WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW?
WHAT’S A WORLDVIEW?
A worldview is a framework from which we can see reality and make sense of life and the world. It is an ideology, philosophy, theology, movement, or religion that provides a global approach to understanding God, the world, and man’s relationship with God and the world.
EVERYONE HAS A WORLDVIEW
A popular Chinese proverb says, “If you want to know what water is, don’t ask the fish.” Water is the sum and content of the world where the fish is immersed. The fish might not reflect on its habitat until it is abruptly forced to dry land, fighting for survival. It realizes, then, that the water provided its sustenance.
Immersed in our environment, we have not taken the implications of the secular worldview seriously. Sociologist and social critic Daniel Yankelovich defines culture as an attempt to provide a cohesive set of answers to the existential problems humans face in their lives. A real cultural shift is one that makes a decisive break with the shared meaning of the past. In particular, the break affects those meanings that relate to the deepest questions of the essence and nature of human life. What is at stake is how we comprehend the world wherein we live.
Christians everywhere recognize a great spiritual battle raging around the world against the hearts and minds of men and women. We are now in a cosmic struggle between Christian truth and a culture of moral indifference. Therefore, we need to shape a Christian worldview that will help us learn how to think like a Christian and live out the truth of the Christian faith.
The truth is that we all have a worldview. Some worldviews are inconsistent, merely a smorgasbord of natural, supernatural, pre-modern, modern, and post-modern options. However, an in-depth and thoughtful worldview is more than a private personal view; it is a comprehensive life system that tries to answer life’s fundamental questions. The Christian worldview is neither just a personal expression of one’s faith nor a theory. It is a fundamental way of life that applies to all spheres of life.
DISTINGUISHING A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW
There is a clear Christian view of things, which has its essence, coherence, and unity, and is in sharp contrast to counter-theories and speculations. The Christian worldview has the stamp of reason and reality and can stand the history and experience test. The Christian view of the world cannot be violated, accepted, or rejected in part, but it stands or falls in its integrity. Such a holistic approach offers the stability of thought, a unity of comprehensive insight, not only on the religious area but also on thought. Christian philosophy is not built on two forms of reality (religious and philosophic or scientific) but on a universal principle and all-encompassing structure that influences faith, natural and social sciences, law, history, health care, arts, humanities, and all fields of life-long learning.
The followers of Jesus must articulate a Christian worldview for the twenty-first century, with all its accompanying challenges and changes, and show how such Christian thinking can be applied across every aspect of life. At the center of these challenges and changes, we see that truth, morality, and interpretive frameworks are ignored, if not rejected. Such challenges are indeed daunting. The very existence of normative truth is being challenged throughout the culture.
For Christians to respond to these challenges, we must hear the words of Jesus from the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). Here we are asked to love God with our hearts and souls and with our minds. The words of Jesus apply to God’s wholehearted dedication in every part of our being, from whatever perspective we want to see it — emotionally, enthusiastically, or cognitively. The result of this kind of love for God is that every thought is taken captive and brought to the obedience of Christ. This means being able to see things from a Christian point of view, that is, thinking with Christ’s mind.
The starting point for developing a Christian worldview is the confession that we believe in God the Father, the Creator of Heaven and Earth (the Creed of the Apostles). We know that “in him, all things hold together,” for every true knowledge flows from the creator to his one creation.
WE BELIEVE IN GOD, CREATOR OF THE HEAVEN AND EARTH: A WORLDVIEW STARTING POINT
A worldview must offer a way of life consistent with reality by offering a comprehensive understanding of all areas of life and thought of all aspects of creation. As stated earlier, the starting point for a Christian worldview brings us to God’s presence without delay. The fundamental affirmation of the Scriptures is that there is a God, but that God has acted and spoken throughout history. God is Lord and King over this universe, ruling all things for His glory, showing His perfections in everything He does, so that humans and angels may worship and adore Him. God is triune; there are three persons within the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Thinking wrongly about God is idolatry (Psalm 50:21). Thinking right about God is eternal life (John 17:3) and should be the life goal of the believer. We can rightly think of God because he is knowable, yet we must keep in mind that he is, at the same time, incomprehensible (Rom. 11:33-36). God can be known, but he can’t be fully understood.
We maintain that God is powerful and separate from other beings, from nature, and the universe. This is in opposition to other worldviews that say that God is in a part of the world, creating a continuous cycle and that the process itself is God — or becoming God. God is self-existent and not dependent on anything external to himself. God is infinite, meaning that God is not just unlimited, but that nothing outside of God can constrain God. God is infinite in relation to time (meaning he is eternal), knowledge (omniscience), and power (omnipotent). He’s sovereign and unchanging. God is infinite, intimate, transcendent, and immanent. He is holy, righteous, just, good, true, faithful, loving, and merciful.
God, without the use of any pre-existing material, has brought into being everything that is. Both the first chapter of the Bible and the first paragraph of the Apostles’ Creed admit God as the Maker. Creation reveals God (Psalm 19) and brings glory to him (Isa. 43:7). All creation was originally good, but it is now imperfect because of the entrance of sin and its effects. However, this is only a temporary imperfection, for it will be redeemed in God’s final work, the new creation.
God, the creator is no different from the God who gives salvation through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. God is the Source of all this. This implies that God has put the universe into being out of nothing through a purposeful act of His free will. Christian philosophy affirms that God is the supreme and all-powerful Lord of all creation. Such an affirmation rejects any dualism.
Christian worldview also contends that God is separate from and transcends His creation. It maintains that God is a purposeful God who creates freedom. In God’s preservation and provision for His creation, he works out his ultimate goals for humanity and the world. Human life is, therefore, significant, meaningful, intelligent, and purposeful. This confirms the overall unity and intelligibility of the universe. Here we see the greatness, goodness, and wisdom of God.
GENERAL IMPLICATIONS OF A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW
The Christian worldview becomes a driving force in life that gives us a sense of God’s plan and purpose. This worldview shapes our identity. We can no longer see ourselves as marginalized sinners. The Christian worldview is escapism, but an energizing motivation for godly and faithful thinking and living here on Earth. It also gives us trust and hope for the future. Amid life’s challenges and hardships, the Christian worldview helps to stabilize life, anchoring us to God’s faithfulness and steadfastness.
The Christian worldview thus provides a framework for ethical thinking. We recognize that human beings, made in the image of God, are truly moral beings. We also understand that the fullest embodiment of goodness, love, holiness, grace, and truth is in Jesus Christ (John 1:14-18).
The Christian worldview has consequences for the understanding of history. We see that history is neither cyclical nor natural. Rather, we see history as a linear, meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purpose for humanity. Human history is going to climax where it began — on Earth. This truth is another unique of Christian thinking since Christianity is at the core of history. In the sense that, according to his essential teaching, God has acted decisively in history, revealing himself in specific acts and events. Moreover, God will act to bring history to its providential destiny and its planned conclusion.
God that acted in history in past events will act in history to consummate this age. So when we ask, “How is it going to end?” We do not simply or suddenly move from the realm of history to never-never land. We move on to that which is still likely to happen, because God is behind it, and he is the one who assures us that it will happen.
The development of a Christian worldview is an ever-expanding process for us, a process in which Christian convictions increasingly shape our culture participation. This disciplined, vigorous, and never-ending process will help shape our assessment of culture and our place in it. Otherwise, culture is going to shape us and our thinking. Thus, the Christian worldview offers a new way of thinking, seeing, and acting based on a new way of doing things.
Christian philosophy is a logical way of seeing the universe apart from deism, naturalism, materialism, polytheism, existentialism, pantheism, mysticism, or post-modern deconstructionism. Such a theistic perspective provides bearing and direction when confronted with New Age spirituality or secular and pluralistic approaches to truth and morality. Fear of the future, suffering, illness, and misery are guided by a Christian perspective focused on the redemptive work of Christ and the glory of God. Also, Christian philosophy gives meaning and purpose to all aspects of life.
While many examples could be provided, there are six specific applications where the Christian worldview provides a different perspective:
1. TECHNOLOGY — Technology can become either an instrument through which we fulfill our role as stewards of God or an object of worship that will eventually rule over us. Christian philosophy offers balance and wisdom to grasp this critical dimension of the life of the twenty-first century.
2. SEXUALITY AND MARRIAGE — Sexuality has become a major theme for those reaching the third millennium. There is a big deal of misunderstanding between Christians and non-Christians. Sexuality is a good thing in the covenant relationship of mutual self-giving marriage. Sexual affection, apart from covenant marriage, in heterosexual or homosexual relationships, is immoral and has a distorted meaning, a self-serving purpose, and negative implications.
3. ENVIRONMENT — Environmental Stewardship means that we have a duty to the non-human aspects of God’s creation. Since the plan of God’s salvation involves both His world and human existence, we should do whatever we can to participate in it carefully and lovingly.
4. ARTS AND RECREATION — Arts and recreation are recognized as a valid and essential part of human imagination and culture. They express what it means to be made in the image of God. We need to learn critical analysis and assessment skills to be aware, and deliberate, and representative of what we make, see and do.
5. SCIENCE AND FAITH — Science has been at the center of our modern society for almost two decades. We must explore how we see science issues from the perspective of a Christian worldview. The understanding of God includes the knowledge that we obtain through scientific investigation. With the lens of faith in place, an image of God’s word emerges that harmonizes and complements the findings of science and the teachings of Scripture.
6. VOCATION — Understanding of work is important to any culture. Work is a gift from Heaven, and it is to be done with diligence for God’s glory. We recognize that all legitimate professions are honorable, that the abilities and gifts we have for our vocation come from God, and that prosperity and promotion come from God.
These are just a few examples that could be cited that will help shape our thinking in other areas.
Christian thought must surely subordinate all other efforts to improving the mind in the pursuit of truth, taking all thought captive to Jesus Christ.
Today, as in the days of Corinthian correspondence, our thinking and minds are captured by the several challenges and opposing worldviews in today’s academy.
The essence of a serious Christian worldview is bringing every thought captive to the Lordship of Jesus Christ to serve and teach others.