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What is a Worldview?

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by Ronald H. Nash


Worldview thinking has become an important tool to help Christians understand, explain, and defend the Christian faith. Every human being has a worldview, even though many are uninformed about what a worldview is and the power that worldviews have over the way we think and behave. A worldview is the total of answers people give to the most important questions in life. According to some, the five most important elements in any worldview are what people believe about God, ultimate reality, knowledge, ethics, and human nature.


Worldview thinking has important links to religious belief. Instead of viewing Christianity as a collection of theological bits and pieces to be believed or debated, people should approach it as a conceptual system, as a total world-and-life view. Once people understand that Christianity and its competitors are worldviews, they will be in a better position to judge the relative merits of the competing systems.


The case for or against Christian theism, then, should be made and evaluated in terms of total systems. Some people reject Christianity not because of their problems with one or two isolated issues, such as the virgin birth, but because their worldview encompasses beliefs that are the opposite of Christian thinking. Opponents of the Christian worldview disagree with Christianity because they hold to competing worldviews.


People can and do change their worldviews. Saul of Tarsus was one of early Christianity’s greatest enemies. He was fanatically committed to a system that seemed to rule out any possibility of his change or conversion to the Christian faith. Saul’s conversion encourages us with the confidence that even those with the most opposing worldviews to Christianity may be capable of total change. People who used to be humanists, naturalist, atheist, or followers of competing religious faiths have found reasons to turn away from their former worldviews and embrace Christianity. Conversely, people who used to profess allegiance to Christianity sometimes reach a point where they feel they can no longer believe.


It seems unlikely that a single set of conditions will always be present when people change a worldview. After all, many people remain unaware that they have a worldview, even though the sudden change in their lives and thoughts resulted from their exchanging one worldview for another. In many cases the actual change is triggered by a significant event, often a crisis of some kind. But in other instances an event or piece of new information led them to think in ways that were totally different for them. Quite unexpectedly, these people saw things they had overlooked before, or they suddenly saw matters fit together in a pattern that brought meaning where none had been discernible before.


People change their minds on important subject for a bewildering variety of reasons (or for no reason at all). When faced with a choice among competing worldviews, we should choose the one that, when applied to the whole of reality, gives us the most coherent picture of the world. And that most coherent worldview is the Christian worldview. Helping people see the importance of their worldview and leading them to realize the coherence in the Christian worldview is one of the most important tasks of apologetics.

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