Yesterday I referred to a new blog series on A God-Centered-Worldview. David Dockery, who served as president at Union University, Jackson, TN (1995-2012), writes the first post: “Why is it important to have a Christian worldview?”
Dockery notes that everyone has a worldview, since all are faced with “the deepest questions of the purpose and nature of human life. What is at stake is how we understand the world in which we live.” This is not unique to the Christian, but is foundational for all, whether or not they know or can articulate it.
Dockery defines a worldview as follows:
it is a comprehensive life system that seeks to answer the basic questions of life. A Christian worldview is not just one’s personal faith expression, not just a theory. It is an all-consuming way of life, applicable to all spheres of life. . . . A Christian worldview has the stamp of reason and reality and can stand the test of history and experience. A Christian view of the world cannot be infringed upon, accepted or rejected piecemeal, but stands or falls on its integrity. Such a holistic approach offers a stability of thought, a unity of comprehensive insight that bears not only on the religious sphere but also on the whole of thought. A Christian worldview is not built on two types of truth (religious and philosophical or scientific) but on a universal principle and all-embracing system that shapes religion, natural and social sciences, law, history, health care, the arts, the humanities, and all disciplines of study with application for all of life.
The beginning of a Christian worldview is in God and His creation, as explicitly taught in the Bible (Gen. 1:1) and confessed in the Apostles’ Creed, “We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” Dockery writes,
The central affirmation of Scripture is not only that there is a God but that God has acted and spoken in history. God is Lord and King over this world, ruling all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does in order that humans and angels may worship and adore him. God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
To think wrongly about God is idolatry (Ps. 50:21). Thinking rightly about God is eternal life (John 17:3) and should be the believer’s life objective (Jer. 9:23–24). We can think rightly about God because he is knowable (1 Cor. 2:11), yet we must remain mindful that he is simultaneously incomprehensible (Rom. 11:33–36). God can be known, but he cannot be known completely (Deut. 29:29).
There are important implications of affirming and living by a Christian worldview, under the Lordship of Christ. Dockery lists a number of them, which I summarize.
- A Christian worldview becomes a driving force in life, giving us a sense of God’s plan and purpose for this world. Our identity is shaped by this worldview.
- A Christian worldview provides a framework for ethical thinking.
- A Christian worldview has implications for understanding history. . . . God who has acted in history in past events will also act in history to consummate this age.
- A Christian worldview offers a new way of thinking, seeing, and doing, based on a new way of being.
- A Christian worldview is a coherent way of seeing life, of seeing the world distinct from deism, naturalism, and materialism, existentialism, polytheism, pantheism, mysticism, or deconstructionist postmodernism.
- A Christian worldview offers meaning and purpose for all aspects of life.
In conclusion, Dockery emphasizes “six particular applications where a Christian worldview provides a difference in perspective” (included in full):
1. Technology—Technology can become either an instrument through which we fulfill our role as God’s stewards or an object of worship that will eventually rule us. A Christian worldview provides balance and insight for understanding this crucial aspect of twenty-first-century life.
2. Sexuality and marriage—Sexuality has become a major topic for those entering the third millennium. Much confusion exists among Christians and non-Christians. Sexuality is good in the covenant relationship of mutual self-giving marriage. Sexual intimacy, separated from covenant marriage, in hetero-sexual or homosexual relations is sinful and has a distorted meaning, a self-serving purpose and negative consequences.
3. The environment—Environmental stewardship means we have a responsibility to the nonhuman aspects of God’s creation. Since God’s plan of redemption includes his earthly creation, as well as human (see Rom. 8:18–27), we should do all we can to live in it carefully and lovingly.
4. The arts and recreation—The arts and recreation are understood as legitimate and important parts of human creativity and community. They express what it means to be created in the image of God. We need to develop critical skills of analysis and evaluation so that we are informed, intentional, and reflective about what we create, see, and do.
5. Science and faith—For almost two centuries science has been at the forefront of our modern world. We must explore how we see scientific issues from the vantage point of a Christian worldview. An understanding of God includes the knowledge we gain through scientific investigation. With the lens of faith in place, a picture of God’s world emerges that complements and harmonizes the findings of science and the teachings of Scripture.
6. Vocation—Important for any culture is an understanding of work. Work is a gift from God and is to be pursued with excellence for God’s glory. We recognize that all honest professions are honorable, that the gifts and abilities we have for our vocation (vocatio/calling) come from God, and that prosperity and promotions come from God.
The essence of a Christian worldview is to bring every thought captive to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5). This is reflected in the way we think, the way we speak and the way we live – a comprehensive way of thinking and living. All of life is lived in dependency on the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God, for the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the spread of the gospel as we serve and edify others.
A few questions for you.
- Do you have a Christian worldview?
- What difference does it make?
- What are you doing to foster this in your own life, the life of your family and the life of your church family?