“His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?'” John 9:2 (NET)
I was talking today with a church leader about the implications of a person with a Western worldview reading a text written by ancient Middle Easterners. The Bible, of course, was written by ancient Middle Easterner’s who write from an ancient Middle Eastern worldview. Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis read the Bible from a modern Western worldview. And as I’m sure you know, one’s worldview is not an overt aspect of how we perceive and interpret things. Instead, a worldview is very subtle and covert, but it colors everything we see and interact with.
The distinctions are many, I am sure. But in my studies thus far, I’ve become acutely aware of this:
- A Western worldview is a very dualistic lens. It sees the inner and the outer/external journey as separate and distinct, almost antagonistic against each other.
- An Eastern worldview, especially and including an ancient Middle Eastern worldview, understands a person to be very integrated, body mind and spirit as one.
As such, many Westerners are perplexed by passages such as the one in John 9. What a silly question to one with a Western worldview. But for one with an Eastern worldview, the question is obvious. Physical sickness can and often does begin with the mind and soul. Even Western medicine is beginning to admit the inherent connection between inner and outer aspects of self.
Try reading the Gospels with an Eastern worldview in mind. Try looking at church history with the overtones of an Eastern worldview. You will see things differently.
- Like the laws of the Torah that make a person clean or unclean by what they eat and what they touch.
- Like the woman who only needed to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe to stop a perpetual bleeding.
- Like how lepers were cast out of cities to survive on their own, not only because of the physical contagion, but also because if their perceived spiritual depravity.
- Like how the early church was the one to start the concept of hospitals … because they knew that caring for the body was also caring for the soul in some deeply mysterious, God-breathed way.
May we all learn to embrace our God-breathed integratedness and, in the process, come to know and reflect our Creator more clearly.