Thursday, April 13, 2017

An Introduction to Christian Worldview: Worldview Matters!

Why Worldview Study Matters!

In the past few years, I have had the privilege of co-authoring a textbook on Christian worldview with Michael Clark and David Naugle.  As I shared recently, we are excited to announce that the book is now available for pre-order via Amazon, and will be released by IVP Academic on October 28, 2017.  Worldview Textbook - Amazon link  

Last week we finished the "copy-editing" process, the last major round of revisions and additions.  All that remains now is type-setting, indexing, and proof-reading.  In honor of completing the next major portion of the project, I wanted to share a few thoughts regarding the importance of the project - so over the next few weeks we will look at why Worldview is important, and why you ought to engage in some intentional worldview examination and consideration.

"Everybody operates upon a philosophy in life, a worldview that defines for them the way the world works and how they know things and how they ought to behave. So philosophy is ultimately a practical reality for all of us. In this sense, everyone is a philosopher; some are just more aware of it than others."

"Christianity is a world and life view and not simply a series of unrelated doctrines. Christianity includes all of life. Every realm of knowledge, every aspect of life and every facet of the universe find their place and their answer within Christianity. It is a system of truth enveloping the entire world in its grasp."

Worldview is a contentious term. Some philosophers complain that it has become an abused and misused term. Others complain that worldview is regretfully neglected and overlooked in philosophical and theological conversations. Others still insist that its use is on the rise, that it has not yet hit its heyday. Still others do not even know what the concept is all about. Finally, some assert that worldview is simply an unhelpful term that can be dispensed with altogether without any profound loss. The authors of this book are convinced that “worldview matters” matter. As the chapters that follow will make clear, we believe that thinking worldview-ishly is essential for responsible, intentional scholars.

“All truth is God’s truth.” Arthur Holmes’s ringing words, exhorting institutions of Christian higher education to pursue an integrated Christian worldview throughout their curricula, serve also as the academic motto of Oklahoma Baptist University, where the authors of this book humbly and gratefully serve. God is truth, and what God sees is what is true and real. As followers of God, we likewise seek acquaintance and familiarity with truth.

To that end, we pursue God’s perspective on the world, for his perspective is true, reliable, and trustworthy. We desire to see things the way that God sees them—to understand ourselves, our sin, our redemption, our relationship with Christ, our relationship with fellow human beings and the rest of creation, our surroundings, and our terrestrial ball the way that God sees, understands, and knows things to be. We do not presume to have a corner on all of God’s truth; we take seriously the remonstration delivered through the prophet Isaiah:

“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD. (Is 55:8)

Yet we strive and strain forward, alongside the apostle Paul (Phil 3:15), to attain a truer understanding of God, ourselves, and our world.

God’s perspective on the world is, as chapter one will make clear, another way of designating God’s worldview or the divine worldview. The goal of the thoughtful Christian is to pursue God’s perspective—that is, to intentionally and consciously cultivate a Christian worldview. Our goal of becoming Christlike includes our goal of embracing God’s perspective, seeing the world the way God sees the world. The goal is not Icarus’s prideful sailing into the sun or Satan’s rebellious inclination to usurp the divine throne or Adam’s misguided desire to attain that which is forbidden; rather, our goal resembles a child’s devoted desire to become like his heavenly Father. This book, then, is an appeal for a continued revival in Christian worldview thinking.
The book is split into three parts of approximately equal length. Part one, authored by Tawa Anderson, focuses on the theoretical side of worldview thinking. Chapter one explores the concept of worldview itself, tracing its philosophical origins and development, basic components, and universal existence. Four core worldview questions are identified as the heart of every individual and corporate worldview: (1) What is our nature? (2) What is our world? (3) What is our problem? (4) What is our end? Chapter two identifies the importance and impact of worldview upon the thoughts and actions of human persons. Anderson argues that worldview exerts considerable influence through confirmation bias, experiential accommodation, the pool of live options, and life motivation. Six benefits of intentional worldview thinking are tentatively identified and explored. Chapter three outlines the process of worldview analysis, identifying three primary criteria that can help gauge the truthfulness of various worldviews and their individual components—internal, external, and existential consistency.

Part two, authored by David Naugle, expounds upon the contours of a specifically Christian worldview. Chapter four outlines the narrative core of the Christian story—creation, fall, redemption, and glorification. Chapter five approaches Christian worldview through the lenses of our four core worldview questions. Chapter six applies our three criteria for worldview analysis to Christian worldview, assessing how well it stands up to rational scrutiny.

Part three, authored by Michael Clark, engages in comparative worldview analysis. Chapter seven explores three prominent Western philosophical worldview alternatives (deism, naturalism, and postmodernism), comparing them to a Christian worldview and applying the three worldview tests to them. Chapter eight explores two influential global religious worldview alternatives (Hinduism and Islam), comparing them to a Christian worldview and applying the worldview tests. The goal of these chapters is threefold: to better understand these significant worldviews, to subject them to intentional analysis, and to help the reader begin to gain competence at identifying worldview components and alternatives expressed by others. We then close with reflections on pursuing and living out a Christian worldview, God’s perspective, in our complex pluralistic world.

Each of us writes unapologetically from within the orthodox Christian tradition. We have been transformed through our relationship with Jesus Christ and are persuaded that Christianity is true—not just true for us but true for all people at all times in all places. We have also been greatly stretched and formed by intentional worldview thought and consideration. Our hope and prayer is that you will be challenged, convicted, exhorted, and excited by the chapters that follow.

In 2012, this project began as a way to help freshmen at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) pursue a biblical worldview in light of the countless worldviews that vie for their hearts and minds.  As the collaborators for this book, and the reach of the book, expanded beyond the walls of OBU, our prayer remains the same: we pray that readers of this book will be stirred to immerse themselves in God’s Word, and allow it to transform their hearts and minds, rather than allow the world to shape them into its image.

The Christian worldview centers on Jesus of Nazareth, the God-man who was born over two thousand years ago in a humble stable in Bethlehem, and was crucified on a Roman cross and raised from the dead in Jerusalem about 30 years later. We, as Christians, have embraced Jesus as Messiah and Lord. He has redeemed us, provided for us, and loved us constantly despite our flaws and failures. It is to him, and to his glory, that this book is both dedicated and devoted.