Western worldview and Christianity–Harold Eberle

from  Christianity Unshackled by Harold Eberle,

Harold R. Eberle

Harold R. Eberle

Many agnostics will reason that if there is a God, then it is His responsibility to reveal Himself. Certainly a person cannot be expected to believe in something that cannot be seen or verified. Certainly if there is a God, He will not hold us accountable to believe in Him, since He is the one who is failing to make Himself known. It is His fault that we do not believe in Him— or so the agnostic reasons.
Yet, it is the western worldview that blinds a person from seeing the reality of God. To see this more clearly, think again of the words we quoted earlier from the famous atheist Richard Dawkins: “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.” Dawkins can only make this statement because he has assumed the worldview of modern Western intellectualism. However, if we hold to a worldview with no wall between the spiritual and natural realms, we could restructure Dawkins’ words to state: “The worldview of modern Western intellectualism is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think about God and evaluate evidence for His existence.”

The truth is that any worldview that relegates things like God, religion, and faith to the spiritual world is a worldview built on an indefensible foundation. It may be attractive to people who want to distance themselves from facing reality, but it is tragic when modern-day Christians get pulled into that deceptive way of thinking.

Most Christians think that their worldview has been built on a biblical foundation. In reality, Western Christianity has a mixture of biblical thought and Western thought. It is most accurate to say that Western Christianity is the result of taking biblical truths and laying them upon the spiritual/ natural division developed by the ancient Greek philosophers.

That division became more and more pronounced throughout the later part of the Middle Ages. As I mentioned earlier, theology and philosophy were king and queen in the kingdom of education. Much more than the Bible, Aristotle’s writings were the focus of study. When discussing theology, students and professors spent most of their time dissecting and rehashing the writings of Church giants like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas— leaders who had developed their theology on the ancient Greek foundation.

When the historical Church went through the Scientific Revolution along with the rest of Western society, it was pulled right along and in many ways was at the forefront of change. The separation of the spiritual and natural worlds became even more clearly defined. Then God and faith were compartmentalized in the spiritual world while science and knowledge were compartmentalized in the natural world.

This compartmentalization was most prominent in philosophy. When philosophers such as Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Hegel developed their ideas, they each built on the spiritual/ natural division. Even today Western philosophy is fully locked into the dichotomous world-view laid down by the ancient Greek philosophers.

Unfortunately, Christian theology developed side-by-side and intertwined with Western philosophy. Church leaders like Martin Luther and John Calvin were fully submerged in the Western dichotomy of the spiritual world versus the natural world. Of course, they did not limit God to the spiritual world, but they still were Western people with Western minds. It is disturbing for modern Christians to hear this, but in some ways, Plato and Aristotle have had a more profound impact upon Western Christianity than the apostle Paul (proven by the fact that most university-educated Christians today cannot agree with Paul that God’s existence is undeniable and obvious).

There are many implications of this that we will discuss as we continue. Here we can simply mention how the foundation that divides the spiritual world from the natural world tends to create a lifestyle separated from the spiritual and supernatural. This is most obvious by considering a Western-minded atheist and then relating that to a modern Christian. Let me explain.

If God were to perform a miracle healing before a crowd of Western-minded atheists, they would make every attempt to give a natural explanation for the event. In their minds, natural events must have natural causes. Therefore, if God were to work a miraculous healing in their presence, thoughts would immediately go through their minds that the healing was not a true miracle but perhaps the result of coincidence, psychosomatic phenomenon, or deception. The modern Western mind can’t help but impose such thoughts upon supernatural experiences. Because the framework through which they view life allows for no miracles, they must search for a natural explanation— and they usually find it.

This same process goes through the mind of Christians who have been indoctrinated in the Western worldview. They may want to believe, but their minds will mold the events to fit the split spiritual/ natural framework. Such patterns of thought go beyond our understanding of miracles and permeate all our understanding. They subtly create a lifestyle separated from the spiritual and supernatural. They lead to a form of godliness, but deny the power.

Eberle, Harold (2009-12-28). Christianity Unshackled: Are You A Truth Seeker (pp. 90-94). Destiny Image, Inc.. Kindle Edition.