This is an article from the November-December 2021 issue: Do You Really Have a Biblical Worldview?
“Do you have a biblical worldview?” That is the question posed and discussed in this edition of Mission Frontiers. My purpose here is to reflect a bit about the question itself, and then to suggest its connection to the frontiers of mission.
I did some digging around and among the many definitions of worldview one might find I will use one I found on the website of Summit Ministries. I select that one because Summit’s mission is to help Christians shape their worldview. The site includes this definition, “According to Dr. Jeff Myers, a worldview is ‘a pattern of ideas, beliefs, convictions, and habits that help us make sense of God, the world, and our relationship to God and the world.” So keeping that in mind, let me turn to the question this edition poses.
I appreciate a subtle point about how the question is framed. Notice the use of an indefinite article! The question is not “do you have the biblical world view,” but rather, “do you have a biblical worldview?” I imagine many of us would approach this topic with the assumption that there is a single “biblical worldview,” and if asked my opinion about that my response would have to be, “yes and no.”
The Bible was of course inspired and written and collected over many generations and God’s communication was always taking place within the frameworks of the contexts and cultural worldviews of the recipients. This means that in a very real sense, many worldviews could be assembled from the biblical sources.
One example: as the helpful definition from Summit points out, a worldview will include elements that help us make sense of God, and of God’s relationship to us (and vice versa). Christians have read the Bible for generations and come to differing conclusions on many topics, including something as potentially ground-shifting as the topic of God’s sovereignty and the extent of human free will.
That is a worldview issue, and the fact that Christians differ sincerely and deeply suggests that there may be differences of nuance and detail in the Scriptures themselves.
When we ask if there is a single biblical world view, we are asking: is there a single, right way to see the world, and people, etc? And my reply is, yes. The single right worldview, or way of seeing the world is God’s worldview, or God’s way of seeing the world. God has given revelation about this. We have inspired Scripture, we have human beings made in the image of God, we have the “book” of nature and wisdom, and we ultimately have Jesus, the lens by which we see all the rest, including all of what is in the Bible, wisdom, nature, etc. You might say, we have the answer key.
So, there is a worldview, a right one: God’s. It is a worldview we seek to understand, find, embrace, and use to see everything else with. But it is God’s and all of our attempts to see it and embrace it are going to be in need of constant adjustment because we will all read the Bible based on our lenses of time and place and culture. That includes the ways we will each apply the answer key, Jesus.
I am guessing that some will assume this is where I talk about how important it is for workers in the frontiers to have a biblical worldview so they can pass it along to others. True enough, but that will not be my point here—I want to flip the coin around.
I suggest, based on my own experience as a worker in the frontiers, that part of the process of adjusting my biblical worldview, making it more aligned to God’s, has been the way brothers and sisters in UPGs discover aspects of Jesus and the Scriptures that I would miss had I not been in relationship with these saints.
Thus, at the frontiers of mission, biblical worldviews will meet, be changed, and together be adjusted to something closer to God’s view of the world and how we all relate.
Do I have a biblical worldview? Yes. And God willing, tomorrow it will be closer to God’s!