Editors’ note: This is the first of a four-part series on a Christian worldview. The series will hopefully inform, provoke thought, generate feedback and serve as a call to action. This first article briefly attempts to define “worldview” and then examines the importance of having a Christian worldview when it comes to public policy (politics).
I have heard younger evangelicals, the Gen Xers and the Millennials, declare their frustration over being defined as “one-issue Christians” (that being abortion) whenever they engage in public policy discourse or action. Their frustration is understandable because Christianity is a robust faith. I agree that Christians must not limit ourselves to addressing just one or even two issues as we attempt to be “salt and light” in public policy matters.
Christians must realize abortion, hunger, homelessness, divorce, homosexuality, sanctity of marriage, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, gambling or whatever issue is targeted politically; each is nothing more than a skirmish in a much broader war. Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey state it this way: “The real war is a cosmic struggle between worldviews – between the Christian worldview and the various secular and spiritual worldviews arrayed against it.” Ephesians 6:12 should come to mind: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” It is imperative that we grasp what the Apostle Paul was saying if we are to be effective in evangelizing, discipling, and changing the world to reflect the wisdom of its Creator. The legendary founding editor of Christianity Today, Carl F. H. Henry, reminded us of our marching orders, “The task of Christian leadership is to confront modern man with the Christian world-life view ….”
So what is a worldview? It has been interesting to hear some of the political candidates use the term. Sen. John McCain has used it several times during the presidential campaign, noting that his vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, shares his “worldview.” FOX News’ Bill Sammon recently used the expression in a discussion about the presidential race. My guess is that both McCain and Sammon have appropriated the word “worldview” to describe a geopolitical point of view. This is not what I mean by worldview.
A worldview is a way of looking or interpreting all of reality. It is an interpretive framework through which or by which one makes sense of life and the world, says Christian theologian Norman Geisler. Christian author and apologist David Noebel offers this definition: “Worldview is any ideology, philosophy, theology, movement, or religion that provides an overarching approach to understanding God, the world, and man’s relations to God and the world.” A worldview should contain a particular perspective on at least 10 of the world’s major disciplines: politics, theology, law, history, economics, biology, sociology, psychology, ethics and philosophy. And since a worldview must contain some type of theology, it therefore must be religious.
I hope these definitions of “worldview” are helpful. I hope your understanding is increasing, prompting you to further study, and ultimately take action in your day-to-day life.
So what is the basis of a Christian worldview? It is God’s revelation in Scripture. Unfortunately, many believers do not understand that Scripture has been given to be the basis for all of life. Christians often take too narrow a view because of the emphasis placed on personal commitment. While this has been a strength because it has led millions to a saving relationship with Christ, it has also kept Christians from seeing God’s plan beyond our personal salvation.
Consider this: An authentic Christian worldview is a way of seeing and comprehending all reality. The scriptural basis for this outlook is the creation account in Genesis 1 and John 1:1-14. The church fathers summed it up this way; all truth is God’s truth. God’s truth is embodied in Jesus Christ, not only our Savior but even more as Colossians 1:16-17 makes clear: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible …; all things were created by Him and for Him.” Jesus is the beginning and the end of all things, the Alpha and the Omega. Nothing has meaning, or even exists, apart from Him.
Once we understand the fullness of Christ, we cannot help but see that the Christian faith cannot be reduced to John 3:16. Henry says, “If while evangelizing, we abandon the sociopolitical realm to its own devices, we shall fortify the misimpression that the public order falls wholly outside the command and will of God, that Christianity deals with private concerns only; and we shall conceal the fact that government exists by God’s will as His servant for the sake of justice and order.” Christianity cannot be limited to one component, like our salvation experience. We must see Christianity as ultimate reality.
So what does a Christian worldview look like when it comes to politics? What should be our view on issues like poverty, disease, the traditional family and our “culture of death?” Once unthinkable, some are casting doubts on capitalism’s reliability and our free market economy – all the while our nation is at war with radical Islamofacism. The future of democracy and Judeo-Christian values, as the transcendent norms for Western Civilization, are under siege like never before. The stakes are enormous. We may be running out of time for ourselves and our children. So how are God’s people to respond? By engaging society from a Christian worldview perspective.
First, it is imperative for Christians to obey the state, according to 1 Peter 2:13-14. Christians are also commanded by Jesus to be the “salt” of the earth and the “light” of the world (Matt. 5:13-16). The Baptist Faith and Message affirms the call for us to be actively involved in all facets of society: “Every Christian is under obligation to seek to make the will of God supreme in his own life and in human society” and Christians not only “should oppose, in the spirit of Christ, every form of greed, selfishness and vice,” but “should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth and brotherly love.”
President John F. Kennedy once said, “The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” One myth that has infected us as a nation is the idea that one cannot, or should not, legislate morality. This is simply untrue. Just think, if we had no laws against murder, the death rate would go through the roof. Without Christians bringing their faith to bear on public policy there would have been no abolition of slavery, no child labor reform and no civil rights movement.
If our democracy is to survive, then Christians must maintain a Christian worldview when it comes to politics. We must do more than pray. We should engage by speaking up, by holding elected officials accountable and support preferred candidates for public office. As Henry points out, America has remained a liberty-loving democracy for more than 200 years because citizens were ready to stand up and be counted, and to give a reason for their position on a particular side of debate. Christians must be heard.
Some of the following books are suggested reading to further enhance your knowledge about a Christian worldview of politics:
- Has Democracy Had Its Day? by Carl F. H. Henry
- How Now Shall We Live? By Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey
- Understanding the Times: The Religious Worldviews of Our Day and the Search for Truth by David Noebel
- God & Government by Charles Colson
- The New Absolutes: How They Are Being Imposed on Us; How They Are Eroding Our Moral Landscape by William Watkins
I would very much like to hear your thoughts on this worldview series of articles. Also, consider sending in the answer to this question: What action have you taken that reflects a Christian worldview of politics? You may e-mail responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 1-800-736-6227 ext. 230 or write to The Pathway, 400 E. High St., Jefferson City, MO 65101. Some may be published in future issues of The Pathway and on The Pathway website, www.mbcpathway.com.