It is fair to say that the topic of worldview is not on the radar screen of most Christians – yet. The word has become more and more prominent over the last few years, so many people have at least heard the term. But even then, most have only the vaguest idea of what it is and why it is important.
Many Christians think of the idea of worldview in terms of other religions. That is, they believe it has something to do with understanding Islam or Hinduism or other religious beliefs. Certainly there is a connection there, but it is much more fundamental than that. The reason this is so is because an individual’s worldview underpins his or her beliefs about religion, no matter what view is held. This is true for non-Christian religious systems, and even so called “secular” beliefs, as much as it is for our own Christian faith. So when we learn about worldview, we are probing at the most basic element of belief.
In many ways it is like the foundation of a house. The structure of the house is confined to and bound by the foundation. The superstructure is not constructed outside of the foundation. A worldview is the foundation of a belief system, and every system is confined to and bound by the worldview it is built upon.
Another way to illustrate the concept of worldview is to compare it to eyeglasses. When you look through the lens of a pair of glasses, what you see is altered by the lens. But you never think of the lens, only the things you are looking at through the lens. A worldview is a belief lens. The way we evaluate reality is determined by the beliefs we hold at a worldview level. But most people are totally unaware of the worldview lens – only the evaluation of life that they make based on their belief lens.
At this point you may be thinking; “Well, that is interesting, but what significance does that have for my Christian faith?” Great question and I’m glad you asked. That is because if you can wrap your mind around the answer to this question and begin to seriously learn the basic principles of worldview, you will put yourself in a position to strengthen your faith life in ways you never imagined. You will also improve your ability to share a witness to virtually anyone you ever come in contact with – whether they have a Christian background or some other.
Strengthen Your Own Faith Life
The first area of your life that an understanding of worldview will help relates to your own faith. There are several areas related to your faith life that can be dramatically impacted by worldview knowledge.
Understand Your Personal Beliefs
The first area that can be strengthened relates to a deeper understanding of your own personal beliefs. You have a set of belief assumptions, an understanding of reality, that you assume is true without ever questioning them. In fact, everyone in the world operates from their own set of assumptions. But since different people hold beliefs that, literally, contradict one another, not everyone can be right. We must become aware of our own belief lens so we can make sure ours is correct.
It is an amazing fact, but immanently true, that most people are not consciously aware of all of the core worldview beliefs that they hold. A person’s worldview operates at such a fundamental level that it is mostly unconscious. The only way to bring these beliefs to the surface is to deliberately study worldview. When you do this, your understanding of your personal beliefs puts you in a position to stand stronger in your faith life.
Understand the Christian Faith
Most Christians simply assume that their personal beliefs, and the beliefs of the Christian faith, are one and the same. But generally this is not the case. This is borne out by the fact that it is so easy for people who call themselves Christians to act in ways which run contrary to Biblical teachings and to justify those actions using non-biblical reasoning. For instance, it is not unusual to find people who claim to be Christians but believe in Naturalistic evolution or who justify having sex outside of marriage or believe it is okay to “fudge the truth” under certain circumstances. We could go on and on with the examples.
Truly understanding the Christian faith means not only having a knowledge of the tenets of the faith, but also making its teachings animate every thought and action that we engage. An understanding of worldview gives us a framework for understanding our Christian faith in a way that allows us to compare our actual beliefs with the Christian beliefs that we claim to hold.
Have Confidence in Your Own Faith
One of the main reasons Christians don’t have confidence in their faith is purely based on a lack of knowledge. It is difficult to be confident in what you don’t know. But Christian confidence goes a step further. As Christians, we want to have confidence in a manner which not only provides intellectual self-assurance, but which also becomes that actual motivating factor for our thoughts and actions. As hard as it is to swallow, we generally work the other way – we look to our own needs and ideas to shape our faith. If we truly want to be confident in our faith, we have to learn how to shape our personal beliefs around Biblical ones. When we truly grasp that concept, confidence in our Christian faith will shoot through the roof.
Have the Ability to Strengthen Fellow Believers
It is very difficult to be confident about giving right advice to other people when we are not confident about how we, ourselves, are living up to our faith. Thus, when we finally come to a place where we do have the confidence that we are aligned with our Christian faith, we put ourselves in a position to truly help other people. Not only does this give us satisfaction that we are able to serve others this way, but it also helps us fulfill a part of the mandate that Christ has given to us as Christians.
Strengthen Your Witness
The second area of life that an understanding of worldview strengthens relates to our witness. The unfortunate fact is, only a very small percentage of Christians actually share their faith with non-believers – even though we are aware that Christ has commissioned us to do it. When we truly grasp the concepts related to worldview, our ability to share our faith is strengthened considerably.
Understand Pop Culture
Every element of the culture around us is shaped by some set of worldview beliefs: music, movies, education philosophy, news media, political parties and on and on. There is literally no part of our modern culture which is not shaped by some set of beliefs. It is impossible to grasp the influences of these beliefs and respond in a Christian way without some understanding of the beliefs which confront us. An understanding of worldview gives us the tools to not only grasp where various cultural ideas come from, but also gives us a platform for intelligently confronting the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Understand Other People’s Beliefs
In our modern world, the average person is libel to come into contact with people from literally dozens of different belief systems. Our culture has become very diverse belief wise. If we take seriously our commission to share the gospel, we definitely want to be able to share with any person any time it is appropriate to do so. But to do that, we need to have some knowledge of what they believe. Using a traditional approach means learning the doctrines of all of these various beliefs, which can be quite a daunting task. But if we understand worldview principles, the task is greatly simplified and provides us a way to easily be a witness to anyone at any time.
Have the Ability to Witness
We don’t have to understand all about worldview in order to share a witness. However, understanding worldview principles gives us a set of categories which helps us identify more effectively with the people we want to witness to.
The reason this is so helpful is that there is a common set of categories which define salvation in every belief system – our own as well as all others. By knowing these categories, we have a means of understanding how the gospel message compares with other beliefs. It also helps us more easily identify what we need to share with others in order to help them more fully understand the gospel. With this, our ability to share the gospel message is enhanced immeasurably.
Have the Ability to Stand Your Ground in Faith Conversations
One of the main reasons people don’t like talking about faith issues with others is that they are afraid they will come up against questions and accusations that they aren’t able to answer. So, what is the cure for that problem? Simply, knowing how to give an answer. This is one of the places where a knowledge of worldview principles truly comes to the forefront. With this knowledge, not only do we have a greater understanding of the strengths of our own faith, but also the weaknesses of other beliefs. With that knowledge, we are in a position to stand strong with anyone in the face of questions or attacks.
How Can All of this Be Yours?
With all of the benefits of understanding the principles of worldview, what is keeping Christians from getting this knowledge? For the most part, it is nothing more than a lack of effort.
It is a fact, in any and every area of life, that you become good at what you do. If you put effort into something, you will get a result from it. And the more effort you put into it, the better the result. If, indeed, the purpose of God in our lives is truly the most important thing that exists for us, why are we so negligent in going after the knowledge and skills associated with fulfilling it? It is oh so easy to get wrapped up in self and set aside the purposes of God. But if we are serious about accomplishing the purpose of our existence, we will begin to put more effort into that arena.
It is certainly true that we are saved by faith through God’s grace, and there is no work we can do to accomplish that salvation. However, this does not mean that we are to do no work for the kingdom. We are saved for the purpose of serving God. And we become better at serving God as we gain the knowledge and skills associated with accomplishing that purpose in our lives.
Every believer is called to serve and it requires preparation. To do that, we must put effort in learning several things. We must learn the basics of worldview. We must learn how to share the message of salvation. We must learn the skills associated with living in relationship with God. And to learn all of these things, we have to put out the effort to do it.
The secret to becoming more effective in our faith life is simply to decide to do it. We can become proficient at all of the matters dealt with here by reading, getting into discussions with people who have this knowledge, and participating in training opportunities. It is no more or less complicated than that. So, make your commitment today! Begin now to develop and implement your plan and jump on the worldview bandwagon. It will allow you to more effectively become the servant of God that he has called you to be.
© 2011 Freddy Davis