure and happiness is bound up in what people think of us. So we wear a mask and fool everyone. Everyone, of course, but God. He knows our heart.   Going Deeper In the Truth Project, we examined eight areas of a biblical worldview:    - Veritology (What is Truth?)    - Theology (Who is God?)    - Anthropology (Who is man?)    - Philosophy    - Ethics    - History    - Science    - Social Order Social Order was examined in the light of the six social "spheres" that God has designed:    - Family    - Church    - State    - Labor    - God & Man    - Community As a sub-topic of the State, we examined The American Experiment as well. Most Worldview authors examine a biblical worldview through the various "epochs" in the Meta-Narrative of God:    - Creation    - Fall    - Redemption    - Restoration In the Engagement Project, we added another "epoch" to this Worldview study:    - Engagement If you want to go deeper in a study of the heart and the mind, go here:     - Heart and Mind
7
When a Culture Develops a Phobia of Truth... It Attacks Chick-fil-A
In the upcoming (hopefully and prayerfully) “Engagement” series, the first tour* will examine the rise of a phobia in our culture toward Truth… Truth with a capital “T” that is, for our culture is filled with little “t” truths… those truth claims that have their genesis in our own precious and special little hearts. We celebrate those truths so much that it borders on being a new cult… one in which the individual and the individual’s belief is elevated to something akin to divinity. To say “my heart tells me…” or “this is who I am…” is tantamount to speaking scripture and to speak against the feelings or desires of the individual is to be labeled with the culture’s current schoolyard names: bigot, hate-monger, intolerant, etc. etc. in hopes, as we did in grade school, that we can elevate our own significance and posture by sneering immature “put-downs” at our favorite “nobodies” and “deplorables”. It would be a grave mistake, as many Christians have done, to label what is happening here with things like “liberal” or “progressive” or “Democrat”. What we are witnessing is a wholesale attack upon truth that has infested much of the cultural powers. The New Democratic party has been deeply infected. But it isn’t the Party… it is the worldview. That worldview is one in which Transcendent Truth is no longer merely ignored nor just set aside so that we can go our own way. No… now there is a war against it. There is a hatred toward it… and a deep fear. An interview on several northwest campuses highlighted this fear. The interviewer, a 5’10” white guy, was trying to get university students to tell him that he wasn’t a 6’ 5” Chinese woman. Even though it was obvious to them, they were afraid to speak it, for to do so was to trump the individual’s declaration with something Transcendent… even that which was obviously real. So, last week, Daniel Piepenbring, writing in the New Yorker, decries the advent of a Chick-fil-A store to the City where, Daniel believes, it “doesn’t quite belong”. He writes that the store’s arrival “augurs worse than a load of manure on the F train”. Why? Is it because he believes there is something wrong with the chicken or the fries? Is it because the milkshakes carry a lot of calories? And, in a city that bans “Big Gulp” drinks in order to protect its citizens from consuming too much sugar, is the store simply out of “nutritional” step with New Yorkers? No. That isn’t why Piepenbring writes a scathing article against Chick-fil-A. It is because Chick-fil-A and its owners embrace a Transcendent Truth. Here is the caption under the article’s picture of the new store: “Chick-fil-A’s corporate purpose begins with the words “to glorify God,” and that proselytism thrums below the surface of its new Fulton Street restaurant.” Interesting, isn’t it? A corporate purpose that begins with “to glorify God” is viewed with distaste and is equated with one of the growing schoolyard taunts: “proselytism”? By the way, “proselytizing” is viewed as an attack upon the divineness of the individual, for It implies that the individual should be persuaded to a different way of thinking and living. In a culture that has made the individual divine, to say there is something wrong in the individual’s beliefs is to speak blasphemy and deserves a sentencing to the stocks… or worse. That is the tenor of the article. It is written with a sense of outrage, of seething anger and hatred toward an establishment, as Daniel states:  whose headquarters “are adorned with Bible verses”… Oh my! Or its stores have the audacity to “close on Sundays”… double Oh My! Then comes, of course, the thing that is probably stirring up the greatest phobia in Daniel, and that is the position of Dan Cathy, the CEO, who stood for “traditional marriage”. Our culture is in a war against Transcendent Truth and anyone who dares to stand for that Truth. If it is a transcendent truth about anything: sex, marriage, male and female, God, Jesus, salvation by Him alone, moral right and wrong… anything… you will be either opposed or openly hated by the cultural “elites”. Although the war against truth has been raging from the Garden, it has never been so openly waged in our culture as it is today. This is a recent phenomenon. But, there is a strong and faithful remnant in the land… take hope. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Jesus, Matthew 5:10-11 Do everything in your power to live at peace in this culture, but don’t let it bully you into giving up the Truth. Jesus said He was the Truth. We will not turn away from Him, even if the beautiful people of Hollywood mock us, or the professors scorn us, or the NBA or NCAA move their games, or the state and the courts threaten us and close our stores, or even if a writer holds us in disdain and contempt. You are the light of the world. If you hide your light, then the whole house groans in darkness. We are a Remnant of Hope. Stand firm in Him.   *the Engagement: Tour 0: “In a Land of Nought—A Remnant of Hope”