Welcome to True Worldview
The Germans have a word for a comprehensive view of life that has a lot of philosophically cool stuff attached to it: weltanschauung. It’s what they might call wide world perception, not to be confused with wide world of sports. We simplify things a bit and translate it worldview; hence the word in the title. My presupposition is that there is only one way to look at the world and see it rightly. Put another way, there is only one lens through which to look to have the right view, understanding, or position on anything and everything. Hence the word true in the title. Plus, true rhymes with worldview and that makes it kind of catchy. Oh, by the way, that one true lens is God’s word of course – the Old and New Testaments that reveal the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re talking about what Francis Schaeffer called “true truth.”
We’ve been dropped in the middle of a life situation where the cultural zeitgeist is described vividly in Judges 17:6 as “everyone did that which was right in his own eyes.” Incidentally, zeitgeist is another German word that refers to “spirit of the age.” I really know very little about German but these are words you need to know when dealing with worldview and culture. The spirit of the age is beyond relativism; it’s relativism on steroids; not only is truth what the individual makes it, most now question the existence of any kind of truth. Moreover, a hyper-sensitivity has set in such that just about anyone can be accused of discrimination and effectively marginalized for simply speaking the truth in love. That’s our sitz im leben (another German phrase meaning life situation). We’re speaking some true truth into it. Thanks for stopping by.
My name is Paul Dean and I’m a Real Estate Broker turned pastor just over twenty years ago. I’m married to Mary. I met her two and a half years before our wedding when I walked into a Burger King and she took my order. It’s a good thing I love a hamburger; it truly was love at first sight. I mean I was smitten with her, not the hamburger. So for almost thirty years we’ve been, as our song says, “happy together.” She stays at home but works very hard. Not only has she home-schooled all of our children but she’s very active in women’s and children’s ministry. And without her work with and for me, I would have no ministry. She has the most engaging personality and the grandest effervescent smile. It’s actually disarming. That’s why she’s so effective in gospel conversation. She’ll take your position apart and give you the biblical answer. She’ll say things that are highly offensive and never offend you. I like that. I wish I could do that.
We have three pretty cool children (to use today’s lingo). Jay is the oldest. He’s a graphic designer, artist, and all around laid-back guy who wants to create culture, that is, advance the kingdom, with his gifts and talents. He’s the kind of guy who thinks – I mean really thinks. He hates frivolous things and is useful in the city of God. He can draw anything and it won’t be long before you can find his paintings in various galleries across the southeast (D.V.). But I’ll say this, he won’t paint a thing until he knows why he’s going to paint it for the glory of God. That’s something for Christian artists to ponder. He’s married to Bailey who’s also into things artful. She teaches ballet and makes jewelry. She sells some of it when she has time at indie craft shows and other outlets. Saying Bailey is stylish is like saying the Queen is royal. The neat thing is she’s a culture maker in what she wears; she’s no copycat and Christian fashion designers could learn something from her approach. She’s also a fitness instructor which is good for Jay. Though he’s a former athlete he doesn’t always eat right but she always does. They’re good for each other.
My oldest daughter is Christi and she’s an artist as well: not a visual artist but a performing artist. She graduated with a music degree and plays piano and cello. She's working on a completely unnecessary Masters degree in Piano Performance. But she does get to collaborate with some gifted music students; and she does get to study under some fairly accomplished professors; and she is learning more than I knew one could learn; and we've brainstormed some pretty innovative ideas on how to engage culture with art, music, and the Word; and she is thoroughly enjoying it; and . . . Maybe completely unnecessary is not completely accurate. Okay, it's completely not accurate at all. No doubt God is up to something. Like Jay and Bailey, she too is a culture maker in her own right. Not only does she teach piano but she can often be found at Starbucks or some similar venue holding forth with friends on the various theological implications of vocation as particularly related to a nuanced movement in some Debussy piece. And of course, she’s socially conscious. Some of her biggest concerns are orphans and those swept away in human trafficking. She's also a professional photographer. Human suffering, photography, and kingdom advance -- hang on, I'm brainstorming again . . . stay tuned.
Our youngest daughter is Amy. She’s ten – and she’s absolutely a blessing. When she wears her panda hat with cords that hang down the side she looks not so much like a ten-year-old but a short college student. To say she’s cool is not nearly descriptive enough. She emulates her older siblings and their significant others though in her own inimitable way. She’s actually teaching herself to play the piano, takes a mean picture with her i-pod, does some painting for her mother and me, and engages in some pretty awesome ballet moves, though usually when she’s riding her scooter. She does have a heart for her unbelieving friends and is not afraid to speak the truth at her tender age. Who knows what God has for her? It’s been good so far and for that we are grateful. We’re grateful for all it; it really is grace.
I was born into a home with two great parents and a fun sister who came along a little later. I actually had a great childhood; no one dropped me on my head or anything. Well, they did but I don’t blame them or that for what’s wrong with me now.
In 1986 my father suffered a major heart attack. God actually used that event to change my life. It was through those circumstances that He made Himself known to me via the witness of a neighbor. I was a twenty-two-year-old-fool turned Christ-follower by grace.
I went back to church, had a heart for things I didn’t have before, and wanted more than anything for people to know God as I did. I was like the folk in Acts 8:4 who went everywhere gossiping the gospel except without the preceding persecution. Some of my friends wished I would move away as those early believers did but that didn’t happen. Since they couldn’t figure out what happened to me we kind of drifted apart over time.
After a while I felt I didn’t know how to talk to people in an effective way; I wanted to be a better witness for Christ. I thought I was the Holy Spirit (figuratively speaking); I just didn’t know how to change someone’s heart yet. I’m grateful for my ignorance on that point; it led me to talk to my pastor and he suggested I enroll in seminary. Apparently he felt I needed training as well. I was contemplating pursuing an MBA because I thought it would look better on my office wall than my old posters of The Doors. I thought an M.Div. would look just as cool as an MBA so why not? I was running my own real estate business and had the flexibility to take classes each Monday at a seminary extension just a few hours away.
One of my assumptions going into seminary was that I would be taught what to think and do when it came to being a good Christian. God took a howitzer to that one. Not every professor or student had the same view of the Bible itself let alone how to interpret it at key points. There were times when it felt like the pooled ignorance of Sunday School all over again and I was leading the parade. Though I was discouraged, I was motivated to study. I wanted to know what God’s Word actually said. I read everything I could get my hands on connected to theology, Christian living, and the Bible. For a while, I averaged reading 75 to 100 books a year. My high-school teachers would have wanted to know who this obvious imposter was and what he had done with me. My sole source of reading material in those days was Cliff’s Notes. Not so in my seminary days; I learned a lot to say the least.
I eventually closed the real estate business, enrolled in seminary full time, ended up with three graduate degrees, and became a pastor. But then I was hit with something else. While I had a lot of theological and biblical knowledge I discovered there were some areas to which I had never really applied the Scriptures. I was the typical religious dichotomist. I kept my religion separate from politics, economics, government, public policy, psychology, charity, work, culture, science, ethics, education, parenting, and so much more. I knew how I voted; (oh if we only had Ronnie back in the White House all of our problems would be solved right? I mean it’s no longer morning in America but it could be right)? I voted but I didn’t analyze my candidate or public policy through a biblical lens. Some views I held were compassionate at one level but were unbiblical at another level. I knew what I believed in a lot of areas but I really didn’t know why. Of course, that’s not all that bad if typical Christian is the standard or goal. But it’s not. It then dawned on me that while I didn’t apply the Scriptures to so many areas, I didn’t even know how. But I knew this: God didn’t want me to simply tow the party line or jump on somebody’s bandwagon; He wanted me to know what He thought about all those things and why.
There’s a simple but massively important principle I’ve since gleaned from the Scriptures: wrong thinking produces wrong living, but right thinking produces right living. We have to think right if we’re going to do right and we have to do right if we’re going to feel right. It’s as simple as that. That’s what drives me: King Jesus and His way of looking at things – His worldview – the true worldview.
I don’t like labels because they carry so much baggage and are subject to wild mischaracterizations. Someone once asked me if I was a Calvinist. I asked him for his definition. After he was through I told him in the strongest terms I was not one of those. It’s that pooled ignorance thing again; I don’t like labels. But I do find labels to be helpful to those who are informed as a kind of shorthand or nickname as Spurgeon used to say. By the way, he was another Calvinist—but not one of those.
So, I’m Christian but not liberal or nominal; Calvinist but not hyper or covenantal; Baptist but not pragmatic or dispensational; amillennial but not pessimistic or R2K; preterist but not full or heretical; creationist but not framework or day-age; conservative but not statist or warmongering; libertarian but not into drugs or immorality; American but not exceptional or nationalistic. I could go on but you get the idea.
When you try to look at everything through that biblical lens a lot of things you used to love get thrown out; a lot of things you thought were nutty get brought in; and still other things you hadn’t seen are now flashing in Las Vegas neon in front of your eyes. The things you now see are pure and sublime but shocking nevertheless. Such is truth without any mixture of error (Scripture).
The Technical Stuff
Again, I’ve been a pastor for over twenty years and served the same church for almost fifteen. I’m not sure they’ll ever get used to my love for sacred-cow-tipping but to their credit they’ve hung in and not abandoned me in the field. I’ve had the privilege of teaching numerous courses in different seminaries and colleges primarily in the area of evangelism. The non-Calvinists couldn’t fathom one of my ilk teaching evangelism but such things are part of the wonderful and mysterious purpose of God in a fallen world. I’ve also taught courses in pastoral ministry, missions, New Testament, and biblical counseling. I spend some time training others in churches and various venues. I talk a lot about worldview and cultural engagement in addition to the other things I mentioned. Someone told me I needed to narrow my focus but I’m too scatter-brained for that. I also lead parenting conferences because I co-authored a book on the subject. On top of that I’ve written some e-books, bible commentaries, discipleship materials, and studies for small groups I hope are helpful. I’ve also been able to serve on a number boards for discipleship and missions efforts and am currently a Regional Mentor and Board Member for the International Association of Biblical Counselors. I’ve had the blessing of studying in some fine institutions. I have a B.A. in philosophy from the College of Charleston, an M.Div. in pastoral ministry with languages as well as a Th.M. in evangelism, church growth, and discipleship with a minor in preaching from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a D.Min. in biblical counseling from Erskine Theological Seminary. I could talk about myself all day but I better stop.