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A Biblical Worldview - Perspective from the Book of Romans

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A Biblical Worldview:  Perspective from the Book of Romans

Darnell L James

Liberty University


Weltanschauung, from where we get the English word, world-view, joins German words Welt meaning “world” with Anschauung meaning “view” to bring us the philosophical term, “worldview”, “a particular philosophy or view of life; a conception of the world” (Oxford English Reference Dictionary). The term usually refers to a viewpoint on those questions that are larger than life.  Placement of the word, “Biblical” in front of it modifies the term to refer to the paradigm upon which the Christian perspective, belief-system and ultimate decision-making is built. The term makes more philosophical and less religious the framework of Christian ideas and beliefs, and since there is such a vast number of varying Christian denominations and ideologies, it works well in helping to define how various Christians decipher and interact with the world.

Romans Chapters 1 through 8 narrows the varying Christian viewpoints into specific teachings about how Christians should interpret and react to the natural world, to human identity, to human relationships, and to culture. Moreover, these chapters have impacted my own world-view by being the catalyst that organizes my relationships, issues and circumstances, and drives me towards resolutions.  The two main themes echoed by Paul throughout the book of Romans, the infallible nature of the Gospel and the fellowship of Jews and Gentiles united around the sacrosanctity of Jesus the Messiah, confirm the authority of Romans to dictate a basis for perspectives and decisions.  Moreover, Paul contrasts the reunion of man to God and to himself, which is brought about by an acceptance of Jesus as the savior, with the fallible nature of man as depicted in his description of humankind in a natural world.  

The Natural World

In this world that Paul describes in the first three chapters of Romans, is a society devoid of the Spirit of God, which cannot realize eternal hope because they are either rebellious or self-serving.  John R.W. Scott (1994) in his preliminary essay in The Message of Romans points out that in Romans Paul characterizes the natural world with citizens in three categories: a “deprived pagan society (1:18-32), critical moralizers whether Jews or Gentiles (2:1-16), and well-instructed, self-confident Jews (2:17-3:8). He then concludes by accusing the whole human race (3:9-20).  (36)  The first passage, Romans 1:18-32 refers to a people who claim to be wise, but who are foolish and show it by practicing idolatry – worshiping images of man, animals and things.  These people are void of excuses about the deity of God because He has revealed Himself to them, and therefore God allows them to continue in the folly of filth, lust and defiling of their own bodies.

The natural world embraces a philosophy of perversion in which the creature is worshipped rather than the creator, sexual deviation and debauchery are commonplace, human beings hate, covet and compete against each other, and wide-spread wickedness and general sin are the order of the day. Chapter two goes on to describe others in the natural world who are moralistic, disobedient, and self-seeking, but just as lost as the pagan.  These persons judge the pagans, but engage in the same types of behaviors as they do. They have unbending, hard hearts and will be rewarded thusly. These share the world with the pious Jews described in chapters 2 and 3 who are condemned by the law because they know it and teach it, but they don’t practice it and have therefore sullied their circumcision. The bottom line as Paul resolves in verses 9 to 20 of Romans 3 is that the entire world is guilty in the sight of God.

Human Identity

This guilt as Paul goes on through verses 21 of chapter 3 through chapter 8 can be deleted only by the grace of God.  Who we are as human beings are a shameful set of rebellious hypocrites, shaped in iniquity. We need to be justified through Jesus Christ.  We who read our Bibles and hear the word, but do not do it are still sinners.  If we judge others who we consider to be pariahs, we are sinners. Our salvation can come only through our believing that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. With our salvation and justification we will realize God’s will of a harmonious life with Him, with nature and with each other.

So for the Christian, when we think about human identity, were confident that we must have none outside of Christ because human identity without God’s spirit is one of eternal separation from God. But one who is a Jew inwardly, and [whose] circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:29) has an identity with Christ. Our identity is defined by what is in our hearts: if we believe; we are forgiven; we are justified through faith; we become different people; we live by the power of the Holy Spirit; we are ultimately in a right relationship with God.

Human Relationship

This new relationship with God is ultimately the relationship that God desires because it is the one that will fuel the necessary sanctification process to help with in our human relationships.  God chose to make man to worship and glorify Him. He made woman; he made all the living creatures for this purpose.  His design was good.  His design was a world in which everything lives in harmony.  The enemy deceived man and sin entered the world bringing all types of separation with it. God’s original design was not flawed, and He wants to restore it.  He sent Jesus, the second Adam, to restore harmony. The love of Jesus is impartial and unconditional; both Jew and Gentile alike are taken into account. The murder and division that the first Adam initiated with his disobedience to God in the garden, Jesus, the second Adam restored by his obedience to God in His death on Calvary’s cross.  Chapter 4 talks about a world in which neither Abraham’s circumcision and the law, nor his works could justify him. But it notes that Abraham’s seed is united under the banner of Jesus’s love, through our faith in Him.  It is this faith in Him that will birth our reunion with each other.  



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