Foundations for a Christian Worldview: First Things (2)
There is a way that seems right to a man… Proverbs 14.12
Embracing a big idea
In our text, Solomon uses the word way like we’re using the word worldview. He says, in effect, that every person has a worldview, and that worldview seems right for their purposes. They may not have thought too deeply about their worldview, but they have one nonetheless. Their wayconsists of a repertoire of priorities, hopes, aspirations, desires, routines, goals, and standards – more or less consciously embraced – which serves to guide their daily life through the Scylla and Charybdis and the flotsam and jetsam of everyday existence.
Every human being has a worldview, a way that seems right to them, and every worldview consists of similar features, components, or dimensions.
It’s a good idea to try to understand these components; otherwise, the way(worldview) that seems rightto us at any moment may end up being a dead end, and we won’t know why. In that case, we’ll need to make adjustments, and perhaps redirect our thinking and agenda. Unless we understand the parameters or dimensions that comprise a worldview, we’ll be lost at sea and vulnerable to repeated disappointments in trying to navigate the often stormy waters and hidden currents of our life.
We need to understand the wheelhouse of a worldview, the primary components and parameters to which we can apply thinking and action to keep the coracle of our lives on a steady course toward our hopes. If we don’t know where to “grab hold” of a worldview, how will we be able to identify where our way has gone wrong and where it needs to be improved?
So we need a way of getting our arms around, and our hands on, the very big idea of “worldview”. Doing so will enable us to monitor our worldview and to make adjustments or corrections as indicated.
Dimensions of a worldview
There are, of course, many ways of looking at the idea of worldview, and many of those can seem abstract and arcane – the sort of stuff best left to academics. But since everyone has a worldview, and everyone wants a worldview that seems right for their needs and aspirations, everyone needs some way to embrace and lay hold on the idea of worldview, so as to make the most of this important concept.
Before we begin looking specifically into the writings of Moses, to see what God has to say through him about the Christian worldview, I want to simplify the ideaof worldview by defining its primary dimensions. Every worldview consists of three primary dimensions. Think of them as the legs of an equilateral triangle.
Let’s start with the left leg of our triangle, which will stand for our worldview vision. A worldview vision describes what we see as our ultimate desired state – that which we reckon to be ultimately true and good, and which commands our imagination and energies. We need to have a view of what is ultimate in truth because we can’t be content, in a hard-knocks world, merely with what seemsright to us. We need to know, as much as is possible, what is really right, that is, what is true. It may seem like a good idea to fly off the roof of a building, assisted only by our arms. But we know that that way leads, following several exhilarating moments, to unpleasant consequences, because the truth is something other than what seems right to us.
We need to know what is true, because if we persist in ignorantly banging our heads up against things that are not true, whatever those not true things are will get the best of us every time.
We also must connect our understanding of ultimate truth with what we consider to be ultimate good, because our souls will settle for nothing less than as much as we can get of whatever we perceive to be our ultimate good.
So, for example, in the secular and materialistic worldview, the ultimate truth is matter, and science and technology are the ways to make matter work for us. The ultimate good is possessing matter in forms agreeable to us – whether goods, money, properties, or other people’s bodies (whether to command or enjoy). People wedded to a vision of the good life as grounded in and comprised of material goods and experiences will bring everything in their lives into the task of realizing that vision. They will feed and nurture that vision through education, or have it nurtured in them by pop culture or advertising.
The same is true for every worldview, including the Christian worldview: our vision of truth and goodness will define and drive everything else in our lives.
The main thing
In worldview, therefore, vision is the main thing. Worldview visions are frequently reduced to slogans, to help those who hold them to remember and focus on what matters most. Some slogans are catchy and wry: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Some are well-meaning but ominous: “From each according to his ability to each according to his need.” “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” Other vision slogans can be reduced to a word or two: “Retirement.” “Paradise.” “Nirvana.” “Just a little more.”
A worldview vision is like Polaris, the North Star. We find it, fix on it, and sail according to it in everything we do. If we get the vision wrong – if we mistake some other star for Polaris – no amount of anything we do within the three dimensions of our worldview will get us where we hope to be. At best, we’ll just get by. At worst, we’ll find that what seemed so right to us is, in the end, disastrously wrong.
For every person there is a way, a worldview vision, that seems right to them. Vision is the first and most important leg of the worldview triangle. As Christians, we need to make sure that our worldview vision – our way – is true and good not merely to us, but to God, and to our Lord Jesus Christ.
And to do that, we need to begin at the beginning of Christian worldview thinking, with the Law of God in the books of Moses.
1. What do we mean by “worldview vision”? If you had to reduce your worldview vision to a slogan, what would it be?
2. Why is it so important that we get our worldview vision right – as close to truth and goodness as we can?
3. What sorts of things should be included in the vision of a Christian worldview?
Next steps – Preparation: Draw a triangle and label the left leg “Vision.” On the line of that left leg, list, in hierarchical order (top to bottom) what you consider to be the most important truths and goods of the Christian worldview. Use this exercise as an opportunity for solitude, meditation, and prayer.
The Christian worldview focuses on Jesus. Do you know Him? Our book, To Know Him, can help you answer that question confidently, and equip you to tell others about Jesus as well. Order your copy by clicking here.
At The Ailbe Seminary, all our courses are designed to help you grow in your Christian worldview. Watch this brief video (click here) to get an overview of our curriculum, and to see again the place of Jesus in the Christian worldview.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.