Foundations for a Christian Worldview: First Things (5)
In the beginning God… Genesis 1.1
We have been considering a framework for understanding the idea of worldview. Everyone has a worldview. By worldview, we mean the way people understand the world and make their way in it. We may approach the task of understanding worldview from a variety of perspectives. For our purposes, we are investigating this important and inescapable concept according to a framework comprised of three facets, like a triangle: vision, disciplines, and outcomes.
Our worldview vision (the left leg of our triangle) describes that which we see as ultimately true and good. This is what we desire, and what we hope to realize at some point, at least to some extent.
To make progress toward our vision, we adopt disciplines (the right leg of our triangle) that help us make the best use of our time. These are the daily routines, practices, obligations, and duties we accept because we believe that, by doing these particular things over and over, we will be more likely to realize our vision of the good life.
To measure our progress in worldview living, we identify certain outcomes (the bottom leg of the triangle) that can tell us whether, and to what extent, we’re on track toward our vision; or where we may need to adjust or improve our disciplines so that we can realize more progress toward the good life.
We have briefly noted how the secular and materialist worldview understands these components, and have thought a bit about how they function in a secular person’s life. As Charles Taylor has so ably demonstrated (A Secular Age), the larger world framework in which we live is, in general, delineated by a secular vision of life, together with the disciplines and outcomes appropriate to such a vision.
But although we live within a world framework defined by a secular view of life, Christians do not hold to a secular and materialist worldview. Our worldview is Biblical. That is, it starts with the Bible, not with the best ideas of fallible men, or molded by the spirit of the times. The Christian worldview develops its vision, disciplines, and outcomes “under the heavens”, as Solomon would say, rather than “under the sun”.
And the Christian worldview begins with a Biblical and Christian vision of that which is ultimately true and good.
The worldview taught in Scripture presents a vision of unseen things as that which is ultimately true and good, and therefore most to be desired by human beings. This is just another way of saying that the Biblical worldview offers a spiritual vision as the defining motif and principle of the good life.The worldview that has its footings in the Law of God unfolds toward a vision of spiritual realities and truths, for a life that is designed to be, in the first instance, spiritual in all things.
Because what we understand to be ultimately good and true is spiritual, we cannot see it with our eyes. Instead, we must embrace the vision of unseen things by faith, with the “eyes of the heart” (Eph. 1.18). The vision of unseen things that begins in God’s Law unfolds throughout the Scriptures, and includes God Himself; His Kingdom and promises; a spiritual understanding of human life, as made in God’s image. The Christian vision also includes the reality of other spiritual powers; the great salvation of the Lord; a spiritual understanding of the times in which we live, and of the course of future history and the world to come.
In His Word, God gives us glimpses and metaphors and flashes of insight, as well as thorough instruction concerning the unseen world. With our imaginations submitted to the defining and guiding light of the Scripture, we can assemble the outline of a vision of what is ultimately true and good: that God is; that He should be known and loved; His Word should be received and obeyed; and His wisdom, justice, goodness, love, and glory should guide and shape all aspects of our lives in this world.
That outline of a vision will begin to take on more specifics as we continue studying the Word of God and thinking through the implications and applications of its teaching for our lives and callings. Each believer in Jesus, therefore, will share a common vision of unseen things, but will flesh out the specific parameters of that common vision relative to his or her calling and circumstances in life.
Unseen, but real
Of course, we cannot see these spiritual realities with physical eyes. They are unseen things. But just because they are unseen does not mean they aren’t real. In fact, the spiritual realities of the world are, if anything, more real than those we can see, feel, hear, taste, or smell. The unseen things of the world actually define the meaning and purpose of everything else; so if we want to have a clear and correct understanding of the world in which we live, and how best to make our way in this world, we have to work hard at nurturing a vision of the unseen things that overarch, pervade, sustain, and support everything else.
Indeed, Christian faith is the assurance of such unseen realities, together with the evidence they produce in the way of disciplines and outcomes in our life (Heb. 11.1).
The unseen things taught in Scripture are the true end of Christian faith. If we ignore or neglect devoting the eyes of our heart to nurturing this vision, we are only cheating ourselves of the truth and goodness God intends, simply because we are too easily content with whatever diverts or amuses or satisfies us at present. As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Weight of Glory, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
May it please the Lord that we should be pleased with nothing less than a full and glorious and expansive and radiant vision of the ultimate truth and goodness God has in store for us in the Christian vision of the world. And the place to begin nurturing that vision is the Law of God, the five books of Moses.
Questions for reflection
1. Why are vision, discipline, and outcomes a useful way of thinking about the idea of worldview?
2. What do we mean by the “eyes of the heart” (Eph. 1.15-23; v. 18, NKJV: “eyes of your understanding”)? How did Paul seem to think these operate in our lives?
3. What would you suggest as an effective way to nurture a vision of unseen things?
Next steps – Preparation: Draw a triangle, and label the left leg “Christian Vision.” On that leg, list as many things as you can think of that constitute the unseen things of a Christian worldview. Where do you see a need for growth in understanding these?
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
Christian Worldview: Vision
- T.M. Moore
- April 3, 2019
The Christian vision is filled with glorious unseen things.
Foundations for a Christian Worldview: First Things (5)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.