“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
2 Corinthians 5.20
“We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.”
People in the world are looking for answers to life’s most important questions. They are looking for purpose and meaning. The great question is, where will people find the answers to the purpose and meaning of life? It is God’s design that his people — the Church — live and work in such a way that the world would see in the church the reality of God’s truth and love.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.” (1 Peter 2.9-10)
Dr. Schaeffer observed that in the 20th century (and now the 21st), rather than turn to the truth of God, people tend to look for answers in two very different worldviews: rationalism and subjectivism. Rationalism appeals to the logical mind, but is disconnected from meaning and purpose. It diminishes the spiritual nature of man.
Subjectivism, on the other hand, appeals to the spirit, but is disconnected from facts and reason. It diminishes the rational nature of man. The consequence is that both belief systems produce behavior that is destructive for individuals and society.
Let’s consider rationalism.
Rationalism is the belief that matter is all that there is. In this worldview, there is no God, no purpose, no meaning. It claims that the universe is only comprised of physical laws and matter/energy. That is all there is. Period. Based on this assumption, the origin of life is the impersonal universe + time + chance. There is no design or purpose; life is an accident.
Therefore, the rationalistic worldview contends that mankind is simply a highly sophisticated biological machine that evolved accidentally over time through physical mechanisms. Any notion that people have of purpose or meaning or significance is simply the result of complex bio-chemical activity in the brain.
In his book Chance and Necessity, Jacques Monod gives a clear and chilling summary of rationalism: “The universe was not pregnant with life nor the biosphere with man. Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game … man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor his duty.”
The biblical worldview agrees with the rational view that the universe contains matter/energy, and that it functions according to the physical laws of cause-and-effect. However, the biblical worldview asserts that the universe is orderly and rational because it’s Designer is orderly and rational. God is the author of the physical universe and it’s natural laws, and God is the author of life.
Further, God created man to be a rational being who could observe, study, learn, and work with the orderly nature of the world.
“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature … The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2.7, 15)
Scripture also teaches that because God is infinite and not limited by the physical universe that he created, he has the ability to break into the cause-and-effect world and take action. What people would call a “miracle” is simply the Creator intervening in the midst of the world that he designed.
Here is another way to think about it. Secular rationalism is cause-and-effect in a closed system, whereas the biblical worldview is cause-and-effect in an open system. God’s universe is open to his intervention when he sees fit.
To summarize: According to rationalism, life is a cosmic accident. According to the biblical worldview, life is designed by God for a purpose.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8.28)