I recently finished listening through two courses of lectures on the life and thought of Francis Schaeffer.
If you’re interested in listening yourself, you can find the courses on iTunes U or the Worldwide Classroom website. In the “Later Years” course, lecture nineteen, the instructor gives an interesting list of what Schaeffer saw as the benefits to a society when the worldview of the Bible is adopted. In other words, even if everyone’s not born again and authentically trusting Christ, if a society agrees on some of the basic teachings of scripture, huge good can occur. Many of these things are the very distinctives we enjoy in our own modern American culture.
Here’s the list:
Adopting a Biblical Worldview
1) The elements of this world view:
a) A God to whom we are answerable
b) A created, orderly universe
c) A moral order with God as its source
d) Antithesis – truth conquers falsehood
e) Objective human innocence and guilt
f) All humans on “level ground” before God
g) All humans are sinners
2) The cultural benefits of this world view
a) The rule of Law: There is Someone we are answerable to.
b) Accountability in government: Leaders are answerable for their actions.
c) Truth can be found: It is possible to know things because God made things to be discovered.
d) A Democratic impulse: All people are made in the image of God, so they are equal.
e) Restraint of those in power: Rulers are not God.
f) Objective human guilt and need for punishment
All this is open to discussion, of course. In the course these ideas are justified and fleshed out. But it makes good food for thought, and I find it convincing: It only makes sense that a society that believes in an eternal Authority who made us with inherent dignity in His image would be a society with limited government, free people, and an “impulse” to keep things ruled by the Creator’s morality, while affirming the worth of all its citizens. And when there is no more eternal Authority, what and who determines what is right? If you study history, the only answer we find is, “Power.” Which means that freedom can’t last when there is no belief in Truth.
…Which reminds me of this quote from Michael Novak:
During the past hundred years, the question for those who loved liberty was whether, relying on the virtues of our peoples, we could survive powerful assaults from without (as, in the Battle of Britain, this city nobly did). During the next hundred years, the question for those who love liberty is whether we can survive the most insidious and duplicitous attacks from within, from those who undermine the virtues of our people, doing in advance the work of the Father of Lies. “There is no such thing as truth,” they teach even the little ones. “Truth is bondage. Believe what seems right to you. There are as many truths as there are individuals. Follow your feelings. Do as you please. Get in touch with yourself. Do what feels comfortable.” Those who speak in this way prepare the jails of the twenty-first century. They do the work of tyrants.