Defining a World View
by Craig Smith
As Christians we are under no illusions that we hold different ideas – vastly different – from our nonChristian friends and neighbours. We think differently too, and act differently. Come to think of it, we speak differently and hold different values, standards, goals and aspirations. That is to say, we have a different world view than the nonChristians around us. Maybe that’s why many of us find, as the years tick by, that most of our friends are fellow Christians. Sometimes we hardly know any nonChristians at all, apart from relations, that we could comfortably have over for a meal. Why is this difference so pronounced, and why does it get greater as time goes by?
Christians believe that the Lord God is the one source of pure, undiluted truth. We further believe that He has revealed some of this truth directly to us in the Bible. It was necessary that He do this, for we could not discover pure, undiluted truth for ourselves, since we couldn’t recognize it even if we did find it. Pure and undiluted truth must be revealed by the One who holds it.
So we Christians have at the base of everything we believe the Bible: it is acting as the foundation of our beings, the well-spring of our thoughts and thought-patterns, the motivator and director of our actions. Well, this is the ideal toward which each of us should be moving. The Bible does or is supposed to determine our Christian world view.
What, then, is determining the world views of our unbelieving friends? Most have a world view largely shaped by the West’s current commitment to rationalism, materialism and empiricism. That is, the Western cultures have fallen in love with the knowledge we humans can acquire for ourselves, things we can know for certain because they are material and can be empirically measured and tested. Since spiritual considerations cannot be empirically measured or tested, they are declared out of bounds and are therefore considered by many to be as irrelevant to life as if they were non-existent. (This is the tact taken in the public school classroom. New Zealand law states, “…and the teaching shall be entirely of a secular character.”) Science and scientists now bring us all the truth it is possible to know – or so we are told. By measuring and testing items in the world, our scientists can come to some conclusions about the nature of the world around us. Some things seem so completely beyond doubt that we call them “Laws of Nature” or self evident truths. But this then leads some to say that we humans discovered truth or formulated statements of truth as a result of our study of the world around us. Consequently, when we do not allow for the existence of non-material or spiritual realities because we cannot measure or test them, we humans end up seeing ourselves as the only source of truth.
Which means there are ultimately only two world views: the one that originates from the One who created the world, the mind of God, and He has graciously revealed it to us in the Bible; or the one that originates from the mind of man, including all its many variations, some of which acknowledge a spiritual realm.
For purposes of study and comparison, however, most folks like to see the many human world views laid out and classified in some systematic fashion. Remember, though, that while some of these human world views claim divine inspiration – Islam, Hindu, Mormon, etc. – they remain mere human inventions, imitations of the one true world view from the one true God.
This is why the Christian world view is so different from that of nonChristians. The differences become more pronounced over time because, glory be to God, His Holy Spirit is causing us to grow in Christlikeness. That is, we are becoming sanctified, our lives are reflecting a more consistently Biblical pattern of thought, word and deed. Worldly ways are left behind, one by one, just as it says in Ephesians 4:22-24, and we begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit.
Can you see how essential this is, this maturing and sanctifying process, for us as Christian home educators? We need to be clear about these things ourselves so that we can clearly and objectively teach them to our children. We need to know why we teach that shoplifting is wrong, even when we know that most businesses factor a certain percentage for “shrinkage of stock” into the price of the goods, meaning they expect some of us to shoplift. We need to be able to articulate why sexual intercourse should not be looked upon as a recreational activity no matter how much the TV, the FPA and the secular press are trying to say that it is. Our job is to know why such ideas as “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, “Honour your father and your mother” and “Love your enemy” are not just old-fashioned left-overs from yesteryear, and we must also be able to show how one applies such ideas in practical ways to every day life in the year A.D. 2002. This is in addition to our constant prayers for our children that our Lord God in heaven, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, would save, regenerate and fill them.
The world view(s) originating from the mind of man can be referred to as Humanist world views. One of the best authors on this subject, Dr David Noebel of Summit Ministries in Colorado, USA, (in books such as Understanding the Times, The Battle for Truth, Mind Siege) identifies the three major nonChristian world views of the Western world as: Secular Humanism, Marxism/Leninism and Cosmic Humanism (the New Age movement). We know that one day our Lord will return to clean up and make right the mess these false world views are making of people’s lives today. But at present the outcomes of the battles we currently face do not appear very favourable. For this reason we need to know the ways of our enemies, that we can more effectively counter them, attack them, overthrow them and eventually supplant them. “For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” – II Corinthians 10:3-5 (RSV).
A world view impacts the whole of life, impacts the whole of society and determines its history and development. For example, Hinduism’s fundamental teaching is that the objective world is an illusion and that the social order is determined by one’s spiritual karma earned in previous lives. This has had far-reaching repercussions for India’s culture and politics. Western science, which assumes that the objective universe is both real and orderly, could not have arisen in India, nor could Western principles of democratic liberties or social reform. India did not lack the intelligence or the ability to carry out such changes, but its view of the world had no place for such concepts.1
What then constitutes a world view? How can one be identified and defined? Some Christian authors divide a world view into three parts, i.e., creation, fall, redemption. Humanist world views are then seen thusly: 1) creation by supernatural means is denied in favour of a naturally occurring process of evolution. 2) The fall of human nature is denied. Instead humanity is viewed as living in a state of normalcy, being born either naturally good or naturally neutral. Evil in the world is explained by scapegoats such as poverty, lack of education or the re-inforcement of negative ideas such as “sin” by unenlightened religious groups (i.e., Christians). 3) Redemption will be accomplished by collective humanity as we progressively eliminate poverty, disease, ignorance and religious superstition (i.e., Christianity). This is a useful way to define nonChristian world views as it highlights their opposition to Christianity and the truth of the Bible.
Others prefer to classify world views by using various theological terms such as theism, pantheism, polytheism, atheism, panentheism, etc., the emphasis being on the fact that every world view is inherently and inescapably religious. That is, even the atheist defines himself in terms of God: that he does not believe in Him. The pantheist believes god is in every bird, rock, tree and blade of grass. The polytheist believes in the existence of many gods; and so forth.
Dr Noebel builds a case for understanding world views as “any ideology, philosophy, theology, movement or religion that provides an overarcing approach to understanding God, the world, and man’s relations to God and the world. Specifically, a world view should contain a particular perspective regarding each of the following ten disciplines: Theology, Philosophy, Ethics, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Law, Politics, Economics and History.”2
How about this for a home educator’s curriculum? I would suggest that each of us deals with each of these ten areas in a fairly vital way virtually every day of our lives. Yet how many of us are consciously aware of what we believe in any one of these areas? Could we explain what the Bible teaches in any of these areas? Did you know that the Bible not only speaks to these areas but is in fact the defining document for what the Western world has historically believed to be true in each of these areas? (To be continued in Part 2.)
Here is a sampling of some excellent websites dedicated to imparting a Biblical world view. Many have both printed and / or electronic newsletters which make excellent curriculum resources and study materials.
www.summit.org—Summit Ministries, David Noebel
www.chalcedon.edu—Excellent (my favourite — Ed.)
www.icr.org—Institute for Creation Research
www.walkthruthebible.com—Walk Through The Bible Ministries
www.nehemiahinstitute.com—take the PEERS test online to see which world view you currently hold!
www.ChristianCulture.com/ — Institute for Cultural Leadership
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/webpages54/ap/—Gregg Bahnsen, Applied Presuppositionalism
www.credenda.org/ — Credenda Agenda magazine, Doug Wilson
www.familyreformation.com/ — 700 links!
www.patriarchspath.org/ — Family Reformation
www.artsreformation.com/ — Reformation of Arts & Music
www.scccs.org/ — Gregg Bahnsen’s Seminary
www.vantil.info–Cornelius van Til
www.gty.org/~phil/creeds.htm — Historic Creeds
Here are some nonChristian world view websites. As the saying goes, “Better to face the devil you know than the devil you don’t know!” And believe me, the devil is out there; it’s amazing how people can take some of this stuff seriously:
www.usmlo.org—Marxist-Leninism is alive and well, and still dangerous.
www.natcenscied.org/ — Evolutionism.
1. Four Worldviews and the Battle of Ideas, 1997, Gene Edward Veith, Jr., http://www.capitalresearch.org/publications/cc/1997/9710.htm
2. Understanding the Times, 1991, David A. Noebel, Summit Press: Manitou Springs, Colorado.
From Keystone Magazine
September 2002 , Vol. VIII No. 5
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