Importance of Biblical Worldview

By Dan Panetti

You’re familiar with the term “worldview” – the lens through which you see and understand the world around you. Like bellybuttons, everyone has a worldview … but most people really don’t know what their worldview consists of or how to develop it and utilize it properly. As a pastor, you have a unique opportunity to help people wrestle with truth concepts put forth by both God’s Word and the world. You understand, as Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, that it is vital to “demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and … take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). But it is important to ask: What arguments are we preparing for – and are we adequately prepared?

A biblical worldview consists of more than how a person thinks about specific biblical issues. When most people hear “biblical worldview,” they think of what I’ll call “traditional apologetics”  – questions such as: 1) Is there a God? 2) Did Jesus really die on the Cross? 3) What must I do to be saved? Of course, these are important questions, however the conversation about the evidence for a bodily resurrection of Jesus isn’t your “typical” conversation. Today you’re more likely to encounter questions about gender dysphoria, or can you be gay and a Christian, race and ethnicity issues, embryonic stem cell research, abortion, social media, Christian-Muslim relations, should women be able to preach, what happens after I die, etc. These are all worldview issues, too, and these are questions that many people are asking today. If you take 1 Peter 3:15 seriously, then you’ll want to prepare followers of Christ to be able to answer all the questions that others are asking.

There are some who would say that these “cultural apologetic” issues aren’t central to the Gospel and shouldn’t be part of the narrative for a church. The great Reformer Martin Luther said something worth considering:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. And to be steady on all the battle fields besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Where is the Enemy attacking today – and how should the Church respond? Cultural apologist Francis Schaeffer discussed this sentiment in his book The Great Evangelical Disaster, in which he wrote:

Sadly we must say that very few Christians have understood the battle that we are in. Very few have taken a strong and courageous stand against the world spirit of this age as it destroys our culture and the Christian ethos that once shaped our country. But the scriptures make clear that we as Bible-believing Christians are locked in a battle of cosmic proportions. It is a life and death struggle over the minds and souls of men for all eternity, but it is equally a life and death struggle over life on this earth.…

According to Schaeffer, the Church should be able to (and want to) answer the tough questions of their day – with biblical truth. But many of these cultural issues are difficult to answer by looking at a few verses. While traditional apologetic questions tend to be more point/counterpoint, cultural apologetics is almost like building a house – you must first prepare the ground and then lay a biblical foundation; and only then can you start building pillars of biblical principles upon that foundation. For example, much of the attack in recent years deals with sexuality. My generation was brought up with the Christian platitude, “Just say no.” This straightforward, but simplistic, slogan left a generation with the “sex is bad” concept instead of being equipped with a biblical worldview of God’s design for marriage and sex, which made it even more difficult when this generation was confronted with the question of same-sex marriage  – if marriage is good, why isn’t more marriage better? Most responded with simple, well-worn verses about how homosexuality is an abomination instead of offering a well-reasoned apologetic for God’s design.

Fortunately, the solution is as obvious as the problem. Paul wrote to Timothy regarding the last days and those “lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant … holding to a form of godliness, though they have denied its power” (2 Timothy 3:2, 5). The advice that Paul gave Timothy is still solid today: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). A biblical worldview, by definition, starts with an understanding of the Bible – and biblical literacy is dismal in the Church today. And, while you’re teaching God’s Word, look to apply it to the issues where people are at today: Seek to answer the questions people are asking, wrestle with the concepts that are causing confusion and consternation. Of course, some might say that you’re only looking to be “relevant,” to which you can respond that God’s Word is timeless and thus relevant at all times, across all cultures, for all situations.

To speak to cultural issues well, you might have to add some additional resources to your library and study. Consider who is connecting God’s Word to today’s issues – listen and learn from them. Some of my favorites are Tim Keller, James Emery White, Os Guinness, John Perkins, John Stonestreet at The Colson Center, Ryan Anderson and Rosaria Butterfield (especially on gender dysphoria/homosexuality issues) and Nabeel Qureshi (especially on Islam and Christianity). And don’t forget about the greats who did it in their day and culture as well – William Wilberforce, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and Carl F.H. Henry are just a few to consider. Look for conferences such as the Q Conference that deal specifically with Christ and culture, and diversify your reading to include others who don’t look like you or sound like you to expand your concepts of what is happening in the world in this day and age. Yes, it’s a lot of extra work, but this is an important area where “the loyalty of the soldier is proved.”

Dan Panetti serves as Worldview Director at Prestonwood Christian Academy. Follow him on Twitter: @pca_worldview