Several days ago, I posted a blog with questions / topics proposed by an ABI Facegroup member. This post deals with one of those topics – “worldview.”
It would be natural to expect that Christians would have most of their values, morals, ethics – their overall philosophy of life – to be informed and shaped by principles found in the Bible. However, apparently such an assumption would be inaccurate based on the the results of a survey published by the Barna Group on March 6, 2009.
The survey reports that only 9% of all Americans hold a biblical worldview – which is perhaps higher than one would expect (depending on the definition of “biblical worldview”). However, the alarming (if not completely surprising) statistic is that less than 20% of self-identified born-again Christians hold a biblical worldview.
What is meant by “worldview?”
a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint
Another online dictionary gives the definition in two senses:
1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.
The Barna report, cited above, notes the following concerning “biblical worldview” as used in the survey:
For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.
From a biblical perspective, this isn’t a particularly demanding set of criteria and reflects a basic philosophy of life that anyone should theoretically embrace if they choose to be identified as “Christian” in any meaningful way. And because this definition of “biblical worldview” is so basic, the fact that many who identified themselves as born-again Christians rejected any of the above criteria is significant.
Obviously (and thankfully), one does not have to be a theologian to enter into a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ. However, there is a problem if we consider ourselves to be born-again, yet do not have a biblical worldview.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul’s discussion of the wisdom of God versus human wisdom, is essentially one of competing worldviews. In this context he writes:
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corintians 2:14, NKJV)
In other words, for some, spiritual truth is beyond their grasp – which would obviously make it impossible to have a thoroughly biblical worldview.
Prior to this, Paul writes:
For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:11-12, NKJV)
Paul seems to directly connect the possession of a biblical worldview with possessing the Spirit of God. And only those who are born again are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore this passage raises a couple of important questions that all must consider, including professing Christians:
1) If we do not have a biblical worldview does this have any potential implications concerning our spiritual condition?
And the corollary:
2) If we consider ourselves to be born-again Christians do we actually have a biblical worldview?
In considering these questions, we should probably also recognize that a genuine test for a biblical worldview should be rather more comprehensive and stringent than that used by Barna. On the one hand, this raises the bar in evaluating one’s personal worldview. On the other hand this potentially reduces even further the percentage of those who could be considered to hold a biblical worldview.
How could someone consider himself to be a born-again Christian and yet not have a biblical worldview? And are there philosophical and / or theological trends within American Christianity that allow or even create such a situation?
We will consider these and other questions in the next post on the subject of “Biblical Worldviews.”