• Alan Campbell

Where Shall I Hang My Hat?

Updated: Mar 24


Everyone is looking for somewhere to “hang their hat” or something to"orbit around". What I mean is that everyone is searching for purpose, identity and truth. Everyone is desperately searching for the meaning behind their existence and an ultimate truth to rest on.


The trouble is, that most people have nowhere to hang their hat and so they are forced to try and hang it in mid air while pretending it isn't. Most people don't know what to orbit their lives around and so they choose something too small. I'll explain.


Black Lives Matter, Veganism, Third Wave Feminism, LGBTQQIA+, Me Too, Pro Choice and Pro Life, Antifa, Climate Change, Brexit and Anti Brexit. Each of these movements, and all the rest of the movements, have three things in common:


1. They are Making Moral Claims and Truth Claims

2. The People in them are Looking for Meaning and Purpose

3. Each of these Movements has a “Gospel Story” Attached to them


1. They are Making Moral Claims and Truth Claims

Do black lives matter? Should women be treated with dignity, equality and respect? These are moral questions and everyone has an opinion. The Bible is very clear on the issue; every human is equally made in the image of God and, because of this, every human is to be treated as if they have value and worth, because they do.


Take God and Scripture out of the equation. What are we left with? We are left with bacteria that has evolved into humanity. If this is the case, the question that needs to be answered is this; at what point in the God-absent evolutionary process did humans become worthy of value? You see, for a no-god worldview holder to ask the question whether or not black lives matter is to assume that any human life matters.


Only a biblical worldview allows for human life to objectively matter - and the biblical worldview declares that all human life matters, no matter the colour, the country, the religion, the language, the age, the size, the level of development, the gender, the class, the education of that life.


Every human exists as image of God in the world that God has made with the law of God written in their heart. However, every human is also comprehensively broken by the fall and rejects God. Therefore, every single movement that has and will ever exist is borrowing something from the biblical worldview and then twisting it by lifting it out of its rightful place and adding no-god ideas to it.


As you listen to someone voice their opinion on these issues and any other issue, really listen. Listen to what moral and truth claims they are making and filter these claims through scripture. Remember, their opinion didn’t come from nowhere, it comes from their no-god worldview. What you’ll come to see is that the no-god worldview holder is attempting the impossible; they are trying to hang their hat in mid air. You’ll be able to resonate with some of the moral claims being made, the difference is, you'll be doing that from the firm foundation of scripture while they have no such foundation.


2. The People in them are Looking for Meaning and Purpose

Everyone wants to know they have purpose, meaning and identity in this world. The sad thing is, in rejecting God, the Creator and therefore the Source of true purpose, we are forced to make up our own.


The reality is, as with every no-god purpose, the climax never satisfies. Ecclesiastes speaks into all of this. Solomon began living a no-god lifestyle and filled it with the pursuit of pleasure, the pursuit of riches and the pursuit of knowledge. The conclusion at the end of it all from one of the wisest, richest, pleasure intoxicated men who ever lived? It’s all empty.


These man made movements can never satisfy the heart that was made for something infinitely greater. If these movements ever achieved their goals, the people within these movements will not be fulfilled, complete or satisfied. The options are few;

  • Die before your movement achieves its goals so that you never taste the bitterness of anticlimax after all is said and done (not recommended). 

  • Find another movement to attach yourself to in the gutting pursuit of meaning without God (not recommended).

  • Realise that you were made on purpose for the purpose of knowing God.

As you listen to someone voice their opinion on these issues and any other issue, really listen. Listen to what they are saying about their meaning, purpose, goals and identity. Listen to the starving, lost soul within that is desperately trying to figure out why they are even here in the first place. You’ll discover, that they are attempting something crushingly futile; they are trying to orbit their lives around something too small.


3. Each of these Movements has a “Gospel Story”

In each of these movements there is:

  • a perfect scenario

  • a fall from that perfect scenario

  • a restoration from that fallen scenario back into the perfect one

The trouble with these gospel stories is that none of them go deep enough.

Take the gospel of the vegan movement. The perfect scenario is that animals were free to roam as they pleased without the cruel treatment they face from us humans today. The fall is, of course, the present exploitation and cruel treatment of animals. The restoration is a vegan movement that would end this mistreatment of animals.


There are “borrowed” biblical truths in this. Humans are to be stewards in this world, not tyrants. Scripture teaches that a righteous person will take care of their animals (Proverbs 12v10). However, the movement has a minuscule and shallow gospel. It doesn’t deal with the issue as to why humans would treat animals with cruelty, it doesn’t deal with a transformed heart that would lead to a better treatment of animals. It doesn’t deal with every other kind of suffering, cruelty and exploitation in the world; it zooms into just one aspect.


The true gospel covers absolutely every facet of this world. The true gospel deals with the true fall; Romans 8 explains that the whole of creation groans because of the fall of man, the rebellion of man against God has brought about every wrong in this world. Further, the true gospel speaks of the true rescue; only when sin and our sinful nature is truly dealt with in Christ can there be a true deliverance. Also, a picture of true deliverance is not just animals being treated with care, this is too small, true restoration is when the whole, broken world is renewed and all groaning is over.


As you listen to someone voice their opinion on these issues and any other issue, really listen. Listen to what they are saying about their own gospel story of a perfect, broken and restored scenario and the means to restore it. Listen to their minuscule and shallow concepts as they try to make sense of the chaos and confusion and grief around them.


Conclusion

Listen. You are going to have to become a whole lot better at listening. Too often we listen to the surface level conversation without probing deeper. Listen to the moral claims being made, listen to the meaning claims being made, listen to the gospel story they believe. Listen.


Ask. Ask questions that help you understand them better. Why do you believe that? What led you to those conclusions? What do you think the world will be like if that happens and why is that a good/bad thing? How do you think we can fix that?


Share. Share with them, with courage and gentleness, what the gospel teaches about true fallenness and true redemption. Make it applicable to their scenario.


Even if a person is not in one of these movements or any movement, they still experience all of the thoughts and struggles above, only on a more person level (such as the pursuit of wealth, education, pleasure, health etc). Listen and ask and share.


What Next?

This article has mostly touched on purpose, the next article deals with our identity as we explore what it means to be human. 


Click here for Part 1 - Paper Bags in the Rain

Click here for Part 2 - Sand in Your Pockets

Click here for Part 3 - The Shoe Fits

Click here for Part 4 - Sir, there is a Rabbit in your Hat

Click here for Part 5 - The Brief on Unbelief

Click here for Part 6 - Where Shall I Hang My Hat?

Click here for Part 7 - I'm Only Human After All