It's common to describe worldview as the lenses through which one views the world. Medieval thinkers used a much more jarring analogy—worldview (though they didn't use that word) is a yoke directing the vision and actions of those wearing it. Jesus used this imagery (Matt. 11:29-30), and it works much better than lenses as a metaphor because lenses can be taken off by the wearer, but a yoke requires outside help to remove.
Everyone has a worldview. It's not something you're born with, though it begins to form before you're fully conscious. How it's shaped depends onyour parents, peers, pastors, teachers, favorite TV programs, reading material, etc. The way you see the world is essentially the way the world is presented to you, the way it's mediated through people and things.
A lot of people seem to think this means they can't be held responsible for their worldview; even more believe that however they see and understand the world reflects its actual state, and they never consider alternative interpretations.
Unfortunately, a lot of Christians accept one or both of these attitudes. This presents two problems: it constitutes a rejection of Christ's command to take every thought captive, and it fails to take into account the formative nature of every activity and belief. Together, these attitudes conspire to blur the line between what is biblical and what is secular, and to lead Christians into the dangerous territory of apathy and dogmatism.
James K. A. Smith explores this concept in Desiring the Kingdom, the first in a trilogy on the philosophical and theological foundations of a Christian theory of education. For Smith, man is fundamentally a liturgical being rather than a cognitive one, and what he thinks about things is for the most part determined by his habits and formative activities. He argues that what is most important is not to think correctly, but to do and behave correctly, and that these will in turn lead to right thinking.
Whether or not Smith is right, everything (everything) must be compared to the Bible and evaluated in light of God's revealed truth. Humans don't live in a vacuum, not even monks. Each of us is constantly engaged either involuntarily or wilfully by competing worldviews trying to shape our attitudes, and to think we can remain unchanged after each encounter is at best naive, at worst deliberate ignorance.
In his book Trinity and Reality, pastor Ralph Smith uses the doctrine of the Trinity to explore and interpret personhood and history, emphasizing the need for a God-given approach to every aspect of life. Francis Schaeffer's now-classic A Christian Manifesto is simultaneously a defense of Christian truth and a challenge to secular humanism.
One of the best brief introductions to secular worldviews is James Sire's The Universe Next Door, in which he examines philosophies like naturalism, New Age spiritualism, existentialism and postmodernism. Each philosophy is critiqued in light of Christian theology, though Sire does a better job than most at pointing out the flaws in actual positions rather than dismantling straw man arguments of his own invention.
Our collection of worldview materials represents one of the foundational goals of Exodus Books—to bring every aspect of our existence into subjection to Christ, including our minds. If we are to be effective tools of evangelism and truth in the world, it is imperative we understand the ideas opposing biblical doctrine and have a response ready that is rooted in Scripture and good reason. This is what every Christian is called to, and these books have been selected to guide and train parents and their children in that endeavor.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Did you find this review helpful?