Two contemporary expressions capture the point behind the popular “elephant parable” which tells of five blind persons, each describing an elephant differently according to which particular part they were touching. They each lacked a true “Overview” or the “Big Picture.”
The western mind is routinely trained to focus on and dissect, analyze and categorize the parts of every whole. Consequently, according to some estimates, our knowledge base doubles every four years. This is a mixed blessing. It is now virtually impossible for one individual to master any broad field of academic knowledge, as was once the case, much less to have an integrated view of all disciplines. This, incidentally, should deepen our appreciation of God’s Omniscience, Total Truth Himself.
We specialize in areas of medicine, engineering, social work, math, etc. in order to thoroughly comprehend and properly perform. This dynamic is reflected in the way schools now typically relay content during the elementary grades and sometimes beyond. For example, rarely if ever does an elementary science textbook give an overview of the entire animal and/or plant kingdoms. Various disjointed parts of the whole are given out over those years until, hopefully, ninth grade biology class presents the overview of both kingdoms.
Unfortunately, without an organizing center, little information is retained by students –except for the brightest, who tend to natively accumulate and synthesize information into an Overview. It is usually the same sad story with history or geography or even the Bible. Thus, during the crucial formative years meant for an efficient learning process of absorbing, retaining and correlating content, fragmentation is the norm rather than integrated Big Picture thinking. This is inevitable when God is not the center – the beginning and the end. He even holds together and sustains everything in between.
Personally, I learned to start to appreciate, look for, and expand into Big Picture thinking only after 19 years of “quality” private education as both a student and teacher of “conventional” education. That almost painful mental revolution came as part of the training I received to become a certified Montessori teacher. Only there was I taught to start with seeing the “whole elephant” then analyze (while keeping the whole in mind) then integrate again. The whole is always greater than the parts so to think only in parts is to miss the “greater.” In time, I learned to assemble parts into wholes and assembled those into a book called Pathways in 1992 at the request of homeschoolers interested in giving their kids a great head start in Big Picture, integrated thinking.
The situation in traditional education has gotten worse in recent years with learning models that reduce rather than expand the student’s span of concentration and attention, and also by the trend to substitute foundational content with “learning experiences,” endless curriculum experimentation, relativism, “new math,” etc. TV has contributed to this fracturing with shows like Sesame Street that show quick, exciting snippets of content that lack a Big Picture backdrop.
All this is to say that, on the whole, we as American Christians are now typically unable to comprehend and therefore adequately defend our belief system against other worldviews with Big Picture thinking. We might be well versed in some of the parts but usually do not have a full appreciation of Total Truth – Divine Logic. We don’t understand the “why” behind the assumptions and commands of our belief system, let alone those of other worldviews. It puts us in an undesirable and unnecessary defensive posture toward others who are often better grounded in their worldview than we are. How can we then respond instantly in season and out of season? How can we be effective ministers of reconciliation as God’s ambassadors? How can we be salt and light if we have little grasp of the saltiness, the knowledge and conviction, of our true faith in Christ, Jesus?
What I am pointing to is nothing less than seeing the same way God sees – the end from the beginning – as a Big Picture, the Total Truth. Impossible? Then why does Paul insist that we, as new creation saints, “have the mind of Christ” if it is not at least available to us? And why does Paul also say that “the mysteries that have been kept hidden are now disclosed to the saints?” In truth, the living and active Word of God has enough revelation about who God is, who we are, how and what He has done and what He plans to do, to present His “mind” to those who seek Him.
The Holy Spirit, Our Enabler
I gratefully concede that the gift of faith, that enables us to grasp these mysteries, comes by the grace of God ministered to us by our guide and teacher, the Holy Spirit, God Himself. Jesus sent Him to personalize the Truth of the Word to us and He is the monumental advantage we have over every worldview that is contrary to the Gospel. Only He can reliably help us to rightly discern false spirits who are teaching false doctrines.
In Big Picture terms, the various cults, the so-called Culture War the War on Drugs, and the War on Terror are just a few of the many battles in the spiritual war between the Kingdoms of Light and Darkness. When Adam rebelled against God, he relinquished God’s delegated legal authority over the earth to Satan. Jesus came to rescue mankind from Satan’s dominion and restore man to fellowship with God through faith in His finished work of redemption. Satan seeks to regain power over individuals through the deception of seemingly countless counterfeits against God’s established Way, Jesus Christ. This on-line book will examine and compare the main representatives of these counterfeits and explain why only Christianity is the correct worldview, the Total Truth.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, it is imperative that we learn and operate from a systematic Overview of the genuine, whole Gospel of grace that Jesus revealed directly to Paul, both for our own sake and to facilitate others’ rebirth into freedom. It is the plumb line to which all other worldviews are to be compared. And fittingly enough, the Total Truth begins with God’s revelation of our origins in Genesis. With a teachable, child-like faith (God’s gift to all who ask), we must begin there, too. What better place to discover our own origin and purpose and future – the Big Picture!
This is from my FREE online book: The Total Truth Solution for a Fractured America by Leonard John Ransil, found at totaltruth.org and on Kindle for only $.99.
My next post will provide an example of God’s Big Picture perspective – the progressive revelation of His salvation Plan from Genesis to Revelation. It is clearly seen by examining the general purposes and specific terms of the five main biblical covenants. They are essential stepping stones to understanding 1) who God really is and 2) what Jesus accomplished for us as our “Last Adam.” It will be a condensed version of a vital section of my book entitled Is There An Elephant In YOUR Church? – which is also available on Kindle for $.99 and in print at Amazon.com.