When I (Michael) first taught 1 Corinthians, I came to realize just how much our beliefs shape our actions. Many of the problems Paul responded to when he wrote to the church in Corinth, were rooted in their worldview, which did not line up with the truth of the Gospel. Not surprisingly, the Corinthians’ incorrect beliefs resulted in a number of actions that did not line up with the Gospel either. Much of what Darrow Miller suggests in his book, Discipling Nations, centered on this idea that that a person’s worldview heavily influences the way s/he will live his/her life and pursue growth for him/herself, and his/her nation. Through his work with development agencies world-wide, Miller saw firsthand how world-views in contraction to Biblical Theism hindered growth in those holding to those ideas. By looking at how Secular and Animistic world-views differed from a Biblical worldview, Miller discovered that until a people and a nation’s worldview changed, it would be difficult to encourage development in some of the most impoverished peoples in the world today.
I certainly agree with much of what Miller has to say about ideas driving actions, and how one’s worldview can actually cause him/her to do things that prevent his/her own development. I also hold to a belief in the Truth found in Scripture, so I too see a Biblical worldview as the only framework that will give people the ability to live a full life both now and eternally. I did, however, struggle with some of the generalizations made about the ideas and actions of people who do not hold to a Biblical worldview. This is not to suggest that Darrow’s statements are incorrect. Actually, I think my discomfort around some of Darrow’s statements highlight my own culture and worldview; I struggle to read sweeping criticisms of groups authored by those outside of those groups. Most likely this comes from the influence of the kind of humility and tolerance encouraged in my culture in Canada. I would have liked to see Darrow quote writers who have come from the world-views he was opposing, who could speak of the shortcomings of those systems of belief as “insiders.”
The greatest revelation for me out of Discipling Nations was the idea that wealth is really found in the mind, and not in natural resources. Coming from a natural resource rich country, where economy is so tied to the cost of commodities like oil, if asked where true wealth came from, I would have previously suggested natural resources. Now I can see this is not true. It is the image of God in us which causes us to desire to create in a fashion similar to God (we do not create out of nothing like God does). This desire to create allows us to take something seemingly useless, like sand, and turn it into something valuable, such as silicon, which can then be made into a computer chip, which then gets data stored on it. Because of this ingenuity and creativity, what was once an abundant and practically worthless material is now full of worth. Even petroleum at one time was not a valued resource. It took an act of the mind to create ways of using it so that it became a valuable commodity. Wealth is tied not to finite resources, but the infinite creativity of the human mind. The true wealth of any community is not found in the ground, but in the development of the minds of the people. The challenge of discipling nations is to show the people how their ideas can actually hold them back from the great wealth God has placed in the minds He created, and wants to transform and renew.
I will continue to process the challenges highlighted in Discipling Nations, but I come away from the book knowing I need to participate in the unlocking of the potential found in the minds of those God gives me the privilege of teaching in the future.