We all have one. Whether we would define the way in which we look at and interact with the world around us as a worldview or not, does not detract from the fact that we all operate out of one. Many would rather avoid such constructs and parameters in which to place their ideology within, but unless you are dead or unconscious, you are living out of a worldview. Truly, there are no two ways around it. To say you don't have a worldview in and of itself is a worldview.
The difference here then lies within the level with which any given person has thought through the constructs in which they view the world. Through the varying levels of debate over earth origin, eschatological theories, the basis for moral judgment, and more of the latter we find an array of those that would claim to have never thought about it at all and those that pursue a doctoral degree on such subjects. Ultimately, we all have a belief system that addresses reality; we just interact with it on varying degrees and depths. While I would never claim to be an expert on all worldviews, I do want to utilize this blog to outline both the common practice (and well-accepted) four life question categories for which worldviews are defined out of and constructed and how Biblically historic Christianity answers each of those.
We can assess any worldview based upon four life question constructs. The very fact that there are only four constructs does not point to the fact that a worldview is shallow or simplistic. Rather, deeper thoughts and questions are drawn out of each category as we click on one tab to eventually open a multitude. The derivative of thought claim stems from how we ultimately view or think of any of the four constructs. In each of these constructs, there are a variety of questions to be posed in order to understand one's worldview. It is a common practice to pick any worldview and carry on living out of it, but in reality, each worldview has consequences to both how we interact with and live in the community and society around us. Because of this, it is wholly important to understand both the constructs and where your ideology fits within them.
Constructs of a Worldview:
Origin - How did the universe and all that is in it come to be?
Meaning - What does life really mean? Is it individualistic or a larger commonthread?
Morality - How do we differentiate good and evil? Is it subjective or objective?
Destiny - What happens to a human being when he or she dies?
All worldviews either subconsciously or explicitly aim to answer or live out of these four constructs. For example, one may not outright define the meaning of life as it relates to all mankind and then approach humanity from that presuppostion, but their heart motives for where they draw meaning are displayed by their outward actions throughout their life. Additionally, as one may not explicitly characterize their view of morals as being subjective, they may outwardly discuss any person's ability to interact with society based on what they deem as being personally right and wrong as proper (therefore subjective). I hope you see where I'm going with all of this. Whether one gives a considerable amount of time towards how they would answer such philosophical questions is not a witness to the fact that their interaction with the world is extracted from each of these four constructs.
The most commonly practiced religions in the world all provide their own answers to the questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. Since I believe Yahweh, the God of the Bible, is the true God and Creator of all things, I will aim to explain the Biblical answers to each of these constructs. True Christianity derives its responses to each of these categories of thought from Scripture. I use the adjective of true because there is a prevalence of misconstrued or incorrect teachings even within the Christian faith as it relates to each of these categories (as there are variances within many religions or worldviews). My heart aims at bringing all Christians back to the authority of Scripture in order to properly explain and then live out of the truth of the Bible.
Since the Bible is the ultimate authority over the Christian life, it is where we will predominantly extract explanations from. Within each of these constructs of a worldview, an in-depth analysis could be given, but for the sake of remaining concise and encouraging you to dive deeper into what the Bible says with regard to each of these, I will keep the descriptions succinct. Although succint, the claims that Biblical Christinanity makes within each of these four categories is wholly abundant. I won't aim to provide an exhaustive apologetic against all other worldviews. Rather, I want to provide both nonbelievers and Christians with both common questions and the answers the Bible provides as it relates to origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.
You might be asking, 'Why does an understanding of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny, as it relates to our worldviews, matter?' For that, I remind us that ideas quickly become ideals, and for those, there are always consequences and implications for both how we live and interact with the world around us.
If Jesus is who he claims to be, that affects origin, meaning, morality, and destiny questions. Jesus answers these questions without contradicting each other and in a coherent and comprehensive way. When we know whom we have believed then we know who Christ is. When we know who Christ is then we know the Gospel. When we know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we know who we are both apart from and in Him. This, in and of itself is wholly important in understanding a Biblical worldview.
In the Biblical worldview, the origin of how all things came to be is predominantly drawn from the book of Genesis. We find supporting scripture and teachings throughout the entirety of the Bible though that help us to have a fuller understanding of both the created and the Creator. The questions within the construct of origin have been debated, thought about, written on, and studied for many generations. One thing I want to make abundantly clear is that Biblical Christianity and science do not have to be 'at odds' with each other as much of the world would have you believe. There are in fact many well-renowned scientists in a vast array of fields and time periods that believed in the God of the Bible and explored and still studied and taught on the complexities of the scientific world around us. (A great documentary on this is, Genesis: Paradise Lost.")
So, what are common questions as it relates to the category of origin, and how does Biblical Christianity answer those?
Where do humans come from?
How did universe come to be?
Was there a creator or did it happen by chance?
What is the nature and the purpose of the universe around us?
Biblical Christianity's Answer:
Although the Bible does not explicitly say verbatim that the universe was created from nothing (Ex Nihilo), the implied belief and proof of is abundantly clear in Scripture. In Genesis we read that in the beginning was God. It does not say that in the beginning there was God, some material, atoms, etc. The precisity of the Bible is overwhelming in that it continually teaches that before the foundations of the earth, God was eternally existing (as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - John 17:5, John 1:1-3, John 8:58.. just to name a few).
We read in Genesis 1:1 that, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Since earth itself contains material, this then implies that God created all material things and there was no material there before God created it. John 1:3, it says that "All things were made through him (Christ), and without him was not any thing made that was made.." The word 'made' in this passage is the Greek word 'egeneto'. This word transates to "came into being." Therefore, since God has existed for eternity and made the beginning then God Himself did not come to be. He is the Word who already was. Additionally, we read in Hebrews 11:3 that material is seen and visible. The text here shows though that what made it (God) cannot be seen. Ultimately, the universe (light, dark, water, all animals, etc.) came to be because God willed it to be. The universe was not created out of preexisting material because there was not material to create it; Only a Creator (God). Matter and material would not be apart from God.
Many, both agnostic and others, can infer from both experience and observation that the earth has order (i.e. the food chain). The way everything has order does not suggest then that the universe was made simply out of some chaotical event. Rather, it points towards there being an organizing original creator. In Biblical Christianity, God, then, is the answer to the miracle of the creation of all things. The cosmological argument says that everything that begins to exist has a cause. Since the universe came to exist, it then must have a cause. In Biblical Christianity, that cause was God. What then about God? What is the cause of God? God, Himself, is in fact the uncaused cause. Before creation, He was. Even to ask the question of what caused God would be to presume that there is in fact some type of creator.
In the eloquent words of John Lennox, as it relates to questions of origin, he says, "In Genesis, each step of the creation narrative are started with the step of “And God says..” You do not get from one step to the next step without God speaking. This is the genius of God’s creative intelligence in action."
We learn that the origins of mankind came to be also because of the Creator God. In Genesis 1:27 we read that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Humans, like all things, came to be because God created them. We are made in the image of a perfect, holy God. All have value and worth simply due to this fact. God made man first out of the dust, intimately breathing life into his nostrils. The man became a living creature not by chance but because of God's will to create him. The creation of woman came second. As God put the man to sleep, he formed the woman out of his rib. Male and female, God created them to be.
I've found in my studies, that people most often spend the majority of their worldview thought around the questions of meaning and morality. We find riddled in bookstores, an array of advice as it relates to finding your purpose, destiny, calling, etc. The implications of defining the meaning of your life apart from the rest of the world around you may seem small, but whether we operate out of a collectivistic or individualistic ideology as it relates to life's meaning actually has a greater substantial impact on both ourselves and those around us than we think.
So, what is the meaning of life? Does each person define their own meaning or is there one that connects all of us?
In a Biblical worldview, the questions of both life and people's meaning are defined consistently either explicitly or implicitly throughout Scripture. We derive purpose and meaning, not from the level of success we can achieve individually. Rather, the meaning of our lives is actually not wholly based upon just ourselves at all. When we place our faith in Jesus, the Bible is quite clear about what this means for our lives. In Galatians 2:20, Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Jesus is also clear that the life of a Christian will not be void of hardship and pain. Since we live in a world where sin and evil exist, suffering is inevitable. Oppositely, joy, and pleasure exist also. We learn in scripture, that all things we actually need (not which our flesh deems as necessary for meaning and purpose) will be added to us in His (God's) perfect will as we seek His kingdom above all else. (Matthew 6:33) The Biblical worldview is not that if we do x,y, and z that God will bless us abundantly. Additionally, the Biblical worldview does not teach health, wealth, and prosperity are where we find joy and pleasure. Rather, Jesus teaches that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:37). We love Him not for what He can give us but because He alone is where true joy and peace are from. If for those who are saved by grace through faith in Christ, our lives are not our own and we are all called to love the Lord our God with all of us, where then lies the meaning or purpose to our lives? If we are spiritually dead and walking as children of wrath apart from God's rich mercy and grace (Ephesians 2:3), do we then derive meaning and purpose within ourselves? Simply put, no.
In an article by Brandon Clay on the meaning of life, his short answer states the Biblical worldview on this well. In the article, he says, "For the righteous, the meaning (or purpose) of life is to bring glory to God our creator and enjoy him forever through Jesus Christ." He goes on to conclude his article with an important summary and reminder for Christians. "Only through God, as revealed in the Bible, do we understand the meaning of life. Because he is our creator, he declares the purpose for each of us, and we discover this meaning through Jesus. He is the light of this life. And through him we can understand the meaning of life and our ultimate destiny."
The idea of finding meaning not within ourselves but within the Creator God feels so incredibly foreign to the culture and society in which we live. To suggest that our lives are not our own to find meaning and purpose of any kind we want is so contrary that it is often deemed as harmful and offensive. Although it may offend our flesh (as the teachings of the Bible will and should), it is actually where we find true freedom; the freedom of the unending burdens of how to's and step-by-steps for finding purpose and meaning are found in seeing that you are not enough, but Jesus is. At the end of each self-help book is more of the same. It is more of the same burdensome rhetoric that looks back to yourself for the help that you hadn't found yet in yourself before that book claimed it had the answers. Instead, the newness of life is found in Jesus alone as we continually die to our old selves and find our worth and identity in Him alone; Him, who is perfect, sinless, and without blame.
"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) This is alone is where we find both relationship with God and meaning to life.
To begin, the Biblical worldview teaches that all sin and evil are as a result of Adam and Eve disobeying God in the garden of Eden and then thereby separating their once-perfect relationship with Him. Sin entered into the world at this point, and God's plan for conquering all sin and death through Jesus was displayed not as an afterthought as we read in Genesis 3:15. In a proper Biblical worldview, all are born sinful and in desperate need of a perfect Savior (Jesus). This is wholly important to establish in order to fully understand where both evil and good come from.
Unless you are abundantly committed to the fact that this life has no meaning and it is all one large chaotic event, most would adhere to some ideology with regard to there being good and evil in our world. Some societies deem their moral judgments are above others and vice versa. Similarly, individuals often speak of their vantage point of what is right and wrong as being better than someone else's. In contrast, there are some who would adhere to the idea that everyone has the right to design their own moral law and judgment, and then yet call out those that they deem being evil or bad. The idea that moral law exists without one objective moral lawgiver seems absurd but yet it is readily prevalent generation after generation.
In the Biblical worldview, good and evil or right and wrong are in fact objective. They are objective-based upon the fact that they are given by a perfect, holy, and all-knowing moral lawgiver - or the God of the Bible. You might be internally saying the thought that everyone 'seems to know at most levels what is right and wrong.' For that, the Bible has a clear answer. In an article by John Piper, he unpacks this idea very well.
In the article he discusses two ideas of a transformative heart through the work of Christ and that every heart has the law of God written on it. As Piper discusses this second truth he says, "Here’s the second great truth: every human being in the world, every child in your family, every person that you work with, everybody in your neighborhood has an inborn knowledge of God, according to Romans 1:21, and an inborn knowledge of the moral law of God (Romans 1:32; 2:15)." He says in another portion of his article that, "What he [Paul] means (in Romans 2:15) is not that every Gentile unbeliever in the world knows all six hundred commands in the first five books of the Bible. What he means is that all human beings have sufficient knowledge of what is right and wrong written on their hearts, so that their consciences can accuse them or affirm them. And at the judgment day they will not be held accountable for what they have no knowledge of, no access to. But they have access to many things about right and wrong."
In a Biblical worldview, morality is not what we define it to be in each generation. This concept falls apart pretty quickly. For instance, if we deem that our community somehow has a greater understanding of right and wrong compared to a group of people in another country that believe in offering up their children for money, where are we to point towards us having the foreknowledge compared to them? Is it because we live in a more modern society? If that was the case, why then were we 'lucky enough' to live here to have this knowledge but these people were not? I think it would be fair to guess they would not easily adhere to our version of right and wrong just because we have a more advanced societal view on such things. This here then lies the problem with subjective morality claims - If good and evil or right and wrong are not based upon one objective moral determinant, then we cannot accuse another that their version of morality is incorrect in comparison to ours.
So, if moral values and duties are objectively real (as most would agree), then God (the one, perfect moral lawgiver) then must exist. Ravi Zacharias explains this well as he says, "When you say there is such a thing as evil, you assume there is such a thing as good. And when you assume that there is such a thing as good and evil, you assume a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between the two. And when you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral giver.”
In a Biblical worldview, morality exists because God exists. What I mean by this is that God Himself is the only perfect depiction of what is good. The Bible is consistent with the truth that Jesus (God in human flesh) committed no sin. Jesus was never evil and therefore is the only perfect example of what it is to adhere to all that is good without blemish. The fullest embodiment of good, love, holiness, grace, and truth is in Jesus Christ (John 1:14-18). The Bible is also clear that all humans have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23).
All are born with the moral law written on their hearts by virtue of being created in God's image. We are all born sinful and capable of evil, and it is only by God's design that we are able to have conflicted consciences of what is right and wrong. When we are new creation in Jesus through faith in Him we are increasingly no longer hostile to the word of God like Paul teaches us in Romans 8:7. We are submissive to God's word and instruction not because we do so begrudgingly, but because we delight to do what is most glorifying to God (seen through His word). We don't have every law and commandment literally memorized, but the way in which we live as new creations in Christ displays the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts; that as we read God's word, our inclination is to abide in what honors God most. This is a byproduct of no strenuous work of our own but only through the grace of God when He both transferred us from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His Beloved Son (Colossians 1:3) and as He sanctifies and grows us into the likeness of His Son.
In the Biblical worldview, morality is objective; deriving its parameters fo what is good and evil or right and wrong based on the perfect moral lawgiver (God).
Eschatological questions and the idea of what happens to humans when they die are often avoided due to both misunderstanding and natural fear as it relates to such things. I won't dive deep into end times or eschatological ideas. Rather, I will aim to explain how the Biblical worldview on destiny provides hope, peace, and comfort in the midst of such difficult questions.
The Bible is both clear and forthcoming with at the most basic understanding what happens after death. It is not that we die and cease to exist forever as if to say this is all there is. In addition, it does not say that we die and are reincarnated into something else. The Bible teaches that our ultimate destiny is to be with God after this life on earth. Our hope is not in this world and humans being able to restore moral order to mankind. Our ultimate hope (as Christians) lies within the fact that our life after this is one where pain and suffering cease to exist and we get to be in the presence of God for eternity. In addition, it is in the fact that Jesus will come again to demolish sin and death once and for all; where a new Heavens and Earth will then be.
The Bible is also clear that this destiny only happens through faith in Jesus. Some describe Jesus as being extremely exclusive. He is exclusive in the sense that it is through Him alone that we can spend eternity in Heaven, but He is actually very inclusive that it is a gift offered not to a few but to all who place their faith in Him alone. Paul clearly teaches that, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9-10)
In a Biblical worldview, those that do not confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus is Lord and thereby deny Him, will be eternally separated from God. This eternal state is called Hell, and the Bible teaches that it is like a blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:50). I don't describe this to make you more scared, but because I believe it is wholly important to describe both the beauty and majesty of God and what we deserve apart from His rich mercy, grace, and love in the gift of Jesus Christ. The idea that some will be eternally separated from a place where pain and suffering ceases to exist is not any easy concept for both Christian and non Christians to work through. For those that place their faith in Christ though through God's grace this beautiful truth remains, though - "that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
Remember, this gift of eternity with the Holy God is not as a result of our good works, merit, or measure. Rather, "it is a gift from God; so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
The Biblical Worldview
The life questions that present themselves within these four constructs are often overwhelming. Even if we defer to them as being too difficult to answer or unimportant to work through, I want to remind us that we all exist with a worldview. I don't write this blog to bash all other worldviews, but rather to open the tab to the basic level of what the true Biblical worldview says about such things. I pray that it encourages you and stirs up both believer and non believer to dive into the Bible to understand further what Scripture actually teaches on all four of these constructs.
I will end with more wise word from John Piper about those place their faith in Christ and confess Him as Lord. "God made us who we are so that we might proclaim the excellency of his freedom in choosing us. The excellency of his grace in pitying us. The excellencies of his authority and power in possessing us. The excellencies of his worth and purity in making us holy. In other words he has given us our identity in order that his identity might be proclaimed through us. God made us who we are so we could make known who he is. Our identity is for the sake of making known his identity. The meaning of our identity is that the excellency of God be seen in us."