WHY WORLDVIEW MATTERS: Your Worldview Affects Everything!
In part one of this study, I briefly touched on a hodgepodge of culture and worldview related topics just as an introduction to the study. In part two of this study, I will begin to examine more specifically this idea of worldviews in our politics and culture and consider the question of why understanding the idea of worldviews is so important, especially for the believer, and particularly in this culturally and politically polarized time that we find ourselves in America today. But first, let me begin part 2 of this study by going into a little more detail about exactly what we mean by the term “worldview,” and why it is at the center of everything that is happening in our individual lives, our communities, in our politics, our Country and in our world.
For starters, as I stated in the previous article, everyone has a worldview, since all of us are faced with the deepest questions of the purpose and nature of human life. What is at stake is how we understand the world in which we live in general, and how understanding worldviews will help us to better understand or discern the cultural, political and spiritual ramifications of our time. This by the way, is not just unique to the Christian, but it is foundational for all, whether or not they are a believer or an atheist, and whether or not they know it, or can coherently articulate or not, what they believe and why they believe it.
Consider for example, many of the contrasting and conflicting beliefs regarding the many hot button issues, or the latest dominate media narratives of our day in our politics and even among Christian circles. If you are looking at the issues objectively and critically, the first question that should come to mind is, how can two people look at the same news report for example, and one person or demographic will view it as “another example of America’s systematic racism,” while others can look at the same issue or story, and conclude that this is another example of “narrative shaping,” by the media, or this is an example of humanities depravity, and of why we need a Savior? Or, as I asked in part one of this study, how can two intelligent, God fearing, bible believing Christians, look at the same passage of scripture, and arrive at two completely different interpretations of the passage? The answer is simple. It is all about your worldview, or the lens, the glasses or the filter through which you view life and the world around you.
The understanding of the the impact and influence that our worldviews have on how and why we think what we think is critical, especially for the Christian. This is true for a variety of reasons. For starters, any objective social analyst would come to the obvious conclusion that the United States faces its fair share of moral and spiritual problems. A very telling new research study from researcher George Barna of the Barna Group titled, “A BILICAL WORLDVIEW HAS A RADICAL EFFECT ON A PERSON’S LIFE.” In his research, Barna suggest that a large share of the nation’s moral and spiritual challenges are directly attributed to the absence of a biblical worldview among Americans.
In the study, Barna notes for example, “Everyone has a worldview, since all are faced with “the deepest questions of the purpose and nature of human life. What is at stake is how we understand the world in which we live.” This is a principle that is foundational for all, whether or not they know it or not, a Christian or Atheist, or whether or not you can articulate it.
Any objective social analyst would conclude that the United States faces its fair share of moral and spiritual problems. A new research study from Barna Group suggests that a large share of the nation’s moral and spiritual challenges is directly attributable to the absence of a biblical worldview among Americans. Citing the findings from a just-completed national survey of 2033 adults that showed only 4% of adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making, researcher George Barna described the outcome. “If Jesus Christ came to this planet as a model of how we ought to live, then our goal should be to act like Jesus.
Sadly, few people consistently demonstrate the love, obedience and priorities of Jesus. The primary reason that people do not act like Jesus is because they do not think like Jesus. Behavior stems from what we think – our attitudes, beliefs, values and opinions. Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life. We’re often more concerned with survival amidst chaos than with experiencing truth and significance.”
Not Just Any Worldview
The research indicated that everyone has a worldview, but relatively few people have a biblical worldview – even among devoutly religious people. The survey discovered that only 9% of born again Christians have such a perspective on life. The numbers were even lower among other religious classifications: Protestants (7%), adults who attend mainline Protestant churches (2%) and Catholics (less than one-half of 1%). The denominations that produced the highest proportions of adults with a biblical worldview were non-denominational Protestant churches (13%), Pentecostal churches (10%) and Baptist churches (8%).” 
The Difference a Biblical Worldview Makes
As I pointed out in the previous lesson, most people presuppose that the problems in America are social, racial, religious or financial. While on the surface it is easy to see why people could probably make those arguments, however when you look at the big issues that we face more in depth and think through the issues more critically, you can make the case that at the root of the more polarizing ideological and philosophical differences that we face in American culture and politics are not so much sociological, financial or racial, but rather the differences in worldviews.
This is especially insightful when you consider the fact that our ideologies don’t just occur in a vacuum, but they are the result of our worldview. In other words, your worldview will dictate your beliefs and your beliefs will then dictate your behaviors, responses, reactions, emotions, and choices in any given situation. And then those behaviors, emotions, reactions, and choices that we display to the various stimulus we face, will ultimately testify to our worldview.
In the simplest terms, our worldview can be defined as, a mental framework of ideas about the world and about life, the lens or the glasses or the filter through which one views and interprets the world around us, a comprehensive conception of the world through a specific viewpoint, your personal concept of reality, a theory of the world used for living in the world, the ideological framework which shapes a person’s view of reality, the overall perspective in which one sees and interprets the world and events.
In short, our worldview can be succinctly seen as a collection of beliefs about life, religion and culture held by individuals or by groups, a philosophy, or the presuppositions that influence our outlook on life and how we perceive the world we live in.
To put it even more simply, your worldview comprises one’s collection of presuppositions, convictions, and values from which a person tries to understand and make sense out of the world and life. In other words, every worldview starts with presuppositions, that is, beliefs that one presumes to be true without supporting independent evidence from other sources or systems.
To put it yet another way, your worldview can be seen as a set of glasses that you look through to bring what is happening in the world into mental focus. If you like computers for example, you can think of your worldview as your operating system, the thing that converts your life experiences into the ones and zeros that your mind understands. More simply, your worldview is your gut-level, instinctive responses to basic philosophical questions about life, the world, religion and politics, as well as the basis for your reactions to events and life’s circumstances. A comprehensive worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individuals or society’s knowledge and point of view. The beliefs, values, and behaviors of a culture stems directly from its worldview.
In summary, “Your worldview is the basis for everything. It is the basis for how we see the world, what we think the world is, the decisions we make, the behaviors that we will choose, and the responses to other people’s behaviors, all stem from your worldviews.” The word of God points out this aspect of human nature on several occasions, for example, we can point to such passages as: “Out of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Luke 6:45), and “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). This is also why Paul challenged the Christians in Rome to “be transformed by the RENEWING OF YOUR MINDS” (Romans 12:2). Because, it is our thought processes, ideologies, our paradigms or our worldviews that shape who we are, what we believe, how we vote in elections, and so forth. And Paul was letting those new believers in Rome know, that in order to have the “Mind of Christ,” their needed to be a complete shift away from their old pagan worldviews, and a transformation to a biblical worldview.
Worldview Impact on the Culture
To state it frankly, your worldview impacts every level of the culture. It is like the the foundation of a building. The foundation is unseen because it is beneath the surface. Most people who live or work in the building could go through their entire lives and never even directly think about the foundation. But yet, the building would not exist without that foundation. But if the buildings foundation is flawed, then eventually, it will cause serious problems in the building. The walls will eventually begin to bow and crack, the basement will begin to take on moister, which will lead to mold and multitude of potential health issues.
Similarly, if citizens who make up a given culture, have a flawed worldview, then just like a building with a flawed foundation, the culture will begin to buckle. More specifically, everyone has a worldview as to what is right, wrong and how things should ideally function. It includes basic beliefs and expectations and outlook on what is just, what is fair, what is right, and what is wrong. We all have beliefs on things like what constitute a marriage, on race, on politics, Republican, Democrat, or Independent.
From a biblical perspective, as Paul said in Romans 12:2, disciple making involves a worldview change and not just external behavior changes. In other words, without a worldview change, repentance and conversion in the biblical sense has not really taken place. Furthermore, the Churches mission is to “make disciples,” and to IMPACT and INFLUENCE the culture, and not be impacted and influenced by the culture.
The importance of worldview on the culture at large can never be overstated. Because every one of us, whether consciously or subconsciously have a worldview, or default presuppositions that have been programmed into our minds over a lifetime of sensory inputs, from an ever increasing barrage of sources, that influence how we think, our outlook on life and our perceptions of what is right and what is wrong.
Whether educated or uneducated, religious or non-religious, rich or poor, black or white, male or female, good or bad, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or charismatic, we all have a belief system or way of looking at the world that influences how we think, how interpret life and how we react to various stimulus.
Putting it another way, an individual’s worldview is your “big picture,” or your harmony of all your beliefs about the world, your way of understanding reality and your basis for making daily decisions. This insight therefore, makes your individual worldviews extremely critical in effecting our individual decisions and destinies.
This is something that can never be over stated. Everyone has a worldview even if you do not recognize it or cannot explain what it is. It describes our search for answers to life’s most important questions. Your worldview affects the way you look at every issue of life including: Life, death, politics, religion, parenting, education and so on. And as I stated, your worldview glasses affect how you view certain events and how you respond to them. If your worldview glasses have the correct prescription, then you will see the world accurately. If they have the wrong prescription, your view of the world will be distorted. And subsequently, because a home, a community, a church, or a country, are all made up of fallen individuals who all have these default presuppositions that impact how they see the world.
To re-emphasize a point that I made at the beginning of this article, I contend that most, if not all of the polarizing ideological and philosophical differences that we face in todays American culture and politics are not so much sociological, economic or racial, but rather the differences in worldviews is at the root of problem. In other words, it is my assertion that when we evaluate the big social and cultural issues and challenges of our day from a biblical worldview, or through the lens of God’s word, we are then able to develop a much broader and more fully developed, big picture perspective on the issues that have America so polarized, along with the conflicts that we are seeing around the world than we will be able to discern what you can’t by viewing the world through a natural lens.
The Apostle Paul drove this point home in his first letters to the believers in Corinth when he said, “But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. 16 For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 NLT). Simply put, those of us who have a biblical worldview, believes that God has given us a moral code of ethics, that a carnal minded person simply can’t comprehend.
This also means, that those of us who have a biblical worldview, discern many of our cultural crises issues through a different lens, than someone with a secular worldview. For example, if you have a biblical worldview, you recognize right of the top, that when it comes to issues such as race for instance, that we actually don’t have a race problem, but rather, we have a SIN problem. Meaning that we are all born with the Adamic fallen nature, which by the way, is why we needed a savior, why we needed a redeemer. If we were all orange and purple, instead of black and white, we would still be having the same arguments. Why? Because “we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
To state it more succinctly, a Biblical worldview is viewing the world, the beginning of the world, people in the world, the problems in the world, governments in the world, issues in the world, solutions for the problems in the world, and the future of the world through the lens or filter of God’s Word. In other words, in a biblical worldview, everything you see should be viewed through the lens of Word of God. A biblical worldview affirms that the world and our entire existence is the deliberate result of a divine Creator and the answers to the questions of, “what is truth,” can only be found in God’s word.
A Smorgasbord of Ideas and Cultural Influences
Worldviews are so much a part of our daily lives that whether we recognize it or not, we see, hear and react to our worldviews every day. In fact, on a continual basis, we are faced with a smorgasbord of worldviews, all of which make claims concerning truth. And whether we are cognizant of it or not, whether consciously or unconsciously, we are all challenged to sort through this assortment of worldviews from a plethora of sources.
For example, movies, television, the media, the entertainment industry, sports figures, music, magazines, newspapers, government, public education, academia, science, art, family, friends, co-workers, social media followings, and your religious affiliations if any, all either directly or indirectly have an impact in shaping our worldviews.
In other words, all of these sources, whether we realize it or not, have had an impact and influence on how we view the world, and how we view and react to the most polarizing elements of culture, religion and politics. And if we ignore their significance or their impact on how we think and understand the world, we do so at our own detriment.
In simpler terms, our worldview is a view of the world and a view for the world.” The proper worldview helps us by orienting us to the intellectual and philosophical terrain about us. As believers in Christ, when navigating through and filtering all of the myriad of worldview influences that we are inundated with on a daily basis, many of which are stemming from some very subtle satanic influences, it imperative that we routinely filter all of this programming through the filter of God’s word. Otherwise, it will be IMPOSSIBLE to be able have discernment and to know what is and what is not of God.
Here is the big problem however. Nonbiblical worldview ideas don’t just sit in a book somewhere waiting for people to examine them. They bombard us constantly from television, film, music, newspapers, magazines, books, social media and academia. Because we live in a selfish, fallen world, these ideas seductively appeal to the desires of our flesh, and we often end up incorporating them into our personal worldview. Sadly, we often do this without even knowing it.
For example, most Christians would agree with 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and other Scriptures that command us to avoid sexual immorality, but how often do Christians fall into lust or premarital and extramarital sexual sin? Is it simply because they are weak when tempted, or did it begin much earlier, with the seductive lies from our sexualized society?
HOW DOES THE BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW ANSWER THE BASIC QUESTIONS OF LIFE?
A Biblical Christian Worldview (not intended to cover everything Christians believe!) shows us these answers to the following questions:
- Who are we? Humans made in God’s image.
- Where are we? In a beautiful though transient and fallen world.
- What is wrong? Humanity rebelled against a creator.
- What is the solution? The creator God has acted, is acting and will act to deal with evil set up by human rebellion and to bring the whole world to its true purpose, in a new creation resonating with God’s presence and glory. This action is focused upon Jesus, His death and resurrection and the continued work of the Holy Spirit amongst God’s people i.e. those who have already been made part of God’s new creation by being placed in Christ instead of in Adam.
Seven Important Components of a Biblical Worldview
To further expand upon these basic worldview questions from a biblical perspective, seeing the world through the lens of a biblical worldview can be summarized in the following seven principles:
- God is the Creator of the world and rules this universe! (Genesis 1:1)
- The Bible is God’s Word for mankind and is completely accurate including matters of life and its origin. (2 Timothy 3:16)
- Because of God and His Word, absolute moral truth exists! (Psalms 102:25–27; Malachi 3:6)
- Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and He lived a sinless life, died for our sins, was buried, and rose again from the grave three days later! (1 Corinthians 15:3–4; 1 John 4:9–10)
- Satan is a real being (not symbolic) and seeks to defeat God’s plan for man! (1 Peter 5:8)
- Salvation is obtained solely by individual faith in Christ’s work on the Cross and cannot be earned! (Ephesians 2:8–9)
- God is hand has been providentially sovereign over world history, and one day, when the “Fullness of Time comes, (Galatians 4:4)” Jesus will return again and set up His Kingdom here on earth.
To further expand upon these seven components, for those of us who have a biblical worldview, our concepts and perspectives about life, culture and even world history are seen through a biblical or divine providential lens which is based in large part on the following presumptions:
- There are prophetic or divine providential links between God’s word and many historical and current world events, many natural events have been providentially orchestrated and guided by God.
- God created the universe and the world is not the result of some random set of natural occurrences over billions of years.
- God had a prophetic and providential role in history for a specific end time purpose.
- And of course, ultimately that God’s Word is true and should be the sole authority for faith and practice for the believer.
HOW DO THE SCRIPTURES WE READ APPLY TO WORLDVIEW?
As Christians, all of our conclusions on doctrine, practice, what is right and wrong, and our positions on the many ethical issues, come from the fact that God created the world, then He created man in His own image and we are therefore accountable to God as to how we should live in this world. If we don’t really believe the truth of God and live it, then our witness will be confusing and misleading. Most of us go through life not recognizing that our personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world.
Sadly however, through the media and other influences, the secularized American view of history, law, politics, science, God and man affects our thinking more than we realize. We then are taken “captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8). However, by diligently learning, applying and trusting God’s truths in every area of our lives we can begin to develop a deep comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture’s nonbiblical ideas. In other words, when we capture and embrace more of God’s worldview through a study of His word, and trust it with unwavering faith, then we begin to make the right decisions and form the appropriate responses to some of the more polarizing issues of our day including questions of abortion, race, politics, family, politics, and so on.
Finally, the biblical truth of the matter is that Christians are called to honor God in every area of their lives. Furthermore, engagement in the culture is actually the “prime directive” of the Great Commission. Therefore, we should seek to submit everything to the Lord, including our political engagement. In fact, engaging in politics is not only unavoidable, it is also an opportunity to obey God and show love to our neighbors. In addition, American Christians, with our right to vote, have a unique opportunity and duty to affect the political process in a way that very few societies have had in the history of the world. A biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God. When you believe the Bible is entirely true, then you allow it to be the foundation of everything you say and do.
Do you have a biblical worldview? Answer the following questions, based on claims found in the Bible and which George Barna used in his survey:
- Do absolute moral truths exist?
- Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
- Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
- Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
- Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
- Is Satan real?
- Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
- Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?
Did you answer yes to all of these?
If we don’t really believe the truth of God and live it, then our witness will be confusing and misleading. Most of us go through life not recognizing that our personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world. Through the media and other influences, the secularized American view of history, law, politics, science, God and man affects our thinking more than we realize. We then are taken “captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
But the sad fact of the matter is that most Christians are severely underinformed regarding what the Biblical role that Christians should play in the culture, or the historical impact that Christianity has played on the world systems going back to the time after that hand full of disciples huddled in the upper room and were endowed with power from on high. In just a few short years, that rag tag bunch of Christ followers went on to literally “TURN THE WORLD UPSIDEDOWN.” In other words, they went on to impact that pagan Roman culture in which they lived, and because of their influence, over time, completely transformed the western world.
To that end, the goal of this series of articles is to help Christians filter through all of the many polarizing issues, candidates, and party platforms through a biblical worldview and encourage God-honoring, faithful political engagement.