Since I was in college, I have been hearing the word Worldview. When I was a freshman in college, we had a whole class on thinking through our worldview, examining it, thinking about it, pondering it. Worldview has been a popular word in many Christian circles, and as we went through Who Stole My Church, I was surprised to find out how few in the room where familiar with it.
So what is a worldview? A worldview is a framework through which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. It’s the glasses that you look at life through. For example (and this is not original to me), a 2-year-old believes he's the center of his world, a secular humanist believes that the material world is all that exists, and a Buddhist believes he can be liberated from suffering by self-purification.
Everyone has a worldview, whether we realize it or not. We all have certain presuppositions and biases that affect the way we view all of life and reality. Where does it come from? Where do we get our worldview? Everywhere. Our parents and family, our culture, our family class, our education, the music we listen to, the books we read, the things we watch, the websites we look at, and much, much more. Most people don’t think through their worldview. It’s something we have absorbed by osmosis from the surrounding cultural influences, and they haven’t thought strategically about what they believe, and may not even be able to give a rational defense of their beliefs to others.
Why is all this important? Because a persons worldview is their personal theology of life, it is the foundation for everything they think and do and say. A persons worldview serves as their decision-making filter, enabling them to make sense of the complex and huge amount of information, experiences, relationships and opportunities they face in life. By helping to clarify what they believe to be important, true and desirable, a worldview has a dramatic influence on a person’s choices in any given situation.
Here’s the problem (or the one I will mention). Most American Christians don’t have a biblical worldview (Only one percent of Mosaics have a biblical worldview and 9 percent of all Americans have a biblical worldview). Only 20 percent of those who call themselves born again have a biblical worldview. How is a biblical worldview defined? For a survey two years ago, the Barna group asked people to answer several questions, based on claims found in the Bible: Do absolute moral truths exist? Is absolute truth defined by the Bible? Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life? Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today? Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned? Is Satan real? Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people? Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings? (http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/12-faithspirituality/252-barna-survey-examines-changes-in-worldview-among-christians-over-the-past-13-years).
What they found was that less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth, and while only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior, they also found that only 47% of born again Christians strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds (i.e. -53 percent of all born again Christians think you can earn it – for a rebuttal to this position, please read Ephesians 2).
Worse, they found some troubling patterns as well. They found that although most Americans consider themselves to be Christian and say they know the content of the Bible, less than one out of ten Americans demonstrate such knowledge through their actions. There’s a story from the White Horse Inn (a Christian radio program), that when they started to do a series examining Galatians last year, they went to a conservative, evangelical Bible college (a place you would expect high biblical knowledge) and asked, “What is the book of Galatians about?” The result was not good, wrote the blogger who told the story, He said, “It was almost jaw dropping to hear some of these responses and how completely wrong they were.” Here’s some of the other answers they got “Community in the church. I’m not familiar with it. Strengthening others in Christ. I haven’t read it all the way through. I don’t remember.” Let me help here. Galatians is about freedom in Christ (5:1)
In addition, they found that , the generational pattern suggests that parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. One of the challenges for parents, though, is that you cannot give what you do not have, and most parents do not possess such a perspective on life” (ibid). This week, a Barna pole noted two more disturbing facts. Twenty-five percent of those who claim to be born-again Christians said that “all people are eventually saved or accepted by God”. A similar proportion, 26 percent, said a person’s religion does not matter because all faiths teach the same lessons. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/many-born-again-christians-hold-universalist-views-barna-finds-49883)
Why do we care that many American Christians don’t have a biblical worldview? Because if we don’t hold a biblical worldview,, it damages our ability to glorify God with our lives, and it destroys our witness. If we don't really believe the truth of God’s word, if it doesn’t shape our thinking and our actions, then our lives will not consistently honor and glorify God. It may sometimes, but not consistently. Furthermore, our witness will be confusing and misleading. We may want to have a good witness, but we will struggle with being influenced more by the philosophy and thinking of our post-Christian culture than by scripture. Colossians warns us, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Col 2:8 NIV). Many American Christians are completely taken by the philosophy of our culture, and while we say that we believe the Bible, our words, actions, tell us that our worldviews are often being shaped by other things.
So how do we develop a biblical worldview? First, and most importantly, we get in the word. We read, read, read. I can’t begin to tell you how important this is. Time and again, the Psalms tell us the value of scripture; Psalm 119 says that Gods word “is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105 NIV). Psalm 1 tells us, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2 NIV). “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple”. Psalm19 tells us “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.(Psalm 19:7-11). As you read scripture, it will change you, because it proclaims the message of God’s saving work, warns us, directs us, guides us, and does more than we can ask or imagine.
Second, Be Bereans. Acts tells us “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Act 17:11) When you come across ideas, examine them, don’t just let them flow in and sit. This goes for everything I say too. Hold it to the light of Scripture, and see if it matches.
Third, really start to think through what you believe, and why you believe it. In Romans 12, Paul writes, “I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12:1-2 NIV) To not conform, you have to examine what you believe, and how that shapes your life.
Fourth, read books that help you wrestle with big questions. Read like crazy. I would recommend four books to start with: Tim Keller’s “A Reason for God” (I highly recommend “A reason for God” if you are trying to engage postmoderns), John Stott’s “Basic Christianity”, Lee Strobel’s “A Case for Christ”, and C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”. Start with Keller, his book is worth it.
Finally and most importantly, constantly preach the gospel to yourself, remind yourself every day of all that God has done. Remind yourself that Christ died for you, He lost his life, so that you might have life in him. He died as a sinner, so that you might be righteous. He died, to make you God’s child in his image. He died a terrible death, so that you might know “the all surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”(Phil.3:8). If you seek to build a biblical worldview and live a life that glorifies God without understanding this, you will fail, because the efforts will be either based on guilt, or emotions; and both eventually both power sources run dry. But if you remember the cross, if your remember that Christ became weak, so you might be strong, it will give you the right motivation, not on your actions earning Gods grace, but based on a joyful response to all that Christ has done for you.