Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Your Worldview Makes World of Difference

A few years ago, the Barna Research Group came out with a startling statistic showing only 10 percent of Americans, who profess to be Bible believing Christians,  actually hold what is to be considered a biblical worldview. Even more startling is the fact that the American Culture and Faith Institute did a survey where the findings showed that 7 out of 10 Americans who call themselves Christians, but relatively few were able to answer fundamental questions about the Bible and what Christians believe.

What I would like to share in this post is something that I think is very important, if we are going to impact our culture for the Christ with the gospel. That is understanding that our worldview in general, and living out a biblical worldview in particular which makes a difference and has a direct impact on our witness for Christ.[1]

So in this post I would like to share with you what a worldview is, because everyone has one. And then move to a few things on what a worldview in general reflects.

What is a worldview? 

One of my favorite writers is James Sire who gives a full orbed definition of this term in his book The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog.  

"A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being."[2]

Notice that the definition opens with words like "a commitment" and "a fundamental orientation of the heart."  This is where "the rubber meets the road" when it comes to understanding the issues before us, our public witness as well as how we conduct ourselves when no one is looking (other than God).  Here are three things to think about about your worldview that I try to keep in the forefront of my "living and moving and having my being."

First your worldview affects how you interpret the issues around you.

Looking at Sire's definition in light of culture you and I come into contact with people who embrace all kinds of ideas and views.  Some them are consistent, and others run along the lines of what is pragmatic for the moment.[3] But all of the thinking reflects several of these rock bottom questions.

1. What is prime reality—the really real? (Metaphysics)  To this some might answer: God, or the gods, or the material cosmos. The answer here is the most fundamental. This is because it sets the boundaries for the answers that can consistently be given to the remaining six questions. 

2. What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?  Here one can get  answers that point to whether we see the world as created or autonomous, as chaotic or orderly, as matter or spirit; or whether we emphasize our subjective, personal relationship to the world or its objectivity apart from us.

3. What is a human being? With this question being challenged in the halls of academia one might get answers like: a highly complex machine like a moist robot, a sleeping god, a person made in the image of God, or a naked ape.

4. What happens to a person at death? (Destiny)  Every worldview has a post mortem survival view; in other words what happens when this life is over.  Some might reply with things like: personal extinction, or transformation to a higher state, or reincarnation, or departure to a shadowy ghostlike existence on "the other side."

5. Why is it possible to know anything at all? (Origin)  Answers to this question can include the idea that we are made in the image of an all-knowing God or that consciousness and rationality developed under the contingencies of survival in a long process of evolution.

6. How do we know what is right and wrong? (Morality) Again, with the hot buttons of our culture screaming for relativism the answers to this question reflect the worldview of a  person the loudest. Answers to this question might include: we are made in the image of a God whose character is good, or right and wrong are determined by human choice alone or what feels good, or the notions simply developed under an impetus toward cultural or physical survival.

7. What is the meaning of human history? To this we might answer: to realize the purposes of God or the gods, to make a paradise on earth, to prepare a people for a life in community with a loving and holy God, and so forth. 

When you see the options for answering these fundamental questions, it is easy to see why our 
culture is where we are about those things which are declared by God as sacred.  Moving on it also 
means that your worldview and my worldview needs to be consistent.

Secondly, your worldview reflects your beliefs in your public witness in the marketplace of ideas.

Remember that I shared with you that I am in the auto sales business, as a Christian. Our workplace can challenge your and my worldview. If we reveal that we are a "Bible believing Christian," you need to be ready to be able to live consistently and be able to give an answer why you make the choices that you do, that are honoring to the God who created us.

This does not mean that we cannot have "fun." But is that fun consistent with a Christian worldview? Is our talk consistent with who and what we are claiming?  I find that in doing this people will ask questions and be open to discussions about the matters of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.

The other thing we need to understand is that when we let folks know or when people find out that we are a professing Bible believing Christian, they no longer are thinking of one book. They are also reading you.  That's right. The people we are among during our work hours may be open to reading Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  But if they are not, and many are like this, they are reading that second book. . . you.  And you and I are what my friend Bobby Conway calls, the Fifth Gospel.

Lastly, your worldview is a good check for how you and I live our lives in private when no one is around.

Remember at the beginning of this post that I mentioned that the researchers found that only 10 percent of professing Christians embrace a biblical worldview and that we are doing well in the areas of articulating our Christian convictions. But those same surveys also reflected information about attitudes and behaviors related to practical matters like lying, cheating, stealing, pornography, the nature of God, and the consequences of unresolved sin," 

George Barna, noted "That's what makes the discrepancy between the percentage of people who consider themselves to be Christian — more than seven out of every 10 — and those who have a biblical worldview — just one out of every 10 — so alarming."

How we conduct ourselves, when no one is looking, often has one missing element in our deciding to do something contrary to our professed "biblical worldview." That missing element is the remembering and "practicing" the fact that God is always present and even though no one is there, He is there and He knows what we are going to do, even before we do it.

"Jesus taught His disciples that the right beliefs are good, but the real measure of where you stand is what He labeled the fruit of a person's life, referring to the product of applying one's convictions. That being said, my next posts and podcasts are going to be discussing some these issues from  several areas, that we as Christians should consider "sacred."[4] 

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Notes

[1] You see. Over the past fourteen years, though I am praying for a change, I have had the privilege to be a "missionary" in the auto sales industry (on the same premises) with what could be a "Christian" family owned car business. However one of the most fascinating phenomena I have noticed is that when the "Jekyll family" comes in to the car dealership, with an ICHTHUS fish on the car or a WWJD bumpersticker, the father and/or the mother become "the Hydes" and their behavior becomes something other than reflective of a Christian worldview, let alone a biblical worldview. Not to poke at the morphing of the customer alone, please note that it is the same with those in the car business, when they are influenced by greedy managers and peer pressure. 

[2] James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door. (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1988), 17.  Even Wikipedia has a page that defines a worldview pretty well and can be found here at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_view.

[3] Remember that Sire's definition stated that one's worldview "can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being."

[4] These things we should see as sacred are things like:  truth, human life, gender and ethnicity, sex, marriage, family, and the creation.

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