Audiobook | Podcast

Grand Canyon University’s One Foundation presents The Beginning of Wisdom: An Introduction to Christian Thought and Life, Fourth Edition by the faculty of GCU’s College of Theology, read by Eric Johnson.

The introduction to volume 1 of this audiobook sets forth the purpose of the book, introduces key concepts, and outlines the plan of the book as a whole. Two key concepts, worldview and wisdom, provide a framework for worldview studies by drawing on ancient, biblical wisdom in the exploration of contemporary worldview studies. Everyone has a worldview. What we believe about the big questions of life affects our thought patterns, our attitudes, our decisions, and our behavior. The pursuit of wisdom calls us to more deeply investigate these vital topics as we reflect on our own worldview commitments.

Chapter 1 introduces the concept of worldview as a foundational set of assumptions to which one commits. This set of assumptions serves as a framework for understanding and interpreting reality. Everyone has a worldview. What we believe about the big questions of life affects our thought patterns, our attitudes, our decisions, and our behavior. The pursuit of wisdom calls us to more deeply investigate these big questions and our answers.

Chapter 2 focuses on the ability to analyze and evaluate worldviews including the practical benefits for those who learn to recognize, understand, and evaluate worldview claims. All people develop foundational understandings about the world and build their lives upon those understandings. Worldviews are not all equally true, and, therefore, they do not all provide adequate foundations upon which to construct a life. In the end, everyone trusts in something. The vital question is not, “Who is trusting in something?” but, rather, “Who is trusting in something trustworthy?”

Chapter 3 traces the great wisdom of God as shown from the very beginning in the first act of the biblical storyline in which he created all things. The creation account reveals several important features of the Christian worldview regarding the nature of God, creation, and humanity. God is the sovereign Creator of all things. The universe that God created was ordered and good, and God created humanity in his image and gave them dominion over all that he created.  

Chapter 4 describes the second act of the biblical story which shows humanity’s departure from wisdom through the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. After the fall, human history shows that the default nature of humanity is sinful idolatry. Nonetheless, God is always faithful to his covenant promises and his faithfulness should cause the Christian to live by faith. The hope and trust of Christians is not on themselves, but on God who is always faithful. Those who hold to a Christian worldview look forward to the divine promise of God and his kingdom.

Chapter 5 addresses the third act of the biblical storyline in which God reveals his wisdom in sending his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to rescue his people from their sins. All the acts of the biblical storyline show God’s character through his holiness and faithfulness to covenant relationships. Furthermore, Jesus’s unique ministry shows that Jesus came to do what Israel could not do. Jesus lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial atoning death on the cross, and rose from the dead conquering sin, death, and the devil. In Christ, God calls fallen and broken humanity to respond to him in faith for the forgiveness of sins. 

Chapter 6 discusses repentance and faith as the necessary responses to Jesus’s redemption mission. When a person belongs to Jesus, they are declared righteous in God’s sight, adopted into God’s family, granted new creation life, and consecrated into God’s service. The chapter also explains the holistic vision for the Christian life, which is sustained by God’s corporate and personal means of grace, such as baptism, communion, the Word of God, and prayer. The Christian life affects every sphere and aspect of life. The Christian hope for restoration thus upholds a vision of glory, righteousness, and joy, a vision that demonstrates God’s wisdom. 

Chapter 7 responds to the common criticism that Christianity was devised to control people’s lives. This could not be more untrue. Jesus, his 12 apostles, as well as Mark, Luke, James, and Paul were pursued, persecuted, imprisoned, and tortured, and all but one were horrendously murdered for their beliefs. What control did they gain over others? None. Rather, these brave Christians risked everything in order to proclaim freedom. That is what absolute truth and absolute morality do—they bring freedom. Living in the wisdom of absolutes implies that people ought to study and analyze truth and discover universal principles for life.  

Chapter 8 interacts with intellectual and experiential objections to Christianity, demonstrating the Bible’s clear teaching that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Because he is the one mediator between God and man, seekers and skeptics should patiently seek wisdom by observing his teachings while considering his life, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, and his offer of salvation to all who call upon him. Some of Jesus’s followers have failed to live in ways that honor Jesus’s perfect life while evil and suffering remain a blight upon humanity’s peace and prosperity. Christianity, however, offers an understanding as to why evil exists, and it explains carefully how evil will ultimately be overcome through Jesus’s finished work. 

Chapter 9 describes the resources that the Christian worldview offers in the midst of life’s storms. It does so by addressing some of the obstacles that may prevent people from placing faith in Christ and forming a worldview built on the wisdom he offers. The storms of life can intensify feelings of loneliness, meaninglessness, depression, guilt, and shame. But the Christian worldview offers a solution to all of these through a relationship with God through his Son and by his Spirit. Jesus shows people how to live. He endured the final storm of death and showed that his wisdom is adequate for everyone in his resurrection. Everyone is offered his destiny through faith. 

Chapter 10 centers on restoration, the fourth act of the biblical storyline, and focuses on God’s continuing work of restoring broken people, and communities. Eventually, through Christ, all creation will be restored as God’s people are brought to wholeness characterized by his love, justice, beauty, and wisdom. Today, Jesus’s followers share his mission to take the kingdom of justice and love to places of darkness and despair, to transform the values of the broken world by the practical wisdom revealed in God’s design for his creation. Those who enter God’s Kingdom through faith in Jesus have the opportunity to become disciples, take on God’s mission, and spread hope and healing to the world. 

Chapter 11 describes how following Jesus leads to the development of wisdom in life. Faith in Christ expresses itself in a complete love for God and for others. Every person needs wisdom, and each person must decide if they will trust in Christ as their foundation. From life-altering choices to daily choices, a person’s worldview shapes his or her beliefs and behaviors, and it has major and lasting impacts on every aspect of life. For the Christian worldview, God has provided the opportunity for people to be restored to a right relationship with him through Christ. Those who trust in Jesus rest in a secure relationship of love with God, which leads to a daily transformation of their lives as they seek to follow Christ by the enabling power of God’s Spirit. 

The conclusion wraps up exploration of the Christian worldview by reflecting on wisdom from the biblical book of Proverbs. Because the way that a life is lived matters to individuals and to communities, it is entirely reasonable to pause on occasion to take conscious inventory of one’s fundamental convictions and the implications of those convictions. While the investigation of worldviews may prove intellectually stimulating, worldviews are not ultimately about philosophical inquiry and theoretical discourse. They provide the foundation upon which lives are built and lived. Consciously or unconsciously, everyone has committed to a particular way of life and is living it out in community with others. It is worth considering, then, whether the chosen lifestyle leads down the path of wisdom or folly. 

Grand Canyon University’s One Foundation presents Walking in Wisdom: The Way of Life and Peace, First Edition by the faculty of GCU’s College of Theology, read by Eric Johnson. 

The introduction to volume 2 of this audiobook sets forth the purpose and plan of the book while exploring what it means to follow Jesus. Biblically speaking, walking refers, metaphorically, to one’s manner of life. To walk in the way of wisdom means to live wisely, following the teaching and example of Jesus in all that one thinks, says, and does. This manner of life involves private devotion and formative practices as well as public faithfulness in the ways we live at home as well as the ways we engage the larger world. This volume explores the ways in which the Christian worldview provides a robust foundation for the Christian lifestyle.

00 Introduction: Walking in Wisdom Walking in Wisdom: The Way of Life and Peace

Chapter 1 introduces some of the basic and most important ideas related to living out the Christian life. It begins by encouraging individuals to respond personally to Jesus’s call to follow him and suggests that this is the only way possible to experience true fulfillment and happiness in life. The chapter also offers practical implications for life that come from following Jesus.  

01 The Way of Life and Peace Walking in Wisdom: The Way of Life and Peace

Chapter 2 introduces the notion of identity formation and community in Christ, and challenges people to see themselves in light of union with Christ and fellowship in the community of the saints. Faith formation flourishes within the church as every Christian lives within the gracious connections to community granted by the gospel. Living in the hope of the gospel brings genuine identity rooted in God’s vision for life. Apart from connection to Christ and the community of faith, life cannot be lived to the fullest.  

02 Identity Formation and Community in Christ Walking in Wisdom: The Way of Life and Peace

Chapter 3 interacts with humanity’s searching for meaning and significance. Many try to fill themselves with things such as sex, money, and drugs. Only God can fill the human heart and bring a person back to restoration. In Jesus, the vision for humanity is to be united with him in his death, burial, and resurrection. According to the New Testament, the love, security, and contentment found in Jesus is the remedy to anger, fear, worry, and the like. Human beings are physical and yet also immaterial. They have bodily as well as psychological sensations. These two aspects of human beings are uniquely tied together and will one day be redeemed and resurrected to live in eternal fellowship with the God of the universe. Neither aspect should be ignored. 

03 Christ’s Vision for a Human Life Walking in Wisdom: The Way of Life and Peace

Chapter 4 outlines the ways that connecting Christ’s values to daily living should define the path toward Christian maturity. The way of Jesus connects the Christian to full dependence on the reality of this life revealed by the Spirit in the Bible. Building a life of faith requires daily commitment to hope beyond the limits of current challenges and circumstances, seeing the opportunities of the present in light of the rule and reign of Christ. Such living faith and abiding hope pulls the Christian to love the people, place, and time where Jesus calls the church to exist. The new life received by faith in Christ demands true justice, the protection of the weak, and patient restoration of life as God intended it to be. 

04 Christ’s Values in Your Life Walking in Wisdom: The Way of Life and Peace

Chapter 5 explores what it means to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14–16) as educated Christ followers who engage in various academic disciplines. Jesus calls those who follow him to seek and to find their purpose in him as they explore the vast riches of the world he has made. Faith, properly understood, should not stifle research, suppress dialogue, or inhibit investigation. Rather, Christians believe in order to understand more fully, and by doing so, they expect to see the power of God at work in the lives of individuals and in the restoration of communities. By connecting faith and learning in these ways, they participate in the rich Christian tradition that has been described as a matter of faith seeking understanding.  

05 Christ’s Values in Your Academic Discipline Walking in Wisdom: The Way of Life and Peace

Chapter 6 describes the ways that Jesus’s call to follow him extends to the workplace and to our respective vocations. Vocations represent vital opportunities to glorify God by serving others. Jesus intends to be Lord of our homes, our communities, and even our work. As the Son of God, he offers a God-size vision for our vocations that will result in his glory and our good. Strong economies, healthy organizations, and virtuous people are foundational to vibrant communities and thriving societies. Realizing these ideals depends substantially on arriving at true understandings about who we are and how we are meant to live in this world.  

06 Christ’s Values in Your Vocation Walking in Wisdom: The Way of Life and Peace

Chapter 7 summarizes the ways that living an integrated life places Christ at its center. Such a life does not happen by default in the world, which exists in a state of brokenness. Jesus perfectly displayed what an integrated life looks like as God originally intended when he created humanity in his image. Although Christians will never be able to reflect Christ’s image with flawless consistency, they can nevertheless grow in reflecting his image. an integrated Christian life practically demonstrates a focus on Jesus in the spiritual, social, academic, and vocational dimensions of life. It also reveals an intentional desire to align the words and works of a person’s life. In other words, Christians desire to see their beliefs increasingly impact their behaviors so that their conduct reflects their core beliefs. 

07 Living an Integrated Christian Life Walking in Wisdom: The Way of Life and Peace

The conclusion wraps up exploration of the Christian life by reflecting on a life-giving metaphor that Jesus himself employed in comforting his early followers as he prepared them for his imminent trial and crucifixion. Jesus encouraged his first followers to “abide” in him by continuing in close, personal relationship with him. This sort of intimate relationship involves trust in who Jesus is and dependence on what only he can provide. Trust and dependence of this kind is characterized by obedience to his teaching, peace, joy, and abundant life. Because we are not the source of life, we must depend on Jesus rather than ourselves for life, peace, and all else needed to walk in a manner worthy of our calling to follow him.

08 Conclusion: Abiding in Jesus Walking in Wisdom: The Way of Life and Peace