Feb.10. – Who makes the rules, anyway?

February 10, 2017 Randy Bushey

by Randy Bushey

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities —  his eternal power and divine nature —  have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:20,21).   

I’m not sure kids do this anymore.

But when I was a kid we regularly gathered on the road or sandlot for “pick-up” games of ball hockey, football, soccer and baseball. And on occasion some new kid would join the competition and want to change a rule.

To us, rules were sacred and we resisted change – simply because we’d always played that way. But sometimes the new kid insisted and because it was his ball, we had to consider a possible change – a decision needed to be rendered.

We didn’t think of it exactly in these terms, but essentially the question was raised: who has authority to make the rules?

In the grown-up world of global and societal issues, the question remains of importance today – but on a macro scale.

Does the majority have the right to decide? Are those in the minority always wrong? In that case William Wilberforce in England (18th century) who fought for the abolition of slavery, and Martin Luther King (died 1968) who contested American racism would be cast not as cultural heroes, but as lawless renegades.

Or does might make right? Should those with the most power make the rules (think Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler), particularly enforcing laws supporting those structures that maintain their power-base?

And how in a democratic nation, are we to understand justice when our institutions – like the federal government and supreme court – take polar opposite positions on an issue, creating conflicting law?

Or what exactly is illustrated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) on the matter of gay “marriage”? (I use the term for clarity, but am loathe to call a partnership of two people a marriage if it is anything other than a God-ordained, heterosexual union.) The nine justices split 5-4 in favour; but the 4 opposing voices – each highly skilled and widely respected for their knowledge of American jurisprudence – have been sharply critical, and at times, almost mocking in their tone of the majority position. Can this sharp divide reflect the sober, objective interpretation of moral law – by the highest legal institution in the land – in the 21st century?

Another question: does there exist an over-arching authority under which all others are subject, and are derived?

This quickly moves us into the thinking context of “worldview”.

Worldviews are like bellybuttons. Everyone has one.

A worldview “refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs forming a global description through which an individual, group or culture watches and interprets the world and interacts with it” (Wikipedia).

Consequently, every thinking person has a worldview – the lens of beliefs, values and behaviours through which they observe and interact with their culture – even if they can’t articulate precisely what it is.

And at its foundation is an understanding of God’s existence and of His authority to rule, to judge, to punish.

Apologist Ravi Zacharias provides this reductionist, yet helpful, structure. One’s worldview is shaped by conclusions relative to:

  • origin (where did we as a human race come from?)
  • destiny (is there existence after death? what and where is it beyond this life?)
  • ethics (how is morality determined? what constitutes right and wrong thinking and behaviour? who gets to decide?)
  • purpose (is there an objective basis for what provides authentic meaning in life? is that basis common for all people?)

As Christians, we realize that many of our friends, neighbours, and colleagues think very differently than we do on current hot-button social issues (abortion, sexuality, marriage, and euthanasia) because their basic worldview is dissimilar, even radically disparate.

A different thought foundation inevitably leads to different conclusions.

It is clear: a biblical worldview is rapidly – and with a pace that appears to be ramping up – fading from view in the western world, and most grievously, even in the church.

Ours is the minority position, and that minority is in swift decline.

Christian cultural observer Albert Mohler has declared that we are currently experiencing in the western world, a phenomenon that rarely occurs – what he calls a cultural reversal. Mohler defines a cultural reversal this way: what was recently considered to be morally wrong, is now not only declared to be right, but is further celebrated as enlightened thinking.

And failure to celebrate this U-turn in collective attitude is now dismissed as a backwoods fundamentalist attitude: erroneous, ignorant, and bigoted.

Takeaway: A Christ-follower recognizes the beauty of the Gospel – that although I stand naked before a holy God because of sin, when I by faith appropriate the finished work of Christ on the cross, I become eternally clothed in His righteousness.

Therefore, my worldview is biblical, but also coherent, rational, and works in real-world life: I was created by God for His pleasure; I am called to recognize His authority in every area of my life; by His empowering Spirit, I want to live by His ethics, standards and commands; and, I confidently anticipate living out my eternal life in His presence.

~this post originally appeared August 2015.