Elements in a Christian Worldview

Elements in a Christian Worldview October 12, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 7.28.53 PMIt would be a good exercise for students in a classroom to ponder which thoughts are the most vital for comprehending how Christians think and understand the world that exists. What would your top five elements be? What are the building blocks of such a worldview? Yes, some don’t like the expression worldview, but many of us embraced “worldview” not from apologists but from someone like N.T. Wright (in his The New Testament and the People of God) or from Brian Walsh and J. Richard Middleton.

Brian Harris, The Big Picture: Building Blocks of a Christian World View, attempts to build a worldview through such building blocks, and here is his list:

1. The Universe: Accidental or Intentional

2. Humanity: Tragedy and Triumph

3. Amazing Grace: A Cross-Shaped Reality

4. Because the Three are One: Trinity and Community

5. All Creatures Great and Small: Building a World with a Better Name

6. Ever Hopeful: Living in the Light of Eternity

There you go: six elements. Pondering why this world exists, pondering what humans are like, pondering a cross-shaped view of life, pondering the Trinity as creating community inherent to creation, the world around us and our summons to seek peace and justice, and living with hope.

Let’s consider the first. Is life random or is there a purpose to life? Many would say this is one of the hardest questions to get postmoderns even to ask and seek an answer for. At work in this is another question: Are we pursuing joy and happiness — in a wide-ranging way — or are we pursuing truth? Many have abandoned the latter and so are more shaped by the former. Nothing more expresses this than the person says, “This is what I believe because this is what I believe?” In other words, they are the captain of their own ship and they steer their own boat where their light leads them. There’s something to thinking for yourself; there’s also something called pursuing truth. The former helps the latter, but many get lost in the former and abandon the latter.

If the world is random, the I takes charge and happiness becomes the aim; if the world is purposed by God, the God of the universe takes charge and truth is the aim. The Bible’s account in Genesis provokes the “Why?” question, not the “How?” question. Well, Yes, the How question is “God” but that’s not what we mean by the How? question; we tend to think in terms of science. The Bible’s about Why?

The Bible’s Why question presses us into the Bible’s characters, the Bible’s story, the Bible’s plot, and the Bible’s resolutions. Meaning is found in that narrative. The original creation is threatened by sin and sin’s resolution is worked out in the narrative by way of covenant with God.

The narrative’s God: creative, powerful, intentional, relational, observant, involved, confronting, emotional, protective, just, merciful, persistent. The narrative’s God image-bearers: humans.

He’s right: if that is what the God of the narrative is like, humans should be … like God!

I have to tell you: theology done like this is far more biblical than theology done through the classical loci, or topics.

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  • Scot,

    Do you think this would work as a text to lead advanced high school students into the theology and worldview stuff?

  • Interesting that it doesn’t have any reviews on Amazon. Have you read it through?

  • Same question here but for Young Adults.

  • DMH

    Just seeing this now, years later, because it popped up on a FB post by Scot. Thought I’d chime in. I haven’t read the book in question and it’s been awhile since I have done reading regarding worldview. I always liked James Sire’s The Universe Next Door and his follow up book Naming the Elephant- which adds important elements, such as the narrative aspect, which can not be over stressed. IMO narrative is more organic to the text, theology and WV questions are abstracted out of the text. TUND is the easier book but both would be appropriate for high school or young adult.

  • Kishy

    I have no knowledge of this particular book, but in looking for other books on the topic of worldview, readers should be aware that several years ago, “worldview” was a big word in homeschooling and most of the books and texts offered were not just a Christian worldview but a Reformed and Calvinistic worldview. In fact, I won an expensive “worldview” book in a drawing at a homeschool event that I looked through and gave to a Calvinist friend because I wanted no part of it. Of course, one doesn’t have to be reformed to hold a “Christian” view, but several authors seem to think Arminians or 2-3 point Calvinists don’t go far enough.

  • Kishy

    I’m not Scot but homeschoolers have used world view texts for years. However, as I mention in my comment below – many of those books taught not just Christian worldview but Calvinist worldview. I am sure they don’t all — we once had a group of teens -some homeschooled and some not – go through James Sires’ “The Universe Next Door” in our home, and all found it acceptable and quite informative; but as a sort of neo-anabaptist Armenian-leaning Christian, I found most of the others unusable. If you are Reformed, you will like them, but in IM0, they just go beyond Christian view to Calvinist. Some even go so far as reconstructionist theory.

  • Kishy

    The Universe Next Door would work; I don’t know about the reviewed book. TUND doesn’t have questions at the end of chapters (although someone may have created a workbooks since I used it), but we had older and handpicked teens in a group go through it and I know for a fact there are young adults (and old ones) who do not understand the concepts and who could benefit. We just discussed the chapters, and in our case, made out some questions and writing assignments for those who wanted some credit for homeschool. It’s one of my favoriite memories of homeschooling.