Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘theology’

Semantics, the subtle nuances in the meanings of words, has always fascinated me.  I enjoy good puns and having a good grasp of semantics is essential to delivering or catching a good pun.  (I know many family members would question whether the adjective good should be applied to my puns, but humor me here please.)  As a reliability consultant the past 3-1/2 years I have been asked for guidance on all elements of reliability.  For many of these elements I have a deep knowledge and I can answer with total confidence.  These are things I know.  For some elements I have a good knowledge and I can answer with only slight qualifications to the veracity of my statements.  These are things I believe.  Occasionally I have to give my best guess.  These are the things I think to the best of my current knowledge.  I use these three compartments: What I Know, What I Believe, and What I Think not just to help me express work-related information but to guide my actions and define who I am.  I suspect everyone has these compartments even if they don’t take the time to mentally process each statement.  In my opinion the statement “As a man thinks, so he is” is true in the broadest use of the word think.  However in my definition it is what a man believes and knows that more accurately defines who he is.

A person’s worldview is the set of beliefs that determine their understanding of the world and how they interpret future data that they take in.  Fundamentally a worldview can be broken down into a list of value statements that a person holds.  Here are some examples.

  • In my work we have built a Model of what excellent Reliability looks like.  The heart of that model is the 310 value statements which give discrete elements of what equipment reliability is.
  • We are in an election year and the presidential campaigns are busy laying out their candidates value statements (or trying to pin negative value statements upon their opponent).
  • Marriage is established upon certain value statements… we are faithful to one another, we will communicate consistently, I will take out the trash… important things like that.
  • I can think of many examples throughout history when groups of people found it necessary to document their shared beliefs as value statements –
  • the Apostles Creed in the early church,
  • the Magna Carta in England,
  • the Mayflower Compact as the Pilgrims arrived in the New World,
  • our Declaration of Independence.

These are all attempts to capture what a group of persons collectively know and believe.

It is a worthy activity for a person to take the time to assess their own Life to understand what their core beliefs are and where they come from.  Over the past several months I have taken a closer look at this in my life.  I have determined that one of the greatest sources of discontent is when our actions do not align with our core beliefs.  A corollary to that is one of our greatest sources of disconnectedness with others is when our core beliefs are not well founded upon truth.  While I may cover a few of those beliefs, my main goal today is to describe an effective process to define core beliefs.

What are the sources for what you believe?  The most common is experience.  The older we get the larger the repository of experiences that we have had.  I am convinced experience provides us many lessons.  It’s important to remember that even our experiences are interpreted through our existing worldview, but that is the case for all of us.  The important point is to consider our experiences as objectively as we possibly can AND allow the other sources to shed greater light upon our experiences.

The next source is what others we trust and love have experienced.  Being married provides (or at least it should provide) a level of intimacy with another that gives us a very deep experience base.  A little less intimate, but still quite valid are parents, siblings, children, and close friends and other family.  We are not meant to do life alone.  The knowledge and wisdom of family and community are an essential safety net when we are building our core beliefs.  There is a reason that terrorists isolate themselves into cells.  They must do this to stoke the misguided beliefs they hold and to keep truth and rational thinking out.

The next source is the accumulated historical wisdom that has been handed down from great thinkers and doers in history.  For me as a believer in God and a follower of God’s Son, Jesus, I recognize that He has given us a guidebook for life.  I consider the Word of God to be paramount in setting my beliefs.  However I also recognize that the Word of God must be considered within the context of the entire bible.  I know that it has to be accurately interpreted.  (The Holy Spirit helps us with this, but at least for me I sometimes don’t listen as well as I should.)  There are more sources which do not carry the same weight as the scriptures but are nonetheless helpful.  The writings of CS Lewis are a great example in my life.  Another recent example for me was reading the Federalist Papers.  I was fascinated with the thought processes behind the development of the US Constitution.  Also I put some of the schooling and training I have had into this group.

A fourth source, and I put this source a good bit behind the first three mentioned, is the third-party accounts of others.  While there is still value in these, They must be treated with more discernment.  I have three major considerations that I find necessary for third-party accounts.  The first is that I do not know their worldview and whether truth is their standard or not.  The second is the timeliness of the information.  While prompt gathering of evidence is crucial in getting complete and exact data it takes time to get all the information to make a correct assessment of what it really means.  When building an accurate worldview, we cannot base it upon snippets of information.  The third is the accuracy of the communication from the third-party to me… did they effectively verbalize it and did I effectively hear and interpret it.

The last source is all the various means of information sharing that exist today.  The tops in this category are the few periodicals, websites, and a small number of news shows that I have developed confidence in their striving for truth.  Most fall far short of these.  I still occasionally tune in to network news, but I always take what they say with a grain of salt.  Sadly the biases on these programs must be taken into account.  (Even sadder is that many people do not and their worldview is skewed by these biases.) I also look to blogs such as this one and others that I have developed confidence in.  In a way some of these are like third-party accounts mentioned above.

Two other points before I wrap up today’s post.  First every person has a worldview whether they realize it as such or not.  I have mentioned all the primary sources of information where we gather facts to construct our worldview.  Our worldview sets the direction and course of our life, it puts boundaries in our life, and ultimately it determines who we are.  This worldview is the sum of all the value statements that we hold to be true.

Second as a believer, God has given us His Holy Spirit.  In John 16:13 Jesus describes one of the roles of the Holy Spirit, “13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  We are bombarded by lots of information every day.  Some true but a lot of it not.  We must have help in discerning that which we should hold and that which is proper to discard.  The Holy Spirit desires to help us in this and He will if we but ask and trust.

I believe there is ultimate truth and it rests with God.  Every person sees and experiences only a small slice of life from which to build their worldview.  Consequently we have varying elements of our worldview that are and are not true.  For me it is one of my life goals to know and align with what is true.  I can only do this if I am humble enough to admit that I may not have it right… that what I think and what I believe are not true.  Finally I have to objectively and prayerfully analyze the data I receive each day considering the source and how it relates to what I know.

I want to please God by discerning and living a true, faithful, and honorable life.  Since my worldview defines me, I need to get it right.  Asking God to help me, this I strive to do.  I encourage you as you strive to know what it true too.

God bless you today and always my friend.

Read Full Post »