|The Old Paths|
|July 05, 2012|
McGrath's so-British understatement needs an exclamation point.
Perhaps there is a case to be made for the reappropriation of the ethos of an earlier age, which saw knowledge of God and an understanding of the world as natural partners.
- Alister E. McGrath, The Foundations of Dialogue in Science & Religion
Thus says the LORD: "Stand by the roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls."
- Jeremiah 6:16
The worldview of Christendom, which defined the Middle Ages in Europe and gave rise to the Renaissance and both the Catholic and Protestant Reformations, has been the wellspring for much that we take for granted in our modern world.
The beginnings of capitalism, representative government, the scientific revolution, and much that has become classic in the arts, music, architecture, and literature - all had their origins in the Christian worldview. The "ethos" of that "earlier age" lives on in the presuppositions unbelivers use to further their secular and material purposes. Without the teaching of the Christian worldview there would be but feeble ground on which to erect our republical government, free market economics, our system of charitable giving and relief of the poor, and, yes, even our scientific enterprise.
It is a sad disgrace, therefore, that so many Christians remain ignorant of our heritage, and of the contribution the Christian worldview has made to the betterment of the world. Unless we recover that perspective - unless we revisit those "ancient paths" - we run the risk of seeing the lingering aura of that "good way" grow dimmer with each successive generation. Even now, in the realm of ethics, the Christian worldview has been all but replaced by the utilitarian and pragmatic ethics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the postmodern ethic of sentiment and community which has increased since the 1950s.
Our text in Jeremiah continues, "But they say, 'We will not walk in it.'" Just like many Christians today, who refuse to go to the "trouble" of learning about the glorious intellectual, philosophical, theological, and cultural heritage which our forebears established, and by which they shaped the world for good.
McGrath's so-British understatement needs an exclamation point: At CFSI we want to make the case that only within the broad framework of a Christian worldview can the work of science - or any human endeavor - realize its fullest potential for honoring God, benefiting humankind, and redeeming the world.
It is the duty of every believer, whatever his or her field of labor, to seek out the ancient paths laid down by Scripture and the Christian tradition and to walk them carefully, lead others along in them, and work to establish them as the only safe and proper course for all of life.
If the knowledge of God and understanding of the world in which we live are ever again to be amicable and fruitful partners, it will be because Christians take seriously the Lord's call to return to the ancient paths and walk in the good way.
T. M. Moore
Senior Theologian and Historian