Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Traditional Wordview Categories

“A biblical Worldview is seeing the world the way God sees it. It is thinking God’s thoughts after him in all areas of life” (Earth Restored, 2002).


As those of you who have read my book Earth Restored know, I do not typically treat the topic of Christian worldview according to philosophical categories, as is typically the case in many Christian colleges. However, this is not to say that we cannot learn a great deal from the traditional categories. The following offers a list of the traditional worldview elements and their implications for our cultural debate, much of which follows the thinking of Ronald Nash.

Epistemology
: “The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity.”

Secular humanism claims that the basis for knowledge is autonomous reason.

The God Christians believe in is the God who has revealed himself in the Old and New Testaments. The Christian faith is a revealed-religion. Ronald Nash says that Christianity’s “touchstone proposition” is that “Human beings and the universe in which they reside are the creation of the God who has revealed himself in Scripture. The basic presupposition of the Christian world-view is the existence of the God revealed in Scripture.” The foundation of the Christian faith is the authority than the living God, not human speculation and vain autonomy. Carl Henry correctly observes, “All merely human affirmations about God curl into a question mark. We cannot spy out the secrets of God by obtrusive curiosity. …Apart from God's initiative, God’s act, God's revelation, no confident basis exists for God-talk. …If we are authorized to say anything at all about the living God, it is only because of God's initiative and revelation. God's disclosure alone can transform our wavering questions concerning ultimate reality into confident exclamations!”

Metaphysics: “The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value.”

Metaphysics deals with ultimate reality and questions such as “What is the meaning of existence? Of life? Is the existence of the universe a brute fact? Is the universe eternal? Secularism holds there is no ultimate meaning to life beyond the grave.

The Christian response is that God did create the whole universe out of nothing (ex nihilo) and that God is a free and eternal being. Christians affirm that the universe and all that is in it finds its ultimate meaning and purpose in God.

Secular humanism posits evolutionary theory or the earth as a “brute fact.”

Christian worldview understands that God is and that He is the source of all existence. The Westminster Confession of Faith states, “There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory most loving gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.”

Anthropology: “The scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans.”

The Christian worldview should include a number of important beliefs about human beings. “Are human beings free? Are human beings only bodies or material beings? Do they have a soul? What is the soul and how is it related to the body? Is death the end of personal existence?” Humanism says that man is a “cunning animal.” A product of the lower species.

Quoting William J. Abraham, Nash considers what the Christian worldview believes about human beings. Abraham states: “Human beings are made in the image of God, and their fate depends on their relationship with God...and they will be judged in accordance with how they respond to him. This judgment begins now but finally takes place beyond death in a life to come. Christians furthermore offer a diagnosis of what is wrong with the world. Fundamentally, they say our problems are spiritual: we need to be made anew by God. Human beings have misused their freedom; they are in a state of rebellion against God; they are sinners. These conclusions lead to a set of solutions to this ill. As one might expect, the fundamental solution is again spiritual… [I]n Jesus of Nazareth God has intervened to save and remake mankind. Each individual needs to respond to this and to become part of Christ's body, the church, where they are to grow in grace and become more like Christ. This in turn generates a certain vision of the future. In the coming of Jesus, God has inaugurated his kingdom, but it will be consummated at some unspecified time in the future when Christ returns.” Christianity answers the questions of human origin, purpose and destiny from the Bible. It offers a realistic analysis of human suffering and how man’s fallen condition can be restored.

Ethics: “The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy.”

Christian ethics addresses the questions posed by Francis Shaeffer, “How then shall we live?” Everyday unbelievers appear to live moral lives. But ethics as a worldview factor is more concerned with the basis of our actions and their relationship to God. Further, Christian ethics asks “Are moral laws the same for all human beings? Is morality totally subjective or is there an objective dimension to moral laws that means their truth is independent of our preferences and desires?” Secular humanism bases moral choice in situational ethics or communal deference. We defer our choice to the well-being of others, saying, “If it doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s OK.”

The Christian worldview claims why and how one “ought” to live; what conduct is permissible or impermissible. Christians claim that it is God’s good, righteous and holy character revealed in his laws, rules and principles that are the ground for our behavior and even our thoughts. The unbeliever, regardless of how ethical he or she may appear, lives by personal preference, autonomous reason, and cultural convention. It is important to note that everyone has a worldview: some foundation for his or her view of things. Not every worldview, however, reflects God’s truth.

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