Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5, KJV)
Within the past few years, “worldview” has become a mainstream topic for discussion and application inside the evangelical Christian movement in the United States. The driving force is the growing concern about the rapidly changing post-Christian cultural scene (e.g., the removal of Ten Commandment tablets from courthouses, schools, etc., is but one symptom of this cultural shift away from the Christian influence that was once prevalent in society).
The concern about the changing worldview has led to numerous para-church movements as well as training seminars for the purpose of either reinforcing, rebuilding or establishing a biblical worldview in the lives of professing Christians (and the culture). While the term “biblical worldview” connotes something new to many Christians, it is really just a new name for an old subject.
I recognize that worldviews are divided into numerous categories, based upon variations of belief, and each category is divided into many subcategories. The subcategorization process continues until ultimately no two people have an identically same worldview. However, through generalizations it is possible to “lump” many individual worldviews into one group by restricting the amount of detail used in defining that group.
For this article it will be sufficient to summarize the definition of worldview as it follows from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000.
world·view -noun: 1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. 2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.
A person’s worldview, whether it be Christian, humanist or whatever is a personal insight about meaning and reality. It is how a person interprets, through his or her own eyes, a personal belief about the world. A person’s worldview tries to give reasons for how the facts of reality relate and tie together. The summation of these facts provides the big picture into which the daily events of a person’s life should fit.
It is from this worldview that an individual derives an understanding, interpretation and response to the world in which he or she lives. To each individual, their own worldview should provide a coherent, but not necessarily authoritative, manner in thinking about their world. An individual’s worldview will be shaped by far more than the surrounding physical world. Religion, philosophy, ethics, morality, science, politics and all other belief systems that impact on that individual will play a role in shaping a worldview.
An individual’s worldview is his or her basis for answering such questions as:
- Who am I?
- Where did I come from?
- Where am I going?
- What is true and what is false?
- How should I conduct my life, or act?
- Does God exist and if so what is my response to Him?
The model for the perfect worldview
The most simplistic definition for a biblical worldview is to have the mind of Christ. That would mean that one would think like Christ; love like Christ; act like Christ; walk like Christ: have the humility, patience, longsuffering and all of the other Galatians 5:22–26 fruits of the Spirit. Christ would not only be the model but the individual’s worldview would be an exact copy. That is the final target of the committed Christian’s process of sanctification.
Prior to reaching that glorious point, Christians will have more or less of every aspect of Christ’s worldview reflected in their biblical worldview. Even within the context of biblical worldview there will be subdivisions and further categorization. (e.g., there will be Baptist worldviews vs. Catholic worldviews)—the same dividing occurs within the realm of humanistic, materialistic and other nonbiblical worldviews.
Of greatest immediate concern is the worldview clash between two major camps: the biblical worldview and the nonbiblical worldview.
The opening verse of the Bible sets forth the first and most important facts as the foundation for the development of a worldview; in this case it is the basis for a biblical worldview. Genesis 1:1 says: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Within this short verse are several profound statements that must be at the core of every biblical worldview.
First, it states that since God created the heaven and the earth, He existed prior to that creation (and the verse only speaks of one God). Second, the universe had a beginning, and that beginning was the creation of God. Third, that since God created the heaven and the earth, He must be either, or both, superior to and sovereign over His creation. With more study of the original language, additional truths might be gleaned, but for now it does place God at the center of the preferred belief system. Today, these are the very points that are at the center of the worldview conflict.
In fact, presenting the “correct” worldview has been at the heart of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. The books of Genesis (e.g., its presentation of the doctrine of marriage), Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are full of godly wisdom to be used by Bible readers in the construct and development of a biblical worldview. They are given an accurate understanding and interpretation of their world, their being, their morality, their value system and who they are. God saw fit to provide all of this information in His Word to give His people a more perfect worldview.
Not only do Paul’s epistles give direction to the various churches about their need to have a mind-of-Christ worldview, he also prepared Timothy as a co-worker by inculcating into him those beliefs and practices necessary to be a devoted follower of Christ. Paul would not have been satisfied if his readers only followed his teaching to the point of owning the Spirit of Christ without also proceeding on to cultivating and claiming the mind of Christ. He not only wanted them to know and acknowledge Christ, but he demanded that they claim Christ’s point of view, own His values and desires and gloriously suffer for His kingdom.
Results from a mind-of-Christ, biblical worldview
Throughout our post-biblical age in America, those who have held a biblical worldview have been at the forefront of advancing the Christian religion with its attendant virtues of scientific and artistic cultural advances, human liberty, development of medical sciences and the building of educational institutions. These same people are honored in history for having made remarkable scientific discoveries, for standing against despotic governments and resisting the abuses of religious movements that kept common people in slavery and the elite in power.
The United States, for example, grew and became a great nation because of a nationally embraced worldview that accepted God as the center of the universe. The earliest writings of the founding fathers clearly expressed not only a belief in the power and authority of God, but also a belief in the goodness of His teachings as found in the Bible (even for some of those men who might be called “Deists”).
There was a time, which probably lasted for the first 125 years after American independence, that a biblical worldview was prominent. Americans are now in a period where the secular worldview has become dominant.
One of the most distinguished students of America’s religious trends is George Barna, founder and president of the Barna Group. He conducted several polls in 2003 that reveal the current state of the American evangelical church, and that it lacks a clear understanding of a biblical worldview.1
- Only 4% of all American adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making.
- Only 9% of born-again US Christians have such a perspective on life.
- Only half of the America’s Protestant pastors—51%—have a biblical worldview.
Does worldview matter?
As alluded to above, a biblical worldview has been at the center of many of the world’s greatest contributions to science, human rights, literature, education, medicine and freedom.
For example (and many more could be cited), Johannes Kepler was a profoundly religious individual. He studied both Greek and Hebrew so he could read the Scriptures in their original languages. Among his many noteworthy contributions in astronomy, he discovered three laws of planetary motion, proved how logarithms work and contributed to the development of calculus.
In addition, by all cultural measurements a worldview is important as society tackles controversial topics like abortion, so-called “gay marriage,” (and so on) and tries to resolve them.
As a Christian, your worldview is important to your own Christian sanctification, to the well-being of your family, to the betterment of your community and workplace, and essential to the improvement of your nation’s culture and morality. One can do no less than strive to love the Lord thy God with all of one’s heart.
Unfortunately, there has been a falling away from biblical, moral standards within the church itself. If the church is to regain a recognized standing for moral authority in the arena of public opinion and national dialogue, then it must take a public stand on such things as:
divorce, gambling, use of pornography, excessive consumption of alcohol, child and sexual abuse, and denying the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture (which, unfortunately, are occurring at almost the same rate in the Body as they do in the at-large culture)
or societal ills will continue.
The church and each member of the Body must become prepared to meet the world head-on and gain the victory promised by Christ (Matthew 16:18). But first, each believer needs to put on the mind of Christ and embrace the biblical worldview as presented from Genesis to Revelation.