From time to time, I have the opportunity to ask a group of Christians to tell me about the world—what is it like? Answers range from beautiful to unfair to amazing and fun. These initial, rather superficial thoughts tend to give way in the course of the conversation to much deeper considerations, things like the world is created, it is sustained by God, it will not exist forever, etc.
I like to ask this question because it is simple and enlightening; it makes us aware that we all have a story about what the world is like. And, given the right circumstances—maybe it is a child or grandchild asking us—we like to tell our story. When we do this, what we are really doing is sharing our worldview.
Our worldview is much more than our initial impressions; it is a set of deeply and passionately held convictions about the central truths of reality. James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door, suggests that our worldview is the story we tell as we answer the following critical questions (22-23):
- What is prime reality? What is really real?
- What is the nature of external reality?
- What is a human being?
- What happens to a person at death?
- Why is it Possible to know anything at all?
- How do we know what is right and wrong?
- What is the meaning of human history?
- What personal, life-orienting core commitments are consistent with this worldview?
If you spend a little time thinking about these questions, you will probably realize that you have an answer for each of them. In other words, you will see that you have a worldview. The fact is, everyone has a worldview. If you have children, they are developing their worldview now, and you are helping them create and understand what it means to live their worldview. So, you need to know what a worldview is, how it works, and what you think about the three major worldviews of Western culture: Christianity, Scientism, and Postmodernism.
What is a worldview? A Worldview is—as basically as we can define it—one’s view of the world, of everything, the whole ball of wax. Another definition I like is: a worldview is everything you believe about what really matters in life (Moreland). Let me give you a more specific definition from James W. Sire:
A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being. (The Universe Next Door, p.20)
Notice that your worldview involves commitment. Your worldview is a matter of your heart. It is the core of who you are. It is how you think, what you believe, and how you live.
Notice also that your worldview may be expressed as a story. Your worldview is the story you believe is true and the story you are telling with your life.
Additionally, your worldview is a set of beliefs that may or may not be true. There are all kinds of worldviews out there (Theism, Deism, Naturalism, Skepticism, Nihilism, Pantheism, Postmodernism, etc.). And, unless the pluralists are right (and they aren’t), they can’t all be true. The central question is which worldview, if any, is true?
Finally, your worldview is the foundation of your life. It is the set of principles by which you live, make decisions, instruct your children, etc. If you aren’t sure what your worldview really is, look at the choices you are making. Your decisions and actions will tell the story. In other words, if you look closely at your life, you will see your worldview at work. In our next blog, we will look more closely at how a worldview works.