All of us, in one form or the other, have wondered about these kinds of things. What’s more, we have answered them – sufficiently for ourselves.
Our answers to those kinds of questions collectively is called a worldview. Our WORLDVIEW is our beliefs about the most important and meaningful questions of life.
Use the material below to explore worldviews, understand what you believe, and why you believe it.
Centered: Week 1
LEADER READ: This week officially marks the start of our long anticipated CENTERED Series! If this is the first you are hearing about it, that’s ok, we will get you up to speed quickly. The CENTERED Series is all about establishing a Christ-Centered Worldview. If you don’t know what a worldview is, we are simply defining it as… “what you believe about the most important and meaningful questions of life.”
Each week we are going to discuss one of those “most important and meaningful questions” and compare the Christian Worldview’s answer and a number of other worldviews answer to that question. This week, instead of focusing on one major question, we are simply setting the table for the series by discussing the nature of belief.
Begin by reading Colossians 1:15-20 (we will read this each week) and then watch short film.
“15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
LEADER NOTE: If your group need help getting started, some potential answers include…we believe things we find reasonable, we see evidence for, we have experience of, someone we trust has told us.
EVERYONE HAS A WORLDVIEW
LEADER READ: One important thing to note moving forward is that EVERYONE HAS A WORLDVIEW. You may be thinking, “I didn’t even know what a worldview was until 5 minutes ago, I don’t have a worldview.” However, whether we can articulate it or not…we all have a way we answer the most important and meaningful questions of life.”
Worldviews can be held…
A FISH STORY—by David Foster Wallace
LEADER READ: There were two young fish swimming along when they happened to meet a wise old fish swimming the other way. The old fish nods at the younger fish and says, ‘Morning boys, how’s the water?’ The two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and says, ‘What the heck is water?”
(LEADER NOTE: Worldviews are often unconscious, yet we are surrounded by it, influenced by it, and see and live everything else through it)
LEADER READ: Many argue that the reason so many of us live out our worldview unconsciously and inconsistently is that we no longer take time for reflection. This is not new. All the way back in 1654, mathematician, physicist, and theologian Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
YOUR CHOICE: REFLECTION OR ELECTROCUTION
LEADER READ: In 2014, researchers at the University of Virginia conducted an experiment with this exact dilemma in mind. Here’s what they did…
Researchers gathered a group of people. One at a time, they took them into a room with extremely low stimuli. The walls were white. There was only one chair in the room. No clocks on the wall, no paintings on the wall. Then, they took all of the subjects phones, keys, electronics, etc…anything that could engage them.
The challenge…sit for 20 minutes in the chair, without falling asleep, with only your thoughts. The researchers told subjects to simply relax and enjoy themselves.
There was however, one major twist. In this room, there was one button. If you pushed this button, you would receive a painful electric shock.
Just to remove the possible motivation of curiosity, the researchers had the subjects push this button and receive the shock before the experiment began. In fact, after the subjects received the shock, the researchers asked the subjects if they would “pay money to avoid being shocked again?” To which ALL of the subjects answered yes.
So…the experiment begins. 20 minutes with nothing but your own thoughts…or…push a button and receive a painful shock to stimulate you.
There was a very different response between men and women. 25% of women pushed the button.
One of the things we want to do with the CENTERED Series is provide space and give you a grid to think through and process your own beliefs about the most important and meaningful questions of life. We hope that this grid will also help you process the cultural worldview claims we encounter on a regular basis and help you feel confident engaging in meaningful conversations with others.
Each week, we will examine one of the following worldview questions…
We will filter that question through the following grid.
Have someone read 1 Corinthians 15:12-14
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
Q- What is Paul saying here and how does it relation to the topic of implications?
LEADER READ: Another good example of considering the implications is found in an interview titled, “Why Are We Here,” where Duke University professor, Alex Rosenberg shares the implications of his view, commonly described as scientism…that science can explain everything. When asked about his answer to a number of major questions, he quickly listed off his answers saying…
“So, is there a God? Of course not. What is the meaning of the universe? It doesn’t have any. What is the purpose of life? Ditto. Is there a difference between right and wrong, good and bad? There’s not a moral difference between them. What is the nature of the relationship between the mind and the brain? They’re identical. The mind is the brain. Is there free will? Not a chance. Do the lessons of the past have any particular bearing that would help us cope with the future? Less and less, if it ever had any at all.”
Regardless of what you think about his answers, this is a great example of a person who has actually thought through the implications of their belief. Which is one of the things we will process each week.
GROUP ACTIVITY—WORLDVIEW ANALYSIS
LEADER READ: Christianity, like all religions, is not only a religion…it is also a worldview. They are not separated from reality; they are making claims about what reality consists of. To be viable, they all have to address the most important and meaningful questions of life. When we look at Scripture, the verses are not just some nice sayings about God…they are often actually informing us to the way we should view the world. The vision of life we should pursue.
LEADER READ: Even though Blaise Pascal and the University of Virginia Experiment illustrate just how hard it is to sit quietly with our minds, both Scripture and the spiritual masters throughout history see quiet reflection and contemplation as vital for a follower of Jesus. In light of that…
Pray as you see fit.
BONUS QUESTION (If you have extra time)
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
– C. S. Lewis
10-27-19 Huddle- Centered 2
Week 1 Recap
Leader Read: Last week we kicked off our CENTERED SERIES, which is all about establishing a Christ-Centered Worldview. Remember…our working definition of a worldview is, “what you believe about the most important and meaningful questions of life.” Today we are going to examine the question, “Where did it all come from?” We will be using the following grid for all of the questions we address over the following weeks.
Easy Intro Question
Leader Read: Accountability Time—Last week we challenged everyone to spend some time in quiet reflection in preparation for this week. Is anyone willing to share from his or her experience? It doesn’t have to be overly spiritual or enlightening…you can even say, “I wanted to do it but never found the time.”
Just so I don’t catch you off guard next week, just know that moving forward, we will recap our practices each week at the beginning of group.
Watch Short Film
Where Did it All Come From?
Leader Read: Today, what we want to do is take some of those answers and explore not just the claims, but the reasons, implications, and actions as well.
Materialism/Naturalism Worldview– Generally speaking, materialism and naturalism are just fancy words for the belief that holds that all that exists is matter…stuff like molecules, chemicals, atoms, electrons, etc. Nothing exists beyond the natural world…no soul, no spirit, no wonder…just matter. This could also generally be described as the atheistic view.
Leader Note– They would argue that everything came from matter and arises naturally…. naturally unguided evolution. Somehow, the first matter formed out of nothing and evolved into what we have today.
(In case people ask about evolution…the Christian Worldview allow space for the idea of guided evolution. So the problematic word is not evolution, it is unguided evolution.)
Pantheism or New Age Worldview– While you may not be familiar with the word PANTHEISM, I’m sure you have come across some form of this worldview. Generally speaking, Pantheism holds that the whole universe is eternal and divine. Not that God created the whole universe…but that the whole universe is God.
Leader Note– This one is a little tricky. Although it seems to make sense to suggest the answer as God (of some kind), ultimately the answer is that it CAME from nowhere…it is eternal and has always been here.
Christian Worldview– There is a large number of texts in the Bible that illustrate the Christian Worldview’s answer to the question, “where did it all come from?” However, over this series, we really want to get Colossians 1:15-20 down into our soul because it is believed to be one of the earliest and most complete statements of Jesus. So…even though we looked at it last week…let’s read it together again, keeping in mind the question “where did it all come from?”
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Leader Read: While there is a variety of views within the Christian worldview on the “how” God created (i.e. 7 literal days, guided evolutionary, intelligent design, day-age theory), the Christian worldview believes that the universe was created by a loving, transcendent (beyond space/time) and personal God.
Leader Note: 1—“the universe is created.” Pantheism holds that the universe is eternal. 2—“personal God.” Pantheism holds that the divine or God is an impersonal creator.
Leader Note: The materialist or naturalist would not agree that the world had any kind of creator, personal or otherwise.
Leader Read: While many of us don’t come across people in our daily lives that openly claim they are Pantheist, a Naturalist, or a philosophical Materialists, I hope that you can at least see how some of the ideas these worldviews hold sneak into the lives of the people and culture around us. Ideas like an impersonal and unknowable God, the only thing that we really know is the material, etc. Until we are actively seeking to live a consistent worldview, we all are generally a melting pot of inconsistent worldview mixtures.
Leader Read: For this series, we are using the image of a scale for reasons. The idea behind using the scale is to illustrate that we ALL live in the tension of both belief and unbelief, faith and doubt. There are many solid reasons to believe in God, but we don’t deny that there are things, both intellectually and experientially, that we struggle with.
Leader Note: While group members may naturally speak out of their own knowledge and experience to address other member’s doubts…as a leader, don’t feel the pressure…or even try…to do answer everyone’s doubt. Remind everyone that an important part of the spiritual journey is not trying to prematurely resolve doubts but to live in the tension of both doubt and faith. This tension—lived out in community—can lead to spiritual growth and transformation.
SMALLER GROUP ACTIVITY—Moving to the faith side of the scale, break down into smaller groups and see if you can come up with 3-5 reasons why it’s reasonable to believe that God (or some higher being) created the universe. These reasons can be experiential, intellectual, historical, etc. If you need help you can search the internet for help…although I have no idea what you will find!
Leader Note: If people are looking for more concrete and thorough examples of evidence for creation, point them to Bret’s message and the podcast. For the sake of time, we only have time to dive into one.
Leader Say: We have said that Pantheists believe in an eternal universe and that naturalists and philosophical materialists don’t believe in a creator at all. But what does the evidence say? Are there any arguments that speak to any of these claims directly or are Christians just going off of blind faith here.
We are going to check out a short YouTube video that helps put some weight behind these claims. It’s going to introduce one of the arguments for the existence of God…the Cosmological Argument.
Leader Note: If link doesn’t work, search “Reasonable Faith The Kalam Cosmological Argument”
Leader Note: Pantheism holds that the universe is eternal and materialists and naturalists hold that the universe exists without cause.
Leader Read: The world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said, “almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning…at the Big Bang.”
A lot of people argue that science and religion are viciously at odds with each other. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The very start of scientific inquiry came from scientists who thought the world was understandable BECAUSE God created it. The Big Bang is one example from many where science supports the claims of the Christian Worldview. Science and faith are not at odds with each other. God is the creator and exists as truth, therefore, all truth scientific or otherwise falls under the realm of God’s wisdom.
Leader Read: When we ask a question like, where did it all come from, we not only answer that question but actually gain insight into other major questions as well. That is because the answer to this question does not exist in a vacuum…the implications spill over into other areas of life as well. For instance…
J.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings Guy) said, “If you do not believe in a personal God, the question, ‘What is the purpose of life?’ is unaskable and unanswerable?”
Leader Note: Tolkien is suggesting (rightly) that one of the implications of an impersonal God is that we cannot know the purpose of creation, life, etc. Pantheism believes that the universe is an impersonal God/force. Which means, for pantheism, any meaning in the universe is unknowable.
Leader Note– If all that exists is stuff, then humans are nothing but an accident at best and a mistake at worst. Humans don’t have any created meaning, purpose, or hope. Even more, things like wonder and awe are not real…you are not having a real experience…what you think is awe, wonder, beauty, or even love is only chemicals swirling around in your head, giving you the illusion of wonder.
Leader Read: What if the Christ-Hymn is an accurate picture of reality?? Surely that should affect the way we live.
Leader Read: We can choose to get sucked into the cultural story that we hear everyday, a story that suggests that the world is simply a giant cosmic accident…that there is ultimately no purpose or meaning other than the meaning we create, and that the awe and wonder you feel from time to time is simply an illusion produced by chemicals rushing around in your brain…
OR…we can choose to live our lives under the headline of a better story, one that says that a loving, personal and artistic God CHOSE to create this world, which includes choosing to create you. That all of life contains a bit of wonder and awe. That this world is not a cosmic accident but a beautiful artist creation filled with discovered meaning, purpose, and value.
What we believe about the question of Origin…the question of “where did it all come from,” matters because it determines the lens that you will view life through, which will influence the way you think, act, and feel about your experience of the world.
This week there are two options for our practice. Feel free to do both if you are an over achiever.
Option 1– Look for wonder. We all get so stuck in our daily routine that at times it is hard for us to see beyond the mundane. This week, be on the lookout for wonder. Take a photo of something that sparks a sense of wonder or awe. This could be something big or small—maybe it is even seeing something mundane in a new way. Be prepared to share next week.
Option 2– Ask a question. This week, ask someone (or a few people) this week’s question, “Where do you think it all came from?” or next week’s question, “Who are we?” “How are we different than animals?”
Option Activity—Worldview in Film/TV (If Extra Time)
Break into groups of 4. Thinking of what we learned about the Pantheistic Worldview and Naturalism/Materialism, Can you name any TV/Movies that illustrate/promote this worldview?
Leader Note– Materialism/Naturalism= There are probably endless options of this but a couple easy answers are “Big Bang Theory,” “Cosmos” and “Young Sheldon,”
Pantheism= There are probably a ton of movies that do…some include Star War’s concept of the Force, The Lion King’s concept of the “The Circle of Life,” Pocahontas, Brother Bear, etc.
If your group enjoyed the Cosmological Argument Video, point them to a resource called “Reasonable Faith.” If you search “Animated Videos Reasonable Faith” in YouTube, you will find a series of videos related to evidence of God’s existence similar to the Cosmological Argument. For those that want to go even deeper, Reasonable Faith also has a website with countless articles surrounding a variety of apologetic topics as well as debates, podcasts, and interviews.
WEEK 2 RECAP
Welcome to week 3 of One Life’s “Centered Series”. Throughout this series we are exploring what it means to have a Christ-Centered Worldview. Our working definition of a worldview is, “what you believe about the most important and meaningful questions of life.” Last week we looked at the question, “where did it all come from?” Today we will explore the question of humanity asking, “Who are we?”
Each week we are using the same grid to filter our discussion.
Leader Note: For the sake of the flow of the discussion, “reasons” are kind of scattered in among the claims this week. If the “Claims” section is taking too long, consider skipping one of the points (Human Equal Minds). It is worth skipping that to make sure and get to PRACTICES.
One final note on using this guide. As a leader you read what is in italics, and the underlined leader note are just notes, possible answers, etc. for you. Obviously, you do not HAVE to read the italics, they are simply there as a resource for you.
We had two options for our Practice over the last week. Option 1 was taking a photo of something that sparks a sense of wonder or awe. Option 2 was asking someone one of the major worldview questions and see how they respond.
Did anyone complete any of the practices? If so, are you willing to share your experience?
WATCH SHORT FILM
THE BIG QUESTION…
Today we are exploring the question of humanity…specifically “Who are we?”
HUMANS AS SPECKS
Leader Note: If your group is over 8 people, you could have them break down into two groups to go through this section. Simply have them read the section and answer the questions together as a smaller group. Have them come back together and share their insights before moving on to the “Humans as Highly Evolved Animals” section)
In the short film we heard a number of different answers to the question of who are we—Things like we are specks…we are highly evolved animals…we are nothing more than a mind that is a basically a computer…among those was the Christ-centered worldview’s claims as well.
Let’s begin exploring these claims by comparing Bill Nye and King David’s answer. They tell two very different stories.
One story, Bill Nye’s story, falls in line with the worldview of materialism—which says that all there is in the world is stuff…matter. Things like atoms, chemicals, minerals, etc. but nothing beyond that…no God, no soul, no spirit.
Materialism’s answer to “who am I?” would be…nothing more than a combination of stuff. There is nothing spiritual about you…no soul, really not even a “self”…there is no “you.” Just chemicals reacting in your brain.
Then, there’s David’s story. In the book of Psalms, King David tells a different narrative of the value of people. Let’s look closer at the stories.
BILL NYE QUOTE
“I’m just another speck of sand. And Earth, really, in the cosmic scheme of things, is another speck, and our sun…and unremarkable star, nothing special…another speck. And the galaxy is a speck. I’m a speck on a speck orbiting a speck among other specks amongst still other specks in the middle of specklessness! I am insignificant! I suck!
Ok…keep that in mind as we read David’s words in Psalm 8:3-6…this is the VOICE translation.
3 When I gaze to the skies and meditate on Your creation—
on the moon, stars, and all You have made,
4 I can’t help but wonder why You care about mortals—
sons and daughters of men—
specks of dust floating about the cosmos.
5 But You placed the son of man just beneath God
and honored him like royalty, crowning him with glory and honor.
6 You ordained him to govern the works of Your hands,
To nurture the offspring of Your divine imagination;
You placed everything on earth beneath his feet:
It is almost like Bill Nye and King David are saying the same thing, “we are specks.” However, they seem to mean two completely different things by it when it comes to the value of people.
They may have answered this is the last question, but Bill Nye sees the implications of a giant universe as implying that humans as insignificant specks. He might argue IF the universe is giant, THEN we must be insignificant specks.
King David sees it completely different. The size and grandeur of the universe causes David to worship because he is blown away by the fact that the God that created all of that…loves and relates to people. He sees us as infinitely valuable. He might argue IF our creator has the power to create all of this and cares about us at the same time, THENwe must hold infinite value.
Humans as Highly Evolved Animals
While it might be cool to be able to fly, or see in the dark for a day, the Christ-Centered Worldview denies the claim that humans are simply highly evolved animals.
GROUP ACTIVITY—How Are We Different
Break down into smaller groups. Give each group 60 seconds (or maybe 2 minutes) to come up with a list of ways that humans are unique from animals. Come back as a large group and see which group has the highest number of unique reasons why people are different than animals. (Unique, meaning answers that other groups did not have)
Leader Note: Some possible answers are use complex tools, control fire, invent better transportation methods, mass produce food and medicine, etc. etc.
HUMANS = MINDS
Another claim that materialists and naturalists make is that we are nothing more than minds…the mind is really “the stuff” we are. Many argue that there is no difference between mind and action, mind and self, mind and thought. We are essentially computers, programmed with no free-will.
This question helps us think through the question of soul. If you would argue that the robot IS you, then you may be viewing people from the worldview of materialism…that all we are is mind and matter. However, if you would argue that the robot IS NOT you, it is likely because you believe (even if you don’t realize it) in some kind of concept of soul or some spiritual self, outside of our mind/brain.
REASONS-THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW
The Christ-Centered Worldview denies that we are insignificant specks, merely highly evolved animals, and that we nothing more than our minds. Instead, the Christ-Centered Worldview claims that every human has inherent worth and value because they are created in the image of God.
But…why would Christians claim humans are made in the “Image of God?”
Read Genesis 1:26-27
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Dr. Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College gives us one way (among many) to put language around what it means to be made in the image of God.
He says, “In the ancient near east world (time/place when Genesis was written) an “image” was believed to carry the essence of that which it represented. An idol image of deity…would be used in the worship of that deity because it contained the deity’s essence. This would not suggest that the image could do what the deity could do, nor that it looked the same as the deity. Rather, the deity’s work was thought to be accomplished through the idol.”
Another interesting thing we see in Genesis is in verse 29. God says to his image (to us)… “I give you.” This phrase is used with nothing else in all of Creation. The fact that we exist as beings that can be addressed as “you”, and not impersonally as “it” or “them”, indicated our standing as people in relationship with God.
BUT MAYBE YOU’RE THINKING that the sole fact that the Bible says we are made in the image of God doesn’t seem like a strong enough reason to claim that people have inherent worth and value. If that is the case, then maybe the question of Jesus will help.
As we have tried to point out each week, worldview claims do not exist in a vacuum. Each claim has implications that spread like a virus through all areas of our lives. Said another way…beliefs have consequences. Let’s consider the implications…
Week 3 Recap
We are in week 4 of our CENTERED SERIES, which is all about establishing a Christ-Centered Worldview. Remember…our working definition of a worldview is, “what you believe about the most important and meaningful questions of life.” Last week we discussed the question, who am I, which the Christ-Centered Worldview answers by claiming we are all made in the image of God and have inherent worth. But that’s not the whole story of humanity. Today we are going to examine the question, “What’s wrong?” Although we will deviate from our normal structure of systematically moving through the grid this week, all four pieces of are there…once again, they are.
Easy Intro Question
Leader Note: It would be good if you came prepared with your own story for this. For instance, I remember at about 7 years old, trying to jump off of our balcony and land on the couch. I was wildly unsuccessful and ended up in crutches. I told my mom and dad that I fell in a hole outside. I didn’t tell them the truth until after college but always felt bad about it. Feels good to get that off my chest!
Accountability Time—Last week we challenged everyone to get out under the stars and read aloud Psalm 8. Is anyone willing to share from his or her experience? It doesn’t have to be overly spiritual or enlightening…you can even say, “I was just freezing and couldn’t wait to get inside.”
Watch Short Film
Leader: While a number of different terms, illustrations and metaphors have been used throughout the history of Christian thought, the answer as stated in the film is,
“God created the world good, he entrusted it to mankind as stewards. Man chooses to reject God’s way of doing things and poison is injected into the entire system.”
Leader Note: There may be multiple answers here but the naturalist or materialist (especially strict naturalists/materialists) would be likely to claim that since the world is an unguided process of evolution, and there is no ultimate purpose, there really isn’t a problem. In fact, many would claim that humans have no free will anyway, so the world was predetermined to become what it is and what it will be.
Leader– The Christ-Centered Worldview claims that the world is not as it should be…that, to use the words form the film, poison has been injected into the whole system. Let’s explore a few passages from scripture that illustrate the reason why the Christ-Centered Worldview makes such a claim.
Leader Note: Have them break into smaller groups of 3-5, read through the passages, and discuss how each verse supports the Christ-Centered Worldview’s claim of what’s wrong with the world.
18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[b] a slave to the law of sin.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
19 For all creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time
Leader: It is somewhat difficult to have a comparative worldview discussion to the larger question of what’s wrong with the world. That’s a pretty big question that doesn’t lend itself to simple answers. Instead, we will shrink it down to the more general idea of right and wrong. While many other worldviews answers would be similar to the Christ-Centered worldview’s general idea that something is off, the conversation gets varied and interesting when we get into the question of right and wrong.
Leader: Many people in our culture today would claim…and this sneaks into the Christ-Centered Worldview as well…that right and wrong are different for each person. Or, right and wrong are at least different for each culture. These two views are likely the dominant position in our culture today, which makes them worth exploring. (You can break down into smaller groups for this discussion if it would be beneficial)
The first position is…
Individual Moral Relativism—Individual moral relativism argues that belief that right and wrong change from person to person.
Leader: A simple illustration of this idea might be littering. I believe that littering is wrong, my friend believes that littering is ok. We are both right, or at least, neither of us is wrong.
Cultural Moral Relativism—The belief that right and wrong change from culture to culture.
Leader: Again, a overly simple illustration of this idea is that some cultures think women should have to cover their head, some cultures do not. Neither culture is right or wrong, it is theirs to decide. This is obviously a lighter example than what could be made.
Leader Transition: Here is what is difficult about this issue. We are all compassionate and loving people who look at the definitions of individual and cultural moral relativism and think, “that sounds right. I don’t want to tell other people what is right and wrong for their life.” That comes from a good place…but let’s look at whether or not those views actually match up with reality and our lived experience by doing a thought experiment around the implications…
Example 1: Modern-Day Slavery
Leader: On the video, you heard that modern-day slavery is a $150 BILLION dollar a year industry—40.3 million individuals are currently caught in the salve trade and 1 out of 4 of those is a child.
Example 2: WWII History
Leader: Here’s another example from history which you may all know well.
Now here’s the question…
Leader: Remember…Hitler had the majority with him. He was not acting alone so it the answer can’t be majority.
Leader: This is where the Christ-Centered Worldview is vastly different than individual and cultural moral relativism. TheChrist-Centered Worldview claims that there are at least some things that are right and wrong for everyone at all times.
For Christians, rather than individual preference or cultural majority, right and wrong are determined by God.
Leader: Not only does scripture help us understand what is wrong, it also shows us what is right…what to pursue instead. It lays out what it looks like to live out God’s vision for life.
GROUP ACTIVITY—In groups of 3-5, read Romans 12:9-21 and form a list of what it looks like to live to the full in God’s vision of life.
Week 5 Intro
We are in week 5 of our CENTERED SERIES, which is all about establishing a Christ-Centered Worldview. Remember…our working definition of a worldview is, “what you believe about the most important and meaningful questions of life.” This week we will be discussing, Who is Jesus?
Remember our Worldview Assessment Grid
WATCH SHORT FILM
Leader Note: Possible answers include he was poor, he was possibly homeless, he never authored a single book, his ministry only lasted 3 years, he didn’t have an Instagram account, he never traveled outside of a 100 mile radius, he never led an army.
Leader: There’s no doubt that Jesus was a great man. However, the Christ-Centered Worldview believes that He was more than a man. The Christ-Centered Worldview claims that Jesus was FULLY GOD and FULLY MAN. We want to spend some time, examining scripture to see why Christians believe that.
Leader: One of the arguments used historically to try and refute the idea that Jesus is God is the claim that Jesus was just a man, but over time his legend grew and grew until eventually he began to be viewed as God.
If true, that would be problematic. Two ways to explore this claim is to look at what the earliest Christians claimed about Jesus and to look at who Jesus claimed about himself.
First, what did the earliest Christians Claim about Jesus?
GROUP SCRIPTURE ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITY: EARLY CREEDS
Leader: Over the last 30 years or so there have been some groundbreaking insights that have added major weight to the historical reliability of both the Bible and the claim that the earliest Christians viewed Jesus as God. One of those insights is the identification of early creeds.
Creeds are statements of belief that were written and recited for a number of different reasons…to clarify beliefs, to promote unity, and to be used in worship. What was discovered was that throughout the letters of the New Testament, there are a number of early creeds used by the church to talk about Jesus. A few of these are Philippians 2 and Colossians 1 (both written by AD 60—30 years after Jesus’s death).
What is important to remember is that even though these texts were written 30 years after Jesus’s death (which is still really early), the realization that these are early church creeds suggests they had been read and used in worship for years and years before Paul ever wrote them down. Paul writes them as if they are already common language among the churches. Even more, the earliest known creed in the book of 1 Corinthians is usually dated in the AD 30’s…within just a few years of Jesus’s death.
Directions: Break down into smaller groups and read these early creeds. Either have one group read Philippians 2: 5-11 and the other group read Colossians 1:15-20…OR…Have each group read both.
As you read the text, make a list of the claims the early Christians are making about Jesus.
Who Did Jesus Say He Was?
Leader: We have seen pretty good evidence to suggest that the earliest Christians viewed Jesus as fully God and fully Man….but…what about those who claim that Jesus never actually said he was God? How do we respond to that?
WATCH REASONABLE FAITH VIDEO—WHO DID JESUS THINK HE WAS (6 Min)
Leader: What are the implications if Jesus actually claimed he was God? Even more, what are the implications if Jesus WAS REALLY GOD?
One implication if Jesus really claimed to be God but wasn’t…then he can’t be a good moral teacher or someone worth following.
The Greatest Question Asked by the Greatest Man
Leader: One time when Jesus was walking with his disciples, he stopped and asked what might be the most important question any of us will ever be asked…
Have someone read Matthew 16:13-16
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Leader: Right here in Matthew, we see the greatest question being asked by the greatest man in history. That makes it pretty important. And it’s the same question that each of us have to consider if we are going to take our search for truth seriously. Of course, we could simply ignore the question and just keep living our lives with blinders on, but C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia guy) argued that if Jesus really made outrageous claim about being God…that is not really a valid option. He said.
“I’m trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is one thing we must not say.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – C.S. Lewis
THIS WEEK’S PRACTICE
WEEK 6 INTRO
We are in week 6 of our Centered Series, which means that we only have 2 weeks left! Last week we discussed the question, “What is the Problem?” In last week’s film, G.K. Chesterton summed up the Christ-Centered Worldview’s answer well, simply saying, “I am.” This week we will ask the question, “what is the cure?”
WATCH THE SHORT FILM
FILM RESPONSE QUESTIONS
We are going to use a scenario to help us think through the claims different worldviews make when answering the question, “what is the cure?”
Here is the scenario…you have been invited to a very fancy art show at the local art museum. I’m talking so fancy that you have to rent a tux (maybe even a top hat) or an evening gown. You put on said formal attire and you head to the art gallery. As you are making the rounds, taking in the beautiful works of art, you drop your program…no big deal, you just bend over and pick it up…BUT…as you bend over you accidentally bump a column holding a $400,000 ceramic bowl. In that moment, everything starts to move in super-slow motion. You jerk back up, hoping to catch the bowl before it falls…only to feel it slide through the tips of your fingers as you reach for it. The bowl falls, shattering into a thousand pieces. The whole crowd is staring at you. You wish you could turn invisible or run but you know that the room is filled with security cameras that taped the whole thing. What do you do?????
If we take this same scenario and imagine it as an illustrations for the brokenness of humanity, we can gain insight into how a number of different worldviews answer the question, “what’s the cure.”
Leader Note: If your group needs a hint, tell them to think about the concept of “karma.” The answer may be something to the effect of…that’s going to cost you, better luck in your next life.
Leader Note: One possible answer is…if we are answering this problem from the Islamic Worldview, we could try and glue the bowl back together again (which we could never do), we could try to pay the artist back (which most of us could never do), or we could do a whole bunch of good deed for the artist…BUT…we will go to our death never knowing if we are forgiven or not…crossing our fingers that we did enough.
Leader Note: The problem seems pretty easy for the naturalist (even though it doesn’t match reality). There is no artist and there is no real objective right or wrong. You broke something…say whoops and walk away.
Leader Note: From the perspective of the Christ-Centered Worldview, no matter how hard we work to glue all the pieces back, or how long we save to try and pay the artist back…WE CAN NEVER FIX IT OURSELVES. Thankfully, we know the artist and if we fall on the mercy of the artist, the artist forgives us and fixes the bowl himself…naturally, we become the artists biggest fans.
THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW—REASONS AND IMPLICATIONS
The Christ-Centered worldview believes that the answer to the question, “what is the cure” is Jesus’s death on the cross as an act of grace. Historically, theologians have explained this using a number of different analogies that are housed in strange theological language…concepts like recapitulation, sacrifice, expiation, moral communication, satisfaction, ransom etc. Each of these words (that aren’t necessary to know) are summary descriptions of what has been found in scripture and can all be helpful in gaining a fuller understanding of Christ’s work on the cross.
Theologian Dr. Steven Cone says,
“There is a depth of riches in Christ. Because Christ’s saving work is the work of a divine person in history, because it deals with the absurdity of sin, and because its purpose is to bring us into a life whose fullness we cannot yet imagine, no human conception can completely sum up the way that Christ saves us. There are multiple analogies, each reflecting different insights, and responding to different questions…none of which serve as the master narrative that the others must fit into. Through all of them we seek to understand our reconciliation to God.”
Break down into smaller groups. Each group will examine a number of different scriptures, looking for what language it uses to describe Christ’s work on the cross…and/or…the implications of his work (what it means for us). Each group will record their findings and share when finished.
Other helpful questions to approach these verse might be asking…
If the Christ-Centered worldview is correct, and incarnation and death on the cross are the cure for the brokenness of humanity…
This week, spend some time prayerfully reading through John’s accounts of Jesus’s death on the cross (John chapters 18 and 19). Put yourself in the room, the crowd, place yourself at the scene of the cross as you read.
WEEK 7 INTRO
Welcome to the final week of our Centered Series—where for the last 7 weeks, we have explored what it means to have a Christ-Centered Worldview. Remember, our working definition of “worldview” is…what you believe about the most important and meaningful questions of life.
We have used the same worldview assessment tool every week…does anyone remember what they are?…Every worldview consists of 1. CLAIMS—2. REASONS—3. IMPLICATIONS—4. ACTIONS.
In our final week, we will be exploring the question, Is there hope?
WATCH THE SHORT FILM
FILM RESPONSE QUESTIONS…
Every worldview has to answer the question, what happens when we die? Is there hope beyond death? In this section, we will examine the claims made by a number of different worldviews in response to this question.
Naturalism claims that nature (the physical—i.e. atoms, molecules, etc) is all that there is. The claims of naturalism can be discovered in the following quote from Nobel Prize winning philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell. He says,
“That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors or the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”
Leader Note– You can have them look up the huddle on the app if they need to see the quote.
Pantheism or New Age Spirituality
Pantheism or New Age Spirituality claims that ALL of reality (rocks, trees, water, humans, birds, etc) is ultimately divine. Upon death, the spiritual part of us returns to become part of the one impersonal divine energy.
Leader Note—You may have a variety of different answers to this question. While there is likely a number of differences that could be pointed out, the biggest difference is that in the Pantheistic worldview, we no longer have any since of self…all of that is lost in death. In addition, the Christ-Centered Worldview claims that we return to a personal and loving God, whereas Pantheism claims we return to an impersonal “energy.”
The Christ-Centered Worldview claims that there is real hope in both life and in death…that hope is tied to a historical event, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Historians now believe that 1 Corinthians 15 is an early Christian creed, dated to just 2-3 years after the death of Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”
We see from the earliest creed of the early church that the believers tied their hope to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything centered around that event. This naturally leads us to wonder, is there any evidence of the resurrection of Jesus?
To answer this question, we are going to look at a number of different videos. Two are from Dr. William Lane Craig’s ministry, Reasonable Faith, and one was made by One Life.
LEADER NOTE: If you need to skip one for the sake of time, skip the last one, “Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead Part Two”
WATCH “DID JESUS REALLY RISE FROM THE DEAD PART ONE” VIDEO (6 MIN)
One of the historical facts mentioned in the video was the disciples belief, even to the point of death.
Historian and New Testament Scholar, Dr. Gary Habermas, said,
“Virtually all scholars studying Jesus’s resurrection, whether conservative, moderate, or liberal, acknowledge that Jesus’s earliest followers were convinced not only that Jesus was raised from the dead but also that he had appeared alive to many of them on several occasions. Further, scholars also almost unanimously recognize that two former skeptics, James the brother of Jesus and Saul of Tarsus (Paul), became believers after they, too, were convinced that they had seen the risen Jesus.”
A few years ago, One Life created a video that addressed this very idea.
WATCH “EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION” VIDEO(5 min)
We want to examine one more thing before moving away from reasons to believe. This is Part Two of “Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead” and it covers the major theories that have formed over the years to find a way to naturally explain the empty tomb. Check it out.
Watch “DID JESUS REALLY RISE FROM THE DEAD PART TWO” (6 MIN)
Now that we have explored the reasons we can confidently believe in the resurrection of Jesus, let’s think about the implications. Remember…beliefs don’t live in isolation, they work through all parts of our lives and actions.
When we think implications, it helps to think… “IF” ______ is true, “THEN” it means _________.
Belief is not confined to our thoughts. True belief is lived out in action.
SERIES CLOSING QUESTION