As you probably know, I’m in the midst of working on a PhD in Worldview and Apologetics. And while the two are related, I tend to be more interested in the Worldview than the Apologetics. In other words, my goal is not to be a guy on a stage having a debate with the naturalistic professor from State U., but to teach believers (college students and others) what it means to have and live out of a Christian worldview. Many people get a quizzical expression on their face upon hearing that, “What does that mean?”
Fortunately, Nancy Pearcey wonderfully defines the concept for us in the introduction to Total Truth. What follows will largely (though not totally) be derived from what she says.
I suppose it might sound redundant to say it, but “worldview” literally derives from a German term that means “view of the world.” It is the conceptual framework through which one views all of life and evaluates it. Pearcey explains: “German Romanticism developed the idea that cultures are complex wholes, where a certain outlook on life, or spirit of the age, is expressed across the board – in art, literature, and social institutions as well as in formal philosophy. The best way to understand the products of any culture, then, is to grasp the underlying worldview being expressed.” (p 24) Later on Dutch reformed thinkers like Abraham Kuyper and Herman Dooyeweerd began asserting that Christians should develop and total life-and-world view that was built upon the truth of biblical revelation rather than inculcating the spirit of the world.
I love this statement from Pearcey: “The purpose of worldview studies is nothing less than to liberate Christianity from its cultural captivity, unleashing its power to transform the world.” (17) She quotes Charles Spurgeon, the great English Baptist preacher of the 19th Century, who said, “The gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it just needs to be let out of its cage.”
The liberation that is needed, she argues, is largely liberation from the secular/sacred dichotomy I wrote about last week. Christianity is not just a matter of the heart – it is also a matter of the mind. Christ calls for total commitment – not just our hearts – one that impacts and influences every aspect of our lives. Our relationship with Him ought to be the hub around which everything else in our life moves and holds together. For that to be the case, we must learn what it means to love the Lord with our minds.
Paul told the Roman church: “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…” We are called to break out of the mold that the world squeezes us into, to which we are conditioned our whole lives. How do we do this? By transformed minds. We must change the way we think – we must change our worldview. When this begins to happen, we learn how we should act – what God’s will is. Too often we think of “religion” as simply a matter of moral codes, of what we should and should not do. Spiritual growth is then thought of in terms of doing better, and sometimes such discussions resemble a self-help seminar. What we see here, however, is that right living flows from right thinking. We must change our minds if we want to change our behavior. Our minds, our worldview, must be conformed to Christ if our actions will be. (Lest anyone protest, I wholeheartedly believe that Christianity is not just a matter of mind – it is a matter of heart also, but I think we usually err on the other side.)
That’s why Pearcey says, “Genuine worldview thinking is far more than a mental strategy or a new spin on current events. At the core, it is a deepening of our spiritual character and the character of our lives.”