Becky Miller has recently been posting on one of her favorite subjects — Christian worldview. In her first post, entitled Revisiting Worldview, I left a comment, which was later challenged. The issue in contention was whether or not “Most of the Western world shares a biblical worldview” (my quote). Several commentators disputed that assertion, citing the presence of many competing religions / worldviews. As Ken Rolph wrote:
The choice is not between a Christian worldview and godlessness. In our current situation it may be between Christianity and Buddhism/Hinduism. The social threat may be from Islam, but the intellectual threat is from Asia.
While multiple worldviews obviously exist in the West, often in tension, the presence of Buddhist/Hindu thought does not negate the fact that “Most of the Western world shares a biblical worldview.” I don’t think this is disputable. I mean, the entire foundations of logic, law and government were informed by a Judeo-Christian worldview. As Wikipedia puts it:
This [Judeo-Christian] tradition is considered, along with classical Greco-Roman civilization, a fundamental basis for Western legal codes and morality.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the Judeo-Christian worldview is explicitly espoused by everyone, but that Westerners have, at the least, rudimentary biblical concepts rattling around in their brainpan.
Anyway, the discussion reminded me, as it usually does, about how nebulous the worldview issue can be — specifically the Christian worldview issue.
Perhaps it’s me, but when defining a Christian worldview, people seem to divide along conservative / liberal lines — the conservative religious tend to define a Christian worldview more narrowly than their more liberal counterparts.
By way of experiment, answer this: WHEN DOES A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW BEGIN?
Many would say that a Christian worldview begins when one accepts Christ. The problem is, believing in Christ is a process… both before and after. In order to really believe in Jesus, one must embrace several other rudimentary biblical concepts. For instance, the belief in a Supreme Being and a conviction of sin are precursors to Christian conversion. It is impossible for one to really repent of their sins if they don’t feel they are a sinner and are accountable to a Higher Power. But while conviction of sin and belief in a god are precursors to salvation, they are neither evidence nor guarantee of salvation. Nevertheless, they are still parts of a “Christian worldview” conversion process.
So does a Christian worldview begin when one believes there is a god, or believes the God of the Bible is the only true God? Does a Christian worldview begin when one feels the need for a savior, or believes Jesus is that Savior? You can’t have the latter without the former.
Or, on the opposite side of the scale, think of it this way: Must one believe in the Trinity to be saved?
It’s a sticky question, isn’t it? The apostolic preaching in the Book of Acts is remarkably uncluttered when it comes to “hard theology” like the Trinity. For instance, the apostle Paul said to the Philippian jailer:
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” (Acts 16:31 NIV)
That’s it. Nothing about a hypostatic union, sola fide, or potential synergism. Just “Believe in Jesus.” So while belief in the Trinity is uniquely Christian, it does not appear to be necessary to salvation. Now, if one were to reject the Trinity after an apparent conversion, that could throw a monkey wrench into the process. But if salvation does not require a belief in the Trinity, how can a Christian worldview demand it?
The point is, a Christian worldview is a continuum, both positive and negative. Rudimentary biblical concepts precede and prepare the way for complete conversion. Oftentimes, those biblical concepts are shared, in raw form, by competing religions. The fact that Buddhism teaches we should love our fellow man as ourselves does not make the principle any less biblical. In fact, it may indicate an overlap between existing worldviews. These realities are what makes the Christian worldview issue so thorny.