Introduction

Fritz Ridenour

DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR WORLDVIEW IS?

A common testimony binds all authentic believers in Christ together and distinguishes them from other worldviews. The term "worldview" may sound a bit abstract, but simply put, your worldview is the set of assumptions that make up your personal outlook on the nature of the world and how to live in that world day by day. It is your "set of beliefs about the most important issues in life."'

It is important to realize that everyone has a worldview whether or not he or she can recognize or state it. You may not think about your worldview when you make decisions or express opinions, but it influences your thoughts, feelings and actions. Your worldview is based on how you see answers to some rather important questions about life, which include:

(1)     Who or what is God?

(2)     Who am I and how do I operate in my world?

(3)     How can I tell right from wrong?

(4)     When it's all over, where do I go?

(5)     How can I know the truth; for that matter, how can I be sure that I know anything?

(6)     What does my life mean, and how do I fit into history, if at all?

Today Christians face many nonbiblical worldviews, which can be broken down into several categories: naturalism, pantheism, polytheism and a possible fourth category, relativism, which in a characteristically postmodern way wants to avoid the straitjacket of categories.

Naturalism says that God does not exist and that physical matter is all there is. Charles Colson, prolific author and shaper of contemporary Christian thinking, believes that naturalism is by far the dominant worldview today and that it is responsible for creating our post-Christian and postmodern culture. Linked closely to naturalism are other anti-Christian worldviews, such as secular humanism, empiricism and evolutionism.

The second major worldview category comes from the East. It is called pantheistic monism, which says, "All is one, one is all, and all is God." Hinduism and Buddhism share important elements of this worldview. The New Age movement is, in great part, a Western adaptation of Hindu and Buddhist religious and worldview thinking.

A third worldview that will come up from time to time is polytheism - the idea that there are many gods, goddesses and spirits that we must appease and please to have a reasonably good life. Some polytheists wear loincloths; others are dressed in business suits. Polytheism can be found in Hinduism and branches of the New Age, as well as among Mormons (although they would indignantly deny this-see chapter 10).

A fourth category is reserved for those who are reluctant to commit to any particular worldview. They would prefer to pick and choose what they like about different worldviews and aren't much bothered if the ideas contradict each other. The only thing that counts is "what works for you." These people will say things like, "I don't believe any one system contains all truth." Whatever else this worldview is, it is relativistic, and it is often a big part of the thinking found in secular humanism and postmodernism, as well as the New Age movement.

CAN YOU ARTICULATE YOUR BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW?

As this book presents the difference between Christianity and other worldviews, the goal is to sharpen your perspective on your own biblical worldview. Obviously, the Christian uses the Bible to answer all those worldview questions mentioned above: There is only one God, who is supreme and sovereign. And while He is transcendent-above and beyond us, He is also immanent-right here among us at the same time. He created it all-the universe and the world in which we live. Furthermore, He did it with absolutely nothing. He didn't rearrange or put together matter of some kind that was as eternal as He is.

His crowning creation was humankind - us. We are made in God's image; and when we die we will either go to be with Him or be separated from Him forever. There will be no coming back to "try to get it right." Because sin prevents us from getting it right, God sent His Son - part of Himself - to redeem and justify us (more on this in chapter 1).

As for knowledge, the Christian worldview doesn't agree with skeptics who say knowledge is simply unattainable. (By the way, if you want to ruin a skeptic's day, ask him how he knows knowledge is unattainable.) Because God is the all-knowing knower of everything, and because we are made in His image (see Gen. 1:27), we can know all we need to know as we work on our own Christian worldview. Obviously, the most important part of a Christian's worldview is knowing God. We can know God through two forms of revelation: the created order of His universe and special revelation - the Scriptures. More on this also in chapter 1.)

Concerning right and wrong, the Christian does not cave in to secular humanist or postmodernist claims that there are no absolutes and that all truth is "relative" - that is, whatever is good for you is fine, and whatever is good for me is fine, too. Moral truth, in particular, is absolute because God has pronounced it so. The Ten Commandments are not the "ten suggestions." Not only do we need to learn God's commandments, but we also need His constant reminders of what is right and wrong because of our innate human capacity to be deceived, not only by other people but by Satan, who "masquerades as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11: 14; see also Eph. 6:12).

Surrounded as we are today with so many hostile, as well as subtly deceptive, viewpoints, we must always be aware that one of Satan's oldest and most diabolical strategies is to convince humans that God cannot be trusted (see Gen. 3:1-15). History is a record of how Satan has been all too successful in accomplishing his ends.

And speaking of history and its meaning for our lives, the Bible teaches us that history is linear. That is, history is headed somewhere in a straight line. It had a beginning, it's going toward a goal and it will come to an end planned by God. This is a much different view from that of Eastern pantheism, which sees history happening in cycles, going round and round, with time being rather meaningless [.]

BEING A CHRISTIAN IS A PERSONAL MATTER

[.] We must be clear on one crucial point: Being a member of any one church or group does not guarantee automatic membership in the Body of Christ. To update a familiar cliché, going to church on a regular basis no more makes you a Christian than eating daily at McDonald's makes you a hamburger. You have to do personal business with Jesus Christ - put your trust in Him as Savior and Lord. Becoming a true Christian is a personal transaction between you and God. No one else can do it for you.

The reason you can take these very personal steps with confidence rests squarely on the major assumption of Christianity; namely, that the same God who created the heavens and the earth is able to communicate to His creation in ways that we can clearly understand. We will never completely comprehend the infinite God with our limited intellect, but that does not limit God's ability to communicate what He wants us to know.

The claim that God clearly communicates and reveals Himself to us is precisely what rubs so many people the wrong way. If this claim is true, we are all equally accountable and without any excuse before God. To say that God has communicated uniquely through inspired Scripture - the Old and New Testaments - denies the claim that all religions are equally valid. To say this also accuses some belief systems of being full of lies and falsehoods; it flies in the face of skeptics and agnostics who say no one can really know anything; it grinds at materialists who believe that the physical world is the only reality and everything else is just superstition; it denies the claim of mystics who label anything said about ultimate truth as inadequate and totally misleading; it offends those who have chosen pleasure or power as their gods.

So, what is it that God has revealed so clearly? The evidence for the biblical worldview is clearly written on the pages of the Bible. In chapter 1 we will review this evidence that forms the foundation of this book. The major question is how you want to treat the evidence, which is summed up quite well in 1 Corinthians 15:3,4: "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."

© 2001, Gospel Light/Regal Books, Ventura, CA 93003, Used by Permission

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