Everyone operates from a worldview, knowingly or unknowingly. Unless our life story is told according to a framework, it does not appeal to anyone. Alasdair McIntyre argues in his book After Virtue that in order to “understand conversations you overhear, you have to put them into a framework” (ch. 15) to make sense of them. Just as it is important to travel back and enter the ancient world if we are to make sense of what they did i.e. we must espouse their worldview to grasp why they did what they did, so too in order to understand why someone acts the way he acts today, we must understand how he views life in general. Tell me your worldview, and I will tell you everything about you.
Our worldview determines what we stand for. It is our worldview that allows us to commit to a cause; it allows us to judge something as right or wrong. It stimulates the lawyer to fight for justice (at least it should be that), politicians to run for office, a person to give up a luxurious life to be completely committed to God as priests, or nuns. It was a worldview that motivates Georges Washington to fight to free the new land from the yoke of the British. It was from a worldview that the founding fathers wrote the constitution. It spurred Abraham Lincoln to reiterate at the Gettysburg address the fundamental truth that “all men are created equal”. A worldview was the leitmotif behind the civil right movement of the ‘60s. What’s a worldview? It is a comprehensive system that provides an answer to the big questions of life. It is system in which we come to visualize life.
A worldview is everything. If we get it right, we get everything else right. If wrong, we choose the recipe for unforeseen disasters. It is from a worldview that our ethical, political, epistemological, religious, social, and economical views emerge. It determines what kind of law we establish, and the kind of society we envision. It is a worldview that gives us the abortion law, the Affordable Care Act, and the unending debates in congress between Democrats and Republicans. It determines what we become— A society based on truths and morals, or a society where everyone acts based on desires. It is from a worldview that we determine the paths we take in life.
There are many competing worldviews. It’s always been that way. They all arise from the noticing something wrong with the world, and the effort of trying to fix it. They come from a search for improvement. For Plato, if we order our life according to reason, we will form the most stable society where each man gets involved only in what leads to excellence (the republic book IV, V). For Kant, “if we act only according to that maxim whereby we can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”, then everything will find its equilibrium (Critique of Pure Reason). For Freud, if we can solve the inner conflict between desires and conscience, then the world would be a better place. For the people of today, well do they have a common view? For them, nothing is absolute. I determine my own truth.
What none of these worldviews takes into account is the fundamental truth that the world was perfect until we came into it. So the problem lies in us. We were made to be in relationship with our creator. Life will always be off balance, and no solution will be found until we accept that without God in our life, we cannot espouse a proper worldview. We cannot forge a sound worldview because we are by nature corrupt. We need help, divine help. To fix the problem, we must fix our broken selves.
The worldview that saves, the one where God expresses his worldview is found in the Bible. Only the gospel among the competing worldviews really captures man’s nature. Blaise Pascal puts it best: “man is a nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either”. Only the Bible is honest about man’s condition: a redeemed sinner, but not yet saved. Only the Bible is explicit through and through about man’s ultimate end and what he needs to do to reach it. Unlike any other worldview, only the Biblical worldview does not demonize some parts of creation while idolize another. The Greeks worship discipline of the soul while denigrating the body. The Enlightenment thinkers rejected all rationality to adhere to scientific proofs. The modern thinkers reject all for their own feelings. Only the Bible gives a workable solution— man’s cooperation with God, conversion and grace.
When we start to operate from the Biblical worldview, everything changes. When the gospel is the overarching principle guiding businesspeople, accumulating power and wealth is not the ultimate reason they do business. Business becomes a way to forge a decent life for one’s family and to build a better community. All profits from a life shaped by a worldview drawn from the gospel. In journalism, reporting no longer takes sides. Stories do not caricature a victor and a villain. Objectivism runs through the heart of the reports. All petty agendas are set aside because the gospel worldview allows one to be open-minded and even-handed in writing and reporting. Under the gospel worldview, higher education is not training for work; it is about forming men to grow in self-discipline, virtue, and excellence. It prepares men to live flourishing lives.
Society would change for the best if the gospel were the lens through which we see our daily activities. From a Biblical worldview, everyone becomes coworkers working in the vineyard of God. Espousing a biblical worldview through and through is no easy matter. Many will disown you at first; if you will have to be ready to have new friends because your old friends will not be on par with you. Many will find you bizarre, but excellence requires sacrifice. To reach greatness, great decision is expected. Don’t be afraid!