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Explore the depths of the Christian worldview and how it shapes our perception of reality, truth, and values. Understand how belief in a purposeful Creator, faith in His revealed truth, and a commitment to love God and others forms the bedrock of a Christian’s worldview. This article is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the intricate framework of Christian philosophy.
Every person has a lens through which they interpret the world; this lens is often referred to as a worldview. A worldview is like a mental map that guides us in navigating through life; it helps us make sense of our experiences, make decisions, and establish our values and behaviors.
A worldview is shaped by a multitude of factors, including our cultural background, upbringing, personal experiences, and education. It influences our thoughts, decisions, actions, and interactions. It’s an interpretative framework that provides the foundation for our understanding of reality.
Worldviews can be divided into three main components: beliefs about the nature of reality (metaphysics), beliefs about the nature of knowledge and truth (epistemology), and beliefs about what is of value (axiology).
Metaphysically, a worldview addresses questions about what is ultimately real. What exists? Is the universe chaotic or orderly? Does God exist, and if so, what is His nature? These questions probe the nature of reality and existence.
Epistemologically, a worldview explores how we can know what we know and what constitutes truth. Can we trust our senses? What is the relationship between faith and reason? These questions delve into the nature and sources of knowledge and truth.
Axiologically, a worldview looks at what is of value, what is good or evil, right or wrong. What is the meaning or purpose of life? What are our moral duties and why? These questions concern ethics, aesthetics, and the ultimate purpose of human existence.
Our worldview is like a compass, helping us navigate through the vast ocean of life’s questions and challenges. For instance, when faced with moral dilemmas, our worldview guides us towards what we perceive as the right choice.
So, what is the biblical worldview? It begins with the belief in the existence of a personal and purposeful Creator who is both distinct from and involved with the world (Genesis 1:1). This Creator, named Jehovah in the Scriptures, is the source of all life and existence.
The biblical worldview asserts that humans are unique creatures, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and therefore possess inherent dignity and worth. However, due to the Fall in Eden (Genesis 3), all humans are in a state of moral imperfection and are in need of redemption.
Epistemologically, the biblical worldview holds that God has revealed Himself and His truth to humanity through both general revelation (nature and conscience; Romans 1:20, 2:15) and special revelation (the Scriptures; 2 Timothy 3:16). We can trust this revealed truth because it comes from a perfect, truthful God (Numbers 23:19).
In terms of axiology, the biblical worldview asserts that our ultimate purpose is to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:37-39). It insists that moral values and duties are objective and grounded in the character of God (Psalm 19:7-9).
In contrast to the biblical worldview are numerous other worldviews, such as naturalism, pantheism, and postmodernism, each offering different answers to life’s fundamental questions.
Ultimately, the worldview one adopts has profound implications on how they live their life. Understanding our own worldview and those of others helps foster mutual understanding, respect, and dialogue in our diverse, pluralistic societies. It is a crucial element of our personal and communal identities, forming the basis of our thoughts, values, and actions. As such, it deserves our careful consideration and thoughtful reflection.
About the Author
Ronald H. Nash writes,
Worldview thinking has become an important tool to help Christians understand, explain, and defend the Christian faith. Every human being has a worldview, even though many are uninformed about what a worldview is and the power that worldviews have over the way we think and behave. A worldview is the total of answers people give to the most important questions in life. According to some, the five most important elements in any worldview are what people believe about God, ultimate reality, knowledge, ethics, and human nature.
Worldview thinking has important links to religious belief. Instead of viewing Christianity as a collection of theological bits and pieces to be believed or debated, people should approach it as a conceptual system, as a total world-and-life view. Once people understand that Christianity and its competitors are worldviews, they will be in a better position to judge the relative merits of the competing systems.
The case for or against Christian theism, then, should be made and evaluated in terms of total systems. Some people reject Christianity not because of their problems with one or two isolated issues, such as the virgin birth, but because their worldview encompasses beliefs that are the opposite of Christian thinking. Opponents of the Christian worldview disagree with Christianity because they hold to competing worldviews.
People can and do change their worldviews. Saul of Tarsus was one of early Christianity’s greatest enemies. He was fanatically committed to a system that seemed to rule out any possibility of his change or conversion to the Christian faith. Saul’s conversion encourages us with the confidence that even those with the most opposing worldviews to Christianity may be capable of total change. People who used to be humanists, naturalists, atheists, or followers of competing religious faiths have found reasons to turn away from their former worldviews and embrace Christianity. Conversely, people who used to profess allegiance to Christianity sometimes reach a point where they feel they can no longer believe.
It seems unlikely that a single set of conditions will always be present when people change a worldview. After all, many people remain unaware that they have a worldview, even though the sudden change in their lives and thoughts resulted from their exchanging one worldview for another. In many cases the actual change is triggered by a significant event, often a crisis of some kind. But in other instances an event or piece of new information led them to think in ways that were totally different for them. Quite unexpectedly, these people saw things they had overlooked before, or they suddenly saw matters fit together in a pattern that brought meaning where none had been discernible before.
People change their minds on important subjects for a bewildering variety of reasons (or for no reason at all). When faced with a choice among competing worldviews, we should choose the one that, when applied to the whole of reality, gives us the most coherent picture of the world. And that most coherent worldview is the Christian worldview. Helping people see the importance of their worldview and leading them to realize the coherence in the Christian worldview is one of the most important tasks of apologetics.—Ronald H. Nash, “What Is a Worldview?,” in The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, ed. Ted Cabal et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 923.