This entire "Worldview 101" series can be seen here, or viewed individually: part 1 touched on what a worldview is and why it matters, and part 2 looked at the popular worldview known as Naturalism. This post discusses Christianity as a worldview.
Yes, Christianity is more than a religion and it's more than a relationship - it's a worldview. The Bible presents much more than just how to have a relationship with God or how to get one's spiritual needs met. It unveils a comprehensive view of the world, and answers all of life's big questions. Including the 4 key worldview questions:
Several important themes are embedded in the Genesis creation account that tell us who we are and what our world is like, including...
...God is creator. The implications of this seemingly simple statement are vast. God's nature and character are the standard by which reality is measured. This is the basis of Christian morality (the difference between right & wrong) and our place in the universe (second to God).
...Image of God. Humanity is the only created thing that bears the image of God himself. We were made by him uniquely to reflect his nature. This sets us apart from plants and animals at the most basic level, and forms the basis of Christian ethics (how we should behave).
...Order. The repeated patterns in Genesis 1 show a world of order, not chaos. This forms the basis of wisdom (learning how to live successfully in this world) and science (unlocking the secrets of the world).
...Hybrid nature. God made Adam of physical stuff (dust) yet breathed the breath ("spirit") of life into him. Mankind is thus a hybrid creature, part physical and part spiritual. Unlike the worldview of Naturalism discussed before, Christianity sees the soul, mind, and conscience as real parts of a human being, not illusions.
...Commission. God gave humanity a job in Genesis 1:28, which is to serve as his stewards, caring for and developing the world he created according to his intentions. This responsibility forms the basis of a Christian view of the purpose and meaning of life.
How many important concepts flow from the simple statement, "God made us!"
2. Problem - what's wrong with the world?
In a word, rebellion. We weren't satisfied to function within our God-ordained place in his great, delicate, orderly machine called the world. We sought to usurp his place, to be our own god who determines his or her own destiny. In effect we told God to get lost, to go jump in a lake. The Bible calls this sin.
And that rebellion broke God's created order. Like a failed bearing in the heart of a motor that wrecks the whole thing, our rebellion disrupted, distorted, and threw off all of the beautiful harmony of God's good world, and at bottom that's why there is so much pain, sickness, and suffering in the world.
God set out to put the world to rights again - a mission that climaxed at Jesus' death and resurrection. Thus the path to solving our problem, as CS Lewis put it so well in Mere Christianity, is to recognize that I'm a rebel who needs to lay down his arms. I must surrender control of my life, my "right" to be my own god, and let God once again be God. The Bible calls this repentance. If I do so, in grace he will accept me and I can be reconciled to him. I will not only enjoy that reconciled relationship with God now, but I have a future to look forward to, consisting of a New Earth that is re-made according to the plan he originally started with.
Note the contrast here between Christianity and Naturalism. Naturalism says the way to fix our problem is to give everyone maximum autonomy - to increase their ability to be their own god. Christianity says that will only make things worse, since that's what got us here in the first place. Rather, the way to fix the problem is to surrender my autonomy to God, who loves me and rightfully deserves my allegiance. You could not find two worldviews more diametrically opposed to one another.
4. Purpose - why am I here?
Christians have a specific life purpose and a more general one - and they're related. The specific purpose is one evangelicals are familiar with: we are representatives of Jesus sent to tender his offer of reconciliation ("ministers of reconciliation," Paul calls us in 2 Corinthians 5:20).
But our general purpose as human beings has never changed. We are still God's stewards, as a race caring for, developing, and ruling over his created order according to his intentions, just as Genesis 1:28 says. This prompts a Christian to live a life that lines up with God's priorities in the world such as:
- caring for the earthly environment even as we live off it,
- advocating for justice and defending the defenseless, be they sexual slaves in Asia, the forgotten poor in backwater nations, or the unborn,
- developing and strengthening cultural forms such as better government systems, legal systems, and family units,
- creating art, and pursuing truth and understanding through various sciences (physical, social, and theological),
- and much more.
In short, the Christian life is infused with meaning and purpose. And unlike the "purpose" one invents for oneself in the framework of Naturalism, the purpose and meaning found in Christianity is real.
The Christian faith is about more than just my personal relationship with Jesus, though it is certainly about that. It's also about understanding God's redemptive plan, and where we fit into that plan so we can live accordingly. In other words it's a worldview - rightly understood, it's God's view of the world.
Next up, and last on my list: Monism (a.k.a. The New Age)