Part 1

Our purpose as the West-Ark Church of Christ is to "Make Disciples for Jesus Eager to Serve Others." That means that all of us are called to be disciples as well as make disciples. There are five values or qualitative goals that we strive for in everything we do as a congregation. The first is that we will focus daily on Jesus and his cross. The second is that in every way possible we want to proclaim a biblical worldview. Proclaiming a biblical worldview, however, assumes that we, as disciples, have a biblical worldview. And this of course raises the question, "What is a worldview?"

Definition of Worldview – A worldview is the composite set of presuppositions, beliefs, and values a person possesses that shape how he or she sees reality and determines how he or she will act. A worldview informs the way a person thinks and acts. It is the lens through which people perceive and understand reality.

A person's worldview can be changed into a different worldview. Christians/disciples should desire to have their worldview transformed into a biblical worldview. The revelation of God through his word and through Jesus Christ deliberately seeks to shape our worldview. [This is why focusing on Jesus and his Cross is more that a meditative exercise – it is a transforming event. See last week's sermon]

Demonstration of Worldview and Differences in Worldview - One of the ways we sometimes become aware of this concept of worldview is by encountering very different worldviews. Some years ago my wife and I were in London. We were waiting to get into the theatre and when tickets were available there were three of us and only two tickets. So my wife and sister-in-law got to go into the theatre and I waited for them. I walked around the town and spent some time with individuals who have a very different worldview. I met a young man named Stephen from Scotland who really didn’t appear all that different from some of my friends in Scotland, but Stephen lived on the streets of London. As we walked through London I noticed how very different my worldview was from his. In London they have public restrooms that you have to pay to use. When we went past a public restroom he was about to jump the turnstile to enter. The attendant was shouting at Stephen. I took out a handful of change saying, "Wait, I can pay for this." Now Stephen shouted, "Hey don’t waste that money on the loo." He grabbed the change and jumped the turnstile going into the restroom with the attendant shouting.

All of that did not fit my worldview. First, that one should have to pay to use the restroom. Second, that what was pocket change to me was a treasured resource to Stephen and not to be wasted when stealing or breaking the rules was convenient.

But you do not have to go to another nation or culture to experience these differences in worldview. David Chadwell pointed out in his sermon last week that there are different worldviews in tension in our own culture. Some of us have a basic assumption or at least can recall when institutions like government were held in high regard and trusted. But for some of us, we have never known a time when government was not under suspicion. Some of us remember when credit was rare and jobs were even rarer. Some of us have never known anything but great prosperity in our nation. Different experiences like these shape different worldviews. But there are also forces at work that create major shifts in worldview. This goes beyond personal worldview and involves cultural or collective worldviews, which of course affect all of us individually.

We are experiencing in our culture the tension, or shifting, from one predominant worldview to another. The two worldviews in tension are the modern worldview and the postmodern worldview. The "modern" worldview is not all that modern. It developed in the Western world throughout the 17th century and remained current through the 20th century. You may read about the Age of Reason or the Enlightenment period. This is the context in which the Modern worldview develops.

This worldview is based on four "pillars" that were major shifts from the pre-Modern worldview before the age of reason:

  1. Nature and reality can be explained apart from God. Since reason and investigation could explain the natural process of the world around us, God is no longer necessary as an explanation for reality. That’s not to say all scientists since the age of reason are atheists. No, some scientists and philosophers attempted to make a reasonable case for the existence of God. We can’t go into all the history, but just understand that with the modern worldview the possibility of understanding reality apart from God is now quite real. The classic example of this involves astronomer Pierre Simon de la Place (1749 – 1827). He presented his book on celestial mechanics to Emperor Napoleon who remarked "I find it strange that in your entire work you make no reference to God." Pierre Simon de la Place replied, "Sire, I no longer have need of that hypothesis."
  2. Scientific Knowledge is inherently good. We are better off because of scientific advancement. Every advance in science improves the quality of life. The Modern worldview has an optimistic outlook on better living through scientific advancement.
  3. Reason is the Basis of Morality. Rather than an external standard of right and wrong, sin and righteousness, morality was defended as being expedient or reasonable. Lack of character or morality was not a spiritual deficiency but a lack of knowledge. The solution was more education. Moral problems could be solved with the application of reason.
  4. Human Progress is Inevitable. The modern worldview has a high view of human nature and potential. There is an optimism about overcoming social and political problems. (Star Trek future)

During the 20th century and into this century we are recognizing more and more that the modern worldview is giving way to the postmodern worldview. Under the weight of experience the limits of the pillars of the modern worldview were collapsed ...

  1. The postmodern worldview accepts the possibility of God or gods. This is not just true in religion, but also philosophy and science. There is the allowance that there is more to the universe than all we can perceive or experience. (But note that this doesn’t always equate to the Christian view of God!)
  2. Scientific knowledge may be used for good or evil. Think about the incredible advances in science during the 20th century. Atomic power, information technology, genetics. Our experience has taught us that there is no guarantee that these developments are inherently good. They may bring benefit, but they may also create disaster. It all depends on how they are used.
  3. Individual is basis of morality. Reason was never a very good basis of morality. That’s not to say that morality is unreasonable. But restricting morality to reason deprived morality and ethics of its spiritual and divine elements and now the door is wide open to all standards of morality. There just isn’t any agreement anymore and morality is seen as relative. My moral base may not be reasonable to you – but it is mine and it is not yours to judge. The modern worldview made reason the only absolute but it couldn’t hold the title – now the "king" has been knocked off the hill.
  4. Humanity has failed to eradicate so many social and political problems. We have been humbled and we are no longer optimistic about human progress. World War 1 really destroyed this pillar. Then World War 2 finished off the remains. Now there is pessimisim about the future of humanity (Sci-Fi dystopias)

It is hard to describe what the Postmodern worldview is really about. Mainly, it just isn’t modern!

One creative way to describe the change is to say that if the Modern worldview viewed the world scientifically through the lens of the microscope and telescope, the postmodern worldview views it through a kaleidoscope – a random, multi-colored, ever-shifting image that looks different to everyone who picks up the scope.
Which worldview is best? Neither, they are both limited and they represent the major worldview we find ourselves in. Since they are limited they are subject to shifting and change.

The real question is: "Why does any of this matter?" Does my worldview matter? I think it matters because as disciples of Jesus Christ we need to know that our worldview is not dependent on the reigning worldview of our culture or age. Our faith is not dependent on the Modern worldview. It will not die in the postmodern worldview. We have a worldview that endures through every shift and change in cultural worldview ...

In the midst of confusion or concern over what we shall do we can develop a worldview that is consistent with Christ and the revelation of God through Spirit and Word. In other words a Biblical Worldview. And it matters because if God’s enduring revelation shapes our worldview then it shapes our belief. And our belief leads to proper practice and healthy identity.

Christianity and Judaism are unique in that they call for the right belief (orthodoxy) assuming that the right belief with shape the proper behavior and practice (orthopraxy). In fact, God often criticizes Israel, as Jesus did the Pharisees, for practicing religion right without believing right (hypocrisy, white-washed sepulchers)

Israel and the Worldview of God
Deuteronomy 6 Belief in the one true God was the basis for whole devotion. The worldview of Israel was critical to their behavior and their identity.

Once the Gentiles were gathered into Israel after Jesus, the importance of worldview was even greater.

  1. In worship – in the presence of the One God that Israel declared, the One God that has revealed himself in Jesus Christ – in worship we offer our whole self. We are being shaped by God’s view of the world. And that "changes our mind" ...
  2. Renewal – that’s what we do in worship as we come together in worship. Transformation of mind/belief from the pattern of this world to a renewed worldview. And it doesn’t end in worship – it continues to our life among the different worldviews. It continues as a pinpoint of light in our kaleidoscope world. We need to continue to hear the "Shema" to Israel. Jesus said it was the core of a biblical worldview. And it shapes our actions so that they are conformed to God’s will ...
  3. Is change/transformation of mind really that important? We need to be aware just how little what we say we believe agrees with the world as understood by science and technology, commerce, law, politics, or the arts - or the world as it is understood by many of our neighbors. Think about it! Jesus says that the core of law and prophets, the greatest commandment is to love God and neighbor – to commit so completely to God that we live as very different people. That’s not necessarily the worldview of our culture. Proclaiming a biblical worldview is counter-cultural. So, to what worldview do we conform? The renewal of our mind allows us to know God’s will. But if our minds are not renewed, we do not. What worldview do we have? That’s the worldview we will proclaim

How important is this? - Barmen -living differently with a different View of reality can have serious implications
Almost immediately after the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Protestant Christians faced pressure to conform the Church to the ideology of Hitler and the Nazi Party, this included expulsion of Jewish Christians from the ordained ministry and adopting the Nazi "Führer Principle" as the organizing principle of church government. In general, the churches succumbed to these pressures, and many Christians embraced them willingly. The pro-Nazi "German Christian" movement became a force in the church. They glorified Adolf Hitler as a "German prophet" and preached that racial consciousness (Volk) was a source of revelation alongside the Bible.

But some Christians in Germany opposed the encroachment of Nazi ideology on the Church's proclamation. At Barmen, this emerging "Confessing Church" adopted a declaration drafted by which expressly repudiated the claim that other powers apart from Christ could be sources of God's revelation. The 1934 Barmen Declaration was a call to resistance against the theological claims of the Nazi state.

excerpt from Barmen Declaration ...

IN VIEW OF THE ERRORS of the "German Christians" ... we confess the following evangelical truths:
1. "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6

We reject the false doctrine that the Church could and should recognize as a source of its proclamation, beyond and besides this one Word of God, . . . other events, powers, historic figures and truths as God's revelation.

In Nazi Germany, the German Church accepted National Socialism. Their focus was on what they did - not on what they believed. They even took as their symbol the cross with a swastika in it.

"German Christians" (Deutsche Christen) marched to a worship service at the Berlin Cathedral while SS guards stood at attention. At the lead were members of the movement in uniforms, followed by pastors. Their banners --designed to resemble the Nazi party's "national flag"-- placed the swastika at the center of the cross.

But the confessing church dissented. Some Christians who dissented --like the Protestant pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Roman Catholic priest Bernhard Lichtenberg-- were arrested and executed in concentration camps. They did something very different why? Because of what they believed vs. what the German Church believed. Because those different beliefs and worldviews shaped what people did and what the German Church was doing was dangerous. In one worldview, Christ alone rules. In another, the swastika blots out the center of the cross.

This story of what happened in Germany of the 1930’s may seem a bit extreme to us. But next week I want to show you why a Biblical Worldview and our proclamation of such a world view matters just as much to us – right here in Western Arkansas in the early 21st century.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 10 October 2004

Making Disciples for Jesus Eager to Serve Others
Notes for the Sermon – "Proclaiming a Biblical Worldview" – Part 1
October 10, 2004

“The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your
heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-5

  1. What is a Worldview?
    • The composite set of p__________________, b____________, and v___________ that shape how one sees reality and determines how one will act.
    • It is a “l_______” through which one perceives the world.
    • Who has a worldview? E___________ has a worldview.
    • Worldview involves a______ areas of life – internal and external
    • Worldview is either e_______________ or d___________________.

  2. The “Modern” Worldview (17th century ~ ) rests on four “pillars:”
    • Nature and reality can be explained apart from G______.
    • Scientific k___________ is inherently good.
    • R______________ is basis of morality.
    • Human p_______________ is inevitable.

  3. The Postmodern Worldview (20th century ~ ) “collapsed” the four pillars:
    • Acceptance of the p_______________ of God or gods.
    • Scientific knowledge may be used for good or e___________.
    • I________________ is basis of morality.
    • Humanity has failed to e___________________ serious moral, social, political, and environmental problems.

  4. Why does this matter?
    • B_____________ Worldview is based on “seeing the world as God sees it”
    • We c_______________ to God’s view amid all “shifts”
    • Right b___________ leads to right p________________

Romans 12:1-2

I urge you, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Making Disciples for Jesus Eager to Serve Others
"Proclaiming a Biblical Worldview" – Part 1
Driving It Home Discussion Guide
October 10, 2004

  1. What is a Worldview? Looking at the description on the page above, how would you describe a worldview in your own terms? Can you give an example of how your worldview was different from others? How is a worldview different than an opinion?

  2. What forces, experiences, and influences shape our worldview today?

  3. Read Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Why is the declaration to Israel that there is one God and that God is the only God so important? How does this statement shape Israel’s worldview? Continue reading Deuteronomy 6. Does it describe ways that Israel is to be shaped by the worldview declared in vss. 4-5?

  4. Is Deuteronomy 6:4-5 foundational to us? Why or why not? What does Jesus say in Matthew 22:34-40? Did he consider it important? Why or why not?

  5. Read Romans 12:1-2. Does this Scripture help us understand how worship is important in shaping our worldview? Does it help us understand what ought to happen in worship?

  6. How may our minds be conformed to “the pattern of this world?” Can you give examples? How does God transform our minds and renew us? According to Paul, why is it important to have a renewed mind (or a biblical worldview)? What does it have to do with understanding God’s will? (Keep reading Romans 12 for answers).

Living the Lesson:

  1. How will you deliberately cultivate your worldview so that it conforms to God’s word? How can we assist one another in this process?

  2. Are the ministries and programs in our congregation affected by our worldview? If so, how? If not, why not? Are all of them affected or just some? Think about this.

  3. Take note of the things you do this week. Take note of your plans. How are these actions shaped by your beliefs? Are your beliefs consistent with a biblical worldview? If not, how will you “change your mind”? (Rom. 12:1-2).

Prepare for Oct. 17 – “Proclaiming a Biblical Worldview – Part 2”

    Read 2 Corinthians 10:1-5; Matthew 5 - 7, 13; Philippians 3.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 10 October 2004
 Link to related sermon: Seeing This World As God Does by David Chadwell

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