Christians don’t have problems with the Christian worldview, right? After all, it is the belief system that they call their own.
But the truth is, a very large percentage of self-identified Christians, many who are even active in church, have mixed other beliefs in with their Christian faith. Some of these other beliefs are overtly non-Christian, such as a belief that the Bible is not the authoritative revelation of God, or that Naturalistic evolution reflects the truth about human origins. But other of these mixed in beliefs are of a different nature. Many who self-identify as Christians are, in fact, what could be referred to as cultural Christians. That is, they identify as Christians not because they believe and live out the teachings of the Bible, but because they were born in a “Christian nation” (America) or were baptized when they were young.
But a worldview is more than intellectual belief. Belief at a worldview level originates at an unconscious level. Worldview beliefs are such that it is almost impossible to live in a way which is contrary to the tenets of those beliefs. So, even though people may call themselves Christians, many of these same people don’t see any problem living a lifestyle or believing things which go against biblical teachings. In other words, their actual worldview beliefs are not consistent with the Christian beliefs that they claim to hold. These people may be Christian in name, but obviously not Christian based on their worldview beliefs.
Worldview beliefs are so foundational that people cannot imagine going against them. If someone declares that they are Christian but are able to give themselves permission to believe or act in ways which are contrary to biblical teachings, then it is a sure thing that there are beliefs mixed in at the worldview level which come from some other worldview. With that understanding in place, let’s look at six areas where many people who call themselves Christians have other beliefs mixed in with their Christianity.
Problem #1 – Theological Distortions
As we live life, particularly when we are young, we pick up our beliefs just by living. We are taught our basic beliefs and morality by our parents and other relatives, school teachers, pastors, and friends. Unfortunately, many times there are beliefs that we pick up which are simply not right – even as it regards teachings from the Bible. It is not unusual at all to find people who have non-biblical beliefs about the importance of church interaction, who is saved and how to be saved, evolution, abortion, homosexuality, sexual morality and many other things. It is not sufficient to believe something just because “that is the way I was raised,” or “that is what my pastor taught.” We must be diligent to compare what we believe with what the Bible teaches and adjust our beliefs to align completely with biblical teachings. This is a lifelong process which requires that we be willing to evaluate our lives based on the teachings of the Bible.
Problem #2 – Lack of Understanding of God
This second problem is rather sneaky. Every person interacts with God based on their beliefs about him. If one’s understanding about God is wrong or incomplete, the personal interaction with him will be distorted. God has revealed himself in the Bible to be King of kings and Lord of lords. But he has also revealed himself to be our loving Heavenly Father. We must recognize God in both of these capacities. As our great King, we must have a profound respect for him and acknowledge both the priority of his will and the status of his position. But as our Father, we need to recognize that he loves us and is both personal and near. If both of these are not incorporated into our understanding, we will not worship God properly. Once again, our understanding of God must come from the Bible. It is critical to have humility and be willing to adjust our beliefs about him as we read the Bible and learn more about the fullness of this personhood.
Problem #3 – Lifestyle Conflicts
Another issue that causes problems with many Christians has its roots in pure selfishness. It is a matter of putting ones own will above the known will of God. Because of our sin nature, we all have a tendency and a desire to be self-governing over every part of our life. In other words, we want to do what we want to do, no matter what. In many people’s lives this plays out in illicit or immoral behavior. There are many who self-identify as Christians but who are engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage (both of the heterosexual and homosexual variety), using mind altering substances simply for personal pleasure, living life as if their material resources were their own rather than God’s, participating in activities which don’t further God’s purposes, and so on.
But God has called us to holiness. We cannot be in fellowship with him when we are deliberately living a lifestyle that puts us outside of his presence. If we are making lifestyle choices based on non-biblical beliefs, we have somehow allowed beliefs from another place to seep into our lives. The only remedy for this is to know what the Bible teaches about God’s will and to have a personal commitment to follow his will no matter what.
Problem #4 – Belief Intellectualization
Problem four is something every Christian must be on the lookout for. That is, allowing our beliefs to become impersonal. Since God does not manifest himself to us as a physical being, we don’t have a frame of reference for interacting with him which corresponds with our usual way of dealing with other persons. As such, many don’t really think of God as a person and act toward him as if he is some kind of impersonal spirit being.
But God is a person and has revealed himself to us as personal. As such, we must learn how to personalize our belief about God rather than intellectualize it. This is not an admonition to be anti-intellectual. Obviously, we can’t act on what we do not know. But along with an intellectual understanding of God, we must have an experiential knowledge of him. In doing that, we are able to relate to him as the person he is – that is, in the same way we relate to others with whom we have a personal relationship.
Problem #5 – Purpose Confusion
Many people, even Christians, have their life purpose focused on themselves, rather than on God. The truth is, God created us for relationship with himself and we can only find true meaning for our lives as we understand and tap into that purpose. When we live life based on self purpose, God’s purpose for our existence gets set aside and we are unable to live in and to accomplish his will for our lives. But when we live in God’s purpose, we are able to walk a path that leads to the ultimate in meaning and joy. Once again, we clarify God’s will for our lives by growing in our knowledge of his revelation and making the personal commitment that we are going to live in that will above our own.
Problem #6 – Unwillingness to Acknowledge God’s Calling
The sixth problem many Christians have with living out a Christian worldview is that they are not willing to acknowledge God’s calling on their lives. Many people have the belief that the only people God calls into full-time Christian ministry are those who go into vocational Christian professions. But that belief does not come from a Christian worldview.
God does call some people into vocational Christian ministry, but that is a small subset of a larger group of God called people. God has called every believer into full-time Christian ministry. It is just that the ministry most are called to is to be done from the platform of a secular rather than a church vocation. People who don’t acknowledge God’s calling on their lives don’t see a need to personally do the work of God in the world. Rather, they tend to look to others to do that work – usually the professional vocational minister. No Christian can truly live out a Christian worldview who does not recognize God’s calling on his or her life and actively work to accomplish God’s purpose through the vocation they work in.
Any believer who struggles with living out a Christian worldview need not look very far to find the problem. The problem is that non-Christian worldview beliefs have crept in. To solve this problem, there is only one cure. That cure is to recognize where the problem beliefs are and remove them from our lives. Most likely, the culprit relates to one or more of the six problems above. Solve those problems and you will find yourself in a position to live out a Christian worldview in ways that you never imagined possible.
© 2011 Freddy Davis