September 6, 2012

A Pentecostal Worldview

Relocating my books from the garage to my new room in my parent's house, and freeing them from their dank cardboard prison, enabled me to “visit” some old reads, a truly delightful experience. I unloaded them, ninety-three in all (plus two that don't belong to me), onto the shelves made for clothes in my closet. Books, obviously, are of higher significance than clothes. If I could wear them, I suppose I would.

One of the books I immediately set aside to peruse was Thinking in Tongues. My last post was a result of that perusing. Though, the more I scanned and read and reminisced, the more I wanted to share. There are many scrumptious layers to it so I concluded I would expand. Plus, when was the last time someone, and an academic at that, spruced up some neat thoughts on being pentecostal (could you not tell by the title?)? Exactly my point. So let us take advantage.

Last time (click here to read or simply read the preceding post) I put up the aspects to a pentecostal worldview as articulated by James Smith, professor, philosopher and author. Worldview, though, is a word thrown around a lot, is it not? What is it exactly?

“By referring to this as a worldview," Smith points out, "I don't mean to suggest that this is a system of doctrine (as the terms has sometimes been used); rather a worldview is a passional orientation that governs how one sees, inhabits, and engages the world.”

Hm, please continue.

With the help of James Olthuis' definition, “A worldview (or vision of life) is a framework or set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world and our calling and future in it,” James expounds the “several elements of this account of worldview:

1. It is a framework of fundamental beliefs: a worldview provides the grid or framework through which we 'make sense' of our world-—the 'set of hinges' on which our thinking and doing turn.

2. It is a framework of fundamental beliefs: as fundamental, we could say that these beliefs are pretheoretical. They are often not beliefs that we consciously, rationally reflect upon. They are the 'control beliefs' that operate subterraneously. Thus, I would suggest that we think about a worldview operating at the level of imagination, not thinking.

3. It is a framework of fundamental beliefs: as 'ultimate beliefs,' worldviews are fundamentally religious in character, shaping the root commitments of individuals and ocmmunities. It is in this sense that Abraham Kuyper can describe all of life as religious in some fundamental sense, even for the naturalist atheist.

4. It provides a view of the world: as such, worldviews are comprehensive, giving us an account of how the big picture hangs together. In this way, they help us make sense of the totality of our experience, not just our 'religious' experience.

5. A worldview tells us something about our calling: how we understand our world then determines how we understand our roles in it. By determining our calling, worldviews shape our identity by constituting the telos of our being-in-the-world. It defines what matters.”

Professor Smith is a sport, painting for us a clear picture, drawing needed distinctions and pulling us in to gaze upon his lucid, scholarly flare. So there you have it folks, a pentecostal worldview.