New Testing Phase

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Worldview? How You See The World

There is a lot of talk these days about worldviews, Christian worldview, secular worldview, biblical worldview, evolutionary worldview and so on. But what does this little phase mean and why is it important? Or is it even important? The answer to the last question is a resounding YES. Lets first look at the word itself:

The word ‘worldview’ comes from a German word Weltanschauung which when broken up means ‘world’ and ‘view’. Its a concept that comes mainly out of 19th century German philosophy. Basically a worldview is a person’s philosophical view of reality. According to merriam-webster.com  Weltanschauung means: ‘a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint'’. A good working definition of ‘worldview’. The next thing to say is that everyone has one. there is not a person on the earth who has not perceived reality in some way, and once you have done that, you have a worldview. Even if you are a day old baby, your worldview is sleep, cry, drink milk, sleep. Our worldview is the key factor is deciding our biases.

For example, I would choose a Coke over a Pepsi every time because I like the taste of Coke more. But lets go through the process of making the choice. I choose coke because I’m biased towards the taste of Coke being better. My bias is informed by preferences which have been filtered either consciously or unconsciously through my worldview. Now lets say that my worldview stated that only pure water was safe to drink, I would probably never touch Coke or Pepsi, and I would say my favourite drink is water. Do you see how my bias comes out of my worldview.

Another example: why do I go to church, and in point of fact would go to church at all costs? The answer is: because I have a biblical worldview, which says to me that the bible is inspired, inerrant and infallible. That means that I have to believe all that it teaches and obey what it instructs me to do. Now the bible instructs that we (Christians) should not forsake the assembly of the saints (Heb 10:25) so that we can stir each other up to love and good works (Heb 10:24). Now my church does this by meeting together on Sunday mornings and evenings. So, according to my worldview, I go to church, and at all costs.

Developing A Christian Worldview

Firstly, why would we want to develop a Christian and biblical worldview? The answer is simple and I quote the Westminster shorter catechism “Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”. A Christian worldview is the means to this end. I formulate a Christian worldview for this purpose, to maximise my glorification of God and my enjoyment of Him forever.

For me personally, it was very hard for me to consciously develop a biblical worldview. Like many my age I had grown up with parents who did not believe (and therefore did not teach) the bible and went to a school that tried its best to teach me a secular humanist worldview. It took me a fair amount of bible study before the penny dropped in my head that there is a complete contradiction between what the bible taught about creation (God created, 6 days, young earth) and evolution (no creator, millions of years) and that the differences were as much theological as they were about truth, and what actually happened. Theological in the sense that, if evolution is true, that means that there was death before sin, which means that God’s entire plan of redemption and restoration is false, thus eliminating the bible as any kind of source of truth, because it would then be filled with lies.

But a Christian worldview plays itself out in a variety of ways. For example, when I see a scenic view or a sunset, I immediately thank God for creating me and allowing me to see this sight. When I think about the incredible intricacy of some of our natural wonders I don’t think to myself (as I used to) “amazing what evolution can do” but rather I think “amazing what God can do, Glory to Him” And when faced with an ethical dilemma, my worldview informs me that the bible is my source of instruction through all moral and ethical problems. I then consult the bible and make the right decision. Now if all that sounds too good to be true it is. We are still sinful by nature and there are still many times when my flesh overrides my worldview and I sin.

For this reason it is important to be purposeful in formulating our worldview, according to the bible. “But hang on” I hear you say, “don’t we get our view of the bible from our worldview?” Yes, but it also works the other way. Our worldview tells us how we view the bible and if we are a Christian, our bible informs our worldview, it doesn’t usually if a person is not a Christian, because one of the things that happen at conversion is a person begins to formulate a Christian worldview.

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This picture brings us nicely to our first danger when talking about a worldview. Many people, especially some of my lecturers, would claim that each arrow is equal or more often, that our worldview informing how we see the bible is more important than the bible transforming and informing our worldview. THIS IS FALSE. If our worldview is different to that of the bible, then we change our worldview, not how we view the bible. This doesn’t mean we don’t have any biases when reading the bible, but we should be aware of them and avoid them if possible.

The other danger I’ve seen is people these days see Christianity as merely a worldview, rather than a life transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. It is popular these days to do just that, to limit yourself to seeing the world christianly rather than being reconciled to Jesus Christ through His atoning work. May it never be…

That’s all for now, I need to flesh this out more at a later date. In the mean time, I recommend the resource linked below. Its a Christian Radio station called The Christian Worldview

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