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Tackling the “isms”: Worldview Overview

10 Mar

I will be presenting a couple of seminars as part of two of the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Conferences in the coming weeks – 21/03 in Auckland, 28/03 in Christchurch.

One of the seminars I will present twice on each Saturday. Once for the parents and again for teens.

Here is an outline of this particular seminar…

Tackling the “isms”: Worldview Overview

  1. What is a Worldview?

Your worldview is your general theory of the universe. It’s comprised of your fundamental beliefs about yourself, the world, and God. Your worldview answers fundamental questions about yourself–

*What am I?
*How can I be truly happy?
*What’s morally right and wrong?

—and about the world:

*Why does anything exist?
*Why does anything happen at all?

*How do I know anything?

*How do I know what is real and true?

Everyone has a god that they worship. The only distinction between worldviews is whether the object of worship is God the Creator, or this world, the creation.

“A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or unconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”

James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2004), 17.

“A worldview is a way one views the whole world. A worldview is a way of viewing or interpreting all of reality. It is an interpretive framework through which or by which one makes sense out of the data of life and the world. A worldview is like a set of colored glasses. If one looks at the same object through green colored glasses he will see it as green, while another looking at the same object through red glasses will see it as red.”

Norman L. Geisler and William D. Watkins, Worlds Apart: A Handbook on Worldviews. 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989), 11.

“A worldview is not the same thing as a formal philosophy; otherwise, it would be only for professional philosophers. Even ordinary people have a set of convictions about how reality functions and how they should live. Because we are made in God’s image, we all seek to make sense of life. Some convictions are conscious, while others are unconscious, but together they form a more or less consistent picture of reality.”

Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2004), 23 

Everyone Has a Religious Worldview

In an important sense, all worldviews – even atheistic ones – are religious. Herman Bavinck says that, “The denial of the existence of God includes, in the same moment, the elevation of the creature into the place of God”[1]. In other words, everyone has a god that they worship. The only distinction between worldviews is whether the object of worship is God the Creator, or this world, the creation. If these claims seem exaggerated, consider a contemporary example.

In the opening chapter of his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins notes that “A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists” who do not believe in a supernatural being. Dawkins writes that his awe of the universe is so similar to religious awe that some people have called him “A Very Religious Non-Believer”. Dawkins virtually concedes then that he and many fellow atheists have subjective responses which very nearly approximate worship; the main difference lying only in the worship of the creation rather than God, the Creator.

Corrupt worldviews are based on false gods, and humans adopt false gods because of their sinful resistance to the true and living God. In Romans 1:18-32 Paul argues that all human beings know God but at the same time don’t know God because they suppress the truth that they know, and that they do this by worshipping the creation in place of the Creator. They exchange the truth about God for a lie. Because everyone knows the true God deep inside, they cannot help but be religious, even if they claim to be agnostics or atheists. But because humankind is corrupted, religion always defaults to take the form of worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. Fallen people are on the one hand idolatrous (Rom. 1:18-32), and at the same time altogether godless (Ps. 14/Rom. 3:9-18).

  1. What is a Christian (or Biblical) Worldview?

“A biblical worldview is a worldview that is shaped and tested, formed and reformed by the Bible. More specifically, a biblical worldview would be a fundamental perspective on life that is based upon the ‘pillar points’ (as I like to call them) of creation, the fall, and redemption. The story of creation is told in Genesis 1-2 and answers such important questions as where are we, who are we, and why are we here? Genesis 3 tells the story of the fall of humanity into sin and addresses the issue of what has gone wrong with the world and how we should account for the tragic human condition. The rest of the Bible from Genesis 3:15 all the way to Revelation 22 presents the narrative of redemption, which informs us about the divinely provided remedy to sin and the tragic human condition. God promises redemption in the Old Testament, and He fulfills His promises in Christ in the New Testament. This redemption that Christ has accomplished is both ‘already; present but is ‘not yet’ fully complete. When Christ returns, He will consummate His redemptive task and usher in the new heavens and earth.”

(David Naugle, author of Worldview: The History of a Concept (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002) in an interview with T.M. Moore, editor of Findings, in October 2003.)

Paul says that the idolatry of mankind has created futile thinking and darkened foolish hearts (Rom. 1:21). If this is true, then the gospel is the only hope for the restoration and renovation of all human thought. It is only possible to come to truly know God through Jesus Christ, which will result in a complete transformation of your mind and worldview.

The Bible makes the radical assertion that it is necessary to know and fear God before arriving at any true conclusions about yourself and the world. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7); “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Prov. 9:10). God himself provides the answer to all key worldview questions—

*What am I? An image-bearer of God, Gen. 1:26-27.
*How can I be truly happy? By knowing God, John 17:3.
*What’s morally right and wrong? What God commands—loving him and loving your neighbour.
*Why does anything exist? God willed to create it out of nothing, Gen. 1:1.
*Why does anything happen at all? God has predestined it to happen and brings it to pass by his providential power.

“God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). In this light, we see everything else differently—we see everything else truly—for the first time.

  1. The Limbs of A Biblical Christian Worldview

Theology: Affirmation of the existence of an intelligent, powerful, loving, just, and awesome God. This same God took upon Himself human form in the person of Jesus Christ and died for our sins. Thus, in addition to being theistic, Christianity is Christus Nexus, Christ at the centre. “Christianity is Christ. The person and work of Christ are the rock upon which the Christian religion is built. If he is not who he said he was, and if he did not do what he said he had come to do, the foundation is undermined and the whole superstructure will collapse. Take Christ from Christianity and you disembowel it; there is practically nothing left. Christ is the center of Christianity; all else is circumference.” (John Stott, Basic Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 21. (Gen. 1:1; Colossians 2:9)

Philosophy: The single most important philosophical truth in the Bible is that Jesus Christ is the Logos of God. Christian philosophy, especially metaphysics, is grounded in John 1:1-4. Christ the Logos is the explanation for the universe and all things therein. (John 1:1-4, Col. 1:17, Rev. 19:13)

Sociology: Both the individual and the social order are important to God, mankind and society. Christ died and rose again for each person as an individual; God ordained social institutions to teach love, respect, discipline, work, and community. God ordained certain social institutions. Family, church, and state are three of the most important. (Gen. 4:1; Luke 1:30-31; Is. 9:6)

Law: Christian or Divine Law consists of both natural and Biblical law originating in the very character of a righteous and loving God. Divine law is eternal, and will be used one day to judge the world in a judgment based on natural and revealed law. God established human government and the rule of law primarily to keep in check man’s sinful nature (Romans 2:12ff; 13:1-4). Human rights involves the Biblical doctrine of man’s creation in the image of God. (Gen. 3:11; 49:10; Rev. 5:5)

Ethics: God’s moral nature is absolute, eternal and unchanging. God created the world with a specific moral order revealed to man via both general (natural law) and special revelation (Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ). Ethical standards transcend the relativistic whims of society. (Gen. 2:9; John 1:9; John 3:19,20) 

Biology: Christianity trusts the Genesis model of creation above and beyond the theories of modern science. However, Christianity is not anti-science, requiring only that science begin from a Christian theistic presupposition. Science and Christianity are compatible in that the universe when properly studied reflects that God created all things. (Gen. 1-3; John 1:4; John 11:25; Col. 1:16)

Psychology: Only Christianity, with its emphasis on the spiritual and its understanding of man’s fallen nature can truly address the innermost concerns of the individual. Humans may truly get in touch with themselves by realizing their own sinfulness and consequential status before God, as well as the grace of God which removes all sin and guilt. Self-esteem is realistic only as it follows a true statement of who we are with and without Christ. (Luke 1:46-47; I Thess. 5:23; Titus 2:13)

History: The Christian worldview, unlike many other religious (especially transcendental) worldviews, is firmly rooted in historical events such as the events of the nation of Israel and the life, death, and resurrection of the historical person Jesus Christ. The Bible is an historically accurate book, describing events that actually occurred and are continually being vindicated via archaeology and other historical proofs. (I Cor. 15; John 1:14; Gal 4:4)

  1. Biblical Christian Worldview Presuppositions

GOD (theology): Does God exist? What is his nature? Is he personal or impersonal? One or many? 

REALITY (metaphysics): What is the universe? Who or what created it? Is the universe an open or closed system (Closed: Matter is all there is and nothing from “outside” the universe intervenes, e.g. God. Open: “outside” forces such as God interfere with the natural order)? What is its purpose?

KNOWLEDGE (epistemology): How do we know something/anything? Can we trust our senses? How far will reason take us? Is there such a thing as revealed truth? Can we know something for certain? Is knowledge different from faith?

MAN (anthropology): What is man? Is man basically good or basically bad? Are we free, or the pawns of deterministic forces? Are we only bodies or bodies and spirits? What happens at death? Are there are rewards and/or punishments after death?

  • The “…isms” we face
  1. Islam
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Secular Humanism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Marxism-Leninism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Cosmic Humanism/New Age
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Post-Modernism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. “Practical” Materialism
    • What I have/own defines who I am.
    • “Lust of the eyes”
  1. Consumerism
    • The freedom to chose what I want based on my personal desires and preferences from a variety of options is the greatest good.
    • “Lust of the flesh”
  1. Narcissism
    • Narcissismis the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from the Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.
    • “Pride of Life”

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­

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Online Resources

Summit Ministries – http://www.summit.org (particularly http://www.summit.org/resources/worldview-chart/)

Stand to Reason – http://www.str.org

Monergism-Directory – http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Worldviews

Worldview Series on my blog: https://joefl.wordpress.com/preachingteaching-materials/young-adults-home-group-at-howick-baptist-church/

Ethics Series on my blog: https://joefl.wordpress.com/preachingteaching-materials/im-a-christian-i-live-in-the-real-world-thinking-through-ethics/

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