Today I bumped into a “Worldview Chart” posted online by Summit Ministries. It’s perhaps the best illustration I’ve seen of how many unnecessary and potentially dangerous positions have been tacked on to Christianity by conservative evangelicals. According to this chart, the Christian worldview includes belief in young earth creationism, support for the death penalty, a commitment to mind/body dualism, rejection of non-traditional family structure, and devotion to fee enterprise and capitalism.
This “Christian worldview” is compared to what Summit considers to be opposing worldviews, such as Islam, secular humanism, and postmodernism. I couldn’t help but chuckle at how the “postmodern economic system” was described: “Postmodern economics has as its goal the alleviation of human suffering. It seeks to do this through some form of government intervention within a fee market environment.”
Does this mean that anyone who supports the $700-billion bailout of U.S. financial insitutions is an economic postmodernist?
Furthermore, according to Summit’s Worldview Chart, “postmodern sociology seeks to even the playing field by emphasizing the value of those typically considered on the cultural fringe, such as the poor and oppressed.” Wow. Seeking justice for the downtrodden is considered by Summit to be an anti-Christian worldview.
As you might detect, this chart makes me a little angry. It’s probably because I have a history with Summit. I participated in the program while in college, and this chart reminds me of a time when I thought I had to give up my entire faith because I questioned the legitimacy of young earth creationism.
“If the Bible cannot be trusted to explain origins,” I was taught, “then it can’t be trusted for anything, and the Christian faith is lost.”
So when a couple of science books convinced me that there was some legitimacy to evolutionary theory, I was under the impression that this meant God was dead.
Of course, after years of wrestling with my faith, I discovered that I could still follow Jesus Christ without sticking to the Worldview Chart. However, as I’ve spent the past few months talking to others with similar evangelical backgrounds, I’ve found that many have given up their faith altogether. Their stories have similar themes. “I took a biology class” says one. “I spent time with a Muslim and found out he didn’t fit the caricature” says another. “I had questions about inerrancy,” “I saw that truth is in many ways relative,” “I support the civil rights of gays and lesbians,” “I think ‘the market’ has become an idol” and so on.
Sadly, these statements are too often followed by, “…so I gave up on Christianity.”
No wonder. According to Summit, a person who thinks evolution is a legitimate scientific theory, supports regulation of the free market, identifies with left-wing politics, and "seeks to empower the powerless, that is, women, minorities and homosexuals” is a postmodern secular humanist with some Marxist tendencies. According to the Summit Worldview Chart, I don't hold to a consistent Christian worldview.
(P.S. Another irony of the Worldview Chart: “Polygamy” falls under the “Islam” category and not the “Biblical” category. Talk about picking and choosing!)