"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2)”
A recent nationwide survey completed by the Barna Research Group determined that only 4 percent of Americans had a "biblical" worldview. When George Barna, who has researched cultural trends and the Christian Church since 1984, looked at the "born- again" believers in America, the results were a dismal 9 percent. Barna's survey also connected an individual's worldview with his or her moral beliefs and actions. Barna says, "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."
Worldview is the latest buzzword in Christian circles. We're all told we need one, and whether we know it or not, we all have one. But what is a worldview? Literally, of course, worldview is how a person views the world. A person's worldview consists of the values, ideas or the fundamental belief system that determines his attitudes, beliefs and ultimately, actions. Typically, this includes his view of issues such as the nature of God, man, the meaning of life, nature, death, and right and wrong.
We begin developing our worldview as young children, first through interactions within our family, then in social settings such as school and church, and from our companions and life experiences. Increasingly, our media culture is playing a key role in shaping worldview. We are a culture saturated with powerful media images in movies, television, commercials and music. And like the entertaining and seemingly benign Lion King, what we watch, listen to and read, impacts the way we think. Consistently consuming entertainment with false ideas will inevitably distort our view of the world.
Although the Bible never uses the word "worldview," in Colossians 2: 6-8, we are commanded to be able to discern and discard false philosophy-which is essentially worldview. "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and
deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ."
Jeff Baldwin, a fellow at the Texas-based Worldview Academy, says worldview "is like an invisible pair of eyeglasses-glasses you put on to help you see reality clearly. If you choose the right pair of glasses, you can see everything vividly and can behave in sync with the real world. ... But if you choose the wrong pair of glasses, you may find yourself in a worse plight than the blind man - thinking you see clearly when in reality your vision is severely distorted." To choose the "right" glasses, you have to first understand and embrace the true worldview.
What about today?
The chilling reality in America today: Christians view reality, truth and life not much differently from the culture around them, according to research from George Barna. As a result, Christians don't live much differently from their neighbors who do not know Christ. Divorce rates are similar, addictive behaviors are the same, and Christians struggle to find the answers to the same questions about significance and meaning in
Three main truths that many Christians
- Living from a Christian worldview means that what you do
aligns with what is true, and the Scriptures are the ultimate authority on
- God's Truth lays a design for every area of life. Whether for
economics, history, politics, family or church, God has given us a design,
governed by His nature and Truth that we are to follow. When we follow His
design, we can discern what is good and right and holy. When we don't,
suffering and immorality result.
- The process of transformation occurs through the renewing of
our mind, and in that process we learn to discern between good and evil. As
Romans 12:2 tells us, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this
world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be
able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect
Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family shares this incident. “Many years ago, I visited my dentist. He asked me if I had brushed my teeth well. He sounded like my mother. I nodded my head confidently, for who doesn’t do their very best at brushing before a dental appointment? On this particular occasion, rather than simply smiling at me in affirmation, he handed me a little red tablet and told me to chew it up. This I dutifully did. After all, it is unadvisable to disobey one’s dentist or put him in a bad mood. When I had chewed the little red pill, he held up a mirror and asked me to smile. The horrible image is still embedded in my mind. The red pills were called “disclosing” tablets. They contained a dye which turned all the plaque bright red and therefore disclosed the reality of the gunk in my mouth. What an awful sight! My perception was that I was doing a good job of cleaning my teeth. The little red tablet had shown otherwise. In the case of my dental visit, the consequences of being deceived about my brushing habits were merely a small cavity. But holding false beliefs about more consequential matters can bring deep pain and even the loss of our own souls. The Truth of God is our disclosing tablet, reflecting His very image and testing us to reveal the false beliefs in our lives that need “flossing.” May we make it our prayer that God expose every false belief we hold and bring it into line with His truth. Only then can we experience the eternal life his Son came to bring us”
So, what’s a worldview?
A worldview is the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. For example, a 2-year-old believes he's the center of his world, a secular humanist believes that the material world is all that exists, and a Buddhist believes he can be liberated from suffering by self-purification. Someone with a biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God. Whether conscious or
subconscious, every person has some type of worldview. A personal worldview is a combination of all you believe to be true, and what you believe becomes the driving force behind every emotion, decision and action. Therefore, it affects your response to every area of life: from philosophy to science, theology and anthropology to economics, law, and politics, art and social order— everything.
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
- Is absolute truth defined by the
- Did Jesus Christ live a sinless
- Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing
Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it
- Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be
- Is Satan
- Does a Christian have a responsibility to
share his or her faith in Christ with other
- Is the Bible accurate in all of its
Did you answer yes to these? Only 9 percent of "born- again" believers did.
But what's more important than your yes to these questions is whether your life shows it. Granted, we are all sinners and fall short, but most of our gut reactions will reflect what we deep-down, honest-to-goodness believe to be real and true.
How does a biblical worldview get diluted?
Here is the big problem. Non-biblical 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 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.
Why does a biblical worldview matter?
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 ofChrist" (Colossians 2:8).
However, by diligently learning, applying and trusting God’s truths in every area of our lives — whether it's watching a movie, communicating with our spouses, raising our children or working at the office — we can begin to develop a deep comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture's non-biblical ideas. If we capture and embrace more of God's worldview and trust it with unwavering faith, then we begin to make the right decisions and form the appropriate responses to questions on abortion, same- sex marriage, cloning, stem-cell research and even media choices. Because, in the end, it is our decisions and actions that reveal what we really believe.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
Pr. Leslie Verghese