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What is a Worldview?

What is a Worldview?

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What is a Worldview?

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  1. What is a Worldview? Living at the Crossroads Chapter 2

  2. A Brief History of ‘Worldview’ • German word, weltanschauung • Arose first in German philosophy • Weltanschauung coined by Kant (1724-1804) • Key word in German idealist and Romantic philosophy in 19th century • Used to denote ‘a set of beliefs that underlie and shape all of human thought and action.’ • By 1840s it was a standard term in vocabulary of educated German • Expressed global outlook on the world.

  3. Worldview in German Philosophy In German Idealism and Romanticism, worldview expresses a set of beliefs that are foundational and formative for human thinking and life.

  4. Underlying beliefs that are . . . • Comprehensive • Foundational • Cohesive

  5. Appropriation of ‘worldview’ in Evangelical church • Started being used in English in 1858; gradually became part of English vocabulary. • Introduced into evangelical world by Abraham Kuyper and James Orr end of 19th century • In 1917 B.B. Warfield said word was newly in fashion in North America. • Today widely used in evangelical circles • How did non-Christian term become so popular in Christian circles?

  6. How did this happen? • Important lectures by Abraham Kuyper and James Orr • Orr, Kerr Lectures, Scotland, 1891 • Kuyper, Stone Lectures, Princeton, 1898 • Deep sense of need to protect the Christian faith from a hostile worldview • Made popular by a whole host of writers

  7. Similarities between Kuyper and Orr • Christianity has an comprehensive and unified view of the world • Modern worldview is threatening gospel: • Another comprehensive and unified view of the world • Fundamentally religious • Embodied in forms of social and cultural life • Antithetical to Christianity • Christianity’s only defence against the power of modernism is to develop an equally comprehensive worldview.

  8. If the battle is to be fought with honour and with a hope of victory, then principle must be arrayed against principle; then it must be felt that in Modernism the vast energy of an all-embracing life system assails us, then also it must be understood that we have to take our stand in a life system of equally comprehensive and far-reaching power (Abraham Kuyper, Stone Lecture 1).

  9. No one, I think, whose eyes are open to the signs of the times, can fail to perceive that if Christianity is to be effectually defended from the attacks made upon it, it is the comprehensive method that is rapidly becoming the more urgent. The opposition which Christianity has to encounter is no longer confined to special doctrines . . . but extends to the whole manner of conceiving the world. . . . It is no longer an opposition of detail, but of principle. The circumstance necessitates an equal extension of the line of defence. It is the Christian view of things in general which is attacked, and it is by an exposition and vindication of the Christian view of things as a whole that the attack can most successfully be met (James Orr, Kerr Lecture 1).

  10. Difference between Kuyper and Orr • Orr concerned for defending Christian theology • Kuyper concerned for whole of cultural and public life—politics, art, scholarship, etc.

  11. Term made popular by: • Carl F. H. Henry • Francis Schaeffer • Al Wolters • Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton • James Sire • Colson and Pearcey • Arthur Holmes

  12. Worldview functioned in two ways in evangelicalism: • Protect the integrity, comprehensiveness of Christian faith; help Christians not to be men and women who were double-minded. • Provide tool to pursue Christian scholarship, politics, etc. in faithfulness to gospel

  13. James Sire’s Revised Definition of Worldview A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.

  14. Three important shifts • Worldview is first religious, not rational • Worldview is first a story, not a system • Worldview is first embodied, then articulated

  15. Criticisms of Christian appropriation of ‘worldview’ • Intellectualizes the gospel • Relativizes the gospel • Disconnected from Scripture and vulnerable to idolatrous spirits of the age • Leads to unhealthy activism • Leads to the neglect poor and marginalized

  16. Definition of worldview Worldview is an articulation of the basic beliefs embedded in a shared grand story that are rooted in a faith commitment and that give shape and direction to the whole of our individual and corporate lives.

  17. Summary of elements of a worldview • Takes form of a grand story

  18. Form of a Story ‘Narrative is a central category for understanding human life.’ (Walsh/Middleton) ‘A worldview is story-formed; we could say that a worldview is a kind of condensation or shorthand . . . of a life- shaping story.’ (Fernhout)

  19. What is the real story? ‘I can only answer the question “What am I to do?” if I can answer the prior question “Of what story do I find myself a part?” (MacIntyre) ‘The way we understand human life depends on what conception we have of the human story. What is the real story of which my life story is part?’ (Newbigin)

  20. Summary of elements of a worldview • Takes form of a grand story • Fundamental beliefs embedded in grand story • Rooted in religious faith commitment

  21. Christ or and Idol One’s worldview, then, and indeed the worldview of a whole culture, is rooted in a faith stance—a stance in relation to that which is taken to be ultimate, an “ultimate concern.” From a Christian perspective, this ultimacy will either be appropriately directed to the one who is Ultimate—or to a pseudo-ultimacy, a pseudo-god, an idol.’ (Walsh)

  22. Religious Nature of Human Beings

  23. Summary of elements of a worldview • Takes form of a grand story • Fundamental beliefs embedded in grand story • Rooted in religious faith commitment • Shapes the whole of our communal lives

  24. Communal nature of worldview • Shared by community

  25. Culture: Common way of life rooted in a shared story

  26. Communal nature of worldview • Shared by community • Issues in communal way of life • Shapes and unifies communal life • Socialized into this communal way of life

  27. Socialization If a culture’s vision leads to certain child-rearing, educational, and economic practices, then those practices will themselves socialize the children to live in terms of that vision (Middleton/Walsh).

  28. Communal nature of worldview • Shared by community • Issues in communal way of life • Shapes and unifies communal life • Socialized into this communal way of life • Often unconscious

  29. Often Unconscious Worldviews . . . are like the foundations of a house: vital, but invisible. They are that through which, not at which, a society or an individual normally looks; they form the grid according to which humans organize reality, not bits of reality that offer themselves for organization. They are not usually called up to consciousness or discussion unless they are challenged or flouted fairly explicitly . . . (NT Wright).

  30. Summary of elements of a worldview • Takes form of a grand story • Fundamental beliefs embedded in grand story • Rooted in religious faith commitment • Shapes the whole our communal life • Shapes the whole of our lives

  31. Shape the Whole of Our Lives • Storied visions OF and FOR life (Walsh) • Shape the way we: • See the world • Interpret the world • Live in the world

  32. Summary of elements of a worldview • Takes form of a grand story • Fundamental beliefs embedded in grand story • Rooted in religious faith commitment • Communal nature • Shapes the whole of our lives • All have worldview; few articulate it

  33. Scripture and Worldview • Scripture • Biblical theology (our narrative telling of the biblical story) • Christian worldview (setting out of the comprehensive framework of a Christian’s basic beliefs about things as embedded in the drama of Scripture in interaction with our culture’s basic beliefs) • Systematic theology and Christian philosophy (which reflect on Christian beliefs at a more theoretical level)

  34. Worldview: Missional Imperative Mediates between gospel and human life: • By explicating basic categories of Biblical story • By clarifying their relationship • By defending the gospel against error • By providing a foundation for the church’s mission in public life