The visible actions of people are first shaped by invisible thoughts, deep in the unseen world of the human mind and heart. What factors influence those invisible ideas? For people who live in the Western world, the answers can be found by examining the two major roots of Western thought–the ancient Greeks and the ancient Hebrews.
Assumptions That Affect Our Lives
takes the reader back to the roots of the modern conflict between Christianity and secular humanism through a comparison of ancient Greek and Hebrew culture. What the reader will discover is, the current tension between evangelical Christians and the non-biblical ideas with which they are surrounded is an age old conflict. By viewing the current situation in the context of the ancient Greeks and Hebrews, contemporary Christians can be better equipped to deal with the challenges of living in a predominately Greek-based culture today.
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From the Preface
When a business or an organization shows signs of decline, an outside consultant is sometimes brought in to help. Why? Because the people who live and work within a particular industry become so accustomed to the way things are, they lose sight of the way things really should be. A good advisor, then, looks at the problems from a different angle, and helps those within an organization to see things from a fresh perspective. As a result, when old problems are approached with new insights, creative energies are revived and positive results occur.
We currently live in a culture in decline, and moral regression is a recognized sign of our times. If we are to see a reversal in the downward trend we have experienced over the past forty years, it would help if we could gain a fresh perspective on ourselves and the problems which surround us. To stand back and see our condition from a different angle is an important step in reviving our health. This book attempts to do just that, to step back and look at the foundational assumptions that currently guide our culture – assumptions that go all the way back to ancient Greece.
The similarities between our culture and that of ancient Greece during its later stages of decay are many and sobering. Apart from a broad-based reformation and action, I believe our society will continue its moral descent like decadent Greece did some 2,400 years ago. But looking at what we should not do is no solution. We must examine what we should do and why.
This book was written with the belief that a reversal of our current moral decline is possible, and the keys to such a change are found in an ancient Hebraic Book. By viewing our present situation through the eyes of the ancients,. Not only will we be better able to see the issues for what they are but also understand what must be done to effect change. And change we must.
Since the term “Hebrew model” appears throughout this writing, a word of clarification is necessary. The Hebrew model refers to the model of thought, given by the inspiration of God, which we call the Bible- both Old and New Testaments–written almost entirely by Hebrews. The Word of God enables man to understand who he is, why he is, and how he is to relate to others. More importantly, it tells us who God is.
Second, the term Hebrew model refers to the model of the nation of ancient Israel itself. However, this aspect of the Hebrew model (that is, the way they actually lived) was not always in harmony with the model of God’s Word. Sometimes the model of the ancient Hebrews demonstrates what we should do, and at other times it demonstrates what we should not do. In either case whether positive or negative, their experience is a model, an example from which we are to learn.
As a people chosen to be God-honoring culture in a pagan world the Hebrew bore a great responsibility. They were chosen to be a distinctive culture in which the ways of God were applied throughout all of life: in their families, their jobs, their economy, and their government. They were to be an example to other nations of the blessings which come when a culture loves God, and they were to be an example of what happens when God is forgotten. Their “choseness” was not so much a matter of special preference or privilege, but rather a special obligation. In this sense, they were to the ancient world what the church is to today’s world: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,” for the purposes of proclaiming His excellence in the earth. (see 1 Peter 2:9; Exodus 19:5-6).
Yet just as in the Body of Christ today we have various actions of men which cloud the clear message of what a God-honoring people should be, some Hebrews developed their own traditions which lead them down the road of dead religion, emphasizing the letter of the law and neglecting its spirit. Such aspects of Hebrew custom are to be set aside, even as Paul admonished Titus to pay no attention to “Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from truth” ( Titus 1:14 ). In this respect, the Hebrew model, as used in this writing may not always represent Jewish thinking per se or Jewish practice, whether past or present.
Even so, Christians must realize that the biblical foundation stones of Israel are also their own. It is important to dust them off and view them from the perspective of the ancient Hebrew, so we can more effectively enter into the cultural transformation necessary in exchanging our Western, Greek foundations of thought for different stones upon which to build. For we all have a great deal of remodeling to do.
About the Author
As an educator, author and parent, Christian Overman challenges 21st Century Christians to revisit the basic assumptions that frame our thinking about life, and to realize that just because you’re a Christian does not mean you have a pure Christ-originating worldview. Christian Overman is the executive director of Worldview Matters, and is affiliated with The Biblical Worldview Institute. Christian and his wife, Kathy, hold workshops for teachers and culture-shapers in the USA and internationally. He holds a M.Ed. degree from Seattle Pacific University. He and his wife reside in Bellevue, WA.
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