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Learning Evangelism from G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis

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This is a guest post by Dan DeWitt, dean of Boyce College at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His newest book is Jesus or Nothing.


Two Unlikely Friends

H. G. Wells and G. K. Chesterton were dear friends despite their categorically different worldviews. After Chesterton’s death, Wells said, “From first to last he and I were very close friends . . . I never knew anyone so steadily true to form as G. K. C.” They maintained a love and respect for one another even as they often challenged one another in print.

In fact, Chesterton’s famous work, The Everlasting Man, was a response to Wells’s naturalistic summary of humanity in An Outline of History. The two books share a surprising influence in the life of young girl in the Bronx; one directly and one indirectly. As a prodigious eight year old, Joy Davidman, at her father’s request, read Wells’s work in its entirety. Upon completion she announced that she had adopted an atheistic worldview following in the footsteps of her skeptic father.

Back in Britain, C. S. Lewis considered Chesterton’s rebuttal to Wells a significant contribution in his own conversion to Christianity. And the later influence of Lewis’s writings would also cross the Atlantic and eventually impact the same home in the Bronx. Lewis’s simple presentation of the Christian faith helped to lead Joy on her journey to faith. The two later met and were eventually married, bringing the literary influence of worldviews full circle. And, as they say, the rest is truly history.

It could be easy to miss some evangelistic principles from this story because of the larger-than-life intellects and international platforms of the personalities previously mentioned. But there is much to learn and apply.

1. Relationships

Chesterton and Lewis were both known for not only befriending skeptics, but for actually delighting in these relationships. They committed their lives to genuine and caring relationships with people who held contrary truth claims. By the way, Jesus was kind of known for doing the same thing. All three model a way forward for sharing the gospel with people who think our beliefs are delusional.

The way is love. As the Apostle Paul said, we can have the tongue of angels but if we don’t have charity our words are meaningless. It is really impossible to say we love skeptics if we don’t actually know any. And I think this entails much more than the normal “drive by evangelism” approaches of previous generations. Until we really love unbelievers, all of our quick gimmicks will likely fall short.

If your relationship with a skeptic is contingent upon them accepting the gospel then you are starting in the wrong place. Your love for them must transcend these fundamental differences. This is not to imply compromise, but rather a life-long commitment that is motivated by biblical compassion.

2. Revelation

In a letter Lewis once penned to a friend who was drifting from orthodoxy, he said, “We have no abiding city even in philosophy: all passes except the Word.” As a public intellect, Lewis understood where his ultimate authority was found. “Art consists of limitation,” Chesterton once said, “The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.” The biblical framework provides the necessary, and according to Chesterton, beautiful, limitation of our apologetics.

In this way, apologetics is really applied theology. It is the application of Scriptural principles to contemporary questions. And evangelists are never less effective than when they depart from the bedrock of biblical truth. All passes except the Word. That’s why one of the best things you can do if you want to share the gospel with skeptics is to read, understand, and apply the Bible every day.

3. Reason

Perhaps this is why many consider the careful Christian thought and writings of C. S. Lewis to make it possible for them to be “intellectually satisfied” as believers. Lewis helped many understand Mere Christianity as it relates to all of life, including the doubts we often face. This reminds me of the Apostle Peter’s charge to be prepared to give a reason for our hope with humility. If we are to love our neighbor as ourselves we will be compelled to search diligently for the answers they are seeking.

Sadly, sometimes believers treat the gospel as if it is a fragile heirloom to be carefully protected and preserved for future generations. This should not be so. The gospel is neither intimidated nor overshadowed by rival truth claims. With Scripture as our foundation, we are to reason with those who ask about the hope we have found in the gospel. A love for God and neighbor compels us to listen and respond.

4. Rhetoric

The Apostle Paul said that we are to “season our words with salt” so that we can make the most of our opportunities with “outsiders” (Colossians 4:4-6). Like salt, our words are to draw attention to the natural qualities of the gospel content. We don’t contribute to the gospel message. We invite people to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

I think we can find a better way to do evangelism with “outsiders” if we begin by discarding the kind of monologue approaches that have typified evangelistic programs of the past and search for inroads into meaningful dialogue. In a progressively post-Christian culture, we no longer enjoy a biblically literate audience ready to listen to our ready-made outlines. But in the context authentic relationships we can find an “evangelistic sweet spot” in the overlap of revelation, reason, and rhetoric.

Though we will likely never establish the sort of platform of Chesterton or Lewis, through their examples we may find the kind of confidence that compels us to cross our yard and begin a friendship with that neighbor who has made it clear that they don’t believe in God. You’ll probably encounter a lot of questions about your faith in the process, but don’t fear. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe: of this we need not be ashamed.


Dan DeWitt (PhD, Southern Seminary) is the dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses on worldview, philosophy, apologetics, and C. S. Lewis. He is the author of Jesus or Nothing.

April 8, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Apologetics,Church History,Church Ministry,Evangelism / Missions,Life / Doctrine,Theology | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

5 Ways to Discern Someone’s Worldview

This is the fifth post in a 5-part series (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) by Dr. James N. Anderson, associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is the author of What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions.


So far in this series of articles I’ve discussed what a worldview is, why it matters, why it’s helpful think in terms of worldviews, and what are the ‘ingredients’ of a worldview. Evidently it’s important and beneficial to be able to figure out what worldview a person has. In this final article, I want to suggest five different ways to discern someone’s worldview.

1. Pay close attention to what that person says.

This is the most obvious and immediate way to identify someone’s worldview and it can often be very straightforward too. For example, if a person claims to be a Muslim who was raised in Saudi Arabia, the chances are pretty good that they have an Islamic worldview. You don’t need to PhD to figure that out!

Having said that, we should be careful not to leap to conclusions about a person’s worldview based on the labels they use to describe themselves. To take the example above: if a person claims to be a Muslim, that tells us something about what he believes, but it doesn’t tell us everything we need to know to adequately discern his worldview. There’s actually quite a lot of diversity among those who claim to be Muslims. The worldviews of nominal Muslims and liberal Muslims differ in significant respects from the worldviews of traditionalist Muslims.

So we have to dig a bit deeper and pay close attention to everything a person says. If someone claims to be a Christian, but says things like, “No one really knows anything for sure,” or, “Each of us has to find our own way to heaven,” that indicates something other than a biblical Christian worldview. Even incidental, seemingly throw-away comments can give insight into a person’s worldview. Indeed, the things people say when they aren’t thinking carefully about what they’re supposed to say can be invaluable for discerning their basic outlook on the world.

2. Pay close attention to how that person lives.

Often people’s actions can shed as much light on their worldview as their words. Indeed, sometimes they can shed even more light! Our behavior is driven by our deepest desires, values, and motivations—all of which are defined or directed by our worldviews. So we can trace the stream back to its source. We can ask, “What sort of worldview would encourage or motivate that those actions or that lifestyle?”

Suppose you have a next-door neighbor who lives a very materialistic, hedonistic lifestyle. He loves to party, and to party hard, with little concern for his long-term health or for the needs of others around him. Even if he never spoke a word to you, you could still make a good guess at his worldview. At the very least, you could rule out certain worldviews! Based on the way he lives, it’s likely he thinks that this life is the only life, that only the material world is real, that physical pleasure is the highest good, and that there’s no God, no afterlife, and no ultimate accountability.

3. Consider the person’s upbringing and education.

What are the most formative influences on a person’s worldview? I would suggest that the three most significant are parents/guardians, the local community, and educators (school teachers, college professors, etc.). So another indirect way to gain insight into a person’s worldview is to consider which worldviews they have been exposed to, and had impressed upon them, by way of these influences.

4. Ask direct questions!

The first three approaches I’ve outlined here are essentially passive: they require us only to listen and observe. But we can also be more proactive in ascertaining someone’s worldview by asking them directly about their beliefs, assumptions, values, and ideas. We can ask the sort of diagnostic questions I listed earlier under the five headings of Theology, Anthropology, Knowledge, Ethics, and Salvation (TAKES).

This is the most efficient way to identify someone’s worldview, at least in principle. The tricky part is to do it in a way that doesn’t seem invasive, intimidating, or just plain weird! Precisely because of the sweeping scope and penetrating nature of worldview questions, they can’t be asked “out of the blue” without any build-up discussion. (“Well, enough about the Cubs game, Dan. What’s your view on the ultimate reality?”)

If the person you’re talking to is very religious or philosophically-minded, it may be relatively easy to get into a discussion in which such questions can be asked directly. In other cases, however, you’ll have to take a more subtle and indirect approach. It takes some skill and practice to be able to gently steer a conversation towards worldview-questions, but it’s always possible. One relatively straightforward way to do it is to use a moral disagreement or controversy as an opening for a worldview conversation:

“Susan, I think our disagreement about same-sex marriage is really just a symptom of a deeper disagreement. There’s a fundamental clash of worldviews here.”

“Oh? What do you mean by that?” Now you’re up and running.

Another way to direct a conversation toward worldviews is to use a major news event as a launching pad, particularly one that raises serious moral, religious, or existential questions. For instance, scarcely a week goes by (sad to say) without a report of some terrorist act by Islamic fundamentalists. Suppose a work colleague expresses her inability to comprehend how people could act that way. You might remark that such acts may be incomprehensible to us, but given the worldview of the terrorists those acts make perfect sense. They would be morally justified and even praiseworthy! This could usher in a discussion of what their worldview is, what her worldview is, and why some worldviews are superior to others. (If your colleague has a non-theistic worldview and you really want to stir things up, you might also point out that her moral outrage is hard to justify given her own worldview!)

One further approach is to use a recent movie or TV show as a doorway to a worldview conversation, since every story is told against the backdrop of some worldview or other. (For a very helpful discussion of the relationship between popular culture and worldviews, see Ted Turnau’s book Popologetics.)

5. Give them a copy of What’s Your Worldview? and ask them where they end up!

Okay, I admit this last one seems rather brazen and self-serving. But it would be remiss of me not to suggest it at all, since What’s Your Worldview? was written for precisely this purpose: to serve as an informative, engaging, non-threatening tool for introducing people to the idea of a worldview, encouraging them to think about their own worldview, and stimulating constructive conversations about competing worldviews.

Whether and how you make use of that tool, I leave up to you!


James N. Anderson (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, and an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers, the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He is the author of What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions (excerpt).


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February 5, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Apologetics,Church Ministry,Culture,Evangelism / Missions,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Theology | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:30 am | 1 Comment »

What it TAKES to Make a Worldview

This is the fourth post in a 5-part series (part 1, part 2, part 3) by Dr. James N. Anderson, associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is the author of What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions.


In the first three articles in this series I introduced the concept of a worldview and explained why it is beneficial to think in terms of worldviews. In this article, I want to go into more detail about what a worldview is and what makes up a worldview.

Earlier I defined a worldview as an overall view of the world—specifically, a philosophical view of all of reality. Here’s a more technical and precise definition of a worldview:

A worldview is a network of ultimate beliefs, assumptions, values, and ideas about the universe and our place in it that shapes how a person understands their life and experiences (and the lives and experiences of others) and how that person acts in response.

But what exactly are these ultimate beliefs, assumptions, values, and ideas? What do they concern? In teaching on this subject I’ve found it helpful to use a simple acronym—TAKES—to break down a worldview into five basic areas or subdivisions:

  • Theology
  • Anthropology
  • Knowledge
  • Ethics
  • Salvation

With these five key areas in view, we can identify the basic ‘ingredients’ of a worldview. We can see what it TAKES to make a worldview. Let’s consider each area in turn.

Theology

Theology (from the Greek word theos) is most simply defined as the study of God. Every worldview has a theology; that’s to say, it reflects some kind of perspective on God. Its view of God may be very precise or it may be very vague. It may be explicit or implicit. It may be primarily negative in its perspective, focusing more on what God isn’t than what God is. But every worldview has a ‘take’ on God.

Some key questions we might ask of a worldview under this heading would be:

  • Is there a God? (The most important question of all!)
  • What is God like?
  • Is God a perfect being?
  • Is God a personal being?
  • How does God relate to the world? (According to some worldviews, God is transcendent and distinct from the world; according to others, God is identical to the world; still others take a position somewhere in-between.)
  • How does God relate to human beings in general?
  • How does God relate to me?

You might think that atheistic worldviews cannot have a theology because they deny there’s a God in the first place. But even atheistic worldviews have something to say about God, even if it’s only that he doesn’t exist! Moreover, when atheists deny the existence of God they still have some conception of what God would be like if he existed. (Otherwise, how could they know what they’re denying?)

Even atheistic worldviews, then, have a kind of theology, albeit a negative one. In fact, we can go further and observe that every worldview has its own ‘god’ in the sense that it posits some kind of ultimate reality (e.g., physical particles) and some kind of ultimate authority (e.g., science). What a worldview affirms about ultimate reality and ultimate authority functions as its theology.

Anthropology

Anthropology (from the Greek word anthropos: ‘man’ or ‘mankind’) is the study of human beings. Just as every worldview has its own theology, so every worldview also has its own anthropology. It represents a certain perspective on humanity, on our fundamental nature and purpose.

Some key questions we might ask of a worldview under this heading would be:

  • What are human beings? What kind of beings are we? (Are we creatures made in the image of God? Are we gods-in-embryo? Are we the unintended products of naturalistic evolution? Something else altogether?)
  • Where did we come from? (Note how this is closely related to the first question!)
  • Are we purely physical beings or embodied souls?
  • Are we special or unique in any way?
  • Do we exist for any particular reason or purpose?
  • Are we basically good, or basically bad, or something in-between?

Already you should be able to see how the first two areas of a worldview are closely connected. What we believe about God has significant implications for what we believe about ourselves, and vice versa.

Knowledge

Knowledge is widely viewed as a very useful and important thing. Knowledge is certainly more valuable than mere opinion. If I were to tell you that eating a whole raw cabbage every day would add a decade to your life, it would matter to you whether I really knew that to be true!

A worldview will typically have something to say about our knowledge: about what we can know and how we can know it. It will also have things to say on closely related subjects, such as truth, logic, reason, experience, intuition, and revelation. (All of these topics fall under what philosophers call ‘epistemology’.)

Some key questions we might ask of a worldview under this heading would be:

  • Can we know anything at all?
  • What can we know about God?
  • What can we know about the universe?
  • What can we know about ourselves?
  • What is the best kind of knowledge to have?
  • How do we know what we know? (Or to put the question another way: What are the sources of knowledge? Divine revelation? Reason? Intuition? Science? Sensory experiences? Mystical experiences?)
  • Are there any limits to our knowledge?
  • What are the best ways to improve and expand our knowledge?

Ethics

Just as every worldview has a distinctive take on truth and knowledge, so it has a distinctive take on goodness and morality. To borrow from the title of a book by Francis Schaeffer: every worldview has something to say in answer to the question, “How should we then live?”

Some key questions we might ask of a worldview under this heading would be:

  • What is the highest or ultimate good? (God? Love? Knowledge? Pleasure? Power?)
  • Is morality real or merely illusory? Are some things really right or wrong?
  • Is morality objective or subjective?
  • Are there any moral absolutes?
  • If morality is always relative, what is it relative to? (The individual? The community? The species?)
  • How do we know what is right or wrong? (Note the connection here between ethics and knowledge.)
  • Why should we try to be good anyway?
  • Are we ultimately accountable to anything or anyone for the way we live?

Salvation

Last, but not least, every worldview has a “salvation story” to tell. When Christians hear the word ‘salvation’ we tend immediately to think of it in terms of the biblical gospel: salvation from sin, death, and hell through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. But here I’m using the term ‘salvation’ in a more generic sense. Under this heading I’m referring to what a worldview says or implies about the basic human problem and the solution to that problem.

Everyone thinks there’s something wrong with the world. (Do you know anyone who thinks the world is just right in every way?) Even those who deny in theory the reality of good and evil find it hard, if not impossible, to apply their theory consistently in practice. For example, they’ll often want to say that we will be better off once we recognize the non-reality of good and evil—but that seems to presuppose our current situation isn’t as good as it could be! Everyone thinks our lives could be better in certain ways than they are now, and when pressed they will tend to generalize or boil things down to one general problem.

Some key questions we might ask of a worldview under this heading would be:

  • What is humanity’s most basic problem?
  • What (if anything) is the solution to that problem?
  • Are there multiple solutions?
  • What part (if any) do we play in solving the problem?
  • What part (if any) does God play in solving the problem?
  • What are the prospects for the problem being solved?

All Interrelated

It’s important to see that these five areas—Theology, Anthropology, Knowledge, Ethics, and Salvation—are closely interrelated. What a person believes in one area will inevitably affect what they believe in other areas. What you believe about God has implications for your view of human beings: our nature, origins, purpose, and destiny. What you believe about God and human beings will in turn influence your views on what we can know, how we should live, what our basic problem is, and how that problem can (and should) be solved.

One final observation. While everyone has a worldview, relatively few people are aware that they have a worldview and fewer still have critically reflected on their worldview. People generally don’t have well-defined beliefs or convictions in the five areas I’ve outlined here. They’ve never even considered most of the questions I’ve listed here, let alone taken the time to formulate coherent answers to them. Nevertheless, if they were asked those questions they would be inclined towards certain answers rather than others. Even where people lack distinct beliefs about ultimate matters, their thoughts, actions, and interpretations of the world nevertheless reflect various unconscious assumptions and dispositions. And the more they are prompted to consider these fundamental issues, the more worldview-aware they will become.

Read Part 5.


James N. Anderson (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, and an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers, the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He is the author of What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions (excerpt).


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Why Think of Worldviews?

This is the third post in a 5-part series (part 1, part 2) by Dr. James N. Anderson, associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is the author of What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions.


In the second article in this series I elaborated on the significance of worldviews in our lives. The last of my five points was that one of the most fruitful and effective ways to engage with non-Christian religions and ideologies is to think of them in terms of the distinctive worldviews they reflect. In this article I want to develop this point further by giving four specific reasons why it is beneficial for Christians to think in terms of worldviews.

1. Thinking in terms of worldviews helps us to understand why people see the world as they do.

Why do some people think that the scientific evidence for Darwinism is utterly overwhelming while others find it wholly unimpressive? Why do some consider abortion to be an abominable practice while others think banning abortion would be a violation of basic human rights? Why do some people view the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks as despicable terrorists whiles others praise them as heroes and martyrs? Why were some people outraged by Phil Robertson’s recent comments about homosexuality while others applauded them as plain common sense?

The basic explanation for these widely divergent viewpoints is that people have fundamentally different worldviews. Once we understand what a worldview is, and how it affects a person’s thoughts and actions, we’re much better placed to understand why they tend to think and act as they do.

2. Thinking in terms of worldviews helps us to make meaningful comparisons between different religions and ideologies.

How do you compare Islam with Existentialism or New Age Spirituality? How do you compare Mormonism with Buddhism or Marxism—or with biblical Christianity, for that matter? Once we recognize that all these ‘-isms’ and ‘-ities’ represent different worldviews, and can identify the basic components of each worldview, we’re in a position to “line them up” and make meaningful comparisons between these different religions and ideologies.

3. Thinking in terms of worldviews helps us to make reasoned evaluations of different religions and ideologies.

Just as worldview-thinking helps us to make meaningful comparisons of different religions and ideologies, exposing their fundamental commonalities and differences, so worldview-thinking can help us to make reasoned, principled evaluations of those religions and ideologies.

Once we’ve identified an underlying worldview, we can then evaluate it by applying various theoretical and practical tests. Is it internally consistent? Does it live up to its own standards or is it self-defeating? Is it unnecessarily complex? Can it account for things we take for granted all the time, such as our capacity for logical thought and our ability to make meaningful moral judgments? Can it explain some of the fundamental things that just beg to be explained, such as why anything exists at all?

Can the worldview be lived out in practice? Does it address our existential needs? Does it provide the foundation for a meaningful, purposeful life? Does it offer comfort in the present and hope for the future?

4. Thinking in terms of worldviews helps us to have constructive conversations with unbelievers.

In order to have a constructive conversation with another person about any topic of importance, you need to have a good understanding of their basic outlook on life and what ultimately motivates their beliefs and responses. For the same reason, it’s best if the other person has a good grasp of your basic outlook on life and what ultimately motivates your beliefs and responses. Furthermore, to have a really fruitful discussion you need a clear view of the most central and fundamental points of agreement and disagreement between the two of you, and some notion of how to evaluate your differences in a principled way.

When we enter into conversations with unbelievers over controversial topics, we should recognize that any significant disagreements we encounter will often trace back to more fundamental worldview differences. When that’s the case, the most responsible and constructive way forward will not be to try to ignore or bypass those foundational differences, but rather to acknowledge them and lay them out on the table for scrutiny. When we’re trained to think in terms of worldviews, we’re better equipped to challenge unbelievers at the root of their beliefs and actions rather than at the surface level; we’re able to expose the crumbling foundations of their houses rather than just the creaky floorboards.

Read Part 4.


James N. Anderson (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, and an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers, the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He is the author of What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions (excerpt).


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The Importance of Worldview-Awareness

This is the second post in a 5-part series (part 1) by Dr. James N. Anderson, associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is the author of What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions.


In my introductory article I introduced the concept of a worldview and the role that worldviews play in our lives. In this post I want to outline five reasons why it’s important to be worldview-aware.

1. Worldviews serve as the necessary foundation and framework for our thoughts and actions.

Have you ever watched a house being built? No doubt you noticed that a house has two essential components: its foundation and its frame. These two components furnish the house with its basic stability, shape, and structure. A similar principle applies to your thought-life: it needs foundational assumptions and a framework of guiding principles to provide your thinking with a basic stability, shape, and structure. For example, you cannot reason intelligibly about your experiences without some basic presuppositions about what your experiences are, where they come from, and what principles of reason you can apply to them—even if you take those presuppositions for granted and don’t consciously reflect upon them.

2. Our worldviews are the single greatest influence on the way we interpret our experiences and respond to those experiences.

How is it that people who live in the same neighborhood, with very similar experiences of the world around them, can come to such radically different conclusions about the world and how we should live in it? The primary reason is that those people have different worldviews.

Take just one example. There are many people who think that the scientific evidence supporting the Darwinian theory of evolution is overwhelming and beyond dispute, such that anyone who doubts that theory must be (to use the memorable words of Richard Dawkins) ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked. Yet there are just as many people—I’m one of them—who think that the scientific study of organic life points in a very different direction, namely, to the existence of an Intelligent Designer behind the natural world. What accounts for this sharp disagreement? Is it because one side has access to a mass of evidence that the other doesn’t? Is it because one group is more familiar with the scientific data than the other?

No, those can’t be the reasons. The scientific evidence is publicly available. It’s out there for anyone to examine and evaluate. There are very intelligent and well-informed scientists on both sides of the debate. The explanation for the sharp disagreement doesn’t lie in the evidence itself but rather in the interpretation of the evidence—and that interpretation is determined, more than anything else, by the worldviews of the people interpreting the evidence (specifically, whether their worldview allows for intelligent supernatural causes).

3. Christians are called to think Christianly.

As Christians we’re called to submit the entirety of our lives—including our thinking—to God and his revealed word (Matt. 22:37-38; Luke 11:28; Rom. 12:1-2; Josh. 1:8). We should use our minds in a distinctively Christian way, aiming to think God’s thoughts after him, and to interpret our experiences of God’s world in conformity with God’s word (John 17:17; 2 Cor. 10:4-5; Col. 2:6-8). One significant way in which we can fulfil this calling is by self-consciously embracing and developing a biblical Christian worldview, seeking to apply it consistently to every aspect of our lives.

4. Every religion reflects a worldview and every secular ideology reflects a worldview.

There are a bewildering number of religions represented in the world today (most estimates put the number in the thousands) and the differences between them can be very striking. But all these religions have at least one thing in common: each represents a distinctive take on reality—a particular way of viewing the universe and our place in it. In short, every religion reflects a particular worldview.

And what’s true of religions is also true of secular (non-religious) ideologies such as Darwinism, Marxism, Existentialism, and Postmodernism. Each one has its own distinctive take on reality: on what is ultimate, what is good, what kind of beings we are, and how we should live.

5. One of the most fruitful and effective ways to engage with non-Christian religions and ideologies is to think of them in terms of the worldviews they reflect.

Christians aren’t called to live in Christian ghettos, engaging and interacting only with fellow Christians. Rather, we’re called to engage with people who don’t share our distinctive faith, practices, and fundamental commitments. But how can we do so fruitfully and effectively?

If everyone—whether Christian or non-Christian, whether religious or non-religious—has a worldview which serves as the foundation and framework for all of their thoughts and actions, shaping their interpretation of the world, it makes good sense to engage with them at that foundational level. If we’re going to engage effectively both with individual unbelievers and with non-Christian belief-systems, it makes good sense to do so in terms of their underlying worldviews.

Read Part 3.


James N. Anderson (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, and an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers, the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He is the author of What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions (excerpt).


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January 24, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Apologetics,Church Ministry,Culture,Evangelism / Missions,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Theology | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:30 am | 1 Comment »