It is becoming increasingly common for Christians to look at the secular world around them and interpret it in theological terms. In fact, it’s something we like posting about from time to time (see the links below).
But is that a valid approach? Shouldn’t it feel artificial to look at some secular practice, product, or procedure and begin discussing it theologically? Isn’t that a bit like your coworker who forces every opportunity to talk your ear off about his vacation, his kids, his pyramid scheme?
Is it really valid to look at the world through a theological lens?
Absolutely! In fact, I want to argue that we are not explaining anything sufficiently until we also explain it theologically.
The world we live in is the world God made. Every single person, thing, and activity in this universe ultimately relates to God. For this reason, it’s not enough to describe the physics that go into a beautiful sunset—it is appropriate (essential even) to describe the sunset by referencing the God who created it.
Cultural productions are no different. God made human beings in His image (Gen. 1:26-28), and every human being knows truth about God (Rom. 1:19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 28). But mankind chooses to suppress that truth (Rom. 1:18). Paul says that every action should be an expression of worship to God (Rom. 12:1), but instead, most of what mankind does actually reveals his suppression of God’s truth. Using this type of language, Paul actually reframes all of human existence in a theological light.
For the Christian, nothing is “purely secular”: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
This doesn’t mean that we have to go around saying things like “sanctification,” “atonement,” “propitiation,” “damnation,” etc. But viewing everything in relation to God is essential. This is the way God views the world, and we should make every effort to see the world as God sees it. This is what it means to have a Christian worldview.
For some examples of interpreting seemingly secular things theologically, check out the posts below:
- Does the Devil Have a 401(k)?
- The Gospel According to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
- The [Purely Secular] Hope of Steve Jobs
- Harry Potter & the Human Condition
- The Upside of Consumerism
- The Beauty of Limitations
- To Resurrect & Change the World
- Freakonomics & the Human Condition
- On Depressing Truths & Beautiful Music
- Can Secular Movies Be Christian? Or Christian Movies Secular?
- Can Secular Music Be Christians? Or Christian Music Secular?
- For a theological approach to the Occupy Wall Street movement, click here, here, here, here, or here.
- For a theological approach to beauty and aesthetics, click here, here, or here.