A Christian’s View of a “Christian Worldview”

Screenshot_6_14_14__6_14_14__9_37_PM__9_37_PMI grew up hearing a lot of Bible-based sermons, but nothing about “worldviews”. I became a Christian without knowing that I even had such a thing as a “worldview”. I did not start hearing regularly about the so-called “Christian worldview” until I went to some conferences on education where there were many denominational folks and very few members of the true New Testament church. Nowadays I hear about the “Christian worldview” very often, and sometimes from members of the church of Christ.

I am not necessarily opposed to this phraseology as such, because if taken literally it would simply mean to view the world in a Christian way. I certainly want to do this. For example, I want to call good things good, with the understanding that God determines all value (Isaiah 5:20; Matthew 20:1-16). However, whenever language is borrowed from the denominational world and is not found in the Bible, we must be very careful about the collection of ideas that is brought along with the language.

1. I am concerned that the popular phrase “Christian worldview” may be a code for “core gospel,” an ecumenical subset of biblical ideas that are taken to be commonly accepted among denominational folks. If this is right, then I would insist upon adherence to the New Testament rather than to a Christian worldview. For example, consider the proposition that immersion for the remission of the sins committed by accountable people is necessary for salvation. Christian worldview organizations of which I am aware refute this proposition (while disagreeing among themselves about what good baptism is), but the Bible affirms it (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21). So, before I make sweeping appeals on behalf of the Christian worldview, I am going to have to emphasize that folks really need to accept the authority of the Scriptures and follow them. In this case, if people do not do what the Bible says in order to be saved, they cannot be saved.

2. The Scriptures do in fact teach an overall view of the world, including Who God is, what man is, what sin is, what salvation is, what marriage is, et cetera. But even on these fundamental theological doctrines, there are problems. For example, folks who claim to have a Christian worldview often assert that human nature is inherently evil due to the inheritance of Adam’s sin. The Bible does not teach this doctrine of original sin, but many folks seem to associate the so-called “Christian worldview” with a commitment to (and a vociferous, almost constant focus on) original sin. So, before I make sweeping appeals on behalf of the Christian worldview, I am going to have to make clear that the Bible does not teach the doctrine of original sin.

3. “Christian worldview” discussions may lead to confusion about the difference between the purpose of the Old Testament and the purpose of the New Testament. One who is immersed in “worldview” discussions hears frequent mention of principles from both old and new testaments, but little discussion about how a person living in the present should relate to each of these covenants. So, before I make sweeping appeals on behalf of the Christian worldview, I am going to have to make clear that the Old Testament is not binding on us today (e.g., Colossians 2:14; Galatians 5:1-5; Hebrews 8).

4. I am also concerned that just as I hear more and more about Christian worldview, I hear fewer and fewer explicit references to the Bible. I have gotten the impression that an appeal to the Christian worldview is, for many folks, an attempted shortcut to taking a biblical position without ever having to, you know, consult the Bible. So, before I make sweeping appeals on behalf of the Christian worldview, I am going to have to make clear that I am not using “Christian worldview” to refer to anything other than a biblical viewpoint, and that arguments allegedly based on a Christian worldview must actually be based on a careful reading of the Bible.

That’s four things. I am exhausted. So, I now think that it will be—under most circumstances—a whole lot easier for us simply to teach systematically what the Bible teaches about various issues, rather than to appeal to “Christian worldview”. I regret that the devil has made it largely impractical for us to talk about the one true “worldview” by using that term. This is really no major setback, however, because we can still point out problems with unbiblical worldviews and try to get people to obey the Bible. In the context of doing so, perhaps we may recapture a godly usage of the term. Whether we can or not, we can keep on doing what restorationists have been doing from the start.

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  • Hey Caleb. Great post as always. I just finished a quarter of classes at WH on having the worldview you mentioned (the real worldview we’re supposed to have, as opposed to the world’s, even the religious world’s, view.) I also taught a series of these lessons at Camp Maywood this past week. I referred to it as a “Biblical worldview”. Would you consider this a more accurate description of our goal of examining and executing all things in our lives according to the teachings of the Word?

    Again – great post. Thanks for all you do!

    ~Keith

    • Caleb Colley

      Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, I think it is fine to use the phrase “Christian worldview” or “biblical worldview” if we can accurately convey what a truly Christian worldview or biblical worldview would involve. I’m sure you did so in your classes. I am just wanting to caution us against casual, unclear, or misleading usages of this phraseology. I think that ncreasingly, because of the pervasive denominational usage of it, most of the time we use it, we actually convey a set of concepts with which we would actually disagree.

- 2017