Joel Belz: The sacred secular divide


MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Wednesday, January 9th. Good morning to you!  This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Abraham Kuyper famously said: “No single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’

WORLD founder Joel Belz is here now on how that reality shapes our work as journalists.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: On his flight to the West Coast, a friend had his newest edition of WORLD magazine sitting on his tray table. A seatmate asked if it was OK for her to glance at it. She said she’d not seen it before.

One thing led to another. Before my friend knew it, the conversation had drifted through the content of one of the articles, onto the implications of the Biblical perspective that ran through the whole piece, and finally to the meaning of the gospel itself. The seatmate made it clear she was not a Christian, but was more than open to the discussion.

“That was exciting,” my friend told me. “I was so glad for the way WORLD opened the door for my witness.”

I was glad too, because such a full-orbed view of how all of life hangs together is exactly what WORLD magazine and this podcast seek to promote in the hearts, minds, and behavior of our readers and listeners.

WORLD doesn’t divide life into things that are sacred on the one hand and things that are secular on the other. Because God created all things, everything in the world is sacred.

But there’s a logical extension of that perspective that profoundly affects our view of evangelism. While some people understandably use all sorts of things—even including this podcast—as lead-ins to the gospel, a more accurate perspective is that, properly construed, you can talk about anything at all within God’s wide creation and be talking evangelistically.

If you are at all alert, and if your view of the world is as holistic as the Bible’s is, you can talk about politics or art or science or the economy—and it all finally comes back to a discussion about God and his dealings with the people he’s put here on earth.

So someone with a truly Biblical perspective never limits the discussion to “evangelism.” And such a person never really tries, in an ultimate sense, to move the conversation from other topics toward evangelism. He knows that he is always speaking evangelistically, because he is always speaking about the relationship of God to people. If he isn’t, he should be.

But, someone will protest: Don’t we ultimately have to move toward closure on all these issues? Don’t we have to bring people to a point of decision?

The apostle Paul, speaking on Mars Hill, provided a worthy pattern. There he seems to be comfortable discussing all the latest ideas and the poets of Athens. But those subjects didn’t come up just as bridges to establish rapport before turning the speech to the really important topics.

No, when Paul talked about those things, that was the important topic. He wasn’t hoping just to sneak up on people so he could ultimately talk them into giving their hearts. He wanted their hearts, their minds, their souls—what we have come to call a worldview—all to be saturated with the person of Christ.

Many of us have grown up in a generation where evangelism is geared primarily to the personal nature of Christ’s offer of salvation. Yet what makes that personal offer so stupendous is precisely that it links the new believer to all the power of an infinite God who rules over every other aspect of life as well.

Acts 17 says “a few” people believed what Paul said and they followed him. Not, you might say, a noteworthy crusade statistic. But you can bet they had their worldview right.

We pray in the same way for the woman on the airplane.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.


(Photo/Creative Commons)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “Joel Belz: The sacred secular divide

  1. Joyce Elliott says:

    This perfectly defines and explains the title of the magazine and radio titles, and clarifies our purpose as Christians in a fallen, needy world. Thank you.

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