Did you know that the way you understand the problem of the human condition, and concurrently the way in which the Gospel of Jesus Christ “solves” that problem, is not the only way to understand it?
I know, I know, it sounds like I’m suggesting there are different means of salvation. But that’s not what I mean. This episode of The DBC Podcast (our Season 2 premiere, by the way) is not about how salvation in Jesus is only one of many ways to find meaning and fulfillment in this life.
No, what we’re discussing on this episode is the concept that people view the problem of the human condition differently based on a variety of factors, such as the way they are brought up, the culture they find themselves in, the values of their specific societal structures, whether they were raised religious, agnostic, or atheist, etc. etc. etc.
And, because we tend to view the core problem of this world – or, put another way, “the meaning of life” – differently, we are going to resonate and be compelled by different expressions of the solution, or answer, to that problem. Thus, we are going to experience the power of the Gospel in different ways. We are going to have different worldviews – we are going to dwell in different “Theological Worlds.”
For example, if I grew up in a household that valued obedience and rule-keeping, and I attended a church that while not necessarily legalistic nonetheless stressed the importance of keeping God’s commandments and following the precepts laid out in the Bible, then chances are I would have heard the Gospel presented in the same terms. I would understand humanity’s core problem as the destructive aspects of our own lawlessness, sinfulness, or selfish desires, and I would view the cross of Jesus as the moment that forgiveness was offered and our guilt was washed away. Hallelujah! Amen!
However, it may surprise me to learn that a new friend I meet when I move to a new town doesn’t think the same way about salvation. He might have had a completely different upbringing, or attended a church that stressed different principles or ideas (or perhaps he didn’t even grow up attending a church at all), and so his understanding of the human condition and the inherent problem is that this world is full of conflict and violence and cruelty, and the cross is the defining moment in which God won the ultimate, final victory of evil, violence, and death.
Now, both interpretations of salvation are correct and are tied to Scripture. However, what I’ve just described is a potential impasse in understanding between a person who views salvation from Theological World 4, and someone who views it from Theological World 2.
This episode of the podcast examines the five Theological Worlds that are presented by W. Paul Jones, a seasoned minister and professor who conducted extensive research into the ways people – Christian and non-believer alike – view the core problem (or problems) of human condition and the corresponding solution, or answer, to that problem. I’m joined in the classroom (no need to call it a studio) by Jeff Reams, DBC’s Missions Pastor, and Allen Taliaferro, DBC’s newly hired Interim Outreach Pastor. Together, we describe each of the five Worlds and discuss how each one tracks with the testimony of Scripture, but how belonging to one of these worlds might deeply influence the way you tend to think about salvation, and the way you don’t tend to think about it.
Understanding a little of the Theological Worlds theory can revolutionize the way you think about the Gospel, from a personal standpoint, as well as from an evangelistic mindset. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Once you’ve listened to it, please add your own thoughts, or any questions you might have, to the Comments section below. I would love to hear from you. What World do you live in? How does knowing about the other Worlds change the way you think about the influence of the Gospel?
Click on the image below to be directed to our official iTunes page, where you can download the episode, or subscribe to the show to also receive updates every time a new episode is uploaded. Or you can listen using the Soundcloud.com media player embedded at the bottom.
Click HERE to find a copy of W. Paul Jones’s book, Theological Worlds.
Click HERE for a helpful blog post on some of the concepts inherent in the Theological Worlds theory.
Click HERE to download a .pdf for your own Theological Worlds inventory.