Nearly 15 years ago a survey was conducted among evangelical pastors. The question was simply “Do you have a Christian worldview?” The results were surprising to the evangelical establishment: less than half of pastors profess to have a Christian worldview. Almost 15 years later, I think it can be safely said that, with the rapid decline of the “church” in America, even fewer pastors (and much less average Churchians) have any idea what a biblical worldview is.
While it is crippling that the shepherds of flocks cannot instruct their sheep as to how to live with a Christian worldview, the acute effect of such a deterioration is felt wheresoever Christians (and/or churchgoers) come into contact with the culture. As the culture is the report card of the church (culture being, as Van Til put it, “religion externalized”), it is evident that the church is an utter failure. Why has this occurred? Because Christians have abandoned, and often explicitly rejected, a biblical worldview.
Simply put, having a biblical worldview is looking at the world through the lens of the scripture. It involves asking the question, “what does the bible say about that?” to everything. Basically, you interpret everything that happens in your life in terms of God’s revelation – the bible. If you hear something you automatically think, “what does the bible say about that?” If someone tells you something, instead of just answering them with the first thing that comes to mind, think consciously, “what does the bible say about that?” “What would glorify God?”
God commands us to “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Having a biblical worldview is how we do that. But there’s more. The verse before says this: “for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” So, what are these weapons we are to use in extending the dominion of Christ over how we view the world (all our thoughts)?
It is the bible! The Kingdom of God is not extended through carnal forces (military might or political manipulations). Instead, our weapons are mighty in God, not in man. We are commanded to take up the sword of the spirit – the Word of God. When we do, we are availing ourselves fully of the power God has gifted us with. In fact, according to Revelation 19, the conquering Messiah uses the same weapon in striking the nations with a rod of iron: a sword. This verse has been misinterpreted often to imply that the rule of Christ comes through bureaucratic military actions.
But no. In actuality it is God’s Word, the gospel of the Kingdom, that brings that nations to the Messiah (Ps. 22:27, 86:9). And it is the same Word that we are given to take every thought captive. Why would God care about this though? Why would God want us to think of/analyze every area of life in terms of His Word? It is simple: because God wants all the glory. When we do not see things in terms of God’s infallible Word, we admit to having another authority. Another word holds supremacy over God’s. This is idolatry. Thus, because Christ is Lord over all, everything we do must be governed by his authoritative standard – His law.
God isn’t just concerned with us being “religious” and seeing his Word as authoritative in only some areas. Instead, He claims sovereignty over everything. When we address economics we look to the ultimate standard (Prov. 11:1). Politics (Deut. 17). The environment (Gen. 1:26). Education (Deut. 6) History (Exodus 20:16). And so on. The points here is this: a biblical worldview involves looking at all of life through the lens of scripture, not just the parts we feel comfortable with. God doesn’t allow us to compartmentalize our lives away into safe spaces which are out of His domain. No, instead he insists that we submit ourselves to Him and promises that as we do so He will bless us.
Now, why is a biblical worldview important? First, (as we have already seen) it is a command of scripture and exalts the Lordship of our Savior. But, secondly, having a biblical worldview also helps us to avoid pragmatism. Before continuing, let’s look at exactly what pragmatism is. Here is a good definition: “an approach that assesses the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application.” If that wasn’t simple enough, pragmatism is “whatever works.”
Many of the modern ethical theories center around pragmatist. Utilitarianism is a form of pragmatism because it affirms that best action is the one that maximizes utility. Theories such as nihilism, hedonism, and existentialism view human pleasure as highest virtue. As a result, fluctuations in pleasure result in fluctuations in ethics. There are no absolutes or ethical standards.
The concept of truth, as well, has been made pragmatic. Truth is now said to be subjective; it is whatever you want it to be. If you don’t like a blue sky, then “your truth” can be that the sky is purple. It doesn’t matter what is actually the case. In fact, we can’t even know what ultimate reality is. All we can know is what we perceive. Truth is whatever we want it to be and it can change with our need for it to. Truth is “whatever works”.
A biblical worldview keeps us from falling into such paganism. God give us an ultimate reality to live in terms of – revelation, both special and nature. In terms of special revelation, God has given us His Word as authoritative, unchanging, and absolute. In terms of nature revelation, God has given us a world of certainty, law-bound functions, and design. If we see things in terms of the scriptures we are able to glorify God by affirming and living in terms of His reality.
Moreover, because God has created things to work in terms of the reality of his revelation, we will often find that the pragmatic answer is a biblical one. Take a look at the marketplace for instance. Pragmatically speaking, free markets are the best option. They reduce the tax burden, incentivize creativity and productivity, and much more. But is this why we should, as Christians, affirm free markets?
When we look at the marketplace in terms of our biblical worldview we see this: “Thou shalt not steal.” It doesn’t matter how good free markets seem to work or not work – God still prohibits theft. Because even if socialism actually worked (pragmatically speaking obviously), Christians could not endorse or practice it. Why? Because we have a biblical standard. The same with capitalism (free markets). Why must Christians support them? Because they work? No! Instead because they follow the blueprint laid out by God. If anything deviates from our standard, we must abandon it regardless of how “good” it seems to work.
In conclusion, we have seen that the scripture commands us to take every thought (the smallest parts of our lives) captive to the obedience of Christ to the end that His dominion is established over all arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. The tool by which this is to be accomplished is the Word of God and it involves consciously viewing everything through the lens of God’s righteous and just standard.