Friday, April 13, 2007

A "Christian Worldview"

At least since i began attending my Christian university 8 years ago, and maybe before, i've been familiar with the term "Christian worldview." It refers to a particular way of seeing the world, history, and the future, supposedly from a biblical perspective. At IWU it was presented thus: time is linear, not cyclical; the world is not inherently good or inherently bad but fallen; history will come to an end; etc. It kind of made sense to me at first, but currently i've got some doubt about the idea.

This really became clear to me yesterday as I read the press release for George Barna's latest book about parenting. In an effort to discover what kind of parenting is most likely to produce "spiritual champions," or solidly Christian young adults, he began by identifying a number of these "spiritual champions," whose upbringing he could then study. One of the criteria for these young people was the posession of a "biblical world view":

Each of these young adults possessed a "biblical worldview," based on their responses to a series of questions about their view of life. In essence, they contend that absolute moral truth exists; such truth is defined in the Bible; God is the all-knowing and all-powerful creator and ruler of the universe; faith in Jesus Christ is the only means to salvation; Satan is a real being; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and all of the principles taught in the Bible are true and accurate. link

I thought it was worth noting that Barna's criteria didn't involve any observable behaviors other than participation in a church, such as helping the poor or being a person of integrity. That aside, the article made me wonder whether we tend to define too narrowly what it means to think like a Christian.

I wonder what it would look like for a member of a non-western culture to have a "biblical worldview." I remember watching The End of the Spear and hearing one of the primary characters, a Waodani man living in Ecuador who had accepted Christ after participating in the murder of several missionaries, talk about entering the afterlife as "jumping the great boa." Assuming that the movie didn't fictionalize this part, we have a man who has accepted Christ and understands that salvation is through Jesus, still understanding the world in the terms of the natural environment that he understands. Is his any less of a "Christian" world view? How much of our "biblical world view," with its emphasis on absolute knowlege and the approved sources of truth, really came to us from the Bible? How much of it is really from our cultural influence from the enlightenment emphasis on the aquisition of knowledge?

I guess i'm not really challenging whether a biblical world view exists, since it's clear that the Gospel will eventually change the way we see the world. But i do wonder if we've really taken the time to dialogue with Christians from other cultures about this to make sure that the litmus tests we come up with really are purely biblical and not the Bible as read by the western world.

And i also question whether it's really that important. It seems like we at times judge whether people are real christians by their posession of such a perspecitve on life, which is going far above and beyond the biblical litmus test: faith in Christ that makes a difference in the way we live. I want really badly to say that i'd rather have a Christian that fails the biblical world view litmus test but trusts Christ alone and gives sacrificially, than one that passes the test but is hard-hearted and selfish, but I guess i can't quite take it that far for fear of eventual apostasy due to poor theology in the church. But i know which Christian i'd rather try to pastor.

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