Written by Victor Stanley Jr.
The following are my responses to a series of questions I was asked recently concerning worldview.
What Is A Worldview?
A worldview is how a person interprets the world around them. It consists of their morals, values, presuppositions about life and society, and their beliefs. These elements are not just views they hold, but rather they are the foundations that determine how a person understands the world around them. A worldview also serves as a person’s percipience of their role in the world, and it provides the basis for how they will judge themselves and others.
A person’s worldview contains the essential truths—whether they’re true or not—that govern how a person will live their life; it dictates their perception of reality.
What Is A Biblical Worldview?
A biblical worldview consists of the same elements that make up every worldview; however it is governed by the Bible. The thing upon which the entire biblical worldview rests is the belief that God, the God of the Bible, exists. The biblical worldview believes that God created everything in the universe by simply speaking it into existence, and that he himself sustains all creation. It recognizes that God has revealed himself to man through his creation, his word, the Holy Spirit, and the man Jesus Christ. Through this revelation God’s holiness becomes evident, and because of this man’s greatest problem becomes sin. Sin separates man from God, and renders him completely unable to attain any state of righteousness that would allow him to once again be joined with God. However, the man Christ Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, was sent to redeem the world by taking on our sins, and bearing the full weight of God’s wrath against mankind in order that his righteousness might be credited to our account. In light of all this the biblical worldview is dictated by the Bible which is the inerrant and inspired word of God. The Christian seeks to completely surrender every aspect of their life to God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit they strive to live according to his word. All of this forms the basis of a biblical worldview, and guides the life of the Christian as it is the lens through which they interpret reality.
Why Is “Worldview” Important?
Our current postmodern society says that there are no absolutes, and that morality is relative and subjective. My generation was raised in a culture where the media, scholars, teachers, and others propagated these ideas, and it they have shaped the worldview of a generation. We can see the results of this type of thinking being implemented way back in the earlier part of the last century when modernism was prevalent. Abortion, gay rights, moral “gray areas,” a backlash against traditional values, and the counter-culture becoming the mainstream culture began to take effect around the 1950’s, but these things were still frowned upon. Flash forward to today, and not only are these things prevalent, they’re celebrated, and anyone who challenges them is considered a bigot or intolerant. This begs the question of what the future will look like if this type of thinking is taken to its logical conclusions. All of that to say that a worldview is important because it not only determines how we look at the world, but also what the world will look like when certain worldviews dominate the culture. The elements that make up a person’s worldview, and a society’s at large—beliefs, morals, values, philosophies, etc.—will drive the direction of the culture. I think that the importance of one’s worldview can be summed up in a quote from Victor Frankl that Dr. Ravi Zacharias used during a recent lecture he gave at John Hopkins University where I was in attendance; he said this concerning the Holocaust:
“I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.”
Our worldviews not only determine the course our lives will take, but also the course of society’s future.
How Has Your Understanding of a “Biblical Worldview” Changed Since Starting Bible College?
I don’t think my understanding of the biblical worldview has changed significantly. Although, I will say that I have come to recognize that it should encompass every single aspect of the Christian’s life from how they treat others, to their politics, to their career, to their views on social issues, and so on. The thing that has altered my view the most is the concept of syncretism. I am now recognizing areas where I have pulled in portions of other worldviews, and adapted them to my so called biblical worldview. The biblical worldview does provide answers, guidance, insight, wisdom, and knowledge in all areas of life, which rids us of the necessity to pull from other worldviews in order to gain understanding. The danger of syncretism is very evident in numerous denominations and sects of Christianity, as it leads to doctrinal error, false teaching, and ultimately heretical teaching. As a theology & apologetics major I am seeking to build a comprehensive understanding of the word of God, and its application in the life of the Christian. C.S. Lewis stated in his collection of essays titled “The Weight of Glory” that those of us who have the ability and means to become educated in theology, philosophy, apologetics, and so on have a responsibility to our Christian brothers and sisters to fervently uphold the truth of the Bible, and defend it against those who seek to disprove it. I would say that overall my understanding of the biblical worldview has become strengthened, and my motivation to know the truths of the Bible on a deeper level has increased.
How Might/Should a Biblical Worldview Influence the Way You Think About, Treat, and Speak to Others On a Daily Basis? And How You Treat/Interact With the Environment and Non-Human Creation?
These two go hand in hand because the Bible regards human life as sacred, and creation as ‘good’. The Bible tells Christians that as much as it is up to them they should live in peace with their neighbors. The Bible also states, via the words of Jesus, that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. This should compel the Christian to not only be kind to other, but to actively pursue the building of relationships with others. Christians should have a servant attitude in that they seek to be a blessing to others, that they strive to serve others out of the goodness of their hearts, and that they demonstrate the love of Christ to others. Likewise Christians should be mindful of the environment including nature, and animals. These things are God’s creation and he cares about them and has designated them as good according to Genesis 1. God made man ruler over nature and the beasts of the Earth, thus man has the responsibility of caring for God’s creation. Again, as much as it is up to the Christian, they should always work to preserve, nurture, and care for the environment and the creatures that inhabit its ecosystems.