[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
[Add the title only in the title field, not in the body of the post.]
Summary in 400 words or less:
What is a worldview? A “worldview” refers to “what we see of reality,” “world” here meaning not just this planet , but universal truth. Worldview is a partial synonym for “religion,” in what sociologist Peter Berger calls the “functional” sense of that word. “Religion” often carries negative connotations, or is used to prejudice matters in favor of atheism (“religions are irrational, anti-scientific,” etc), which makes the more neutral term “worldview” useful. In the full sense, a “worldview” should include not just what we see as true, but what attitudes we adopt to it. Therefore, for instance, Christianity should be compared not to “atheism” per se, but to worldviews based on atheistic assumptions — Secular Humanism, Marxism, Hedonism, Nihilism, etc.
What is the substance of worldviews that can be compared? Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Worldviews offer solutions to these basic problems — they make moral, ontological, and existential claims, which can be more or less worthy, true, and useful. Belief systems can therefore be evaluated and compared along these three axis.
First, moral. What belief (or anti-belief) system makes us the best possible human beings, “Loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves?” How should we relate to ourselves, family, friends, lovers, colleagues, fellow citizens, authorities, the poor, the rich, other tribes, humanity, animals and our environment? How should we relate to the Source of our Being? What do we owe Him (Her, It, Them) and why? What are the most important virtues? How can we attain them? Is morality even a meaningful concept?
Second, ontological. “What is truth?” (Pilate) Are we alone? Is life an accident? Is this universe a seamless web of physical reality, or is it punctuated by acts of God (the gods, fate, dialectic, etc)?
Third, existential. What does it mean to prosper? “Eat (what?) drink (how much?) and be merry (with whom?), for tomorrow we die?” Or is there another world? Is worship of God an ingratiating abasement, or the true source of ultimate joy?
How should we evaluate competing worldviews? Should we assume that they do compete, or adopt some other model?
Christians recognize that comparison is inevitable. Even “pluralists” see their position as superior to positions they reject, such as what they call “exclusivism.” (Which means that in that sense, they are also exclusivists.) In addition, lies and evil and death are real and cannot be denied.
Some Christians see comparison between worldviews as essentially a zero-sum game. They tend to emphasize dichotomies like “true” and “false,” “good” and “bad,” “healthy” and “harmful.” They see apologetics as primarily the task of showing that Christianity is superior to other worldviews across these three axis. Indeed, they point out, in theory some one view of reality must be more true than others (our own, of course, as pluralists also believe). And if Christ did die and rise from the dead, following Him is also the most righteous and healthy worldview, and essentially negates those that are false, unrighteous, and harmful.
Other Christians tend to emphasize the distinction between “partial” and “complete” that Jesus drew between Jewish tradition and his own ministry. They argue that truth, in all three forms, need not be a “zero sum game.” While they admit all traditions include large regions of error and sin and death, they see God as working through all of history to bring people to Him through Christ, including by placing “pointers” in many traditions, fulfilled by Christ. From this perspective, “false worldviews” are false largely by virtue of cramped and partial perspective: truth allows us to see further, our field of vision embracing what is true in lower and more limited “worldviews.”
Scripture for YouVersion: Romans 12:2, 1 Timothy 1:8-10
War of the Worldviews series by Intelligent Faith 315:
- Pt. 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JqcWnSIRZRo
- Pt. 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bgsJz78FV2I
- Pt. 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IfeBRATHtg
Three questions (one fill-in-the-blank, one multiple choice, and one discussion question):
- Which of these is not one of the three axes discussed?
- The short definition of “worldview” given in the article is _______________________.
- How important is it to evaluate and understand your own worldview before trying to evaluate those of others? Why is this important?
References for further reading:
Collaborators: David Marshall, Frederick Choo, Mike Alexander Perry
[Add your name here only if you have created this topic or contributed valuable content or editing to this topic.]
[Add a copyright-free, relevant image to the body of the post (click the Add Media button), as well as going back in and selecting it as the featured image.]
Type “YES” and contact Maryann when at least three collaborators agree this is ready to be shared with YouVersion: