It is common for concerned Christians to look at our society and ask, “What’s going on out there?” We are shocked to see behaviors which used to be justly condemned as immoral now being normalized and even defended.
But what has caused the ‘floodgates’ of immorality to swing open so widely? The only way to answer this question with certainty is to realize that humanity has torn itself away from God’s blueprint for His creatures. That’s why there has been an unraveling of goodness and truth.
The moral and spiritual consequences are immense. Man’s defiance against God’s blueprint is causing suffering; people are experiencing divine judgment in ‘slow motion’—the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven (Rom 18-23).
An ‘explosion’ in immorality has as its underlying cause the rejection of the knowledge of God. In the place of the knowledge of God are lies about freedom and fulfillment. These lies are attractive because they ‘free up’ man’s lust; but the hidden price tag is costly—men are plunged into deeper ignorance; darkness; deception; bondage; and oppression.
Consequences such as broken homes, abused neglected kids, abortion, suicide, perversion, sexually transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancies, same sex marriage, violence, substance abuse, and pornography have not developed in a ‘vacuum’.
These tragedies are accelerating because the precious things of God are being eroded; and people are taking pleasure in sin and not in the knowledge of God (Del Tackett, “Biblical Worldview,” Focus on the Family Magazine, July/Aug, 2004, Dec, 2005).
It is clear that America is no longer guided by Christian principles. Secular humanism now directs the public affairs of our nation. This philosophy, or worldview, of secular humanism denies God, Christ, and the Bible. Secularism removes God’s standards and allows man to substitute his own standards instead.
Without God’s Word and the Gospel, man has no reliable moral compass. People make decisions based upon they felt needs and desires. Each individual becomes a law unto himself—choosing what is ‘right’ in his own eyes without respect to God’s standards.
God’s Word says in Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” There could hardly be a more accurate assessment of our country today than the description found at the end of the book of Judges (www.wakeupamericainc.org, “God Rejected”).
Christians are not immune to this ubiquitous influx of relativism. Things that once appalled are now commonplace—shameful things are the subject of TV sitcoms. Like Lot of old, many professed believers have become desensitized to the immorality that surrounds them.
The church has been lulled asleep—she has reclined upon the false security provided by humanist philosophies such as the separation of church and state. She has settled into a perpetual state of indifference toward the public affairs of our nation. Consequently the government and the academy (educators) have systematically removed God from the fiber of our nation while the church has stood by passively. With its chief spiritual weapon sheathed; the church has watched in apathy—without unleashing the constraining power of God’s Word (ibid.).
When the church imagines she is static; she is actually in ‘retreat mode’. Our young people are paying the price; they are becoming the casualties of our culture. It is the ‘Christian’ college students who have never been trained in Christian worldview who are at greatest risk of departing from the faith (David Noebel, Understanding the Times; The Religious Worldviews of our Day and the Search for Truth).
College students who leave the faith are, for the most part, those who were never taught a unified worldview which has Genesis and biblical creation as its foundation. Students who are never taught what is at stake if the foundations of Scripture are destroyed are astonishingly vulnerable to erroneous worldviews (Jerry Fallwell, Ken Ham, If the Foundations be Destroyed).
High school and college campuses are indoctrinating our youth in the satanic philosophies of humanism and naturalism at an alarming rate. Rampant moral decay is the result—accompanied by a gross loss of confidence in the reliability of the Scriptures.
We are standing at a crossroads in human history. Now is the time for the church to become proactive in training its members in biblical worldview. Biblical worldview is the very foundation of ethics, life decisions, values, and behavior.
Believers equipped in biblical worldview develop the resolve and discernment to live life without compromise; to live in light of God’s total truth; for His honor and glory. Training in worldview enables Christians not only to stand firm in the face of our culture’s non-biblical ideas; but also to tear down the atheistic ultimates of false worldviews.
How serious is the Problem we are facing today?
· 60% of professing Christians believe co-habitation outside of marriage is acceptable (George Barna at barna.org)
· 70-88% of students from “Christian” homes deny their faith before graduation from college (barna.org)
· One symptom of Bible illiteracy is the runaway trend to reject biblical theology in favor of syncretism—professing Christians are combining views from different faith perspectives including Islam, Wicca, secular humanism, and eastern religions (“Americans draw Theological Beliefs from Diverse Points of View,” 10/8/02, barn.org)
· Only 9% of Evangelicals have a biblical worldview (“A Biblical Worldview has a Radical Effect on a Person’s Life,” 12/1/03, barna.org)
· Instead of preparing their children for life, the vast majority of parents are waiting for social institutions to train their kids (“Americans Agree: Kids are not being Prepared for Life,” 10/26/04, barna.org)
· 62 % of Americans consider themselves to be deeply spiritual, and 88% feel accepted by God (“Most Adults feel accepted by God, but Lack a Biblical Worldview,” 8/9/05, barna.org)
· Only 9% of young people under the age 24 base their moral choices on the Bible (ibid.)
· Only 1 in 20 Evangelical dads have ever led their families in devotions (barna.org)
· In 2006, 91% of Evangelical kids said, “There is no truth apart from myself”—that’s up from 52% in 1994 (barna.org)
· Only 33% of churched youth say the church will play a part in their lives when they leave home (Josh McDowell, 2006)
· In our media-saturated culture promiscuity is cast as freedom—our ‘highly sexualized culture is at war with parents’ (James Dobson)
· In the 1970’s only 5% of 15 year old girls had sexual intercourse; by 1997 it was 38% (Columbia University Report, 1997)
· It is estimated that 1 of every 2 churchgoers is caught up with Internet pornography (World Net Daily, “Killer Culture,” 12/8/03)
What is the Philosophical Climate of our Culture?
Relativism has Christian college students ‘backpedaling’—but training in biblical worldview can help them set forth a compelling defense of the Christian faith.
Postmodernism has given college students a view of reality steeped in relativism—in that view God is inconsequential; outside of reality if you will. In addition, Darwinism has drastically eroded confidence in the reliability of the Bible (Director of Campus Crusade, Cal Poly Pomona).
The pressure exerted by philosophical pluralism is so great that to press for an exclusive truth claim is to be regarded as a bigot. The postmodern world is relativized so totally that one is no longer allowed to say somebody else is wrong without sounding like a hypocrite (D. A. Carson, Conference on How to Reach Postmoderns with the Gospel).
Postmodernity functions as a fortress that effectively ‘locks out’ the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On our college campuses the mouths of our Christian kids are often closed in their public witness. Their vocabulary does not include the notion of antithesis. There is a great need to speak to the theological/ideological needs of the rising generation of Christians that are under attack. Christian college students are intimidated by the politically correct, diversity-inclusivistic ideology of the academy. Students are ‘brainwashed’ into a survivalist mode of, “Can’t we just get along?” with its implicit appeal to intolerant oneness (Peter Jones, on the challenge of reaching today’s ‘neo-pagans’ with the Gospel, Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, 2007).
Christian college students for the most part are unable to mount a convincing ideological critique of what is on the ideological/spiritual level of the campus; and they are unable to give an ideological/theological defense of the Gospel. Christian students are swept up in ‘personal narrative theology’ with a dismissive attitude toward doctrine. Tied to the lack or rejection of doctrine is a lack of categories for taking on the enemy. You cannot take on the enemy of paganism that surrounds us if you ignore the categories that identify it—religious categories by which it must be forced to make its public case. Understanding those categories will help Christians find their minds and voices (ibid.)
Postmodernism eats away every transcendent reference point. There is no longer any meaning outside of self. Human potential becomes the disordered self in need of order. The empty, dismantled self (with its inner void), runs to psychology to fill it. Religion becomes completely based upon self.
In the culture of modernity, the stress is put on image, not character. The boundary between God and self becomes fuzzy. An encounter with God does not depend upon a truth-based belief and idea, but upon an inward experience. In narcissistic culture, God is in the image of self; He is internalized. (David Wells, God in the Wasteland, pp. 94-100).
More and more, effective evangelism involves a fundamental ‘clash’ between worldviews.
Unlike evangelism in the past; our struggle now involves a worldview clash. In the clash there is a fundamental collision between epistemologies. This ‘clash’ is necessary because knowledge has been privatized; it has been dissolved into the ‘sociology of knowledge’ void of truth claims. Without truth claims, there can be no objective sin or evil—one is left with a domesticated God who does not judge, govern, or redeem (D. A. Carson, Reaching Postmoderns with the Gospel).
The Western world now is a mission field never faced before—it is ‘ex-Christian’. It has been inoculated; but retains only a distorted memory of Christianity; a memory of Christianity as the age of prejudice. With the memory of prejudice comes the commonly held notion that Christianity cannot be credible because there cannot be one true religion to the exclusion of all others (Tim Keller, on Evangelizing Postmoderns).
A two-level view of truth has relegated Christianity to the ‘upper story’ realm of privately held ideas—in that realm the Bible’s truth claims are viewed as religious ideas with no basis in fact.
The two level view of truth (public/private split) hamstrings our efforts at both personal and cultural renewal. Ultimately it reflects a division in the concept of truth itself, which functions as a gatekeeper, ruling Christian principles out of bounds in the public arena. Only by ‘crafting’ a full-orbed Christian worldview can we liberate Christianity from its cultural captivity. Only by the total truth set forth in the Christian worldview can we unify our fragmented lives and recover spiritual power. Christianity is not just religious truth but truth about total reality. It is total truth (Nancy Pearcey, flyleaf,Total Truth).
We are seeing more and more ministries characterized by theological minimalism and a downplaying of divine truth as the real foundation of the church. Says MacArthur, “Bible teaching, even in the best venues today, has been deliberately dumbed-down, made as broad and as shallow as possible, oversimplified, adapted to the lowest common denominator—and then tailored to people with short attention spans” (Book review by Scott Lamb, 3/22/07—The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception, by John MacArthur).
How do Seminary Students benefit from the study of Biblical Worldview?
Biblical worldview provides a vision for Christian education.
In seminary students begin to develop both their ecclesiology and their philosophy of ministry. Once they leave seminary and enter church ministry, they will be expected to ‘cast a vision’ for Christian education, outreach, evangelism, and leadership development. Christian worldview helps complete the ‘scope’ of vision necessary for effective training in Christian ed., evangelism, and leadership development.
Biblical worldview offers a solid foundation for understanding the times in which we live.
Seminarians will ultimately be ministering to those who live in a ‘post-Christian’ era. Our culture is characterized by a vicious civil war over values. Worldview training prepares pastors in training to understand the times so they will know how to equip the saints to engage our culture.
Training in biblical worldview helps the seminary student recognize that church-goers are bombarded by the ‘divided truth concept’. Secularism regards biblical truth claims as ‘upper story’ with no basis in fact. Biblical worldview refutes this dualistic view of truth. By obtaining a grasp of God’s unified truth as the ‘big picture’ believer’s are equipped with a powerful weapon in the war against fragmented truth.
There is an alarming trend which continues to grow—Christians are succumbing to a syncretistic view of spiritual truth (they gather ideas from many different religions). By stressing God’s unified truth—biblical worldview helps equip church leaders to expose the radical inconsistency of syncretistic worldviews.
Biblical worldview brings a dynamic unity to the truth claims we preach and teach.
Most Christians have received their religious training in a ‘devotional manner’. As a consequence they assume that religious truth belongs in a religious compartment. Worldview training overturns this deficiency by setting forth God’s truth as total truth. All of God’s Word applies to all of God’s world. God’s revelation is not merely about ‘religious’ things; it is God’s absolute truth about the cosmos, origins, history, providence, anthropology, and destiny.
Ideas have consequences; erroneous ideas bear bad fruit. In a media-saturated culture, there is a relentless reinforcement of ideas which make up erroneous worldviews. If churches are to wake out of a slumber mode of retreat—they will have to be proactive in training their members in what they believe and why they believe—there is no shortcut if we are to successfully confront the lies of our culture. Worldview training helps prepare seminarians to equip others in analyzing false worldviews for the purpose of discerning what is good, right, and holy.
Biblical worldview helps prepare seminarians to teach and model effective evangelism.
Very few evangelical churches are functioning with a ‘Gospel mission’ mentality. Instead there is a ‘safe house’ mindset which has allowed Christians to retreat into the woodwork instead of engaging our culture. Training in biblical worldview instills boldness in believers—enabling them to step out of ‘privatized Christianity’ and into effective evangelism. Biblical worldview imparts a pervasive confidence that there are biblical answers to every important life question.
Most Christians have settled into a ‘survivalist’ mode in which they hope to avoid a ‘truth encounter’ with the unsaved. Training in biblical worldview gives believers a firm grasp of reality. By setting forth God’s truth as the onlyfoundation for all thought, believers learn that Christian truth alone matches reality. Believers need this foundation if they are to confront the fortresses or error raised up against the knowledge of God.
How does training in Biblical Worldview assist Pastors?
Biblical worldview provides essential vision for leadership development.
Dedicated Pastors are involved in training leaders to defend the faith. In a world awash in relativism, godly leaders need to know that every Christian truth they defend derives its meaning and authority from its relation to the character and plan of an infinitely good, wise, and holy God. This confidence must be imparted to God’s people if we expect them to be ‘worldview changers’ in the home, at church, and in the community.
Biblical worldview instruction is mandatory if pastors are to adequately protect their flocks.
Pastors are responsible to protect the flock; equip the flock, warn the flock, and armthe flock. This process of pastoral protection of the flock is inseparable from two things. One, the flock must be imbued with the knowledge of where their answers are coming from. And two, they must be taught the specific points at which the world is warring against Christian truth.
Effective pastors explain how God’s truth opposes the prevailing philosophies of the day. Biblical worldview provides a host of ‘points of contact’ with erroneous worldviews. Church-goers ought to be prepared by their pastors to anticipate the objections of unbelievers—and then to answer those objections. Anything less constitutes a lack of preparation to ‘take every thought captive’.
Biblical worldview is essential equipping for effective apologetics and evangelism.
A church’s attitude about the value of biblical worldview usually ‘trickles down’ from pastors and church leaders. What the church leaders view as important is normally viewed to be important by the congregation. Biblical worldview is invaluable in equipping the saints to fulfill the Great Commission.
Because we live in a post-Christian era, Gospel outreach in the 21st Century is increasingly a ‘cross-cultural’ endeavor. When Paul spoke to the biblically illiterate Athenians on Mars Hill; he laid out a ‘framework’ for the Gospel. Without this framework, or divine context for the Gospel, we may be speaking ‘into a vacuum’. Biblical worldview equips believers to lay the ‘foundation stones’ of Christian worldview (God as Creator; man as the image of God; man’s moral accountability to God). Worldview training equips believers to confront a faulty view of God and to confront the faulty reference points held by unbelievers. This ‘pre-evangelism’ is increasingly necessary in our post-Christian culture.
Biblical worldview is useful in preaching—it helps establish a connection between the biblical world and our 21st Century world.
Pastors who incorporate biblical worldview impart a mental framework to their people. This framework is helpful in creating a long-term strategy for driving home biblical truths in practical and creative ways.
By means of a worldview framework, believers are better able to embrace the foundations of their faith—and consequently are better able to process the numerous principles, truths, and narratives provided in the Bible. Preaching without this mental framework can be ‘information overload’. A biblical worldview gives believers a grid or filter to know how to categorize and implement the spiritual facts they receive (George Barna, Think Like Jesus).
Biblical worldview sets up an antithesis between God’s Word and the deadly lies of our culture.
Worldview training equips pastors to raise the epistemological self-consciousness of their hearers. If the church is to be ‘salt and light’ in this present age, then she must see clearly the epistemological gulf that divides believer from unbeliever. According to Colossians 2:8, every individual falls into one of two camps: he is either a captive of false philosophy, or free in Christ. In order to witness effectively, believers must be taught how to expose the unbeliever’s ‘working epistemology’—an epistemology which calls forth God’s wrath (epistemological: pertaining to ‘how’ we know what we know).
How does training in Biblical Worldview help Churches?
Biblical worldview assists parents in understanding the nature, scope, and content of their task in training their children.
Biblical worldview helps parents capture the vision to raise their children through a ‘process’ of training based upon strong relationships. The traditional model of training kids through ‘programs’ is failing. Young people are best trained when their parents embrace the vision to live ‘incarnational’ lives in the presence of their children. We can’t be effective raising children ‘programmatically’. We’ve got to raise them with ‘process’ (Josh McDowell).
Christians don’t have to be intimidated by the common ‘defeater beliefs’ that are parroted by unbelievers (“evolution is a fact; all religions have validity; Christianity is the cause war; it is wrong to make moral judgments; etc.”). Through worldview training, believers can learn to deconstruct commonly accepted ‘defeater beliefs’—and in so doing, overcome the charge that the Gospel is implausible (Tim Keller).
Biblical worldview is able to strengthen churches in the areas of evangelism and discipleship.
It is not surprising why so few Christians share their faith with unbelievers. Our culture is now so biblically illiterate that Gospel preaching, without the framework of creation and the moral government of God, we may find ourselves speaking ‘past’ the unbeliever. Worldview training prepares Christians to methodically lay the foundation for the Gospel.
Once Christians learn to establish the biblical ‘context’ for the Gospel; they will experience a net increase in effectiveness. They will develop the confidence to speak the truth in love to a dying culture; and they will learn to recognize and address false worldviews. This is essential if we are to make an impact upon our world for Christ.
Biblical worldview provides the spiritual ‘weapons’ necessary to stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture.
The false worldviews of our culture can send shockwaves through the faith of those not established in the Word of God. Biblical worldview helps strengthen and stabilize believers. The truths of biblical worldview fit together like the interlocking pieces of a puzzle: Reality is God and His plan for His creation. One cannot know God, the world, or himself apart from Christian truth. Christianity is defensible in the marketplace of ideas. The fact of evil in our world is a powerful validation of God’s revelation in Scripture. The doctrine of biblical creation grounds our accountability to God. Moral truth is the expression of the character of God. Idolatry is behind all other sins. Christian truth fits human experience like a key fits a lock.
Biblical worldview teaches believers how to ‘take the roof off’ of false worldviews as an opening for the Gospel. It is the Christian worldview alone that corresponds with reality. When armed with that confidence the evangelist exhibits a compassionate boldness because he knows that the unbeliever’s worldview will not stand up under scrutiny.
Biblical worldview helps preserve the integrity of Christian life.
When God’s unified truth is applied to all of life it is transforming in its power. Many professing believers live a ‘disconnected life’—in other words, what they say they believe is disconnected from how they live. Biblical worldview deals with this ‘disconnect’ through the power of unified truth. Believers committed to biblical worldview learn to bring every area of life under the lordship of Christ.
Instead of a unified worldview; many believers have a ‘patch-work’ of ideas that make up their life view or worldview. One of the greatest advantages of systematically studying Christian worldview is that believers become aware that God’s unified truth is total truth. There is both joy and confidence that arises from discovering God’s Word speaks to every area of life.
A dedication to study biblical worldview brings with it the confidence that God has answers to all of life’s important questions. There is an answer from God’s Word for everything you experience from day to day. Thus, biblical worldview is a vision of life and a vision for life. Therefore there are no compartments ‘exempt’ from the lordship of Christ. Biblical worldview is the basis for all of life’s choices, decisions, values, beliefs, and behavior.
Christians make the most God-honoring decisions when those decisions are based upon an integrated biblical worldview. Biblical worldview is the basis for all of life’s choices, decisions, values, beliefs, and behavior. This knowledge is intensely practical; it helps believers form the appropriate response to the moral issues we face in our culture.
God’s blueprint for mankind is a unity of total truth. The pieces of God’s worldview are made to fit together like pieces of a puzzle—they are interlocking and interdependent. To hold to a unified biblical worldview that incorporates every part of God’s blueprint is never an accident; it is always the result of systematic training.
In order to be fully grasped; biblical worldview must be diligently taught. The benefits far outweigh the cost—Christians trained in biblical worldview develop the resolve to view all of life through the biblical grid and bring all of life under the lordship of Christ. God has called us not only to personal faith; but also to a biblical worldview that has the power to transform our world.