Christian Worldview

Sowing in Good Soil

Worldview? I can imagine eyes rolling. That is ivory tower stuff, you say. It’s what tweed-jacketed professors are into, like philosophy and all that. What’s that got to do with preaching the Gospel? Everything. Worldview is not some lofty academic subject. It is intensely practical. Everyone has a worldview—that is, an understanding of how the world works and how we fit into it. And what we believe about the world and life determines how we live. Ideas, as was so famously said, have consequences. Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan is a clear reflection of his own worldview—that all humans are created in the image of God. We are, therefore, to help people get their lives straight and work for what the Jews call shalom, God’s justice and peace in which humans can flourish. Rick is calling all of us to live out a Biblical view of the world. Contrast that with the work of a brilliant Egyptian radical, Sayyid Qutb, who was educated in the West and developed an obsessive hatred of Jews and Christians. While in prison awaiting execution in the 1960s, he produced full-fledged Islamist revolutionary manifesto. His books and letters ended up in the hands of a professor in a Saudi Arabian university, who taught radical Islamic worldview. One of the professor’s star students was Osama bin Laden. I know personally that worldviews matter and can be a matter of life and death. I have an autistic fifteen-year-old grandson, Max—a beautiful child whom my daughter, a single-mom, has heroically raised, bathing him in Christian love and care. Max loves life and blesses many of us. But it costs $65,000 a year to keep him in a special-needs school, and Max will probably never be self-sufficient. In purely utilitarian terms, he is a drag on society—what the Nazis called (straight out of social Darwinism) a “useless eater.” The money used to educate Max could instead be spent to inoculate ten thousand kids in impoverished areas against dreaded disease. We recoil in horror at such utilitarian calculations. But this idea is being advocated by Princeton professor Peter Singer, who is described by New Yorker magazine as the most influential philosopher in America. Singer argues for infanticide, euthanasia, and diversion of support from those who are of no use to society. This is exactly what the Nazis did when they performed medical experiments on prisoners and euthanized those they considered “defective.” This is the same thing, in fact, that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger argued for in her eugenics scheme—eliminating inferior races and people. Singer’s utilitarian philosophy seeks to do the greatest good for the greatest number, which is a reasonable ethical formulation in a purely secular society. Think about it: If we merely came from a primordial soup, life evolving from single-cell organisms by natural selection—which is what our school children are taught—why not get rid of people who are defective? Since life has no intrinsic meaning, why not maximize happiness for the productive people? But if we have been created by God, in His image, every life—including Max’s (maybe especially Max’s—is precious and to be protected. This is a life and death example and is precisely the point on which the Biblical worldview most dramatically clashes with the prevailing secular worldview. This is the central issue in the great culture war being waged for the heart and soul of our civilization: Is there a basis for human dignity? Is life sacred? Many believers do not understand that Christianity is a worldview. Christianity does not stop with salvation; that is only the beginning. The late great evangelist and philosopher, Francis Schaeffer, said that beginning and ending with John 3:16 is like opening a book in the middle. Instead, you have got to start at the beginning and read how God created us in Genesis 1, then see that his Word speaks to all of life, and finally that it takes us to the glorious culmination of history. Abraham Kuyper, a great theologian and one-time prime minister of Holland, said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry out: ‘Mine!’” All of life is under the lordship of Christ, and therefore, we have been given two commissions: the Great Commission to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them all Jesus has taught us; and the Cultural Commission to be fruitful, multiply, take dominion, and restore a fallen creation. The Biblical worldview raises four questions:
  1. Where did we come from?
  2. Why is the world in a mess?
  3. Is there any way out?
  4. What is my purpose?
To number one, the Christian answers: “God created us.” To number two: “the fall.” To number three: “redemption by Christ.” And to the fourth question: “restoration of society.” Every worldview answers these four questions differently. For example, a New Ager believes that God did not create us, but that we are part of God. The secularist does not believe in sin or the fall—rather that people are good—thus it is society and its institutions that are corrupt and need to be fixed. This view leads to utopianism and ultimately to tyranny, as we saw in the twentieth century. I have studied worldview for nearly thirty years, and I am convinced the only worldview that makes sense, that can be true (that is, can conform to the way the world is, to reality, which is the best definition of truth), is the biblical worldview. It is the only one with satisfactory answers to all four questions. Compare them, and you will see. Once we understand the Biblical worldview, we can:
  • Defend what we believe.
  • Live the Christian life fully.
  • Be more consistent disciples.
  • Work for God’s justice and righteousness—and perhaps even transform the world we live in.
We must not fall for the seductive idea that we can just be saved and live happily ever after. To do that, to fail to understand worldview, will doom us to the isolation of our churches or even worse, our sure defeat in the great clash of civilizations with Islam and with secular naturalism here at home. He who has ears, let him hear.


Chuck Colson



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