Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Worldview Overtones

Walsh and Middleton, I think in The Transforming Vision, outlined a series of worldview questions that can give expression to any historical culture's worldview (and possibly some non-historical ones too, remember, the Bible has been translated into Klingon). It is interesting to me that this is usually combined with an emphasis on the 'storied' nature of worldviews, but the questions are anything but what we would recognize as a 'story'. The answers may put you to sleep, but they aren't regular bedside reading. An example might flesh this out a little bit:

Who are we? (I deliberately avoid the 'who am I?' formula used in the original--but that's another whole post) A Christian might respond: We are the true people of the true God, recreated in His image to exercise His wise rule over creation. We are worshipping beings, social beings, and a whole assortment of interconnected and integrated (however subconsciously) 'beings' (this, obviously, how a nerd might put it--see the post about me in Keith's blog). This seems to avoid the whole story category for the usual, modernist ahistorical proposition. Maybe, though, it isn't...

Propositions are NOT ahistorical. There are no propositions that can be totally stripped of their historical quality, no matter how hard we try--especially in Eastern religions such as Buddhism. Since we are creatures in time, everything we do is historical...the differences are how immediately applicable things are in different historical epochs. So, the positivist concept of 'proposition' just plain needs to be scrapped (along with much else in the modernist, positivist worldview). Even the Proverbs, the quintessential 'propositions' can only be fully understood against the background of Israel's history with the covenant God, Egypt, and the Solomonic tradition.

If propositions are not ahistorical, but storied, then the above answer has immediate and beautiful 'worldview overtones'. I say that because each phrase, almost each word, especially in the linguistic relationships between them, form a coherent story. "We are the true people of the true God" tells the whole story of Scripture from Abraham to the reconstitution of Israel in Jesus. "Recreated in His Image" brings up reminders of the original creation, the 'fall', Jesus' status as the image of the invisible God, the recreation in Isaiah and Revelation, and much more. The list could go on.

Propositions become, under this model, a shorthand for God's historical workings and also timesavers for the beleaguered worldview student.


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