Worldview


Whats Your worldview by James AndersonIdeas have consequences. Many beliefs, especially beliefs concerning the big questions of life, impact the way we live our lives. Whether you believe there is a god or not will impact how you live. Whether you believe there is absolute truth or not will impact how you live. Unfortunately, many people hold beliefs without considering their logical consequences. Often times, when people are confronted with the consequences of their beliefs they will have a worldview crisis which can lead them to reconsider the validity of their beliefs. Hopefully this crisis can be a venue for the truth to replace their false beliefs.

While there are many books available which thoroughly analyze various worldviews, sometimes it can be more helpful to consider the merits of a specific worldview in a simpler fashion. With the goal of simplicity in mind (and not to be simplistic), James Anderson, professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in North Carolina, has written What’s Your Worldview? An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions. Following the “Choose Your Own Adventure” (CYOA) concept, Anderson walks readers of all the major worldviews through the implications of their beliefs.

Overview

The book is divided into three parts. Part One has twenty-one questions that worldviews have to answer. These questions include whether one believes there is a god, whether one believer matter is all there is, whether truth exists and whether Jesus resurrected from the death. The topics in these questions are short and are less than a page long. They are purposely written to end with a yes or no answer. Your answer can either lead you to another question to answer, part two where the major worldviews are summarized or part three where the implications to your answer is explained and examined from a Christian theistic worldview.

Part Two summarizes the five major worldview: atheism, theism, quasi-theist, finite theist and non-Christian theist. Because the book is written from a Christian theist viewpoint the other four worldviews are examined through that framework and critiqued for their inadequacies. Depending on how the reader answers the questions leads them to see what kind of worldview they have. The reader is challenged to go back to the question that led them there so they can pick the other answer and move on with the book.

Part Three provides the majority of the implications for how one answers their questions. For instance, if the reader answers no to the truth question (21), saying that there is no objective truth, then they are directed to page 91 which puts them in the relativism worldview. This is then examined from a Christian theist viewpoint and the reader is challenged to reconsider their decision. If the reader answers yes to the truth question, that there is objective truth, then they are invited to continue onto the next question. If the person reading the book is not a Christian theist, then, upon finishing the summary of and challenge to their belief, they are challenged to go back to the question and reconsider their choice based on its consequences. They are then invited to follow the pages to the opposite answer.

The back of the book answers some short questions that readers might have after completing the book. For instance, the reader is challenged, after having narrowed down their most likely worldview, to go and learn more about it. The challenge is to call the reader to live more consistently with the beliefs they hold. Anderson answers the questions as to why he left out some worldviews and why he was not able to address more of the pros and cons of the worldviews. Anderson does not shy away from the fact that he is writing from the vantage point of a Christian theist worldview and thus the book is intentionally designed to lead readers to see the faults of their worldviews in relation to his. “Since I believe that the worldview I hold makes better sense of the world than any of the alternatives, and that those other worldviews face more serious challenges and objections, it shouldn’t be surprising to find that belief reflected in my comments on each worldview” (102).

Conclusion

What’s Your Worldview? is a fast and fun read! Anderson wastes no time and gets right to the point with each question and the corresponding consequences for certain answers. Written from a distinctly Christian theistic framework, Anderson does a masterful job succinctly showing readers the consequences of their beliefs when they fall outside of the Christian theistic worldview. As far as apologetic methodology goes, Anderson is a presuppositionalist so the book shows how a Christian can enter into discussion with those of other worldviews in a way that is consistent with their beliefs.

This is a great book for Christians and non-Christians alike. This is a great teaching tool for teaching Christians how to think about their beliefs and that of others. It can be adapted for small groups and would work well with parents of and pastors to teens and college age students. This would also be a great resource for Christians to give their non-Christian friends to help generate discussion that can lead to the presentation of the gospel.

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“We live at a time in which Christians are more consumer driven than truth driven. We have unknowingly become apprentices to the blind guides of hedonism, naturalism, and pragmatism, and this is eroding our ability and motivation to communicate and embody the Word of God in this generation” (Preface)

In his groundbreaking book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Mark Noll made one of the most devastating assessments of Evangelicalism when he said,”The Scandal of the Evangelical mind is that there is no Evangelical mind.” Since then, those words have haunted Evangelicalism and in many ways been the wake up call to a renewal for Christians to love God with their minds as well as hearts. For too long Christian thought retreated behind closed doors where it grew stale among dust and cobwebs.

There has however, been a spark of life in the Evangelical mind. There have been many who have rightly called Christians to reclaim the gift of the mind for the glory of God. Hopefully, Noll is less right than he was almost twenty years ago in regards to the absence of the Evangelical mind.

Following a long train of books calling Christians to love God with their minds, Jonathan Morrow has recently written a book urging Christians to apply their minds in a quest for applying God’s truth to contemporary culture. Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture is a balance between Christians taking their faith seriously in their own lives, the church and the world and then bringing God’s truth to bear on all of life before a watching world.

The Biblical Call for Engagement

If the Christian faith is to intersect with culture than there must be some sort of engagement with it. This is precisely what Morrow is seeking to explore. How does a thinking Christianity engage the culture? The Biblical impetus for this cultural engagement is found in Colossians 4:5-6:

Walk in Wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (ESV)

These words are written for all believers and all believers are in culture. All Christians live in culture but not all Christians actively engage culture with the mind to apply God’s truth to it. This is a responsibility for all Christians. Morrow helpfully gives four ways in which Christians relate to culture.

  1. Condemning culture – In this regard, Christians condemn the sinful practices within culture such as porn, global slave trade, misuse of natural resources, rejection of the poor and abortion.
  2. Critiquing culture – Here, Christians analyze cultural mediums such as art. This critique should not be condemning but should offer helpful ways in which to improve the form and think about its effects upon others.
  3. Consuming culture – This would involve owning and using cultural products such as cell phones or computers. These are natural products of cultural advancement and growth. Christians should still think about their use of these products but they are not bad in themselves.
  4. Copying culture – There are some products of culture that the church can use to advance the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Using media like the radio and t.v. have been staples for Christians. With the advent of social media, Christians have been able to get the gospel out to more and more people.

These four basic ways in which Christians engage culture show us that culture is not inherently evil. But neither is all of it good. Christians must think about their involvement and always evaluate their involvement with it according the the gospel.

A Foundation for Engagement

Since Christians are to engage culture, then we must be ready to do so. There is no excuse for sloppy thinking or haphazard approaches to fighting at the intersection of faith and culture. What Christians need to realize is that Christianity, because, rightly understood, it is based on God’s truth, speaks to all of live. It is a worldview that actually addresses every area of human existence and thought. It is a comprehensive worldview.

In order to bring the Christian worldview to bear on all of live through cultural engagement, Christians must have a handle on both  the Christian worldview and the competing secular worldviews. Knowledge of competing worldviews makes for more honest assessment or it and more persuasive interaction with it. Knowing the thought process of your enemies is half the battle to defeating them. Similarly, Christians must know the ins and outs of their own worldview. There is nothing worse than an ill-prepared soldier. It is wrong to represent the gospel unprepared to show how it relates to the basic areas of life.

The greatest example loving and truthful cultural engagement is that of Jesus. Though Jesus said plenty about the future, he also said a lot that pertained to the present. During His 3 year earthly ministry He was always with people. He always knew what each person needed. Whether teaching, loving, rebuking or challenging, Jesus engaged the culture and its thinking with the truth of the gospel.

Areas of Engagement

Taking our call to engage the culture and prepare for it are not enough. We must actually do it. Morrow has given himself a tall order with this third section of the book as he succinctly presents and addresses a number of issues within the culture in which Christians have an answer and need to give it.These issues range from issues surrounding the Bible itself, sex, the media, global justice, politics and science and faith.

Morrow ably sets up the issues at hand and give clear, thoughtful, helpful and direct answers to how the Christian faith speaks to each issue he addresses. Though each chapter is short, and each issue could be addressed within the span of its own book, Morrow’s answers are not simplistic but rather pack a powerful punch that any Christian should be willing to claim as their own.

In my opinion, this third section of the book is the strongest section. Every Christian will learn from Morrows example of hos to think and apply Biblical truth to every area of culture. Morrow does not shy away from the hard issue and questions. He is decidedly against the Bible supporting homosexuality and yet he addresses the issue with sensitivity and love. He is against idolizing creation through our caring of it yet rightly states that humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation and not to be valued as less than it. He does not minimize the tension in our society and the church between science and faith and provides a thoughtful and honest evaluation of the current debate.

Think Christianly is a helpful book in many ways. It is both a short introduction to the concept of worldview, a short introduction to the Christian worldview and best of all it is a model for how the Christian worldview provides answers to the questions being asked and the issues being grappled with in our culture. I highly recommend this book!

NOTE: I received this book from Zondervan for free in exchange for a review and was under no obligation to provide a favorable one. The thoughts and words expressed in this review are my own.

There is no doubt that education in American is in trouble. There are more criticisms then there are answers and even fewer answers worth considering. We need only look to the reading, writing and spelling skills of the average teen (and college student for that matter) in order to prove this point.

But illiteracy within general public education is not the only problem. In fact, there is an equally severe, if not worse, condition of illiteracy within the evangelical church today – biblical illiteracy.

There are a number of contributing factors to the contemporary churches problem of biblical illiteracy. In Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old Fashioned Way, J.I. Packer and Gary A. Parrett suggest that the change from a pastor centered model of Sunday School (now called Adult Bible Fellowship) to a more lay lead model is perhaps the most notable factor – and I agree. There are other factors that would need to be dealt with separately but the fact remains that there is a general lack of biblical literacy within the church today.

So how does the church and its leaders combat this biblical illiteracy problem? In today’s issue of ChruchLeaders.com, Mark Steiner provides 7 Bricks for a Solid Foundation. While these are not the only 7 things we can do to fight biblical illiteracy within the church they are a good start.

Here are #3 and #4:

3.  Embrace children’s discipleship with confidence and conviction.

Some pastors soft-pedal children’s ministry. They assume that “Kids are too young to be discipled.” Not so! Please don’t rob them of a fulfilling future! Children are the best candidates for discipleship. They represent our most fertile fields for reaping a bountiful harvest.

Christian kids are the key for turning the tide on biblical illiteracy. They have fewer distractions, greater faith, and 100% of the Holy Spirit. I’ve dedicated the last 20 years to developing children’s curriculum designed to lay a solid foundation of biblical literacy. I invite you to visit our resource site and give it a careful look. If it meets your standards, use it. If you are aware of a better Bible curriculum for kids, please tell me about it!

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown. —Mark 4:20 (NIV)

4. Equip your parents to build their children in the faith.

God has given parents primary responsibility for the spiritual training of their children, but many parents don’t know where to begin. They feel overwhelmed with this responsibility. So parents often entrust this task to the Church, or to chance. That is why disciplemaking is the most pivotal ministry that churches can provide. It is time for churches to encourage and equip parents to carry out their responsibility. The vitality of the next generation of Christians pivots on its willingness to do so. Churches must plan purposeful ministries to disciple parents and children.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. —Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)

You can read the rest here.

For further reading on Christian education in the church I recommend three books to get started:

  1. Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old Fashioned Way by Packer & Parrett
  2. Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church by Parrett
  3. A Theology for Christian Education by Estep, Anthony & Allison

I remember the first time I drove down the streets of Chicago. I was on a trip with the youth group I did a summer internship with. We drove a school bus and I had my window down. It was all I could do to keep my head in the window and my mouth shut. I was so stunned by the beauty and tall buildings that my mouth was hanging wide open. I kept saying, “Wow. Wow. Wow.”

I realize that cities have their downfalls such as being hotbeds for all kinds of sin. However, we cannot let what the world has done to culture, or to our cities, control our view of it. From Genesis 1:26-29 we see that God intended for cultural development to occur and that He commanded man to make it happen as part of his imaging God to the world.

Fast forward to Revelation 21:9-27 and the New Jerusalem. The picture we get here is simply stunning. Previously in verses 1-8 we see the return of heaven on earth. Then in verse 10 we see “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” But the text does not stop there. What comes next is a beautiful description, as best as John can convey it, of what this new city of Jerusalem is like – the city of all cities:

[11] having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. [12] It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—[13] on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. [14] And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
[15] And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. [16] The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. [17] He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. [18] The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. [19] The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, [20] the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. [21] And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Isn’t that just beautiful! But notice something else that people tend to miss. Jumping from Gen. 1 to Rev. 21 we go from a garden to a city. The next few verses tell us something about what is in this city:

[22] And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. [23] And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. [24] By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, [25] and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. [26] They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.

Verse 24 and 26 tell us that “the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” and “they will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.” This bringing in of glory by kings and the nations happens after the renewal of all things. Culture has been renewed and the kings and nations will bring into the new city the glory of their work.

Cities are the pinnacle of cultural development and grandeur. For all of their faults, they will be renewed and their redeemed glory will enter the new city of Jerusalem.

I say all of this to show you the video below. I am not trying to interpret Rev. 21 literalistically or make exact one-to-one comparisons. What I do want to do is read Rev. 21 and look at our cities today and allow them to give us a hint at the future glory of what redeemed man will bring from his redeemed cities into the city – the new Jerusalem. There is something about our cities here and now that will be brought into the new city there and then – the new Jerusalem.

N.D. Wilson is a gifted author and thinker. Son of Doug Wilson, N.D. Wilson has written a number of books including the popular 100 Cupboards series. In this book, Wilson takes a departure in his typical writing genre of childrens fiction.

Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eye Wonder in God’s Spoken World is an apologetic against postmodernism. In addition to the book, Wilson has produced a bookumentary with the description as follows:

A cinematic treatment of a worldview. A poet live in concert. A motion picture sermon. VH1 Storytellers meets Planet Earth. 60 Minutes meets Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In this unusual but fascinating film sequence, best-selling author N.D. Wilson gives an emotional and intellectual tour of life in this world and the final chapter that is death. Everything before and after and in between is a series of miracles–some of which are encouraging, others disturbing and uncomfortable.

Along with the video is a ten week study guide to help a small group or individual navigate through the though provoking insights and worldview critiquies.

Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and author of Unfashionable, says of the book,

My friend Nate reminds me of C.S. Lewis and Jerry Seinfeld at the same time. Like Lewis, he has a white knuckle grip on philosophical themes and inquiries while at the same time using them in service to the gospel in a way that resonates with the real questions and concerns of our time. He’s also Seinfeldian in the sense that he has a remarkable knack to see usually ignored details. He has a keen eye for seeing God’s handiwork and finding gospel truth that many would overlook as every day, mundane things. Combine all this with a good sense of humor, remarkable creativity, humble confidence, and savvy vision and you have a trustworthy and fun guide showing you around. Highly recommended!

If you want an up to date look at how to critique a worldview, namely the postmodern worldview we are facing, then this book, video and study guide are for you.

Here is N.D. Wilson discussing his book with Book Notes and a trailer to the video series that will make you want to buy it!