What is your worldview? If you are not sure, we may need to ask: What is a worldview?
“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 subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being” (The Universe Next Door. A Basic Worldview Catalog by James W. Sire. Fourth Edition. [Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic. 2004], 17-18.) Many influences are involved in an individual’s worldview.
David A. Noebel gets to the heart of the meaning when he writes: “Every individual bases his thoughts, decisions and actions on a worldview. A person may not be able to identify his worldview, and it may lack consistency, but his most basic assumptions about the origin of life, purpose, and the future guarantee adherence to some system of thought” (Understanding the Times [Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1994], 1.)
Philipps and Brown simplify the idea by saying: “A worldview is, first of all, an explanation and interpretation of the world and second, an application of this view to life. In simpler terms, our worldview is a view of the world and a view for the world” (W. Gary Phillips and William E. Brown, Making Sense of Your World [Chicago: Moody Press, 1991], 29.) Applying what we believe to our everyday lives is living our own worldview.
One of the most influential studies on worldview by James Sire has seven questions to consider when examining our worldview:
- What is prime reality — the really real? To this we might answer God, or the gods, or the material cosmos. Our answer here is the most fundamental. It sets the boundaries for the answers that can consistently be given to the other six questions.
- What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us? Here our answers point to whether we see the world as created or autonomous, as chaotic or orderly, as matter or spirit; or whether we emphasize our subjective, personal relationship to the world or its objectivity apart from us.
- What is a human being? To this we might answer: a highly complex machine, a sleeping god, a person made in the image of God, or a naked ape.
- What happens to a person at death? Here we might reply: personal extinction, or transformation to a higher state, or reincarnation, or departure to a shadowy existence on “the other side.”
- Why is it possible to know anything at all? Sample answers include the idea that we are made in the image of an all-knowing God or that consciousness and rationality developed under the contingencies of survival in a long process of evolution.
- How do we know what is right and wrong? Again, perhaps we are made in the image of a God whose character is good, or right and wrong are determined by human choice alone or what feels good, or the notions simply developed under an impetus toward cultural or physical survival.
- What is the meaning of human history? (James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door. A Basic Worldview Catalog. Fourth Edition [Downers Grove: IVP, 2004], 20.)
Sire surveys the landscape of people’s ideas on the questions he raises. It is important to note: “The fact is that we cannot avoid assuming some answers to such questions. We will adopt either one stance or another. Refusing to adopt an explicit worldview will turn out to be itself a worldview, or at least a philosophical position” (Sire, 21).
Questions That Need Answers
When we narrow down the field to the three most common questions, we begin to see our worldview more clearly: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going when I die? It is generally conceded that these three questions relating to our existence cover our curiosity and drive us to dig deeper in many cases to discover real, consistent, coherent answers that align with a worldview that makes sense to us. We may not be able to articulate our worldview, but we have one none the less.
Examples abound in books and materials with varying lists of questions that center around the same, basic inquiries as listed above. The biblical worldview answers each of the questions consistently as they are considered in reality and join together the overall plan of God for man:
Where did I come from? Mankind was the crowning glory of God’s creation. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).
Why am I here? “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).
Where am I going when I die? Our eternal destiny depends on obedience to His commandments. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16).
The Big Issue
One’s view of God is the starting point for all worldviews. God is present in the foundation of our worldview if we have a biblical one. If we fail to include God in our worldview (Rom. 1:21), then we operate on an atheistic platform that will fail us eternally.
A biblical worldview is a perspective that sees everything through the “glasses” of Scripture. Rather than allowing culture or experience to determine a worldview, it allows the Bible to make that determination. “The Christian belief system, which the Christian knows to be grounded in divine revelation, is relevant to all of life” (Carl F.H. Henry, Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief [Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1990], 113.).
The following are only a beginning sampling of biblical reminders of living our lives after the pattern of Him who died for us. A biblical worldview will be lived out by our unwavering allegiance to God and His Word in every category of life. We are not being true to God if we compartmentalize our faith and fail to consistently apply the gospel to our whole existence.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7).
Take time to examine what you believe and why you believe it. Make sure your foundation is built upon God and His Word and seek to live your life in a consistent manner daily, all the while keeping your eyes focused upon Jesus Christ and His example. A biblical worldview is the way of life for the Christian and must be maintained in order to please God our Creator.
Steve serves as one of the ministers at the church of Christ at Gold Hill Road in Fort Mill, SC. He has just written a book about living the Christian life, Between Sundays.