What's The Big Idea? Your Worldview and How You See REALITY

January 3, 2020

Some ideas are so pivotal that they can and do lead to paradigm shifts, fundamental changes of perspective that give rise to entirely new questions and new answers. It is like the difference between standing with your back to the Grand Canyon and turning around to face it. Once you turn, everything changes in an unforgettable way. (If you want to know more about paradigm shifts, the first book you should read is a classic by Thomas Kuhn, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”).

I call these reality transformational concepts which can and should create for us all a giant paradigm shift BIG ideas. And one of these is the concept of worldview.

What follows is a mere smidgin of what could be said on this great subject. What I offer here are three brief stories that illustrate the power of the concept, followed by a brief definition and challenge.

Story #1 - Pennies From Heaven?

A major project to which I believe myself to be called by God will require a different cash flow for my wife and myself. So a couple of weeks ago I stepped up prayer for finances. Then a few days ago, I received a letter indicating that before the end of the year, I needed to make a compulsory withdrawal from a pension fund. The only problem is that I never knew about this pension fund. There had been another from this employer that I had totally emptied years ago, but this one? Never heard of it! So my wife and I scrambled to get the paper work done, bureaucratic phone calls ensued, and now we have some money we never knew existed. So here’s the question: was that an answer to prayer or just serendipity or synchronicity? Your answer to that question has everything to do with your worldview.

Story #2 - Staggering Toward Zion

Vivian, senior citizen Jew born in Russia, could always be seen with a smile on her face and a Bible in her lap. She was a tzakkiket, a holy woman in my congregation. At about the age of eighty she developed arthritis that so incapacitated her that she could not walk unaided across the living room of her double-wide mobile home. So, together with Esther, one of the members of the congregation, I went to visit Vivian to pray for her. She was sitting on a couch, with me on her right side, and Esther on her left. I told Vivian that I was going to pray for her. She of course agreed. I turned toward her and put my hand on her shoulder, and inhaled prior to praying. Before I could say a word, her right leg jerked forward and she said “I think I’m he aled!” I thought, “Silly old woman!  I haven’t done anything yet!”  But the next day she went for a mile and a half walk––a woman who, the day before, could not walk across her living room. Had she experienced an intervention of God?  Your answer tot aht question has everything to do with your worldview.

Story #3 - Doctor Death? Or Doctor Life?

Chauncey Crandall, M.D., is a cardiologist and currently Assistant Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai Heart New York and also the Director of Preventive Medicine and Complex Cardiology at the Mount Sinai Heart New York–Palm Beach site in Palm Beach Florida. Dr. Crandall practices interventional, vascular, and transplant cardiology.  Dr. Crandall received his post-doctoral training in Internal Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine where he also completed three years of research in the Cardiovascular Surgery Division.  He's no flake.

In 2006, Jeff Markin, an auto mechanic in his early fifties, not feeling well, came into the waiting room of the Emergency Room where Dr. Crandall was on duty. Before he could be attended to, Markin dropped to the floor with coronary arrest. He was immediately taken back into one of the patient areas and for forty minutes the crew there, using all the knowledge and equipment at their disposal, sought to restart his heart, jolting him with the defibrillator paddles no less than six times. All to no avail. By then his extremities were turning black due to necrosis (cellular death due to a lack of blood flow).  The attending nurse began washing the body in preparation for transport to the morgue.

The crew paged Dr. Crandall so that he might sign the documents indicating the time of death. He came in, examined Markin, and signed the documents. Then as he turned and walked out the door, a Voice told him, “I want you to go back and pray for that man.”Crandall thought, “But God, he’s dead!  I have never seen someone so dead!  What good will that do?”  But despite his resistance, the Voice repeated the command.

Crandall went back into the care area, and the nurse looked at him puzzled, asking what he was doing there. Then Crandall placed his hands on Markin’s chest and prayed a brief prayer: “Father, if this man does not you, please bring him back from death.” Then Crandall asked the other attending physician to jolt Markin with the paddles “one more time.”  The doctor was incredulous but Crandall said, “Do it out of respect for me.”  

He then took the paddles, placed them on Markin’s chest and jolted him one more time. The response was immediate. The flatlined meters began to pulse with a perfect heart beat. Markin began to breathe. The nurse started screaming, “Dr. Crandall!  What have you done?” Raising people from the dead was not part of her worldview!  She felt like she was in the presence of Dr. Frankenstein!

Markin was in intensive care for three days before he woke up, with no brain damage, no impairment except some numbness in his extremities where necrosis had set in after his death. Well, did he die or didn’t he? Did Dr. Crandall hear from God? Did he witness a resurrection?  Or was Markin just temporarily indisposed, and Crandall suffering from an overactive imagination? Your answer to that question has everything to do with your worldview.

What Is a Worldview?

Here is a fragment of discussion and a definition borrowed and adapted from Charles H. Kraft’s excellent book, Christianity With Power: Your Worldview and Your Experience of the Supernatural.

These assumptions and the channels or guidelines we form based on them make up what we call worldview.

Therefore, worldview is the culturally structured assumptions, values, and commitments underlying a people's perception of REALITY, that is the totality of what is as seen and known by God..

To put it most briefly then, a worldview is the collection of “of courses” held by a given society or group of people. These are unquestioned assumptions.

So, if, “of course” God doesn’t connect us with money in answer to concerted prayer, then, “of course” what happened to me had nothing to do with God. If, “of course,” God doesn’t heal people instantaneously today, then “of course” Vivian was not healed of her arthritis that day. And if “of course” people don’t ever come back from the dead in answer to prayer then, “of course” Dr. Crandall and all involved in Jeff Markham’s story are deluded.

A Challenge For Us All

So the challenge for you and for me is this:  what are our “of courses” and do they support or negate what is set before us by the Bible we claim to believe?  Do we read the Bible avidly but believe and act more like Deists or even Atheists? What are the worldview assumptions, values, and commitments that shape what you actually believe, how you picture REALITY what is real and unreal, what is possible and not?

If you want to have a fruitful conversation with me about these things, send me an email at stuart@interfaithfulness.org

But if you want to argue, hey, I’ve got lots of other people you could contact!

To see a video covering this material visit https://youtu.be/iuuDx1o8fzo

7 comments on “What's The Big Idea? Your Worldview and How You See REALITY”

  1. Synchronicity and the Ultimate Paradigm Shift...............

    Synchronicity, well, every time I look at my watch, it's either 11:44, 11:11, 4:44 but what is even stranger, how is it, this happens several times a day? Are their angels keeping time and whispering into our ears?

    The 'paradigm shift' materializes when you unrestrictedly, wholeheartedly, offer yourself as a reasonable sacrifice and begin your long journey home, with Yeshua/Jesus by your side.

    A few years ago, God gave my wife and I, an expensive home outside the city on an acre of land, wholly furnished, several cars and all the tools needed for our respective trade(s)! I recollect during the holiday's the year before last, when we got a little behind on our taxes, someone left $3000.00 cash on our front porch in an envelope. These are just a few of a lifespan of apprehending and receiving blessing, after blessing, from God our Father who art in heaven, hallow be HIS name.

    I call up an occasion comparable as stated in your missive, of God directing myself and a Pastor to a hospital in Kingwood Texas. He spoke directly to me, so, my Pastor agreed, and we went to a man, who had been in a vegetative state for weeks. The consensus from his physicians was communicated to his wife, to pull the plug; that he would never recover. God told me to brush back his hair on his forehead and pray for him. A curious appeal, but I asked his wife, who was present in the room to which she gave a gentle nod in approval. So, we prayed. Three days later, he arose from his vegetal state and returned to square dancing.

    The astonishing readiness to step-out, extraneous to the conventional world-view and listen to God, not man, is the number-one requirement. One of the rationales we accredit such phenomenona, (more often than not), is being willing to hear and obey God in 'uncharted territories' and step outside the box?

    Many times a believer needs to depart from what they feel is not God's will and shift their focus to God's ways and thoughts. This would-be God's delimitation of 'pure and undefiled religion. We decided years ago to take God at HIS word, and center on the widow in distress, the poor, the fatherless, and orphaned child. We don't believe in tithing; we support giving as supervised, not by pastors or anyone, but by the Ruach HaKodesh. Therefore are giving and ministry mostly centers around James 1:27.

    We need to shatter the model with stained glass windows, man's organized agendas, building programs, bank notes and return to God's original representation as ingenuous, as Acts. We need to take the church to the streets where the lost and disenfranchised are begging for the bread of life.

    We will not pillar another church itinerary, considering that, the church has digressed so far from the organic archetype as found in the New Covenant. Speaking of a much-needed paragon modification, where are the storehouses for one and all, and the nurturing of everyone in their specific calling and election?

    So, back to our own individual place in time; who was and is blessing and working in and through us, seeing as, according to the church, we missed Malachi 10 years ago.

    The pattern modification that formulates ones world view is seeking God, not man for solutions. We sharpen are swords; we share; we serve side by side but when we face God or the metaphorical, Grand Canyon? We can choose to follow his words, venture to champion his mission statement or construct corporeal edifices to our own pride and vanity.

    Can we even embrace another's world view or how God personally speaks to them. Do we dare demand everyone live inside yours, or my, worldview in order theirs or our assertions, be validated? Let each man, then, ascertain to think for themselves and first consult with the Master builder? We choose not to line up at the transcendent causeway to join those who wish to leap into oblivion without watchfulness, but simply following man, for better or worse? Not I, now us!

    Conceivably, then, incorporeal synchronization leads us, guides us, protects us from ourselves and others while directing us to fulfill God's mission statement? Let each one works out his/her own salvation with fear and trembling.

    Ask Einstein about his planetary observations, inasmuch as, he'll say we all see and hear things differently as each occupies a distinct, locus in God's economy. Synchronicity, is in the mind, spirit and body of the beholder. Even though it is of the utmost importance that we all agree on the main precepts of the gospel, (never the less), each must step outside the planned traditional, overformal, mock-up of community and return to a living and breathing pradigm called Acts. Even the world has their own beneficiary proverbs for learning. "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

    The good news is, when we take that leap of faith there is always Romans 14:4 "Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

    ~ Marc Wildman

    1. Thank you for your articulate and impassioned comment, Marc. Much to think about there. You are a radical. All of us are called to be radicals, that is, people who are strongly grounded rooted in some root conviction. The etymology of the word is instructive: "late 14c., in a medieval philosophical sense, from Late Latin radicalis "of or having roots," from Latin radix (genitive radicis) "root" (from PIE root *wrād- "branch, root"). Meaning "going to the origin, essential" is from 1650s." Again, ALL of us are called to be radicals, whose lives are rooted in and oriented toward "The origin, essential." The trick, in my view, is to be symmetrical radicals: to be radically activist and radically loving, for example.

      You and I are alike in that we embody radical passions. In my too long experience, what I worry about is lone-wolf radicals who in the majority of cases embody non-productive or even destructive imbalances. This is why I am not ready to abandon the checks and balances of community and of tradition, which is the living voice of community across time. I admire the wit and wisdom of G. K. Chesterton who said this: "“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.” So, although I respect your aversion to the cant and the manipulations you have encountered in religious community, I myself distrust unmoored individualism, even among those who claim to be moored only to the Word and the Spirit. I can demonstrate clearly that from a biblical point of view, the voice of both Word and Spirit also need the checks and balances of community if we, who at best know in part and prophecy in part, who see through a glass darkly, are to rightly discern and follow those coordinate voices.

      One more thing. I especially liked what you say here: "Speaking of a much-needed paragon modification, where are the storehouses for one and all." In my recent research and reading I discovered that even the writings of contemporaneous pagan authors comment on how Christians in the first centuries distinguished themselves and put the pagan world to shame with how they not only took care of one another's needs, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, accompanying the dying, but that they did the same for pagans. Similarly, we need to heed the voice of Scripture, of history, and of the Spirit, which you are echoing, calling us out of some sort of merely cloistered circle of concern.

      Be well. And keep commenting.

      1. Thanks Dr. Stuart Dauermann for a thought provoking reply. As of late, I have to say I think you are accurate with the community recommendations and we are moving back to that place. Thanks for being candid, forthright and kind.

  2. I have no problem if a fellow member of my congregation believes the above. Great stories because the first two seem simple and very personal (reminds me of Guidepost) and the third is from a very established and credible person. But what if I'm a Francis Collins type who doesn't refute such stories outright but approaches some stories with a healthy dose of skepticism. Is there a seat at the table for me as well? The Bible seems to allow for doubt, suprise, laughter, fear, etc. when these stories are read. In a few Churches today, you might be better off keeping such emotions to one's self! How far removed from Bible times! How do I avoid cognitive dissonance? I once heard Eugene Peterson say something along the lines that even though he was raised as a Pentecostal, never the less he said "trips to heaven", visions of Jesus, etc. were far and few between in the lives of many well known Saints (but real). And many Saints used wisdom when speaking of such experiences and very rarely spoke of them to keep people grounded in the ordinary, mundane but sacred every day life. Mother Teresa had an extraordinary vision early in her life but most people only discovered this after her death. The real miracle was her looking into the eyes of a destitute outcast who had been fed, and clothed and provided a bed with such love that human dignity was experienced before death.

    1. It seems to me, Glenn, that a skeptic may choose one of two ways in attempting to avoid cognitive dissonance. One is by denial that "digs its heels" into its worldview and dismisses the perceptions of those who report a dissonant event. The other is by diligent investigation of the event, its participants and witnesses, its precursors and its aftermath. This method is, of course, more difficult; and it may result in challenging and changing one's worldview. Or it may be an exercise in frustration because the data or evidence sought is not completely available.

      As for the "few and far between" rarity of such events in the biblical record, one really shouldn't expect to discover a non-consumable burning bush every day. One lemma that we ought to be able to extract from the biblical record is that rarity is what we *should* expect, nowadays as well as then. But neither should we be entirely dismissive a-priori, nor should we degrade our definition of "the miraculous" to encompass only extraordinary human capabilities, nor should we discount the commonality of human delusional autologous wish-fulfillment. Open-minded investigation and verification would seem the wisest approach, because it leaves room for the possibilities of trust in the biblical accounts as well as in extraordinary current-day events. If we who would be disciples of the ancient Israeli admor haRav Yeshua ben-Yosef are to believe his projection that his disciples would do as he had done and even greater things (cif: Jn.14:12), and that he had administered HaShem's power multiple times, even to restore life to his dead friend Lazarus, then how could we take any other approach?

      The more difficult question, it seems to me, is how to discern those times or occasions when HaShem intends to exercise such power through us, or when has He done so through anyone else.

      1. Such a brilliant and helpful comment, Dror!

        I want to pick up on one statement in particular: "Open-minded investigation and verification would seem the wisest approach, because it leaves room for the possibilities of trust in the biblical accounts as well as in extraordinary current-day events." I heartily agree. Without doubt the best work in this area is the recent massive research project chronicled in Craig Keener's 1248 page work, Miracles. Keener is one of the most respected biblical scholars of our generation. His work is in two volumes, the second being footnotes alone! He has done the very best in biblical, historical, and philosophical analysis here. He is, after all, a multidisciplinary giant. But he has also chronicled modern claims of the miraculous occurring in Yeshua's name, which claims he subjects to appropriate scrutiny and verification.

        Keener and his wife, Medine, (PhD from the Sorbonne) both believe in the miraculous, which they have experienced first hand. Her sister was raised from the dead. However, they also believe in the sovereignty of a God who we cannot control, having experienced seven miscarriages.

        One more thought. Chauncey Crandall, who saw his patient come back from the dead also believes in the miraculous. However, he has also known the crushing grief of one of his twin boys contracting Leukemia at age nine, and, despite prayers and the best medical care, dying at age eleven in his father's arms.

        So God is still God--both in what He alone can do and what He may choose not to do. C.S. Lewis had it precisely right: "He is not a tame lion." But he remains a lion, and we would be fools to imagine that we can either forbid or demand his miraculous roaring.

    2. Thank you for your comment Glenn. You may be surprised to learn that I agree with the cautions you express. Nothing in my blog was meant to do what so many today seem content to do: equate fevered imaginations with the voice of the Spirit, and expect the miraculous on a daily basis and twice as much on week-ends. Some people seem to feel that making room for the Spirit requires of us to ask Reason to give up its chair. And yes, there must always be room at the table for the cautious, and for sound judgment.

      The point of my blog post, which I reiterate here, is that we need to make conscious and to reexamine the criteria by which we disallow God's capacity to interface with us and to intervene in our affairs. I believe that there is a connection between occluded experience and precluded categories. I stand by this, and would be happy to discuss it further if you wish, but never for the sake of argument. We both know how wasteful of time that is.


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