SOUDER: The Great Divide: Which side are you on?

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This idea that there are distinct divisions among people is a common one.

By Chuck Souder

My daughter has a good friend who tells this joke: There are three kinds of people in the world – those who can count, and those who can’t. I’ve said it this way before: There are two kinds of people in the world – those who say there are two kinds of people and those who don’t.

This idea that there are distinct divisions among people is a common one. Former Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards was fond of saying there were “two Americas” – one rich, and the other poor – and undoubtedly there are some of both in our country.

Similarly, much is made of the division between the political left and right, Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative. The differences between these two groups certainly are stark, with significant disagreement at almost every point.

But though one’s economic status and political persuasion are important, more and more I am realizing that the vast majority of our political and social differences are the outgrowth of an even more fundamental distinction.

This most basic of all divides is a person’s theology, which, far from being just a theoretical concern, is simply the answer to this question: What do you believe about God?

Of course, there are only two broad answers to the question – you believe God exists, or you believe He doesn’t.

If you believe that God exists, then an important follow-up question is this: What is God like?

Logically speaking, what a person believes about God will determine what they believe on nearly every other topic – from philosophy and ethics, to biology, psychology and sociology, to law and politics, to economics and history.

For example, what you believe about God will determine your view of biology and the origin of life.

If you believe in a God, you will therefore logically believe He created the world and everything in it, including humanity.

This belief will have a profound impact on what you believe about human nature (psychology), the foundation for morality (ethics), how families and societies are best structured (sociology), how we should interpret human events (history) and what the best form of government is (politics).

In the same way, a view of the world that doesn’t include God logically will lead you to vastly different conclusions about each of these topics.

In light of this obvious fact, it then becomes equally obvious that most political, moral and social differences are not simply political, moral and social differences but are rather differences in worldviews.

According to David Noebel, a worldview is simply a bundle of ideas, beliefs, convictions and values that determines how a person looks at every area of life. And theology – what one believes about God – is at the foundation of every person’s worldview.  

Why does any of this matter? It matters because ideas have consequences.

If you believe in God, you must believe that He determines what is right and what is wrong. If you don’t believe in God, man logically becomes the highest authority, and right and wrong is determined by a majority vote (in a democracy) or by whoever has the biggest stick (in every other system).

This explains why, strictly speaking, the mass murders committed by Hitler, Stalin, and Mao in the last century (and through abortion today) were not only legal, but according to the worldviews of the perpetrators, they were also moral.

Make no mistake, ideas have consequences. When one builds a worldview on a godless foundation, all manner of evil is not only possible, but also inevitable.

Why? Because contrary to evolutionary theory and despite our best intentions, all of us have an infinite ability to make choices that negatively impact ourselves and others.

The Bible calls this our sin nature, and perhaps no other biblical doctrine has more evidence in its favor. I prove it every day, and my guess is that you do, too.

So what is the solution to this universal problem? Again, ideas have consequences.

A biblical worldview that begins with God comes to one conclusion, namely that we are unable to solve the problem on our own and require divine assistance. A godless view of the world requires man to try to solve his own problems any way he sees fit.

If you have attempted this method for solving your problems, in the words of Dr. Phil, “how’s that working out for you?”

Six thousand years of human history testify that this approach only leads to more problems.

Fortunately, there is another option, and it is one that works in the real world.

That option is to accept the grace and forgiveness of the God of the Bible who loves us so much that Jesus died on our behalf.

Because of the fallen nature of man, it is inevitable that we will all mess things up – but God’s grace covers the imperfections of those who follow Him. This is why it is said that “Christians aren’t perfect – just forgiven.”

If you’ve messed up as often as I have, that forgiveness is welcome indeed. But it is only possible with a worldview that puts God in His rightful place at the head of the table.

There are many differences that separate us, but this is the “Great Divide” – those who begin with God, and those who don’t.

In reality, there are only two kinds of people in the world. Which kind are you?


Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. He can be reached at csouder@shelbychristian.org.