WHAT IS A WORLDVIEW?
This term comes from the German Weltanschauung, literally, “beholding the world.” Everyone has a perception, a basic set of ideas, about life as though looking at the world through a particular pair of glasses. Worldview then translates into the way people respond to surroundings, the goals that they set, and the values they pursue. The outcomes can be radically different. For one example, in our culture, one worldview seeks to destroy the very lives that the other is seeking to save. This also demonstrates how wildly worldview can swing, even in fifty years. Thus, cultural stability and cultural change are dictated by the way in which the energy of the dominant worldview is expended.
We see around us religious worldviews of great diversity. For example, in the Middle East, a young Christian believer and Muslim suicide bomber might live practically side by side. Both believe their own faith is worth dying for. There the similarity ends. Why? Because their views of who God is and what God is like are opposite. As a result, the Christian believer would rather die than deny the faith. His neighbor, though, would die for the promised reward of killing “infidels.”
Religious worldviews are taught. This is so because they include spiritual teachings of unseen realms. This also explains why people of charisma and dynamic personality can quickly gain cult-like followings even when their teachings promote error and deception. In contrast, Biblical truth has a firm connection to the events and people of history, and records God’s interaction with them. We are all sons of Adam and sons of Noah, pointing back to the God of the Bible, a point forgotten in the race to equalize religious worldviews.
On the other hand, a secular worldview may be simply caught, rather than taught. I still remember suggesting to a successful businessman that he had probably carefully established his belief system. He admitted that he had not. In fact, he gave little thought to what he believed. This would indicate a worldview that majored on obvious temporal advantages such as marrying his lovely wife and building his beautiful estate. In this, he would join multitudes of Americans whose basic worldview begins and ends in the pursuit of “the good life,” otherwise known as the American dream. This often dictates a bigger house, new places to which to travel, weekends on the lake with a new boat, plus goals for his offspring to excel in sports and to graduate from college.
This temporal worldview bypasses searching questions such as: Why am I here? To what purpose is my existence? Where am I going? How do I know, or why don’t I know the answers? Will I be accountable for what I do?
Worldviews are changeable. If they were not, there would be better things to do than to write this column.
SO WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW?
1. The Biblical worldview must be revealed from God. It can be sought after. It cannot be invented. The notion that people are capable of inventing anything other than phony religion has about the same probability of success as a team of brilliant scientists and surgeons fashioning a living, breathing, fully human from nothing (or even from two hundred pounds of clay). It doesn’t happen because both human life and a relationship with God are acts of God. Both are beyond the pale of human skill and invention.
The fact that the Bible is the revelation of God and from God assures the generational sameness of the message of God to man. After a thousand years, it is still the same. Rather than the message becoming old, it is forever new to all people of all times. But people, even those with a Christian worldview, are still inclined to deviate from the revelation of God. However, the unchanging Word of God assures a return to the centrality of truth to the sincere seeker. Men seek Him and find Him when they search for Him with all their heart.
2. Thus the Biblical worldview is God-centered. It is focused on the Eternal, Almighty One, who made everything that ever was, is, or shall be. This is the One who ordered the events of history, wiped out the world of Noah’s day with a worldwide flood, brought the confusion of tongues into the plans of men at the tower of Babel, and etched divine law into tables of stone in the days of Moses. In due time, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save sinners. These are things that have happened in history, with the great climax yet to come: “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” This view is forever and unapologetically exclusive. Why? Let me ask you some questions. How many gods created the world? How many gods continue to uphold all things by the word of their power? How many gods have provided the perfect sacrifice for sin? How many gods will judge the world?
3. The Biblical worldview is one of a fallen world because of sin entering into the once-perfect creation, and death through sin, catching up with every person who lives, ever lived, or will live. Thus the Biblical worldview processes the difference between the temporal values of this world which are soon to pass away, and the spiritual things which abide forever. In many ways the world is a wonderful and even beautiful place to live—thanks to the God who created it. It continues to load us with benefits. Yet it is also a dangerous place, where Satan trips people up through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
4. The Biblical worldview defines the truth of the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, whether Jew or Gentile. It defines conversion, morals, and manner of life out of the principles taught in Scripture. Though conversion does not yield automatic perfection, it does deliver here and now from the bondage of sin. A healthy diet of continual feeding on the Word delivers us from being captive to ignorance and sets the believer on the course of righteousness.
One of the greatest needs today is to Biblically define what it is to be a Christian. The Christian walks in the light, embraces the truth, keeps his own word, confesses his sins, loves his brother, blesses his enemy, opens his heart and wallet to the needy. He professes with his mouth the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives in obedience to authority, and lives in fidelity with the wife of his youth. He forgives others and suffers adversity graciously. He becomes like his Master. In short, the life of the Christian is defined in learning the teachings of Scripture, and then doing them, thus fulfilling the will of God.
One of the great tragedies of evangelicals is in switching the focus from what a Christian is, to how to become one. The deceptive result is “Christians” who continue in their sins quite unaware that they face the same condemnation as their non-Christian counterparts. To such Jesus says: “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23).
BENEFITS OF THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW
The most important benefit is the personal knowledge of the Truth. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This is to know God through Jesus Christ, and to be known of Him. This meets the Bible definition of eternal life.
This is not about finding an easy way through life. It is about following the narrow way, which leads to life, with life in the very presence of God to follow.
But the Christian way is also about the way we live in this world. If we Christians will exemplify the grace and the Spirit of Jesus Christ in this world and in our culture, we will be influences (not by force), be lights and examples in a dark place—a good atmosphere for God to work regeneration in the hearts and lives of others. God becomes the line of demarcation. People will either accept or reject His great salvation.