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What is a worldview?

The textbook defines worldview as "a set of assumptions about reality that
affect how we think and how we live" (Cosgrove, 2006, p. 19).
It is a conceptual framework, pattern, or arrangement of a person's beliefs.
Best worldviews are comprehensive, systematic, true view.
A worldview is a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true,
partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously,
consistently or inconsistently) about the basic make-up of our world" (Sire,
1988, p. 17).


Unfortunately, the goodness of both creation and of humanity did not last.
According to Genesis 3, the woman was deceived by a serpent, and both
Adam and his wife Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
the only tree whose fruit was forbidden to eat. This story is commonly called
"the Fall of mankind." Several interesting layers develop from this story.
On the individual level, we see what happens when sin, or any failure to measure up
to God's standards (Grudem, 1994, p. 490), enters a person's life. We first see that
nakedness represents shame in the story (Lynch, McNicol, & Thrall, 2011, p. 30).
Genesis 2:25 links the two concepts of shame and nakedness, and it is unlikely that
Adam and Eve suddenly realized that they were naked when they ate the forbidden
fruit. It states that they knew they were naked after their eyes were opened (not a
good thing here), meaning that they became aware of something wrong with being
naked. This wrongness is best described as the concept of shame.
Shame pervades the story of the Fall, but we also see guilt, hiding, fear, blaming,
lies, and punishment as effects of sin in Genesis 3. From an individual standpoint,
human beings have violated the relationship with God by valuing our own definition
of good and evil over God's (the significance of the name of the tree). In other
words, people think their own way is better than God's way, which effectively taints
the ability of human beings to have a meaningful relationship with God. This original
sin spreads so that sin effectively corrupts human nature; all human beings sin
(Romans 3:23) and continue the destructive cycle begun in Genesis 3.
From the corporate level, the sin that Adam and Eve do against God also severely
affects creation. Not only are human beings punished on various levels, but creation
itself receives a punishment. Paul describes this event by saying, "The creation was
subjected to futility" (Romans 8:20). Paul also describes the reality and destiny of
creation being linked to the reality and destiny of humanity. Thus, in this world,
"'things fall apart' and everything is characterized by physical, social, and personal
disintegration" (Keller, 2008). All problems that we see in the world are a result of
the fall, of this first sin.
In the Old Testament, God works to redeem humanity through multiple covenants. A
covenant is an agreement between two parties who agree to fulfill certain roles or
perform certain tasks in order to maintain a right relationship with each other. (For
more, see the "Story of the Bible" time line.)

Wilkens and Sanford (2009) effectively describe the corporate and individual
aspects of redemption when they discuss the covenant and the incarnation as
means of redemption (pp. 192-196). The covenant serves as God's primary means
of redemption in the Old Testament. God chooses (and usually rescues) people and
a nation and relates to them in terms of covenants his promises to them and the
corresponding responsibilities each party has. God forms covenants with Noah,
Abraham, Moses (and the Israelites), and David, even promising a future "new
covenant" during the time of the prophets.
The "new covenant" is fulfilled in the New Testament, as Jesus Himself states at the
Last Supper, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood"
(Luke 22: 20). The new covenant, as promised by God in Jeremiah 31, would involve
God's direct influence on a person to know Him and to follow Him, bringing about
forgiveness and redemption.
Along with the covenants initiated and entered into by God, God also begins hinting
at his ultimate plan for salvation through many prophecies that reveal a person who
would be called the "Messiah." The title "Messiah" means "anointed one," a person
who would be anointed by God for the task of restoring what was lost in the Fall and
recreating what was originally designed by God for the relationship He always
intended between Himself and His creation. Many of those prophecies are found in
the Old Testament book of Isaiah. (For more information, visit the "Story of the
Bible" time line.
From the story of Creation to the Fall, proceeding through the three main covenants
in the Old Testament, and the hints God gave of the coming solution to man's sin
issue in Prophecy, we now arrive at God's solution to man's broken fellowship
between God and mankind. This is what Christians call the Gospel, or the good
The ultimate source for redemption in the Bible arises from Jesus' death on the cross
and His resurrection. In fact, Paul claims in two places that, when united to Jesus, we
have "redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:14; see also Ephesians
1:7). Jesus "loved us and gave himself up for us" (Ephesians 5:2), and His offering of
Himself as a sacrifice for sin has effectively saved anyone who trusts Him from sin
and the effects of sin. Jesus died a painful death on the cross, an execution reserved
for criminals and slaves, in order to bear the punishment for human sin, so that we
could be forgiven. God then raised Jesus from the dead on the third day, defeating
the power of sin and even death, and giving new life to those who are united to
Christ by trusting him. C. S. Lewis (1952), when discussing these truths, succinctly
states, "We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our
sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is
Christianity" (p. 55).
The incarnation represents one of the greatest truths of the Gospel: God became
man in order to lead man back to God. Jesus, uniquely and simultaneously human
and divine, becomes both our way of salvation and our means of transformation.
The individual emphasis of redemption thus finds some basis in the incarnation. In
one sense, Jesus was made to be like us so that we could approach Him and He
could save us. In another sense, anyone who trusts Christ is transformed and
undergoes a process of becoming more like Jesus. Lewis (1952) states, "The

Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not
think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because
He loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is
bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it" (p. 63).

Perhaps the best news is that redemption is not the end of the story; in fact,
it is really a new beginning for humanity and for creation. God not only
redeems people, but He restores them and "re-creates" them. Paul himself
states radically, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has
passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Individually and corporately, we see God's restorative work happening gradually

now, with the promise that God will one day fully accomplish the full restoration of
all creation with the return, or second coming, of Jesus Christ. On an individual
scale, God intends to rescue people from their sin to restore the open relationship
that Adam and Eve originally had with God. As Paul writes, "Therefore if any man is
in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have
come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). God is creating a new humanity, made up of people
who trust Him and whom He is using to bring about His kingdom.
Corporately, God's work of restoration has universal intentions and implications for
all nations and people groups of the earth. God is working to bring about Eden
again. Paul states that "the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to
corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (Romans
8:21). The damage done to creation by the Fall will be totally undone, and the world
will be purged of all evil, re-created as good and perfect once again.
Jesus tells his disciples what would be the signs of His second coming in Matthew 24
and in the Book of Revelation chapter 21, a description is given of the new heavens
and the new earth, the reality of what will be at the end of this age. In the end,
heaven literally comes down to earth and God literally lives among His people
(Revelation 21:2-3).
Until we see the full restoration of God (on both an individual and a corporate level),
we live in a time when redemption and restoration are begun but not fully realized.
Thus, the author of Hebrews can write both that Christians "have been made holy"
(Hebrews 10:10) and that Christians "are being made holy" (Hebrews 10:14) in the
same chapter. Also, Christians have the task during this time of working to bring
about God's kingdom on earth. Christians will therefore seek to live in humility,
establish justice, and love (Micah 6:8), working to see God's will done on earth, as it
is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
An Imperfect Analogy
Of course, analogies are not perfect. Eyeglasses can be taken off, but a worldview
cannot be removed it is a part of a person. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that
a worldview is like one's actual vision; it is a part of who that person is.
Certain things can be done to improve physical vision including a variety of
corrective surgery techniques. In the same way, certain things can be done to
improve one's worldview vision. It can be improved through study, thinking through
the deep issues, and testing a worldview (chapter 6 in the Cosgrove (2006)
textbook is devoted to testing different worldviews). If a person desires to have a
Christian worldview, it starts with reading the Bible with an eye toward all of life.

One's worldview is made up of basic, foundational beliefs. These beliefs are so basic
that many people do not even realize the beliefs exist. Yet these beliefs (a person's
worldview) influence how decisions are made every day.
A person's worldview helps determine what music to listen to (or not listen to), what
TV shows to watch (or not watch), and what movies to see (or not see). A worldview
helps people make decisions not only about the content of their entertainment
choices, but about how much time and money they spend being entertained as well.
Financial decisions, including setting limits on personal debt and determining how
much should go into savings, are also guided by one's worldview. Political affiliation
is also guided worldview, as political ideologies are based on differing worldviews.
Throughout this course, tools will be presented to help you articulate your personal
This lecture is intended to leave you with some questions to ponder as you continue
in this course. How are people's worldviews best determinedby what they say
they believe or what they actually do? We want you to determine if there is any
discrepancy between what you say you believe and your actions, and to make the
adjustments to align the two so you will know what you are committed to and can
fulfill your purpose in life.
Barna, G. (2003). Think like Jesus: Make the right decision every time. Ventura, CA:
Issachar Resources.
Cosgrove, M. (2006). Foundations of Christian thought: Faith, learning, and the
Christian worldview. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel.
Grudem, W. (1994). Systematic theology: An introduction to biblical doctrine. Grand
Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Hoffecker, W. (Ed.). (2007). Revolutions in worldview. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R
Keller, T. (2008). The gospel in all its forms. Leadership Journal. Retrieved from
Lewis, C. S. (1952). Mere Christianity. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Lynch, J., McNicol, B., & Thrall, B. (2011). The cure: What if God isn't who you
think He is and neither are you. San Clemente: CrossSection.
Nash, R. (1999). Life's ultimate questions: An introduction to philosophy. Grand
Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Sire, J. (1988). The universe next door: A basic worldview catalog. Downer's Grove,
IL: InterVarsity Press.
Wilkens, S., & Sanford, M. (2009). Hidden worldviews: Eight cultural stories that
shape our lives. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.