Worldview Case Studies
Do you wear glasses? Why? It is, of course, because without them you don’t “see” the world rightly. Have you ever switched glasses with a friend? Maybe they are near sighted and you are far sighted. What is the result? The world looks distorted and blurred. You don’t want to drive to the store for groceries with the wrong glasses – the consequences could be disastrous! This is a simple picture of what it is called a “world-view”. A world view is simply the network of fundamental assumptions that a person makes about himself and the world in which he lives. Although there are different ways that people break down the elements of a world-view, the following six will serve to lay the groundwork for our understanding:
- Theology: Does God exist? What is He like? Can we know him? What does He expect?
- Epistemology: What is the true? How do we know what we know? Can we know?
- Metaphysics: What is the nature of reality?
- Anthropology: What is the nature of man?
- Ethics: What is right or wrong?
- Teleology: What is our purpose?
Just as wearing the wrong pair of glasses while driving your car can lead to an accident, wearing the wrong world-view will lead to pain and destruction in our lives. Here are a couple of simple illustrations:
Illustration #1 (Marriage):
A person who believes that the purpose of life is his/her happiness (Teleology) will be willing to seek divorce when their marriage gets “hard” and their spouse no longer “meets their needs”. Notice that a teleological assumption impacts an ethical assumption. Because personal happiness is paramount, what is “right” or “ethical” is a decision that seems to support the teleological goal of “personal happiness”.
In contrast to this, a Christian understands that the “chief end of man” is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Glorifying God involves obedience to God’s law (because God’s law reveals God’s character). Glorifying God occurs when the believer is changed to be like Christ. With this understanding marital difficulties become opportunities to respond like Christ, to have our character changed, and a place where we seek to obey God and not our personal desires.
Illustration #2 (Abortion):
If a person adopts evolutionary assumptions in the area of Metaphysics (All that exists is the product of time and chance) and the Theological assumption that the material world came about through the “big bang”, then there is no value to man. He is no different than the dolphin or the cockroach. Hence abortion becomes an acceptable ethical decision.
In contrast the Christian understands that God is the creator and sustainer of the universe (Theology and Metaphysics). He also understands that mankind is created in the image of God (Anthropology). To take life is to destroy an image bearer of God and thus to attack God Himself. Thus: Thou shalt not commit murder! (Ethics)
When our glasses (worldview) distort reality, there are consequences. In our examples: Broken marriage and murder. This is part of what the gospel fixes. Yes, Christ died for our sins. Yes, He rose that we might have eternal life! But Jesus also said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. A biblical world view leads to, or produces, an “abundant life”. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 the prophet is looking to the “new covenant” that God will make with His people. This covenant is “new” because the law will not be written on stone, rather it will be on our hearts and minds as a result of the work of Christ. As this happens we begin to look more and more like Christ AND we begin to experience the “abundant” life that Christ promised to us. In the third question of The Westminster Shorter Catechism we read: “What do the Scriptures principally teach?” The answer is: “The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.” This single statement presents the scriptures as the basis for our entire worldview.
If it is the case that Scriptures are “profitable for teaching, rebuke, correction, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16) and the promises of God is to write His law on our “hearts and minds” how should you respond? My prayer for you would be to apply the words of scripture found in Roman 12:1-2: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Martin B. Blocki has served since 2003 as the Associate Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North Hills in Pittsburgh, PA since 2002. He is a counselor at the Biblical Counseling Institute in Pittsburgh. Rev. Blocki graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington (BME), Arizona State University (MM), and the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (MDiv). Martin and his wife, Kathy, have two married sons, one daughter, and 2 grand children.