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A biblical worldview draws total inspiration from the Bible. To have a biblical worldview, one must believe that the Bible is fundamentally true and entirely accurate. It essentially means that one has allowed biblical teaching to underpin how he or she lives. Theologians agree that the epistle of Romans does not fit within systematic theology (Ellis 1).
Nonetheless, it points out the central truths that anchor the Christian faith in a systematic way. Paul wrote the book of Romans to the Christian church in Rome, which was grappling with several doctrinal issues. Therefore, the book of Romans comes out as a foundational text of Christian doctrine. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the assertions of the book of Romans do not singly represent the biblical worldview.
Although Paul wrote the epistle to address specific issues, the epistle demonstrates that these issues are fundamental to the Christian faith. In fact, many theologians agree that the theme of the book of Romans is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and salvation through faith. Regarding this theme, Paul states:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, the righteous will live by faith. (Rom. 1.16-17).
The Natural Worldview
Paul attempts to explain the place of God in the creation of the world in this epistle. In Rom.1.20, Paul submits, “since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
This verse clearly indicates that God created the world and that His existence is eternal. For this reason, humans should recognize him as their creator. Paul further writes in Rom. 5.12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned.” He affirms that the sin of one man brought about the phenomenon of death and that it is a consequence of sin. He apparently is referring to Adam, who passed on this phenomenon to every human being.
Paul points out that human identity is dependent on God’s justification. This justification is only achievable through faith (Rom.3.28). He goes on to illustrate that man is justified not by works. Paul reprimands the Jews who believed that they had received justification from God through circumcision. Paul is deliberate to emphasize the identity of a Christian as one who is justified through faith and not through the mere outward mark of circumcision (Rom. 2.26-27).
Christ remains central in Paul’sviews on human identity. In Rom. 6.11, he states, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Paul actually goes on to say that anyone who chooses to believe in this doctrine is no longer a slave to sin (Rom.6.14). He compares those who believe in Christ to free men.
Regarding human relationships, Paul’s introductory remarks depict him as a person who had a strong bond with the church in Rome. Rom.1.1-6 gives a background of his mandate to these people. When he eventually mentions the church that he is addressing, one appreciates that Paul had a genuine bond of friendship with the church in Rome (Rom.1.7).
Contrary to the practice of the church in Rome, modern Christians are detached from one another. The modern worldviews in the church often clash with the biblical worldview. This weakens the worldview of human relations as epitomized by the church in Rome. In this regard, Poythress makes the following assertion:
This difference in worldviews creates obstacles when modern people read and study the Bible. People come to the Bible with expectations that do not fit the Bible, and this clash becomes one main reason, though not the only one, why people do not find the Bible’s claims acceptable (Poythress 14).
There would be a Christ-like church today only if the modern church embraced the mutual relationship that existed between the church in Rome and Paul (Rom. 1.11).
One of Paul’s key objectives during the writing this letter was to address the seemingly frosty relationship between the Jews and Gentiles in the church. It was a cultural issue. The Jews had a superiority complex that undermined the position of Gentile believers in the church. The Jews believed that the law of God was to serve them exclusively. Paul picks on the obvious issue of circumcision that distinguished the Jews from Gentiles to address this division.
His submissions in Rom. 2.25-29 clearly show that, though he acknowledges circumcision as a requirement of the law, he disapproves it as a measure of righteousness. Paul rides on the principle used by Christ in Matt. 5.17 that he was not abolishing the law, but seeking to fulfill it by shifting focus from the law itself to the giver of the law. Therefore, the cultural environment of a Christian should be embodied by a Christian philosophy, which is a philosophy that is “according to Christ” (Crampton and Bacon 12).
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The implementation of the biblical worldview in the modern church context is highly selective. In as much as the biblical worldview, advanced in the epistle of Romans, relates to the church in Rome, it resonates quite well with contemporary events in modern society. The selective influence of the biblical worldview arises from the cultural and theological scope of the Bible’s custodians. However, the issues that the church in Rome was grappling with are more or less the same as those bedeviling the modern church.
Subtle divisions exist among Christians based on their fundamental beliefs and their cultural inclinations. The advent of the ecumenical movement in the early twentieth century unmistakably revealed that divisions existed among Christians. However, the elevation of Christ as the center of worship and doctrine by Paul in his epistle acts as a good example that modern Christians can embrace. This doctrine ought to apply in the modern church, irrespective of denominational differences.
At an individual level, these teachings of Paul affect my worldview evoking much thought regarding my place as a Christian in the modern world. Paul’s views challenge my worldview, especially on the aspect of faith. I often fail to exercise my faith in a manner that is inclusive and responsive to Christ’s teachings. I, therefore, believe that Paul’s submissions in the book of Romans have a doctrinal influence on how a Christian ought to live.
In conclusion, the biblical worldview requires contextualization of biblical presuppositions, so that the adherents of this worldview can bear the fruits Christ envisioned in His teachings. All Christians have a worldview, except that they often fail to realize that they do.
However, the meaning of Christianity comes from comprehending our worldview and endeavoring to live it out (Naugle). While a Christian cannot study the fundamentals of Christian doctrine by reading Romans in isolation, the epistle can help a person to live a meaningful life.
Crampton, W., Gary and Richard, E. Bacon. Toward A Christian Worldview. Dallas, Texas: First Presbyterian Church of Rowlett, 2000. Print.
Ellis, J. Learning to Think Biblically in Romans: The Basic Elements of a Christian Worldview Found in Paul’s Letter to the Romans. 2012. Web.
Naugle, D. Introduction to the Christian Worldview. 2010. Web.
Poythress, Vern Sheridan. Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2012. Print.