The Importance of Worldview


Worldview has to do with our beliefs about the nature of reality and the world, particularly in regard to the questions of our origin and destiny.

These foundational questions are philosophical and religious but our view of the answers to these questions impact almost everything else in our personal lives and in our culture.


Murray and Carol 1976

The image of a Rooted Tree may be helpful.

Our worldview is like our roots. They are unseen but generally give stability in the storms of life. World view has to do with the questions of why we exist, the nature of God and God's purposes for our existence. Worldview therefore should not be chosen arbitrarily or without examination.

Usually a worldview is rooted in its story or "meta-narrative" which gives context to that worldview. I know there are competing meta-narratives, but let me share that of the Biblical worldview.

Out of our worldview flow our foundational beliefs. These may be compared to the trunk of the tree. The truck relates to our view of our purpose in life, how we respond to resistance to that purpose including the origin and overcoming of evil, and the nature of the highest good which can be achieved in our life.

Out of these foundational beliefs flow our guiding principles. These may be compared to the branches of the tree and be expressed in our character or basic attitudes towards the value of people, particularly also the poor and needy, those who oppose us, work and ethics, and creation itself.

Out of these guiding principles and attitudes flow our practical decisions, behaviours, words and actions. These outcomes may be illustrated by fruit of the tree. Fruit is what most people see and would say characterize us. But how we live our lives is in fact already largely determined by our worldview.

From the Roots of Worldview Flows Almost Everything

The foundations of worldview profoundly affect our personal lives as well as every institution of society - political parties, social policies, educational philosophies, views of philanthropy - nothing remains untouched. For this reason, and others, it is important to choose wisely.

At the risk of starkness, I think it's fair to suggest essential distinctions rooted in varying basic worldviews as follows:

 

Origins

Foundational Beliefs

Ethics: Principles & Attitudes

Destiny

Animism The question of origins is not addressed. There is no concept of a Creator, only good and bad spirits whose favor must be bought, earned or manipulated.

 

Power or energy needed in life must be protected and may be stolen.  Evil spirits must be appeased or used against others through rituals, sacrifices, or curses. Some have greater capacity to coerce the spirits to do their bidding (shamans, witch doctors) There is a fixed amount of goods and energy. For one person to gain, another has to lose. If one wants to be less poor or more rich, one must take from others or through the spiritual world cause the transfer from one to another. Hexes and curses are for this purpose. Human souls enter the spirit world at death where they will have influence over the physical world and are to be feared.

Hindu

Life is believed to be cyclic so the cycle of creation, preservation and destruction has no beginning.

You receive what you deserve (Karma). Polytheistic.

There is no point in expecting improvement of one's lot in life (fatalism)

Repeated cycles of births and deaths.

Jewish

God created out of love and desire for covenant relationship with humankind and creation.

Creation is good though God's purposes are resisted (i.e. existence of evil). The Messiah will come.

Obedience to the Law is the best practice until the Messiah comes.

The Messiah will redeem the earth, the believing soul will be purged of its blemishes.

Christian

God created out of love and desire for covenant relationship with humankind and creation.

Creation is good and life is valuable. God's purposes however are often resisted (i.e. existence of evil). God nevertheless redeems sinners through the Cross of Christ.

Highest good is to become Christlike in character. Christ's followers love and sacrifice for good, the weak and those wounded by evil.

Those following Christ become like Him in eternity. Those rejecting Him experience a Christless eternity without God.

Secular/Atheist

Time and chance produced what is without purpose or meaning.

Survival of the fittest. No reason to have compassion on the weak.

Enjoy life while it lasts. If meaning is desired, you must produce it.

Non-existence

Buddhism

Life is viewed cyclic so the question is generally ignored. Buddha uses the current world cycle however to explain the caste system.

A philosophy of harmony with the world and others is promoted. The question of God is not developed; technically atheistic.

Ethics flow from the many of the sayings and observations of Buddha.

Ultimate harmony with through absorption into the whole resulting in non-existence.

Muslim

Not expressed in unified fashion but similar in some ways to Judaism and Christianity.  

God is great but distant and not knowable in personal relationship.

Diligent observance of prayers, pilgrimage and other behaviours seek God's favour.

God will judge, but whether one's destiny is heaven or hell remains unknown.

While some will take issue with parts of this summary I believe it to be essentially accurate in direction and demonstrable in history. For two reasons I ask you to consider and embrace the worldview of Jesus Christ and those who follow him.

  • Because we inexorably tend towards what (or who) we worship (i.e. hold highest).

  • Because eternal destiny, while not often considered in youth, is to be taken with at least as much seriousness as life itself.

The Foundation of an Accurate Worldview

The word "worldview" flows popularly from the German concept of "Weltanschauung." This question of perspective on the world has an important limitation which must be addressed.

While it's true anything (e.g. a mountain or elephant) can look different from various perspectives, it is not true that the various perspectives change an elephant from being an elephant or change a mountain from being a mountain.

The most important question about reality then is - "what is it?" - rather then then the narrower "what does it look like to you from your current angle of limited human experience?"

"What is it?" is in fact revealed in scripture and demonstrated by Christ.

Reality in its entirety is created by the Triune God (the time and means of creation is interesting but decidedly secondary) and shaped in battle by Lucifer and his followers against those loyal to their creator. All things and beings are not equal and the hierarchy looks essentially like this:

Father, Christ Incarnate and Holy Spirit (Creator and Redeemer)  

 

Michael and Lucifer (archangels with, or in the case of Lucifer (aka Satan), against God)
Angels and demons (working the will of God or Lucifer)
Humans (victims, patients and saints)

Some wonder why Christians are confident enough in Christ to die, if need be. We acknowledge this confidence is not unique to Christians but the reason for our faith is important and is here

What is culture? The word comes from its root "cult" - the core beliefs and object of worship - of a people; a reflection of what people most deeply believe about ultimate reality and the most profound questions of life. In other words, culture is the practical expression or application of the worldview of a group of people. Worldview matters.

Impact of Christian worldview on culture: For example the worldview of Christians resulted in distinctly positive cultural values and practices within decades of Christ. Explore the effects of the Christian worldview in history and the reality that this social impact cannot be generated by law or government, but is rooted in vital relationship with Christ.

If you've not already done so, please read a brief overview of the Biblical meta-narrative giving rise to the Christian worldview.

May you see the importance of worldview before coming to the conclusion flowing out of the worldview of Lu T'ung: "I am not interested in immortality, only the taste of tea."