Especially in volatile times, followers of Jesus Christ need to be firmly grounded so as to not be swept away by the tide of popular cultural opinion. Evangelical Christians believe that truth does not change, though admittedly our grasp and formulization of truth can (and probably should) be constantly reforming. We don’t just hold to some vague form of truth. Rather, we contend that there is One who is Truth. If we belong to Him, then that fact alone should change the way we view our world.
What is a worldview? One philosopher has defined it as a set of beliefs and practices that shape a person’s approach to the most important issues in life. Having a specific worldview should shape, influence, and direct a person’s life: their thoughts, attitudes, values, and decisions.
Another way of looking at it is to say that a worldview answers life’s big questions, such as: where did I come from; why am I here; who am I; how can I know anything; or how should I live.
Everyone has a worldview though not everyone is aware of it and not all worldviews are equally coherent and consistent. For the Christian, our worldview is shaped by one source – the Word of God. It is the Bible that is our final authority for life and practice and it is the teaching of Scripture that should inform, shape, and focus our answers to the big questions of life.
Matt Slick of CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) has written an article on his website that sets forth basic principles which form the Christian worldview (you can read the entire article at https://carm.org/what-are-some-christian-worldview-essentials). There are undoubtedly more, but these nine items are representative of Christianity’s perspective and truth and how it influences belief and action.
- An absolute God exists.
If an absolute God exists, then it means that God is self-sufficient and lacks nothing. If God is self-sufficient, then He needs no external cause for His existence. This would mean that He is eternal. If He is eternal, then He does not change.
- God created the universe.
If God created the universe, then He is all powerful–since it obviously takes a great deal of power to create the universe. This would also mean that God is separate from creation and not a part of the created order. From the previous point where we see that God is absolute and unchanging, we could see that God’s nature would be reflected in the created order. As a painter leaves a part of himself on the canvas, so God reveals Himself in creation. Creation is, therefore, ordered, predictable, and dependable. This would mean that when Christians look into creation, they would expect to find a predictable, regular, and testable world.
- Man is created in God’s image.
This means that God, who is rational and intelligent, has impressed His image upon the hearts and soul of human beings. Therefore, people can be rational and turn their attention towards the world, and since they believe that the universe reflects God’s creative nature, they can have confidence to look into creation and expect order. They can also expect that since they are made in the image of God, they have the ability to unlock the secrets of the universe.
- If man is created in God’s image, then all people are worthy of respect and honor.
This would also mean that when a new life formed in the womb, it is human from the time of conception. Therefore, abortion would be wrong. Furthermore, if we are created in God’s image, then we did not evolve from lower primates. This would mean that we have purpose and are not merely the result of random development through evolution that is, supposedly, guided by natural selection. Natural selection works on the theory of survival of the fittest, and this could have a very harmful effect on society if “survival of the fittest” is transferred into a moral principle. It would justify oppressing the weak and helpless.
- Man was given dominion over creation by God.
This means that all aspects of the created order on earth are to be governed by man according to how God has revealed Himself and His will for us in the Bible. Therefore, politics, medicine, art, ecology, society, economics, exploration, philosophy, mathematics, education, etc., all fall under the domain of human responsibility and should be considered realms for man to control–under the wisdom and direction of God’s revelation, the Bible (more on that below).
- Mankind is fallen.
The fall of mankind through our ancient father, Adam, tells us that at the heart of every one of us is a predisposition toward sin. Sin is rebellion against God, and, therefore, it is a rebellion against what is good. Sin has not only affected man’s soul and body, but it has also affected his mind. Therefore, the Christian worldview would say that even man’s best reasoning is touched by sin and cannot be perfect. Furthermore, since man is sinful and his heart’s intentions are predisposed towards wickedness, we conclude that those in power are highly susceptible to corruption. Therefore, governmental systems should be developed with Christian principles in mind to help guard against that. In fact, Christianity influenced the development of the Constitution and American government. Our founding fathers developed the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of government which are there to exercise a system of checks and balances over each other. Why? Because of the fall, man has a tendency to gravitate towards corruption.
- Jesus is mankind’s only hope for redemption.
Because man is fallen, he is in need of rescue from God’s righteous condemnation–which is eternal damnation. Also, since he is fallen, there is no way he can redeem himself. Therefore, Jesus, who is God in flesh, died for us and rose from the dead. We receive His righteousness and forgiveness by faith. This basic theological truth means that Christians should then preach that good news of redemption in Christ to all the world. Therefore, one of the most basic Christian principles is promoting Jesus as the means by which we are made right with God.
- The Bible is the Word of God.
Of course I have already mentioned the Bible, but the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. From the Bible, we derive the truths by which we govern our lives. It is from the Bible that we learn about God Himself, His created order, the Trinity, redemption, about sin, salvation, hope, and what is morally correct. The Bible reveals the will of God for mankind, for the family, for raising children, for proper behavior in society, etc. It is from the Bible that we can learn the direct will of God.
- God Provides for His creation.
It is from the Bible that we learn of God’s loving provision for us. We know that God lets the sun and rain fall down upon both the good and the bad. We know that God causes the crops to grow and cattle to multiply. We know that though we live in a fallen world, God has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. Therefore, we can rely on God’s provision for us and should have confidence that He will continue to provide for our needs.
In future posts, we will look in detail at some of these principles and apply them to what we see going on in our culture today. Christians need to know how to think, how to evaluate their culture, and then how to engage their culture with the truth. In our day, there a few issues as critical for Christians as being equipped to engage the culture with minds that have been renewed and shaped by God’s Word.