What Is a Worldview? (And Why Do Worldviews Matter?)

A worldview is a set of related beliefs
(assumptions or teachings) that one wears, like a
pair of glasses, through which life is viewed. A
worldview gives a specific understanding of life and
answers important questions, often at odds with
answers from other worldviews.
You can look at life one way by wearing one pair
of glasses and then see the world differently when
you wear a pair glasses of a different prescription or
darker shade. They lead to different views.
A worldview helps determine what you believe
about nature, what you value, how you view social
issues, what you think about sin, where the
universe came from, if God exists, whether truth
can be known, who Jesus is, what man is like, and
so on. In short, a worldview shapes how you see
every aspect of life.
Consider two answers given to the question,
“What is man?” The Darwinian or evolutionary
worldview answers that man is just one of many
genetically complex life forms, due to millions of
years of purposeless forces, subject only to the laws
of chemistry and physics, not accountable to any
timeless moral law or God (for there are none), and,
in the big picture, has no more value than an insect,
a blade of grass, or a piece of dung.
The biblical worldview answers that man is a
unique creation of a real Creator, set apart from all
other creatures since he alone is made in the
Creator’s image, accountable to a timeless moral
law, and who, though fallen, still recognizes there is
a meaning to life and a destiny that go beyond mere
chemistry and matter. Most significantly, this
worldview recognizes that even though man failed
miserably in his accountability to God’s law—
having completely lost his holiness—righteousness
is restored and man is forgiven through faith alone
in Jesus, God’s Son, and his sacrificial work. Being
created by a Creator and being redeemed by this
same Creator give man actual and infinite value.
Worldviews make a world of difference in our
lives, but the typical person probably does not even
know he holds to a certain worldview. And if he
does know, he will likely not think critically about
it. He will not ask himself whether his worldview
might be false, where it comes from, why it was
rejected a generation ago, and, very importantly,
how it may conflict with certain religious teachings
—another worldview—to which he also holds.
Whether a person can define “Darwinism,”
“existentialism,” “postmodernism,” or other names
of worldviews, everyone risks being influenced and
even swept away by such deceptive ideologies
without even realizing it. That is why Paul warned,
“See to it that no one takes you captive through
hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends
on human tradition and the basic principles of this
world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
False worldviews are deceptive; they can look
good but are inwardly misleading. Christian
discernment is needed. This is why Christian
apologetics is important where Christian truths are
defended and the assumptions of other worldviews
can be shown to be false.
People can and do change their worldview. It
can happen when they go off to college, encounter a
crisis, or are immersed in another culture. But
remarkably, in all places in every generation,
millions and millions embrace the Christian
St. Paul, who had violently opposed the little
sect known as Christianity, did a complete
turnabout. Jesus Christ grabbed Paul, converted
him, and appointed him to tell everyone that the
Christian worldview is unquestionably and
demonstrably true, in spite of knowing he would
have to die for it. Though he was martyred, he now
lives, as will everyone who believes that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of sinful man.

Author: Rev. David Thompson is pastor of St. Timothy
Lutheran Church, Lombard, Illinois, and author of
What in the World Is Going On? Identifying Hollow
and Deceptive Worldviews.

Learn More: www.els.org/apologetics


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