– my metanarrative

When I was born my brother went around telling everyone “My brother is real! My brother is real!” It was good to know then and I still pinch myself now to make sure it is true still. But that is exactly the question a metanarrative answers – “What is real?” You may call it a worldview or a narrative identity but regardless of the title the question is the same. It is my interpretation of reality.

N.T. Wright points out four questions that every worldview answers. They are:

  1. Who are we?
  2. Where are we?
  3. What is wrong?
  4. What is the solution?

In general my worldview is a Christian worldview. However, for many reading this blog that distinction itself will not clarify anything for there are many interpretations of reality that rightly are called a Christian worldview. Everyone has a worldview – that philosophical lens through which we interpret reality. Worldviews for most people are not consistent nor refined. Instead they are a hodgepodge of contradicting ideas that cannot handle the violence of scrutiny and criticism. As a result too many of us try to live untested lives so that our beliefs are not tried and tested. I’ve had numerous conversations with people on their worldview where their answer has been “I’m not prepared to go there.” Most of us want to be ignorant in our beliefs. However, my desire is to have my Christian worldview continue to be refined to the point that I will see reality the way it actually is. As a Christian I would say then that I want to interpret reality in such a way that I successfully see reality as God sees it. For the way God sees reality and the way it is are the same thing in my metanarrative. If I could give God’s worldview a name it would be “Biblical Worldview.” So, I have a Christian worldview, but I want a Biblical Worldview. Of course, my very decision in naming God’s worldview “Biblical Worldview” tells you something already about my Christian worldview and that is the high place Scripture holds in my world as I analyze the world through my eyes.  The other pages that follow this page are simply a further refinement of this page.

The journey of Iz begins with some simple answers to some of the greatest questions a person can dare to ask. Please, then, ask yourself these same questions and ponder your answers and what they entail.

1. Who are we?

We are human beings. We are part of a wider order of things that make up the universe aka God’s creation. God is not part of his creation. Creation is not God bringing order out of chaos. Creation is before God created the material there was no such thing as material. We could consider the fantastic implications that a spiritual being created something it is not namely the material, but that would be a different page or blog. When God created human beings he created us in a way not shared by the rest of his universe, namely, that we are made in the image of God. We have souls and we have moral obligation. Our conscience even today testifies to the nature of God. God created us, as the pinnacle of this creation, to have fellowship with him, tend to his creation and obey his will. We rebelled.

2. Where are we?

We are still in God’s creation. We are not in Hell. Sam and Frodo have a great conversation in Lord of the Rings that deals with these questions. Their conversation goes like this:

Sam: It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.

This last part relates to my answer of “Where are we”. God’s creation – and this earth – are good. There are bad things occurring on earth and even the earth itself suffers from the consequence of sin (which is my answer for the next question), but it is not to be tossed in the trash pile. God is not saving us from the material world at the end of time. What he will do is make his creation right – as N.T. Wright said it this way “God will put the earth back to rights.” It will be as it was before sin – and what is more so will we. All this gets a little ahead of myself, but it is important in that it notes that you and I are made up of both the material and spiritual. While these two parts are our make-up they are not divisible.

Some implications of this answer include our need as Christians to be first in line on the issue of caring for our planet appropriately. It is still good and worth fighting for, but it is not the earth alone that is worth fighting for – all of God’s creation is worth protecting and defending including other people.  Also, any answer that seeks to remove us from the material world is not Christian. Within Christianity we find systems that tried to pop up throughout history and they were labeled apostate theology and still are. Gnosticism comes to mind, which of course is the driving theology behind the materials that are borrowed for such modern historical revisionist theology and fiction.

3. What is wrong?

Personally I cannot think of a greater question a person can ask than this one leave one (and that is “Is there a god?”). This question deals with suffering. To use moral terms, this question deals with evil. How do we account for it? Before I give my answer to this, I just want to point out that everybody’s worldview answers this question. It is so crucial to how we understand reality.

What is wrong is this: God, as is his right, gave us directions and expectations. We thought we could do better under self-rule. In some ways you might say the first act of rebellion was an act to establish autonomy. We, however, are not meant to exist apart from God and in fact cannot. Still, as God shows general grace and mercy to his creation by the very fact that it still exists (this also proves it is good) there are consequences and penalties to our rebellion against God. This is sin. Sin is behind acts of violence directly, but indirectly all creation responds to it so that we deal with sickness, suffering and natural disasters. Even the way we have to work and the results of our toil (or lack thereof) is a result of this rebellion.

Many people want to minimize this rebellion. We often say “its not so bad.” Only we fail to recognize to whom it is we first act wrongly against. This person, of course, is God. Since our act of hurtfulness (whatever it may be: being hateful for example) is first against God, its first accounting must be with him and the attempted damage it seeks to inflict in that relationship. When we act in such a way, intentional or not, we are making a declarative statement on God’s worth in our lives and in general. But God is infinitely valuable. In this respect, our finite sin carries an infinite cost. While we deal with the temporal consequences of rebellion against God – all which lead to death, we still have a debt that is infinite in nature. Your seemingly physical demise does not satisfy such a great debt. That is why Hell really does exist and all this pain and suffering and evil is present in the world today – because you and I think we have a greater right to determine our life story than God does.

Ask yourself this: Suppose there is a God and that he created everything other than himself. Suppose him to be the uncaused cause. Now, does he have the right to do as he wishes with that which he made? If his creation does not act according to his plan does he not have a right to discipline accordingly? Or to put it another way: Since you told the Creator “no” why do you know expect him to carry out your demands of his creation? There is a debt.

4. What is the Solution?

Going back to Sam Gamgee’s conversation with Frodo: This is the greatest story and there is a happy ending – at least from God’s perspective. The solution from a Christian worldview is Jesus Christ. As I write this Christmas just came. There is no more scandalous story than that of Jesus Christ. We are a people in need of a great hope. Unfortunately in America, with our wealth we forget that we are in need of hope. Much of the world is still in search of hope. Jesus gives us this hope.

The good news of God, which was his plan before he ever created the world, was to demonstrate his glory by showing us what God serving his creation really looks like, by showing us how humility is the high virtue and by doing that which we could not do. We owe God a debt we cannot hope to pay because of the grand scope of the thing. Close your eyes (after you read this) and imagine: God comes into his creation as a human. He deals with the trappings of humanity: sickness, hunger, sleep, emotions, relationships. He comes as a weak and helpless baby. He is born in a feeding trough in a barn. He lives in extreme poverty. He keeps his divine powers in check submitting himself to these great struggles. He does all this without ever rebelling against the Creator, which of course includes himself.

His humble life leads to the very reason he came. He came to pay our debt. The result of his life of obedience made people hate him. His claims, his behavior – it was too much to take. So they became vigilantes “for God” and treated him as the worst criminal and had him executed by crucifixion. It really is too much to take; it really is the most offensive event in all of history.

The good news, however, does not end here. Because Jesus’ life was totally pure; by his death in total innocence we discover through his resurrection his incredible worth. Death could not hold him because he had no debt. His sacrifice was so great in value that it paid with abundance those in whose stead he stood. The resurrection reveals dividends to his payment in he is the first example of what creation will be when made back to rights. If Jesus’ life and death reflect anything about God it is that he is a God of justice. A reckoning must be made when someone seeks to inflict contamination upon the holiness of God. He is a righteous God. So Jesus’ death does not equate to universalism – that is there is no Hell. There is still a Hell. The good news is we all won’t go there and you don’t have to go there. When we stand at the foot of the cross and consider what Jesus did in our stead – he fought the greatest battle and won the war. When we  believe – in a manner that carries beyond our culture today, but a belief that combines heart, mind and actions into unison – when we believe like this that Jesus is God and make him our boss as he was always meant to be, as we were always created to submit – then we receive God’s grace and mercy for our acts of rebellion because Jesus’ payment is credited to our account of extreme debt.

I could go on and on concerning all these sentences written, but this is just meant to be an introduction after all. So – welcome to the metanarrative of iz – and I believe it is real.

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