By Richard Bewes | February 26, 2016
“Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
I was once chairing a school board of governors in London as we interviewed three applicants for the post of head teacher. I ended each interview with the request: “Now, please describe your worldview.”
The reaction was the same each time. “Worldview?”
“Yes,” I said, “All I mean is your view of the meaning of life in this world.”
“Oh!” the answer would come; “I need some time for this!”
“No, no,” I replied, “just bullet points will do!”
All three floundered in confusion. Afterward, I turned to my fellow-governors: “There’s no way we can appoint any of these three. After all, education is far more than boning up on mathematics or chemistry. The whole point is to help young people establish their relationship to the universe! And if aspiring head teachers haven’t sorted that out for themselves yet, why on earth should we appoint them?”
Forget the academics and intellectuals; describe your worldview! How can any man or woman, boy or girl arrive at a view of life that makes credible sense? Why, it comes with clarifying, overwhelming force from the books of Genesis through Revelation. The granite truth of God at work—in the shape and goal of our human story—tells us all we need to know. The shackles of arid materialism melt under its onslaught. The negative gospel of a meaningless existence shatters into pieces.
After our failed candidates had left the room, one board member asked, “Richard, would you share with us your worldview?”
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“Sure!” I said. “Mentally, I’m assembling a raft—with which I can negotiate the heavy seas, the rocks and currents of modern thought. From it arises a mast—flying a flag labeled Jesus Christ. It’s He who must occupy the center and direction of my entire understanding.”
“But then,” I continued, “the actual raft itself is composed of four great planks. These are the unchanging truths that undergird the whole Bible.” I then set them out. They need explaining, for today we in the West have lost the firm biblical scaffolding that built our entire civilization. This has to be recovered. It is not enough simply to know a few favorite Scripture verses.
What are these planks? Let’s describe a Christian worldview:
Plank No. 1: Creation
It must be recognized that we are not simply a collection of biochemical reactions, existing in a strange, impersonal, mechanistic universe. At the heart of all things is a personal Creator who has formed us in His own image so that we, too, might live, develop, create and explore—in an eternal relationship that reflects the divine attributes.
This explains so much! Where did music, art, invention or sport originate, if not from a productive heart of creativity and loving purpose that beats at the center of all things?
Plank No. 2: The Fall
We must further understand that the whole human race entered into a state of rebellion against the Creator. All tragedy and evil stem directly from that initial rebellion. As we were the intended custodians of the surrounding creation, our sin affected even the environment (Genesis 3:17-19, Romans 8:22).
Again, this explains so much! The traditional Marxists never conceived of a human Fall. They attempted to bring onto earth a perfectible workers’ paradise, attainable in this life. Disillusionment was inevitable. Lesslie Newbigin has written, “The project of bringing Heaven down to earth always results in bringing hell up from below.”
To be sure, disasters and conflicts still grieve and test the Christian. But our perplexities are nothing as compared with those that beset the nonbeliever. At the very least, we understand something of what lies behind today’s wars and disasters, religious-born terrorism, persecutions, atheistic programs and sexual deviations. For the Fall is inextricably built into our worldview.
Plank No. 3: Redemption
This follows! God has reached down, to reclaim the whole fallen world through the redeeming power of His Son, the Savior. The cross and resurrection assure us that no person, no ideology or evil regime, ever need be written off as beyond reclamation and forgiveness. This imparts massive optimism to all our witness and missionary outreach. Every praying fellowship should resolve, “Our church can touch the world!”
Plank No. 4: The Final Triumph
The traditional Eastern belief systems had no real view of history. To them, life was circular, composed of an unending existence and repeated reincarnations. But the Christian worldview is linear. We see events as moving steadily onward toward a triumphant conclusion, when Christ’s return in judgment will finally dismantle all evil, ushering in “the new Heaven and the new earth” that will incorporate all of His redeemed family—forever!
This, too, is a ground for godly optimism and perseverance in world evangelism—for we know how the story will end!
Well! As we engage with critics at work, or loved ones faced by today’s confusions, ills and sorrows, today’s surfacing issues may be met by one or other—or all four—of these mighty planks that make up an indomitable worldview, centered in Christ. Against that, every other viewpoint throughout history has turned out finally to be no more than a collapsing pack of cards. ©2016 Richard Bewes
The Scripture quotation is taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version.