A worldview is simply a view of life and the world, or a perspective on existence. Some prefer to see it as a life system. For a view to truly have a global perspective three essential relations would have to be reckoned with. These are the source of existence (God), the kingpin of earthly existence (man) and the arena of such existence (the natural world).

A Christian worldview naturally distinguishes itself from other worldviews, foremost of which are Paganism, Modernism and Islamism. All other contemporary “isms”, notwithstanding their high-sounding technical labels, are in my judgement phases in the evolutionary chain of either Paganism or Modernism.

The Pagan worldview, being pantheistic, swings from adoration of lower creation to subjugation of certain castes of the kingpin of creation, man. Modernism is essentially humanistic, hence it exalts man as autonomous while ignoring or erasing God. It relates to nature materialistically or from a self-aggrandising view point. Islam firmly brings back God, but only to divorce him completely from nature and man. Obsessed with its version of paradise, this world is denigrated and women are treated as inferior.

What about the Christian worldview? What is the Christian relation to God, man and nature? A biblical view of God is generally held by true and well taught Christian people. Equally, man is given his proper place, biblically, in relation to God, to himself and, to some extent, to individual fellow man. The obscurity and apathy among Christians is in establishing a worldview offering a sound relation between man and the institutions he must exist in and through, and between man and nature.

Foundations of a Christian worldview

Every healthily nurtured child learns early to pray “Our Father in heaven… thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” All Christians still offer this prayer. Not many, however, seriously expect this aspect of the Lord’s Prayer to be answered. At least, they frankly have no clear conception of the forms its answer will take. Beyond being a goodwill wish, it means little else.

And yet in this prayer lies a profound invocation of divine intervention in world affairs. God is being implored to sway the sceptre of his rule on earth in the unchallenged form heaven is accustomed to witness.

In view of this, should the Christian not change both his attitude to this prayer as well as his perception of the world; to see it wholly as God’s rightful territory? Abraham Kuyper could not be more accurate when he said, “There is not an inch of ground on which Christ, the Sovereign of all, does not lay his hand and say, ‘This is mine’” (Praamsma Louis 1981:26).

Let us be clear. This is no advocacy for World-dominion or Reconstructionism, i.e. the notion that Christians should mechanically bring the socio-political world under the authority of God’s law, old and new.

Rather, I am saying, because everything is God’s, everything must inevitably be seen through God’s eyes and related to as God prescribes. This means that the Christian must see the environment and our inhabiting and administering it through God’s eye. The Christian must yearn for God’s will in creating all things beautiful. This should not be a problem since no aspect of creation is without God’s fingerprints. Creation is still declaring his invisible attributes (Romans 1:20).

As to the question, “Just how does one carve out a Christian worldview?” it is comfortably resolved by the pervading sufficiency of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). Scripture is the source of all wisdom. All that is needed for life and godliness has been given therein. A careful study of God’s Word will furnish an adequate and accurate perception of the world and all in it. A biblical worldview is therefore constructible. This, actually, is the basis for a Christian worldview.

The scope of the Christian worldview

Adhering to Christian values in matters of morality is the irreducible practice of all true believers. Yet this so easily sits well with adherence to a less than Christian worldview. It is possible for truly pious Christians to view the world, beyond the religious, in a perfectly Pagan, Islamic, or Modernistic manner.

I can illustrate. Do you, for example, have a distinctly biblical view of the solutions to life’s problems? Does your worldview dictate that physical problems should be taken to the medical doctor while spiritual problems should go to the church and her Lord, and that no further options exist?

At what points does your view of education differ from that of the secular mindset? Does it hold that science, geography, mathematics and all other learning must have the effect of ultimately displaying the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God, to the praise and glorify of his name, and that parents are an important means in the realisation of this end?

Do you have a view of personal health that differs significantly from that of the non-Christian? In which way is your view of affluence and power biblical and not hedonistic? How does your view of labour differ from that of the fatalist? How informed and regulated by God’s Word are your views on the eco-system, art, science, politics, social and civic involvement, entertainment, suffering and pain? Do you consider everything created as good and worthy of prudent exploitation and conservation? Does this include all flora and fauna? If God is to be glorified in your life out there in the world beyond the four walls of your church, it is vitally important to have a truly Christian view of all that is in existence.

There is a still more important requirement. The Christian needs to be sure that he or she possesses a worldview that is transformatory of attitudes to the world. “As Christians we are not only to know the right worldview, the worldview that tells us the truth of what is, but consciously to act upon that worldview so as to influence society in all its parts and facets across the whole spectrum of life, as much as we can to the extent of our individual and collective ability” (Schaeffer 1982:254). A worldview that is only cuddled by the cerebral and not the cardiac will fail to engage the world. It will also fail to pervade the world with the Christian ethos.

Placing this on the backdrop of a more theological spectrum, God’s intervention in world affairs is not always direct. It is often mediated through the very people sincerely praying “thy kingdom come.” They are God’s agents in two ways: first and foremost by preaching the good news of salvation through Christ, second, by sharing in the good fruit of salvation, namely a sanctified life full of good deeds to man and nature. A worldview that reverses this order is not biblical but reduces itself to a broad-based philanthropy impacting society only minimally.

Although subservient to the former, the focus in this article is the latter service, at the end of whose reading must linger the question, “What contributions has God called me to make that will result in a significant redefinition of secular life in terms favourable to Christian thought?”

Queries on the Christian worldview

There are two serious objections that may be raised against a Christian worldview. The first asks, “Of what purpose is such a worldview when perfection of the world is unattainable? Ought we not to focus only on preaching the gospel and by this lay ground for a better world order?”

The simple answer is, Christ did not see things that way. He both preached and did good (Acts 10:38). The only Sovereign spreads the duvet of his grace to the sin-freezing world through his people by the gospel, to be sure, but not exclusive of other noble services.

History does not leave us without models for emulation in such services. Were it not for the labours of Samuel Rutherford constitutional reform in England would have come much slower. To the labours of Witherspoon is credited much of constitutional and democratic ideals in America. I shudder to imagine how long the evil of slave trading would have run on had men like William Wilberforce held on to a less than biblical worldview. When the name of the prophet Abraham surfaces, we often only think of him as worshiping or farming. Well, he actually did take up arms to defend nation, property and lives (Genesis 14). Call him a freedom fighter if you wish.

Manifestly these are men whose concerns went beyond the comforts and security of church walls. Their battles went beyond fighting temptation to sin. They fought evil in its every forms and wherever it took root, in proportion to their capacities and opportunities. They fought both moral evils and social evils, both evils by individuals and institutions. They sought to apply and defend the rule of their God on every inch of ground within the parameters of providential placement. And they sensed no clash between ecclesiastical and global citizenry duties.

Another objector asks, “Will a worldview that is pervasively Christian not clash with other worldviews in this pluralistic age? And why will such a worldview not resemble the Islamic fundamentalist worldview that seeks to conquer all?”

All worldviews are in their scope cosmic and by intent invasive. There is yet a fundamental difference between Islamic and Christian worldviews. The Christian worldview is essentially Christo-centric. It means the God whose dominion on earth is sought is Father, to those who savingly believe in his Son, Christ Jesus, with whom a loving relationship can be entered. Not so the Moslem God!

It also means it achieves its ends peacefully after the spirit of the prince of peace. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5). By the application of truth to minds and consciences, the delusions of false science, pseudo knowledge, all false answers to the world’s problems, and pretenders to virtue have been exposed. No legalism, no death-stones, no suicide jackets in the realisation of the Christian agenda. But it is as the church competently engages the world, with its biblical outlook on science, education, etc, that the world pays attention to Christianity as a faith with broad relevance and appeal.

Culturing a Christian worldview

Developing a Christian worldview will demand quite a bit. It will first demand interest in the world as God’s property and field of interest. God strolled in earth’s garden in the cool of the day, remember? Our interest in the world is most profitable when it translates into an integrated studious interaction with all that constitutes reality nationally and globally.

It will also demand a readiness to confront ones own culture where it is in conflict with God’s Word. Societal norms are only of value to the extent that they do not undercut Christ’s rule. The snare here is fear of man. In fact this is the fiercest challenge to living out a Christian worldview in the God-hating world. All Christians must see it as an integral part of their agenda to venture on biblically influencing their people’s general perception of and relationship to the secular and physical world, in whatever legitimate ways possible.

A key channel for exerting lasting influence is the permeation by Christians of educational institutions and channels (e.g. the media). According to God’s placement and gifting, the Christian must seek to influence public opinion, and why not national policy. Why should the Christian shy away from intelligently engaging in vital national debates? Why should his voice not be respectfully heard in professional discourses? Does he not honour God when he brings sanctity to business or political life? The curse of the church is the prevalence of worldview schizoids; Christians with a split worldview – one for the religious world and another for the secular.

Cultivation of a Christian worldview will also require careful study and knowledge of God’s Word with a cosmic outlook and impetus. Teachers of the Word will boost the cause of Christ, in this regard, by regularly expounding Scripture, bearing in mind its cosmic relevance. Unless Scripture is carefully and prayerfully studied, its statements on the social and material world will go unnoticed.

Living out a Christian worldview is not attempting to be a Jack-of-all-fields or a Saint-know-it-all. It does not require suspending or substituting gospel preaching for mere social, political, economic, or environmental action, as if they were mutually exclusive. It does not mean intimate fellowship with the sinful world.

Living out the Christian worldview is conscientiously living out the happy recognition that “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (1 Corinthians 10:26). It is being “salt and light” of the world in the most comprehensive sense. It is awakening the world to its need of a saviour through unveiling the material world’s beauty and worth, but inadequacy to fully satisfy, by its own confession in its cry for redemption (Romans 8:19-23). It is interpreting the world and relating to it biblically.

Reference

Kuyper Abraham, Calvinism, Höveker & Wormser Ltd., 1898

Kirk Andrew, The Meaning of Freedom, Paternoster Press, 1998

Murray John, Collected Writings, Vol. 1, Banner of Truth Trust, 1976

Miller William, A Christian’s Response to Islam, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1976

Praamsma Louis, The Church in the Twentieth Century, Vol. VII, Paideia Press, 1981

Schaeffer Francis A., The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Vol. 5, Crossword Books, 1982

Sproul R. C., Lifeviews, Revell, 1986

Walsh, Brian & Middleton Richard, The Transforming Vision, IVP, 1984