10 Years in Print: Special Edition
What in the Worldview?
By Ruth McDonald
I’ll never forget the day I rode home from the doctor wearing new
cat-eye, tortoise-shell glasses. Not only did I feel very cute and stylish, I was in absolute awe of the details of the world outside my daddy’s car. Until that day, I had seen only a small fraction of the leaves,
birds, flowers, and road signs. And I hadn’t even realized it.
We all see the world through an individual set of glasses, figuratively speaking. With the correct prescription, we can see the world as it really is. If our prescription is incorrect, however, the view is distorted, though we may or may not realize it. Simply put, the way we view and interpret the world around us is our worldview.
Throughout history, people have attempted to answer common questions about the world. Where did all of this come from? What happens to us after we die? Is there absolute right and wrong? If there is, how do we know? What is the standard for making moral, legal, and ethical decisions?
The very fact that we desire to answer such questions is a gift from God. According to Genesis, God created man in His own image, setting humans apart from all other created beings. As smart as our pets may be, they are not prone to ponder philosophical questions. Solomon wrote of humans, “He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
The Hebrew phrase translated “the world” in this verse is eth-haolam, which can also be understood as eternity, literally “everlasting to everlasting.” God placed this desire to understand life’s deep questions in our hearts because we are eternal beings. He has placed eternity—a deep curiosity about our origins and our spiritual significance—in our hearts.
The northern island of Japan boasts some of God’s most beautiful landscapes. As a Christian, I see the beautiful snow-capped moutains, deep blue lakes surrounded by emerald forests, and the vastness of the ocean, and I think, “What a great Creator we have!”
I am always startled when the thoughts of my non-Christian Japanese friends do not run in the same direction. Instead, they think, “Wow! The meteor that created this lake really must have been something” or “I wonder what these mountains looked like before the volcanic eruptions?”
It seems as though we are viewing completely different landscapes. Or, maybe we are wearing a completely different prescription in our “glasses,” and the view seems different because of distortion. While my worldview has been shaped by my knowledge of and belief in the Bible, theirs has been heavily influenced by
science and naturalism.
In Psalm 19, we read that the heavens declare the glory of God and there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Yet, while God left a witness in nature, it is not easily understood without the explanations in His Word, and the right prescription applied to spiritual eyes.
The importance of our worldview goes far beyond the overall quest for meaning and purpose. It also makes all the difference in how we feel about everyday issues of life: money, shopping, parenting, career choices, marriage, divorce, sex, abortion, same-sex marriage, entertainment choices, disabilities, sickness and death. In other words, our worldview affects pretty much everything.
What Is a Biblical Worldview?
In an attempt to answer their deepest questions, humans have created a virtual pantheon of religions and belief systems. Even those who deny the idea of religion attempt to explain the world around them with complex systems of thought such as secular humanism, existentialism, deism, and postmodernism. While most of the world’s people wouldn’t put a particular label on their philosophy or worldview, they all have one.
Okay. So people living in other countries have a non-biblical worldview, and many non-Christian Americans do, too. What about Christians living in the United States? What about us? We all share a biblical view of the world, right?
According to a recent survey by the Barna Research Group, only 9% of Americans hold a “biblical worldview.” Even more alarming, results showed that the number of born-again Christians holding a biblical worldview was only 19%.
How is it possible that only 19% of Christians answered yes to all of these questions? Are we also in danger of letting our biblical worldview erode into a distortion?
The answer, quite simply, is yes! The world around us is sliding at an alarming rate into a godless mindset that denies the validity of faith and morality. We are bombarded daily with attacks on biblical truth, both blatant and subtle. Like fish swimming in tainted water, we ingest harmful thoughts and ideas simply by existing in our environment.
Simply put, any attitude, opinion, or moral judgment we encounter must be measured by the only unchanging standard of truth, the Word of God. In Hebrews 13:8, we are pointed to Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever. Truth and morality do not change. They are found in Christ, as revealed in the Bible. Any philosophy that does not agree with God’s truth is therefore not true, and to accept it would be to step out of a biblical worldview.
How Do We Maintain a
If we are like fish swimming in tainted water, how can we keep from absorbing the harmful “substances” and endangering our biblical worldview? Like any aquarium, the key component is a good filtration system. We must filter everything we encounter through the Word of God. As Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 10:5, we should be “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
What we see portrayed by videos, television, advertising, and social media often will not pass the test of God’s filter. If we are careful to keep the filter in place, we will be able to discern error and discard it before it affects our thinking. Bringing every thought captive encourages us to set a guard on our thoughts and filter out everything that does not agree with God’s truth. Our culture is not neutral: it is openly hostile to God and His truth.
In Romans 12:2, we are warned that the world is trying to squeeze us into its mold. Never has this been truer. We are assaulted constantly with stories that play upon our sympathies and, if we are not vigilant, lead us to cheer on evil behavior and causes that do not represent God’s truth at all. We are prone to condone evil behaviors if people we love exhibit them.
Sometimes, a change of environment is advisable. If an aquarium is too filled with gunk to support life, it is time for a water change. If your work, school, or social environment is no longer compatible with spiritual life, you may need to ask God to move you to another tank. It is better to admit that the filter is not up to the task than to overestimate our ability to deflect and catch every pollutant and die a slow death due to toxins.
It is also important not to add pollutants to our environments. While non-biblical messages and influences are unavoidable, we certainly have some control as to what degree of exposure we allow. No filter can strain out a constant barrage of sin, dysfunction, violence, and immorality. Yet, if we are honest, at times, most of us willingly expose ourselves to a harmful amount of impurity.
We live in danger of becoming so enamored with the world around us that we actually become captive to it, rather than to Christ. It is a story as old as the Garden of Eden, and we find ourselves thinking, “Did God really say…?”
What would happen if we ran our daily viewing, reading, and entertainment through the filter of “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Would it make a radical difference in our daily choices?
Interacting With Different Worldviews
While we live in an absolute battlefield, with a war raging around us, we need to remember whom we are fighting. The enemy of our souls and the souls of those we encounter is none other than Satan himself. People, on the other hand—even those with opposing worldviews—are not the enemy. Even our sensual, perverted, antagonistic culture is not the enemy. No matter how much our co-workers, neighbors, and public figures reflect the mindset of the enemy, they are not the enemy themselves. Instead, they present an opportunity to share the love and saving knowledge of Christ.
Just as we would not get angry with a blind man for his helplessness, we must guard against being defensive and mean-spirited to those who are, according to the Bible, spiritually blind. Second Corinthians 4:4 describes them as those “whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Jesus didn’t come to heal the healthy but the sick. The Church is not only here to minister to Christians but also to those with differing worldviews as well. They are one of the main reasons we exist.
It is easy to get angry in the face of the opposition. However, it is important to remember that people, even those who oppose God, are His workmanship, created in His image, with eternity in their hearts. Our most effective weapon is prayer. Satan blinds spiritual eyes, and only Christ can remove the blinders and allow the spiritually blind to see the truth.
The powerful words of Zechariah, spoken thousands of years ago, remain true today. The battle will be won “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
About the writer: Ruth McDonald has served with Free Will Baptist International Missions as a missionary to Japan for the past 25 years. She and her husband Donnie have four children and one grandchild. Download an entire Bible study on worldviews at www.wnac.org.