GOOD TREE GOOD FRUIT
Educational SpiritPURPOSE With the intention of further elaborating on WUV’s motto, “Good Tree Good Fruit,” this document has been created. The explanation is structured on the manner of four tiers—Jesus, Bible, biblical values, and biblical worldviews—in an attempt to provide simple and coherent descriptions of the purpose, contents, and scope of what we are called to do as a Christian higher education institution. The ultimate goal of WUV’s educational effort is “to glorify Jesus Christ our Lord.” With that goal in place, WUV understands that the contents of education at WUV consist of the Scriptures, biblical/Christian values, and biblical/Christian worldviews (in the following sections both biblical and Christian will be interchangeably used). Studying the Scriptures would equip students with biblical values and practicing these values in turn progressively builds biblical worldviews or perspectives, the instruments by which we can analyze, evaluate, interact with, and even transform the world. In this sense, this document may function as a guideline to WUV’s academic curriculum building activities. It is also our wish that it would aid the instructors strategically to construct their courses to convey these purposes, contents, values, and perspectives. INTRODUCTION WUV’s motto, “Good Tree Good Fruit,” is self-evident truth—both horticulturally and metaphorically. A healthy, vigorous tree will not fail to produce good fruit (Matthew 7:17). Likewise, quality education with effective institutional services (good tree) will yield well-prepared, competent students (good fruit). The simple and plain adjective, “good,” is a value-laden term. As a Christian higher education institution, WUV understands that the meaning of “being good” must be derived from the Ultimate Good, Jesus Christ our Lord. It is our unwavering conviction that he is the very source of all that is good. Apart from him, we cannot bear good fruit (John 15:4, 5). Thus, we are never to lose sight of the primary focus, Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). The Bible is a “Good” Book, precisely because it describes God’s “good” plan of redemption through Jesus, the fulfillment of this plan by his’ death and resurrection, and the ensuing redemption of the human race through the Spirit. We are to diligently search the truth that has made this redemption of humanity available, namely Jesus the Messiah through the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:19). According to the various teachings of the Bible, following Jesus demands us to abide by and hold to certain prescribed values, “good” values, both which he honors and which please him. Just as one cannot serve God and Mammon together (Matthew 6:24b), because their fundamental values are incompatible, one cannot claim to follow Jesus, while holding values different from his values. Adapting our life and behavior to these particular values would inevitably produce a comprehensive framework or system of ideas, behaviors, and beliefs, through which we can confront the world around us, i.e. Christian worldviews. Acquiring such worldviews would enable the followers of Jesus to understand the peculiar viewpoints the world has, learn to communicate and negotiate with them, and, if necessary, to challenge and transform them. FOUR TIER STRUCTURE Diagram and Explanation
I. Jesus, the CenterIn the Gospel John, Jesus’ identity prior to his incarnation was designated as the “Word (Logos)”. The Word was a divine being, transcendent, creator of all things, and the source of eternal life. The life in him was the true light, namely true hope of all humanity. As such, the Word existed in the transcendent and infinite realm of God, and consequently he was ineffable and unknowable. He was God, the true God, as Nicene Creed confesses. He was the Ultimate Good. His being remained beyond reach of human comprehension and eternally resided in mystery. Mankind was not aware that this divine being, the Word, was extant until this being would incarnate himself in the human world, availing himself to human senses, perceptions, and comprehension. God had repeatedly revealed himself to his chosen people by speaking through his servants about him generation after generation. Nevertheless, it was not until the coming of the Word as flesh that they came to understand the revelation of the Word as the only true, complete revelation of the one true God (John 1:14; New Testament). Neither had there been nor would there be other revelations of the one true God except for this revelation. Only when human beings accept the revelation of God through the incarnation of the Word will their eyes open and see the one true, living God with certainty (John 3:3, 5; 3:33). The Bible declares that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to know God except through him (14:6). Thus, he is rightly and deservedly the center of Christian higher education.
II. The Bible—Revelation about and of Jesus Christ the Son Of God1. The Old Testament: Revelation about Jesus The Old Testament is the story about how God unfolded his redemptive plan through Jesus his Son for his creation. It reveals the long process God undertook to prepare the coming of the Jesus the Messiah to fulfill his plan of redeeming all his creation. Redemptive Plan God launched the long, arduous plan of redemption with one man, Abraham. God’s redemptive plan was two-fold: First, blessing Abraham to be a great nation (Gen 12:1-3); and secondly, blessing him and his offspring to be the father of all the peoples on Earth (Gen 22:18). God’s redemption strategy started with one person. Just as one person’s darkness could ravage the whole world, as seen with Hitler, or Stalin in the twentieth century, God knew that the redemption of one man’s heart was enough to enlighten the entire human race. Covenant with Abraham In order for God’s plan of redemption to succeed, he had to take the initiative and be responsible throughout the process. Without God’s intervention, human beings could not achieve their own redemption. Thus, God graciously chose to bind himself to the destiny of mankind through Abraham by means of promise (Genesis 12:1-3), covenant (Genesis 15, 17), and ultimately oath (Genesis 22). God’s oath to Abraham implies that he will implement his plan and see to it that it will be accomplished at his appointed time. Failure of Abraham’s Descendants and Exile To make short the long history of ancient Israel, Abraham’s children grew and became a nation of God’s laws with a great history and heritage as God’s people. God wanted to make them a blessing to all nations, by making them a priesthood nation (Exodus 19:4-6). Nevertheless, Abraham’s descendants failed in keeping their part of the covenant by worshiping other gods. According to the punishments prescribed in the covenant in case of their disobedience, they were crushed and defeated by their enemies, their kings and nobles killed, their land wasted, and their temple destroyed. Their nation vanished and some of their leaders, the cream of the crop, were sent into Babylonian exile (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). God’s Revelation of Purpose of Their Suffering and Suffering Servant Despite their failure in keeping their part of the bargain, God, faithful to his oath to Abraham, would not forfeit his part (Jeremiah 30:11; Hosea 11:8). His redemptive plan continued for his own honor (Ezekiel 36:22-23). During the exile, God once again asserted their role in his redemptive plan. They discovered that their suffering caused by his punishment was intended to sharpen their sense of truth so that they might speak the truth fearlessly. Sufferings have mysterious power to make the hearts of the sufferers fearless. Through their sufferings, they were to look forward to seeing the Suffering Servant who would come as their Redeemer and give ultimate meaning of their sufferings. God was also using their suffering to make them the light to the Gentiles, the call that corresponded to the call to be priesthood nations (Isaiah 49:1-6; 53; Exodus 19:4-6). They were to fearlessly proclaim the truth, i.e. God’s mysterious work of redemption. That redemption would come to all peoples through the sufferings of the Suffering Servant. The message of the Suffering Servant as the source of redemption would subvert all the messages of other gods that are busy proclaiming their mighty powers. This God would subvert all human values and give human beings upside down values that prove to be life-giving. Thus, through this truth, God’s people would enlighten all the people on earth. Misinterpretation of being Priesthood Nation After returning from the exile, people under Ezra’s leadership renewed their covenant with God, upholding the Word of God as the supreme guide to the nation (Ezra 10:1-17). The idea of becoming a priesthood nation, however, was understood as having all citizens live and act like the priests, thus formulating many ritualistic routines of daily lives of all residents, such as washing hands, prohibiting certain activities on the Sabbath, etc. By exclusively focusing on the renewal of the nation by means of observing the law and turning to ritualistic interpretation of the law, God’s vision of becoming the light to the Gentiles was lost again, while the religious leaders forced the people to be navel-gazers. The movement was later taken over by the Pharisees and further by the rabbis. Contrary to God’s wish for the people to be the servants of truth through suffering, they became rigid, narrow-minded legalists whose main interest was their external piety, appearance, and performance. God’s vision given through Abraham was lost again. 2. The New Testament: Revelation of Jesus Incarnation of Jesus The New Testament tells us stories about Jesus the Incarnate Word. He was introduced as the Son of God. The Word became a man (John 1:14). All the fullness of divinity was in him and was gradually revealed through his life, deeds, and person, as he walked among the people (John 1:16; Colossians 1:19; 2:9). Through incarnation, Jesus became the God immanent. The inaccessible Word came in the human form, making himself accessible to us. How else can humans better communicate with God than through the incarnate Son of God, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15)? Just as we come to learn about each other through human to human contact, we came to learn about the Son of God by means of this incredible contact (1 John 1:1-2). This contact became the fountain of our understanding about God. Jesus as the Messiah Jesus came not just to have communication with us but he came with a clear purpose that God had assigned to him, for which he was anointed, thus the Messiah (“the anointed”). The purpose of his coming was to redeem the human race from the power of sin, evil, and death—the triad of human enemies. The first humans partook in actions called sin, not knowing how dreadful the consequences of their action would be, especially to human hearts, the very base of human life, ideas, behaviors, and social relations. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment describes the story of a murder of an aged pawnbroker committed by the protagonist, Raskolnikov, an aspiring college student. Despite his well justified humanitarian reasoning of the murder, once the act was committed, his reason could not contain the bursting dam of his inner emotional turmoil. His struggle with agonizing pangs of conscience and mounting sense of horror took Raskolnikov into the living hell that he had never anticipated until he found redemption through suffering. Likewise, the first humans did not have a clear sense of how extensively their action would corrupt, poison, and destroy humanity. The consequences of their action became so destructive for their little strength and skills to undo them. It became God-sized because their desired was to be like God (Genesis 3:5). Only God could put out such a horrendous fire. Their desperately needed relief was available from beyond human realms. That is why Jesus came. Only his light could lighten up the dark human heart (John 1:4-5). No human had a light that was bright enough to dispel the darkness in them. The light that could expel the darkness of the human heart and change it was the true light (John 1:9). The one who could do so would prove to be the one true God. Eternal Life through Jesus’ Resurrection Whereas it was never God’s intention for his creation to end in death, due to sin, death infected and infested all of his created beings. Thus, the central aim of redemption had to be concerned with restoring life back to them. The only life that could prevent them from the grip of death had to be a life stronger than death, the life that death cannot extinguish. Jesus confronted death for all humanity as a sacrifice for them for their redemption. Then he rose from the dead with a life that is stronger than death. Due to him, death is no longer the final word of human existence but life is, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:9b). By uniting with Jesus, we died with him and rose with him to life, the life that death cannot take away. Through this redemptive work, Jesus became Lord of Life. 3. Theology and Doctrines The function of theology is to give a structured explanation of divine revelation through Jesus Christ and it comes in four different aspects: catechism, apologetics, polemic, and homiletics. Catechetical Function In its catechetical function, theological instruction prepared converts for church membership and participation in the Eucharist, instructing them in basic Christian doctrine. Apologetics The apologetic task of theology in the early church was to defend and explain the faith to outsiders. Polemical Function In its polemical function, Christian theologians defended and expounded the biblical faith against heretical threats from within the church. Homiletical Function The homiletical function, sound theological knowledge and doctrines help ministers in preaching and teaching in the exposition and teaching of Scripture, by placing the particular text in the larger context of redemptive history: creation, fall, redemption and new creation.
III. Biblical/Christian Values1. Christian Value System Values imply the principles, standards of behavior, or preferences that help us to decide what is right and wrong, what is important in life, and how to act virtuously in various situations. The lives of those who choose to abide by the truths of the Bible will certainly demonstrate their unique value system derived from the Bible. The biblical sources that exemplify these values most succinctly are the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, though many other sources, such as narratives, parables, and teachings in the Bible all demonstrate what Jesus held dear and worthy. 2. The Ten Commandments: Collective Values Foundation of Judeo-Christian Civilization The Ten Commandments have been the foundation of the Judeo-Christian civilization for at least two millennia. They have given Western civilization the basis of morality, ethics, and laws. These Commandments were given to govern the newly established ancient Israel as a nation and a people of God. As the collective values for the nation, these commandments showed them what God regarded as right and just. They gave the order, structure, and organization of a society that took the fear of God as their foundation by defining and determining what the normative lifestyle should be like with regard to their family life, religious practices, neighborly (civil) relationships, national identities, etc. Ten Commandments The Commandments give guidance regarding people’s normative relationship with God (1-4), with parents (5), and with neighbors (6-10). They provided excellent foundation for civil, religious, and national order. At the same time, they played the role of curtailing the individuals from conducting their behaviors that would violate these norms, thus harming others and their societies. According to the Ten Commandments, the foundation of good values are:
- Worshipping the Lord God only for pleasing him and unifying the spirits of all people.
- One true God—no idol worship; not using God’s name in vain; keeping the Sabbath.
- Absolute God as the norms of life, behavior, and existence.
- They also include honoring parents for order of family and home, a visible manifestation of people’s respect for God and the foundation of all societal relationships.
- The people are not to take the lives of others. Human life is sacred because it is created in God’s image and it should not be taken lightly. God alone is worthy to deal with life.
- Not committing adultery means first respecting women who are equally created in the image of God, invaluable partners of men in marriage doing God’s will, which is the sacred union that is the very basis of all societal structures.
- The Commandments also prohibit people from stealing other humans (kidnap) or properties. This includes the idea of not oppressing personal, individual freedom of others and respecting rights to legitimately acquired and owned properties. That fundamental human right should not be violated.
- The Commandments also emphasize the importance of not giving false testimony against neighbors. Trust in general human relationships as well as in the judicial system is the key to social stability. A society, the trust of which is corroded, cannot endure.
- The last Commandment includes not coveting neighbor’s possessions, servants or wives. By this command, the Ten Commandments point to the underlying darkness of covetousness in human hearts, which breeds jealousy, envy, greed, bitterness, and resentment, ultimately leading to even murder.
- Poor in Spirit—no room for pride, arrogance, or seeking self-glory.
- Mourning—facing life’s trials and sufferings with honesty and seeking God’s comfort.
- Meek—though strong, not using it in violence to dominate others.
- Passion for righteousness—eager to do what is right before God.
- Merciful—though done wrong, not reciprocating with a sense of vindictiveness.
- Pure heart—so pure that its sight penetrates beyond the veil of the world to the reality of God.
- Peacemakers—not causing strife and division but bringing harmony and reconciliation.
- Persecuted for righteousness—standing firm on truth and willing to pay for it fearlessly.
- Suffering because of serving the one true Lord.
IV. Christian WorldviewsAs the word itself suggests, a worldview is an overall view of the world. As such, the Christian worldview is more than a religious belief system. It is a comprehensive view of the entire world from a biblical standpoint. Therefore, a Christian view of the world should be an integrated system with a number of distinct, biblical elements. Indeed, we filter our day through a pair of biblical/spiritual glasses, comprehending the world as a harmonious set of beliefs and perspectives.
- Christian Theology – Theism (Trinitarian) The Theology of the Christian worldview is the affirmation of the existence of an intelligent, powerful, loving, just, and awesome God who exists in the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From the Christian perspective, “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1) is the foundation for all meaning. The Christian worldview further proclaims that this powerful, intelligent God who created all things in heaven and earth is the same God who took upon Himself human form in the person of Jesus Christ and died for our sins. Christianity proclaims a God who is both Mind and Heart — who not only created the world, but also loves it so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for it.
- Christian Philosophy – Supernaturalism (Faith and Reason) The single most important philosophical truth in the Christian worldview is that Jesus Christ is the Logos (word, or mind) of God. Christian philosophy says Christ, the Logos, is the explanation for the universe and everything in it. The major charge against the Christian worldview in general and Christian philosophy in particular, is that it is unscientific. Christians claim that the Christian doctrines of God, creation, Logos, design, purpose, law, order, and life are reasonable, and consistent with the findings of science, history, and personal experience in a way that the philosophies of dialectical materialism and philosophical naturalism will never be.
- Christian Ethics – Moral Absolutes According to the Christian worldview, God’s moral nature is absolute and unchanging. God always hates evil and loves good. The Bible is of supreme importance because it tells us the difference between good and evil, providing a framework on which complete unambiguous ethics must be built. According to the Christian worldview, ethical relativism leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Christian ethics is inseparable from Christian theology for the simple reason that Christian ethics is grounded in the character of God. Rather than believing in some ethical scheme bound to society’s ever-changing whims, the Christian worldview has a specific moral order revealed to man through both general revelation and special revelation of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ.
- Christianity and Sanctity of Life – Sacredness of Human Life We believe that human beings are created by God in His image. Therefore, every person, from conception to natural death, possesses inherent dignity and immeasurable worth—including preborn children, elderly individuals, those with special needs and others marginalized by society. Christians, then, are called to defend, protect, and value all human life. In short, human life is sacred and respect for human life should be at the center of all we do. In order to put the “life ethic” into words and practice, it helps to consider where it comes from, what it looks like and how can we incorporate it into our daily lives.
- Christian Psychology– Mind/Body Dualism (Fallen Nature of Man) Only the Christian worldview, with its emphasis on the spiritual and its understanding of humanity’s fallen condition (Romans 1-2), can truly address the innermost concerns of the individual. Christian psychology helps people get in touch with their real selves only because it allows them to recognize their own sinfulness and consequently their need for a Savior. Our greatest need is not self-esteem; rather, it is the realization that we are sinners in rebellion against God. Only after receiving Christ as Savior can people begin to understand their value as creations in God’s image and lead triumphant lives. Rather than demanding that the individual ignore his conscience, the Christian worldview calls for him to recognize that his guilt is real, then to face his guilt and repent.
- Christian Sociology – Traditional Family, Church, and State According to the Christian worldview, Christian sociology is based on the proposition that both the individual and the social order are important to God, mankind, and society. Christ died and rose again for each person as an individual. God also ordained the social institutions of family, church, and state to teach love, respect, discipline, work, and community. Within the Christian worldview framework, sociology focuses both on society as a means for human cooperation in accordance with God’s will, and on the individual as a vital part of various social institutions in society.
- Christianity and Law – Divine / Natural Law According to the Christian worldview, law consists of both natural and divine law originating in the very character or a righteous and loving God. Divine law is eternal because God is eternal. It is so eternal and permanent that someday God will use it to judge the world (Acts 17:31) in a judgment based on natural and revealed law (Romans 2:12). God established human government and the rule of law primarily to keep in check man’s sinful nature and passions (Romans 13:1-4). Because of the Fall, human history reflects a continuing effort by men to substitute man-made law for God’s law. The Christian worldview asserts that when God’s laws are obeyed, men and societies thrive. The Christian concept of human rights involves the biblical doctrine of man’s creation in the image of God. These rights, which carry with them specific responsibilities, are unalienable.
- Christian Politics – Justice, Freedom, and Order The Christian worldview recognizes the state as a God-ordained institution (Genesis 9:6, Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17). Christianity also believes in the depravity of man and his moral responsibility. Therefore, government is a necessary institution. However, government has limited obligations, not totalitarian powers. The Bible calls for limited government, Caesar has his role, but God has also appointed separate roles for the family and the church.
- Christian Economics – Free Enterprise and Stewardship of Property The Christian worldview begins its economic theory with an assumption about human nature. The Bible declares that man is sinful. The Bible also establishes the concept of justice. Therefore, the most desirable economic system promotes justice by protecting the rights of individuals from infringement by others, containing basic checks and balances that can guarantee the protection of human rights. Accordingly, the Christian worldview maintains that the free enterprise system is the most compatible with these criterion. Economic systems that check injustice and grant men responsibility — in terms of both private property and economic decisions — can allow men the freedom to act with all the dignity of beings created in God’s image. The important end of economic theory in the Christian worldview is not riches or luxury, but the freedom to seek fulfillment through understanding one’s role in God’s universe.
- Christianity and History – Creation, Fall, and Redemption The Christian worldview sees history as a movement from the creation of the world, through the fall of humanity, to the redemption of the world and humanity. It was the fall that destroyed humanity’s relationship with God, each other, and the world. It was the work of Jesus Christ on the cross that redeemed humanity and will finally restore the world back under God’s good rule.
- Christianity and Technology – Instrument or Master Technology can become either an instrument through which we fulfill our role as God’s stewards or an object of worship that will eventually rule us. A Christian worldview provides balance and insight for understanding this crucial aspect of twenty-first-century life.
- Christianity and Sexuality and Marriage – For Union or For Pleasure Sexuality has become a major topic for those entering the third millennium. Much confusion exists among Christians and non-Christians. Sexuality is good in the covenant relationship of mutual self-giving marriage. Sexual intimacy is a key for husband and wife to experience and accomplish the profound union, which is the foundation of the stability of all social relations. Separated from covenant marriage between man and woman, however, it is sinful and has a distorted meaning, a self-serving purpose and negative consequences.
- The Environments – Managing the Environments Environmental stewardship means we have a responsibility to the nonhuman aspects of God’s creation (Gen. 1:26-28). Since God’s plan of redemption includes his earthly creation, as well as human (see Rom. 8:18–27), we should do all we can to live in it carefully and lovingly.
- Christianity and Arts and Recreation – Expression of God’s Creative Image The arts and recreation are understood as legitimate and important parts of human creativity and community. They express what it means to be created in the image of God. We need to develop critical skills of analysis and evaluation so that we are informed, intentional, and reflective about what we create, see, and do. At the same time, arts can be used in quite destructive ways because the artists are fundamentally sinful beings.
- Christianity and Science – Creationism The creationist perspective can adequately account for the design in nature, since it postulates a Designer, a law-giver, and an orderly cause, while the materialist can only posit chance. The Christian worldview holds that the creationist model as described in scripture better gives broader understanding about the world, human beings, and surroundings. It gives a better overall understanding of the created world than the evolutionary model. Christianity trusts the authority of Genesis and declarations concerning creation, such as Mark 10:6 and Colossians 1:16. Christianity and science are demonstrated to be compatible and to declare in unison that God “created all things” (Ephesians 3:9). The Bible gives us information about God and His universe, while science gives us information about God’s universe.
- Christianity and Vocation – Meaning of Work Important for any culture is an understanding of work. Work is a gift from God and is to be pursued with excellence for God’s glory. We recognize that all honest professions are honorable, that the gifts and abilities we have for our vocation (vocatio/calling) come from God, and that prosperity and promotions come from God.
- Christianity, Media and Entertainments – Function of Leisure The medium is the message (McLuhan). The ‘norm’ portrayed in media that is offered with the wrapping paper of entertainment falls far below the Biblical standards in each of these areas. This perceived ‘norm’ is constantly corroding and undermining the biblical and Christian values commanded by the Word of God. Given the importance the Bible placed on our minds, Christians must fight against this desensitization and restructuring of values that is taking place in our minds and is entirely discordant with the Christian’s commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. In conclusion, the Christian worldview is a comprehensive conception of the world from a biblical and Christian standpoint. Our Christian worldview should affect every area of life, from psychology to sociology, from science to philosophy, from law to economics, etc. True biblical Christianity is more than a set of religious doctrines to recite at church. Christianity as taught in the Bible is a complete worldview, upon which Judeo-Christian civilization has been built. (https://www.allaboutworldview.org/christian-worldview.htm)