Sunglasses are fascinating.

We wear them for a variety of reasons. To be fashionable. To convince ourselves that we look as awesome as awesome people who wear the same sunglasses. To look tough. To shield our eyes from the sun. To shield our eyes from other people.

Or some combination thereof.

I’m not saying sunglasses are bad. I wear them at times for different reasons. But it is interesting how a hunk of plastic placed upon our face carries so much sense of value and identity.

The idea that we need something external to give us a sense of value and identity is probably worth exploring at some point.

But sunglasses actually do change the way we see things. Both in how we see ourselves and how we see the world. Ourselves in that we have altered our appearance in a way we find an improvement, and the world in that we are filtering out some of the light we would otherwise take into our eyes.

The world looks different when they are on. Tinted. Darker. Not as clear.

And that is just with normal sunglass lenses. What if you go with darker or lighter ones? What if you go with colored ones? Everything we see is filtered through those lenses and our view of the world becomes skewed towards those lenses’ technical make up and intended purpose.

So, whether one wears them for fashion and identity purposes, or whether one wears them because of light sensitivity issues and the need to protect themselves, one is choosing to restrict their view of reality and reduce the accuracy of what they see so that they can fulfill the alternate purpose dictated by the reason they wear sunglasses.

And yet, almost everyone chooses to wear sunglasses at some point for some reason.

As I said, it’s not wrong. But it does make a great metaphor.

Because, if we are talking about worldview, how we see the world matters. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be called “world view.” Our view of the world. How we see things.

Sorry, I can’t resist one more metaphor. I may have a problem. If I’m driving down a highway with the sun at my back, the vision in front of me is pretty clear. If I’m driving directly west as the sun is dropping down, at the right time I am almost blind as I drive. There are some roads near us that I hate driving in a westerly direction as late afternoon turns into evening. I just can’t see anything. So, it is when we look into the sun. It’s just too much to take in.

Back to worldview. So much of how we see the world is dictated by very specific variables. Our age, gender identity, sexual identity, varying health issues, personality, personal needs, fears, joys, desires, frustrations, pains, traumas, social needs, physical needs, and a whole list of others I won’t keep listing because you get the point.

And even some of those variables have variables of their own.

When you start breaking down all the things that go into forming a worldview, you realize that every single worldview is a house of cards waiting to fall. This is because no one is seeing reality clearly and without bias. We simply aren’t capable of doing it. Not truly. We can try, and sometimes we can filter out a lot of the variables that distort our view, but never all of them.

Fortunately, that never applies to our religious and spiritual worldviews, right? The Adventist worldview is never distorted because of such things.

Right? Right …???

*big sigh*

Of course it does. The Adventist worldview is just as prone to bias and distortion and inaccuracy as anyone else’s. Just because our beliefs came through committee over time doesn’t change any of that. Ever sat in a committee? Ever witnessed how messy that gets as decisions are made?

No. We are not immune. We are individuals with a limited perspective on reality trying to tell everyone how reality works. When we try to state that our interpretation of the Bible is the correct one it is nothing more than a statement of our own arrogance and ignorance.

But you might say “but God makes up the difference and will bring truth to those who seek Him and His truth.”

I mean, that sounds pretty great. But, unless one believes that only Adventists have sincerely sought that, it becomes clear very quickly that things do not work that cleanly.

Do we believe that no Catholic has ever sought God and truth with every humble and sincere and loving fiber of their very being? And, at the end of the day, felt the peace of Christ come over them as Catholics to remain Catholic?

Or a Baptist? Or Pentecostal? Or Hindu? Or (insert spiritual worldview here)?

The Adventist world view has some good stuff. The concept of Present Truth, for example. When used correctly, it is a great path for seeking God and learning. It truly is. When used correctly, the idea of a great controversy has value as it speaks of the struggle between good and evil.

When used correctly.

Now for some problems. For starters, no one can really agree on a worldview. Not really. So, for Adventism, ask three Adventists what the Adventist worldview is and you likely get three different worldviews. For that matter, ask three Adventist theologians what the Adventist worldview is and you will likely run into the same problem.

It won’t matter if you ask pastors, administrators, conference presidents, or a group of General Conference presidents, former and not. You won’t get a clean answer.

Does that mean it’s wrong to form worldviews?

Of course not. One can’t help but form a worldview. The problem isn’t the forming of a worldview. The problem is forming a static worldview. Our individual and collective worldviews are so flawed, they have no choice but to be dynamic if one also desires to live with any sort of honesty and integrity at all. As we grow, individually and corporately, our worldview must change because we are endlessly learning and experiencing.

The issues in the Adventist worldview lies in that paragraph. If there is one thing that my cynicism would offer as a major piece of the unspoken, but widely practiced, Adventist worldview it would be a resistance to change and growth.

You remember that thing I mentioned earlier called Present Truth and that it’s awesome when used correctly?

We don’t usually use it correctly.

Adventists like to reinforce their worldview, not expand it, alter it, or allow it to mature and grow. I’m not saying it has never happened, but I am saying it’s exceedingly rare.

Now, to be fair to Adventism, they aren’t really any worse at this than any other group, on average. Every group, every person … everyone, struggles with this in some way at some level.

And, if you look at the history of most religious groups, almost every time one of them had enough internal momentum and push to change their worldview for the better you will find that the outcome was very similar almost every time.

They split. Or, if not an outright split, a splinter group left and formed something that reflected the altered worldview.

This isn’t a bad thing, even if most in the middle of it felt like it was. People need to and are obligated to follow whatever direction God gives them, no matter who likes it. And, if that ends in leaving a group for another, or leaving and starting your own, or a large group splitting off, or a group splitting in half, then so be it.

It isn’t just about people getting what they want. It’s about following the Spirit as it leads. If God causes you to grow, you have to honor that growth.

The problem is that not everyone gets the same leading and growth spurt at the same time about the same thing. Not everyone gets to see what someone else saw in the same way. So, maybe some need to stay where they are, and some need to follow what was given. If this weren’t a true thing, then Adventism wouldn’t even exist in the first place.

When we are able to remove our tinted spectacles long enough to see clearly, even if just for a moment, some piece of reality might just flood in that we hadn’t been noticing.

It was Paul who said that we see now as though through a dark glass, but one day we will see clearly.

To mix and alter my metaphor, it’s past time we clean our lenses and add a prescription and get that laser surgery we’ve been putting off.

There is a lot of light waiting to be seen if we are just willing to see it.

Tony Hunter is a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and a hospital chaplain working for UCHealth. Tony, his wife Nirma, and daughter Amryn live in Firestone, Colorado. Email him at: [email protected]