Bumper Sticker Worldview

Bumper stickers, like Facebook status updates, are common. If we are honest they rarely leave a lasting impression. They usually tell us of the driver’s political stance, if their child is an honor student, or if their boss is a Jewish carpenter. We see them, read them, and forget about them in the blink of an eye. Yet, once in a while, one will capture our attention and leave a lasting impression.

Today as I was driving I noticed two bumper stickers side by side on the car in front of me. This in and of itself was not significant, but the message they communicated together left an impression. The first one said, “Question authority,” and the second, “Christianity has pagan DNA.”  This skeptical worldview that questions Christianity’s validity, is it a worldview that can sustain itself?

Skeptical Worldview

It’s hard to deny that each of us holds to a worldview. We all interpret the events of life through the lens of certain beliefs; beliefs that help us make sense of the world and our place within it. The skeptic’s worldview is very common in our day and age. It does what the first bumper sticker says. It questions authority. Authority does not simply refer to positions of power held by people such as parents, teachers, or government officials. Authority is also anything that has power over ideas and behavior, calling for submission. This is the kind of authority the skeptical worldview calls into question with its inquiries. How can you say your way is right and my way is wrong? Can we really know anything from history? Is one religion really true to over others? Does God exist? How can you say abortion, homosexuality, or pornography is wrong?

Unsustainable Worldview

To a certain point, the skeptical worldview has validity. It’s good to ask questions and to test an idea’s authority, seeing if it’s worthy of our submission. Yet there is a difficulty with this worldview. The true skeptic should question their skepticism. The statement “Question authority” begs the question. Should I question this statement’s authority to question authority? On what grounds should I accept your statement is valid? If I’m to question authority than your statement has no authority and we’re left at an impasse. Likewise, if I’m to question authority, on what grounds can you say with assertion that “Christianity has pagan DNA?”  You’ve just made an authoritative statement based on what you believe is true, but it cannot be sustained in a skeptical worldview.

Basis of Authority

“Question authority” may actually be a good idea. But another question arises, whose authority? Your authority; my authority? When we question authority we are assuming that there is an answer and a supreme Authority that rules over all smaller authorities. There is something out there that makes sense of everything else and should influence what we think, how we feel and how we live.  Therefore, it seems crucial that we discern the real basis of authority, or life could go horribly wrong.

Jesus, on What Authority?

The New Testament accounts of the life of Jesus show that he was no stranger to the skeptical worldview. His public ministry was decidedly marked by people questioning the basis of his authority surrounding his teaching and works. He claimed his authority came from the Father. More than that, he claimed unity with the Father, thereby being the greatest Authority. Even in his arrest and death sentence for his claims, he asserted that it was by his authority he would die and rise again on the third day. Today nothing has changed. People still question his assertions. They still question the message of Christianity. Whether it’s in the form of a question such as, “How can you say Jesus is the only way?” or it’s in a statement such as, “Christianity has pagan DNA,” we’re skeptical. To this skeptical worldview the words of C.S. Lewis resound with authoritative urgency, “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”[1] On whose authority will you base your beliefs? That is the real question.

[1] C.S. Lewis, “Christian Apologetics,” in God in the Dock