Weltanschauung

Here is an article from Bob Jones University Press on the importance of protecting Real True Christian children from the dangers of secular textbooks:

When we compare “textbook to textbook,” leaving out all of the “bells and whistles” that the secular publishers use to package their products, I am convinced that the instructional design, strong biblical integration and proven student achievement results of BJU Press textbooks give Christian schools a “no-brainer” option — to go with a product that honors God and guides students to a biblical worldview.

They really like that word, “worldview,” there at BJU Press.

BJU’s creationist science textbook, “Physical Science Student Worktext,” is advertised as teaching students “that a Christian worldview permeates true science.” Here’s a lecture series from BJU on “Why is thinking about worldviews important?” and “Forming a Christian worldview.

Bob Jones University is not an evangelical Christian school. It is, rather, one of the flagship institutions of fundamentalism, and more particularly of a Southern gothic, belligerent fundamentalism. Most evangelicals are just as creeped out by Bob Jones University as everybody else is. Yet for a certain segment of American fundamentalist Christianity, Bob Jones University is a  city on a hill, an outpost of truth-telling boldy confronting a world of lies.

Bob Jones is enormously respected by the network of Christian authors, speakers and radio hosts who make up the Worldview Weekend movement, which organizes seminars and conferences across America urging RTCs to take up arms in what it calls “the Worldview War Between Christians and the Secular Left.” The group also has its own publishing imprint, selling titles such as Christian Worldview for Students and Christian Worldview for Children.

This again isn’t a mainstream evangelical group. The kids raised on Christian Worldview for Children are homeschooled, and they don’t go off to college to places like Wheaton, Messiah or Calvin College. Those types of schools are viewed by this crowd as suspiciously liberal and insufficiently committed to a comprehensive biblical worldview.

Are you getting a sense yet of the connotations of that word, “worldview,” and what its repeated use signals?

Other Christians may use the word too, occasionally, rarely, in a way that conforms more closely to its usual dictionary definition or to the way the German sociologists used it when they coined the term weltanschauung. But when you hear it used frequently, the way it’s employed by the BJU Press and the Worldview Weekend folks above, it is a signpost term. It helps to show where the user falls on the spectrum between typical Christianity Today/Wheaton College/Ned Flanders mainstream evangelicalism and the scary lunatic fringe of radical separatists, dominionists and third-generation homeschoolers. The more you hear someone talk about “Christian worldviews” or “biblical worldviews” the further to the extreme right of that spectrum you can expect them to be.

Use of the word in this sense tells you that the speaker is almost certainly a persecuted hegemon — someone who simultaneously believes that America is a “Christian nation,” founded on Christian principles and that Christians in America are a persecuted, um, majority. It suggests that the speaker distrusts public schools. That they’re inclined to oppose the separation of church and state. That they likely believe in young-earth creationism, probably even believing that Josh McDowell and/or Kirk Cameron has disproved evolution. They believe in moral absolutes — and have absolute confidence in their ability to know them absolutely. They believe that America’s troubles trace back to Engel v. Vitale and Roe v. Wade and believe that God will bless America once those rulings are overturned.

Need more examples? Here’s “The American Vision: Restoring America’s Biblical Foundation from Genesis to Revelation.” They publish Biblical Worldview magazine.

Or spend some time clicking around at Christianworldview.net, which says “The purpose of our Christian Apologetics ministry is to equip people to think and live with a consistent and cohesive biblical worldview.

Or check out WorldviewMatters or the Biblical Worldview Institute or Worldview Academy or AllAboutWorldview.org.

Surf around. Get a feel for the connotations of the word and what its use signals.

Got it?

OK. Now watch this:

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  • Tonio

    Of course that sort of thing just begs for relativism and independent inquiry and rejection of authoritarian figures, so we can’t have that…
    Yes, because that could lead to dogs and cats living together in peace and harmony…
    The problem is, if done right, the separate worldview thing can work.
    The “final word on the Law” concept is still a form of authoritarianism. I have reservations about separate worldviews, because that entails compartmentalization.

  • http://accidental-historian.blogspot.com/ Geds

    The “final word on the Law” concept is still a form of authoritarianism.
    It kind of depends on the tradition. Within Judaism there’s such a wide acceptance of debate and disagreement that I don’t think it’s that big of a deal compared to, say, Fundamentalism. Meanwhile, if you’re looking at it as a way to keep customs alive that’s different than looking at it as a way to keep the hoi polloi in line.
    So, yeah, it might be a form of authoritarianism, but I don’t think it necessarily has to be a very high level. I mean, the Constitution is the final word on the law in the United States, but we don’t complain about it being authoritarian. It’s really just a document intended to create the basis of a working society.

  • Tonio

    the Constitution is the final word on the law in the United States, but we don’t complain about it being authoritarian. It’s really just a document intended to create the basis of a working society.
    Not quite final since we have the amendment process. Does the “wide acceptance and debate and disagreement” mean that scripture in Judaism has a de facto amendment process?
    By “authoritarianism” I didn’t mean the control of people. I meant the treatment of moral and behavioral questions as absolutes handed down by authority, of trusting authority to decide such questions instead of making one’s own informed conclusions.

  • http://accidental-historian.blogspot.com/ Geds

    Not quite final since we have the amendment process. Does the “wide acceptance and debate and disagreement” mean that scripture in Judaism has a de facto amendment process?
    Totally valid point and one that I can only partially answer.
    First off, true, we do have the amendment process. However, until an amendment gets passed that says you, say, are allowed to kill someone if it’s Friday afternoon and they just dropped by with an urgent work request that’s been sitting on their desk since Wednesday, the Constitution doesn’t allow that, so the final interpretation is that you’re breaking the law if you do that. But that’s an argument from function instead of form, so I concede the basic point.
    Second, sadly I’m not entirely sure what the viewpoint is, but there is something to be said for the idea that, yes, the Mishnah and the Talmud carry similar weight to scripture, at least in the rabbinic traditions. Now, it’s not like the Torah says, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” and Rabbi Solomon said, “Now you can kill,” and, poof, the Torah is no more, but there is traditionally far more wiggle room in Judaism than in Fundamentalist Christianity. Like in the example I started with, where the fundamentalist is confronted with a science report that the universe is 15,000,000,000 years old and a book that says it’s 6000 and decides to make the universe conform to the book as opposed to the Rabbi who looks at both, shrugs, and says, “So now we know.”
    Mind, I’m not saying it’s not authoritarianism, I’m just saying it’s a different kind of authoritarianism. I don’t have nearly as many problems with an authority that will accept debate and differing opinions than one that accepts no disagreement. On some level we do need authority or society will fall apart. Such is the nature of the beast. It’s just better to be in a democracy than a monarchy…

  • Anonymous

    Mind, I’m not saying it’s not authoritarianism, I’m just saying it’s a different kind of authoritarianism. I don’t have nearly as many problems with an authority that will accept debate and differing opinions than one that accepts no disagreement. On some level we do need authority or society will fall apart.
    I agree. I wouldn’t even use the word authoritarianism to describe that different kind. I’m not talking about authority itself, I’m criticizing the mindset that opposes debate and differing opinions, that sees unquestioning obedience to authority as inherently a good thing.

  • Tonio

    That was me at 2:27 p.m.

  • Erl

    A good example of Judaism’s de-facto amendments is the death penalty. The Torah, of course, not only permits but actively requires the death penalty for many different offenses. However, Rabbinic courts were over time able to establish laws of evidence and procedure for those offenses so restrictive that it became impossible to employ the death penalty in real life.

  • Spiders Everywhere

    I’d like to take this rare opportunity to say the word “calque” repeatedly.
    Calque calque calque calque calque.

  • hapax

    I’ll see your “calque” and raise you a “cladistics.”
    I once wrote an entire paper analysing the paleographical antecedents of the Ancrene Riwle just to toss in the word “cladistics”, because it sounds so nice and crunchy. Naturally, the paper was bounced, every reviewer circling the word “cladistics” in red pen with big question marks.
    Philistines.

  • Spiders Everywhere

    Hooray! I’ve been known to cite “clade” as my favorite word of all time. It’s tough to choose, though. I’ve been quite enamored of “liminal” of late.

  • Ryan Ferneau

    “HEY YOU! JOIN THE NAVY!” – Superliminal

  • Sniffnoy

    I would just like to point out the Wikipedia entry for “Pair of pants”.

  • Jeff

    I would just like to point out the Wikipedia entry for “Pair of pants”.
    Just how did you find that??!!

  • Nenya

    The Trousers of Time!!!
    (I had no idea they were based on a real mathematical concept. Groovy.)

  • http://cynicsage.blogspot.com/ The Cynic Sage

    (@ youtube vid of Palin at the end of Fred’s entry)
    I shat bricks.

  • http://www.bigmikelewis.blogspot.com Mike

    And yet this pales in comparison to the idiotic gaffes and mistakes and lies Obama and his ilk have made.

  • Call me naive

    But that wasn’t anything near a major blunder. She rephrased the doctrine in the context of it’s use. She came across to me as having a clear understanding that the Bush doctrine was talking about taking action pre-emptively, and she associated it primarily with terrorism, which is how the doctrine has been implemented. It’s the U.S. going after terrorists, and those persons or governments that promote terrorism, in a pre-emptive manner to keep them from being able to attack the homeland.
    What’s all the howling about? It’s not like she claimed her parents first met at some big political function 4 years after she was born, or associates with domestic terrorists.

  • hapax

    Okay, you’re naive.
    But that avoids the question: how much does the McCain campaign pay you to post drive-by concern trolling on liberal blogs?


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