Faithful Life, Thought, and Belief

by on September 25, 2008

While you are in seminary, it is likely that you will come into contact with the term “worldview.” If you have really smart professors or fellow students who want to impress you with their knowledge, you might hear them use the word Weltanschauung instead. That is the German word from which we derive the term worldview. What the idea of worldview basically denotes is the foundational beliefs and principles that govern your life. As it is, everybody has a worldview, whether they are conscious of it or not.

We live in an age of declared relativism, where people confess the right to believe whatever they want. You are undoubtedly familiar with those who put together their own religion—a veritable smorgasbord (there, now you have learned both a German and a Swedish word) composed of a host of differing parts from various religions that they find attractive. Truth becomes a hazy standard that is entirely up to the individual to determine, and no one truth need apply to anyone else but that individual, let alone a community or society.

Those of us who are Christians all share the very same basic root of our worldview–the person and work of Jesus Christ–but from there we are confronted with a great deal of diversity in our interpretations of what it means to live with that as our foundation. There can be just as much diversity within the Christian faith in terms of worldviews. This post is not meant to try and convince you that one or another Christian worldview is the one you should follow, but instead to encourage you to work to ensure that your worldview is comprehensive and coherent.

I have a number of regular people who remind me of the need to determine the validity of my worldview on a regular basis. I hear it quite regularly from professors, see it in many of the books I read, and talk about it with friends. Some of today’s leaders in the Church decry things like systematic theology as outdated and irrelevant for Christians in the 21st century. However, I am of the firm conviction that systematic thought of any sort is certainly not without its place. The fact is that if you assume a set of beliefs and principles that guide your life and you do not apply those consistently to each area of your life and thought, glaring contradictions will emerge in short order. Look at the way we criticize politicians when they say one thing and do another. So it is when people look at us as Christians and see contradictions. If you believe something, you need to live like you believe it.

Certainly, it is challenge to work towards a comprehensive worldview. But as a Christian, it is essential. If you are going to claim Jesus Christ as your Lord, he needs to be Lord of your entire life. Someone I know—a bit of dilettante poet, I suppose—once said, “Jesus Christ is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.” You might interpret this in a different way than I do, but what it boils down to is that you cannot relegate his rule to only one part of your life. It has to impact all of it. I am constantly confronted with the fact that I do not live like this, but instead live sinfully before the face of God, giving my allegiance to other things in my life and in this world. I am grateful for those who help me see the idols I inadvertently worship and the misconstrued beliefs that I hold to. Though I often live like it and though our world proudly proclaims it, I am not the sole arbiter of truth, and need the community of believers to guide me in the wisdom of God.

Surround yourself with a community of believers who strives earnestly to discover what it means to live as Christians in this world and how to do that faithfully. Seminary is such an incredibly opportunity to do this. If your current worldview has contradictions in it, work to resolve those. There is no divorce in the Christian faith, no part that is left untouched by the transforming power of the Gospel. How you live and what you believe is not an indifferent matter. A comprehensive, biblically-rooted worldview is essential to living as faithful servants of God in this world.

Note: this is a slightly altered version of a similar post I wrote for my blog in August of this year.

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