What’s a Worldview all about?

Boy with camera

Everyone has a worldview; we just don’t think much about it.

What is it anyway?

A worldview is like your conceptual picture of reality (the world, life, everything). It is how you ‘see’ things, and how this picture helps you make sense of the little things and the big things in your life. Compare it to a camera or lens through which you see the world.

Your worldview will shape how you view politics, education, relationships, entertainment, work, etc. It governs your outlook on life. It is the silent and unnoticed group of assumptions you bring to everything you do.

There are multitudes of worldviews, and it is not uncommon for us to mix elements of different worldviews together.

For instance, many Nigerian Christians who are educated have imbibed aspects of a secular worldview such as the belief in an autonomous rational universe which can be known through scientific investigation, and a rejection of supernatural revelation in areas like education and politics.

These same people, however, might believe in the existence of a personal God whom we can love and worship. Also, these people could believe strongly in the importance of community, which is an essential aspect of the African worldview.

On account of the plurality of cultures and worldviews in our modern world, many tend to have a divided outlook. In some areas of life we operate out of a particular worldview, but when considering some other aspects, we switch to a different one.

Developing a Christian worldview, therefore, means allowing the Christian understanding of reality to govern everything we think about or do.

And what is this Christian worldview?

The Christian worldview can be understood as a story in 3 parts: Creation, Fall, and Redemption.

God, who exists eternally as a triune being, created our universe as a good and beautiful realm to be further developed by the most special of all his creatures: humans. He placed them on earth as his representatives to rule over it in his name. But they rebelled against his authority and decided to live by their own wisdom.

This act resulted in the Fall, whereby humanity has become morally and spiritually broken, humans suffer all kinds of miseries (think of violence, disease, heartbreaks, death), and the entire universe is in a state of disorder (think of hurricanes, drought, earthquakes).

In his mercy, however, God has redeemed his universe by sending his son, Jesus Christ, to deal with the root cause of the whole problem: human sin. Through his death and resurrection, he conquered sin and all that has resulted from it. And he calls all people to embrace this redemption by trusting in Jesus as both their Saviour and Lord.

This is the Christian worldview in summary. But we can still flesh it out to discover the individual ideas involved in it. In his classic book, The Christian View of God and the World*,  theologian James Orr, gives us just such an outline:

  1. The Christian view affirms the existence of a Personal, Ethical, Self-Revealing God.
  2. The Christian view affirms the creation of the world by God, His immanent presence in it, His transcendence over it, and His holy and wise government of it for moral ends.
  3. The Christian view affirms the spiritual nature and dignity of man—his creation in the Divine image, and destination to bear the likeness of God in a perfected relation of sonship.
  4. The Christian view affirms the fact of the sin and disorder of the world, not as something belonging to the Divine idea of it, and inhering in it by necessity, but as something which has entered it by the voluntary turning aside of man from his allegiance to his Creator, and from the path of his normal development. The Christian view of the world, in other words, involves a Fall as the presupposition of its doctrine of Redemption.
  5. The Christian view affirms the historical Self-Revelation of God to the patriarchs and in the line of Israel, and, as brought to light by this, a gracious purpose of God for the salvation of the world, centring in Jesus Christ, His Son, and the new Head of humanity.
  6. The Christian view affirms that Jesus Christ was not mere man, but the eternal Son of God—a truly Divine Person—who in the fulness of time took upon Him our humanity, and who, on the ground that in Him as man there dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily, is to be honoured, worshipped, and trusted, even as God is.
  7. The Christian view affirms the Redemption of the world through a great act of Atonement—this Atonement to be appropriated by faith, and availing for all who do not wilfully withstand and reject its grace.
  8. The Christian view affirms that the historical aim of Christ’s work was the founding of a Kingdom of God on earth, which includes not only the spiritual salvation of individuals, but a new order of society, the result of the action of the spiritual forces set in motion through Christ.
  9. Finally, the Christian view affirms that history has a goal, and that the present order of things will be terminated by the appearance of the Son of Man for judgment, the resurrection of the dead, and the final separation of righteous and wicked.

This outline will form our outlook or perspective from which we think  and live in the world.

*The entire book is available online at www.ccel.org


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Steven Hoyt says:

    i am a christian. everyone has a different “worldview” and so, you don’t speak for me or anyone else.

    christianity itself has always been developmental and will continue to be, with a variety of different, conflicting views and ideas. if you don’t think so, ask yourself how it is that you’re a protestant, and if not protestant, roman catholic or eastern orthodox, and at which point in time, starting with the living christ and the disciples, when folks agreed on who jesus was and what he was up to.

    how we view the world is contingent to place; history, culture, environment, the problems we face and expectations we have. how e view christ is contingent in the same way. for most protestant christians today, christ is secondary, a means to an end, the selfish end of gaining heaven and avoiding hell. were there no afterlife, which there may not be, i suspect these wouldn’t have the slightest interest in anything he had to say.

    and yes, we christians who have an education … yeah, you can hate is too, implying true scotsmen and “i’m superior. those misguided souls”.

    without talking about anyone else on their behalf, we can look a what you’ve just written and many will ask what good your particular “worldview” is. and they have to ask because what you’ve said begs the question entirely.

    1. Dayo Adewoye says:

      Thanks for your comment. If I understand you correctly, you are stating that even Christians have differing worldviews among the different denominations and traditions (e.g. Protestants, Roman Catholics). While it is true that there are differences among Christians, there is a body of agreed ideas which constitutes a ‘Christian worldview’. And that is what I have attempted to show.

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