True Freedom

“The Worldview Question

People in other cultures have not found the same difficulty with the Bible. Many Christians in previous centuries have valued its instruction. So what causes the differences?

Once again, competing worldviews are one source of difference. The God of the Bible is a personal God. According to the Bible’s teaching and its personalist worldview, God has a moral character. Whether or not we accept his moral guidance matters to him.

But if that is all we say, we can still feel as though moral rules are an impo- sition on human freedom. The Bible has a many-sided reply to this modern feeling. God made human beings in his image (Gen. 1:26–28), so that we have a moral character ourselves. We have a sense of right and wrong. And God made us with a purpose, so that we would grow in fellowship with him and find freedom and satisfaction in fellowship with him rather than in isolation.

Different worldviews lead to different conceptions of freedom. If there were no God, freedom might mean freedom to create our own purposes. It might mean freedom from all constraint, which implies, in the end, freedom from the constraints of personal relationships. The ideal freedom would be to live in isolation. On the other hand, if God exists and is personal, freedom means not isolation but joy in appreciating both other human beings and God the infinite person. God’s moral order is designed by God to guide us into personal fellowship and satisfaction. It is for our good. It is for our freedom, we might say, in the true sense of “freedom.” The person who goes astray from God’s wise guidance burdens himself with sorrows and frustrations. In fact, he ends up being a slave to his own desires.

What Makes Sense

The person who rejects the Bible’s moral guidance thinks that he has good reasons for rejecting it. It seems reasonable to him to seek “freedom” rather than the Bible’s instruction, which he deems to be oppressing and confining. But his judgments about freedom and about oppression are colored by a worldview. He already has assumptions about what would be a meaningful and fulfilling life—what true freedom would mean. And his assumptions depend on his conception of whether God is relevant, and whether God is personal. Thus, he may reject the Bible not because the Bible does not make sense in its own terms, but because he is not reading it on its own terms. He is injecting his own worldview and his own agenda about the kind of freedom that he pictures for himself as ideal.

The Bible’s own view of the matter has still another dimension. The Bible indicates that God created us and designed us to have personal fellowship with him and to follow his ways. But we have gone astray and rebelled. We want to be our own master. That is sin. Sin colors our thinking and makes us dislike the idea of submitting to anyone else. Even though God’s way is healthy and our own way is destructive, we do not want to stop following our own way. So when we interact with the Bible, we are not just innocent evaluators. We have a destructive agenda. And that is part of the problem. The problem is not just the worldviews “out there,” so to speak, but the worldviews and sinful desires “in here.” Our secret desires for sin mesh with the ideological offerings of the worldviews that are “on sale” in our society.”

(Poythress, Inerrancy and Worldview)

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