We should live according to a biblical, Christ-centered worldview. This idea is a core component of Covenant’s mission statement; it also immediately rings true to most confessing Bible-believing Christians. I have never uttered anything like this in Christian company and been asked what I mean by saying such a thing, how we should do such a thing, or why we should do such a thing. It is simply received as an axiom or a self-evident truth that needs no analysis. However, I would dare to speculate that the percentage of people in our pews that could explain what a biblical, Christ-centered worldview is and how and why we should live accordingly would be small indeed. Even for those who can provide a general explanation of a biblical, Christ-centered worldview and the necessity of living according thereto, the benefits of thinking precisely and deeply about such things is certainly not without benefit, and so my aim in this blog will be to define a biblical, Christ-Centered worldview and then dive into the related how and why questions.
I still remember my interview here at CCS, at least in part, some 13 years ago now. I had only been a Christ-follower for about five years and was about two years into my studies at Southwestern Seminary. In this interview, one of the questions I was asked was, “What is a worldview?” In all honesty, one year earlier in my walk, this question would have caught me completely off guard. I’m honestly not sure that I could have stumbled through anything that would have been considered a coherent response. However, in God’s providence, I had just taken an apologetics class in which I had been introduced to worldview thinking and a basic working definition. I responded to the question by asserting that a worldview was a conceptual framework through which we view the world and seek to answer life’s most basic and fundamental questions. I also followed that with my favorite colloquial definition, “A worldview is how we view the world.” Thankfully, my answer sufficed, and I lived to answer the next question!
These definitions would apply to any worldview – and there are many – but when discussing a biblical, Christ-centered worldview, we need only slightly modify our definitions. It seems accurate to say that a biblical, Christ-centered worldview is a biblically sound theological framework through which we seek to answer life’s most basic and fundamental questions, or, in reference to my colloquial definition, a biblical, Christ-centered worldview is how Christians view the world. (I could insert “should” before “view.”) That is just to say that what we believe about and how we understand reality and the fundamental questions pertaining to reality (e.g. how did we get here, what happened, how do we fix things, where is this all heading?) must be informed by and answered according to Scripture, which itself points to Christ (John 5:39).
So, how do we live according to a biblical, Christ-centered worldview?
Years ago, I had a professor that had spent a large part of his life sharing the Gospel in Africa, and after becoming a professor, he made a habit of leading short-term mission trips. One of the trips he led was to India with the goal of serving people, engaging Hindus in conversation, and seeking to share the Gospel with them. One day the mission team went out and brought blankets to the many homeless people that were sleeping on the sides of the street. As they were placing the blankets on the people, one Hindu man woke up and asked the missionary if they were “Jesus people.” Shocked, the missionary said that they were, and they were just there to share the love of Christ and the Gospel with those that were willing to hear it. The man said, “I thought so; only Jesus people would do something like this.” So, why was the Hindu man so surprised by this action, and why did he assume they were “Jesus people” at all? Hinduism holds to the teachings of samsara and karma. Samsara is the idea that we are reborn over and over, and the quality of our rebirth is determined by the karma of our past life. According to Hindu theology, if these people were homeless, this is because they did not conduct themselves well in their past lives and they were simply paying their debts. They believe they must pay this debt in order to obtain good karma in their present lives and a better life in the one to come. Based on these teachings, many Hindus find it wrong to help the homeless, the poor, and the outcast. In fact, the missionaries were scoffed at by a number of Hindus watching this take place. So, why did these missionaries give themselves to this good work? They were simply living according to a biblical, Christ-centered worldview. They did not believe these people were caught up in a cycle of rebirths paying their karmic debt, but they believed these people were lost and broken sinners, just as we were, in need of the only Savior that can bring about forgiveness, healing, restoration, and purpose, and they aimed to bring that Savior to them. While the Gospel must be proclaimed, the Christian life must also be lived out, lest we undercut what we say by what we do.
This is no less true in the classroom than it is in India. It is often said that the teacher is the text. While the teacher isn’t the only text, and maybe not even the primary text, the teacher is undoubtedly a text, and a crucial one at that. Luke wrote, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). If we speak truth, but walk contrary to the truth, according to Luke, how will this affect the students under our teaching? As teachers, we have to be mindful that the students are both listening to us and watching us. They are not only receiving what we teach, but how we teach. Does our life, demeanor, and conversation reflect what we claim to believe in our teaching? I pray by God’s grace that this would be the case, and that through it, our students, too, would know that we are “Jesus people.”
Lastly, why should we live this way? The simple answer to this is so we can experience joy, peace, and purpose, and ultimately, to glorify God. Once we understand reality, ourselves and our God in light of His truth, and align our lives with His will, we begin to experience true human flourishing. The philosophers spent a great amount of time discussing the ultimate purpose of man and how that purpose is connected to true happiness or eudaimonia. In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, he claims, “If happiness is activity in conformity with virtue, it is to be expected that it should conform with the highest virtue, and that is the virtue of the best part of us.” He further states, “The activity of reasoning, it seems has a greater claim to be the proper function of human beings.” He also believed that the excellence and/or dedication of such action in conformity with virtue will tend to our greatest happiness. In conclusion, he writes, “The activity of our reflective intelligence constitutes the complete happiness of the human being, provided that it encompasses a complete span of life”, or put generally, a life fully dedicated to contemplation will result in the highest degree of happiness, or human flourishing.
Aristotle was certainly onto something, but a biblical analysis of this argument would move us to go further. The idea that living a life dedicated to that which is your primary purpose will be the most fulfilling and lead to the greatest degree of happiness or joy seems quite true. However, according to Scripture, knowing, loving, and living for God (including loving others) seems to be our primary purpose (Isaiah 43:7, Matthew 22:37-39, and 1 Corinthians 10:31). It is by living this type of life then, that we will experience true and ultimate human flourishing, as it is for this end that we were created.
May God grant us the grace to not only think well, but also to live well – to live according to a biblical, Christ-centered worldview – to live lives fully dedicated to the glory of God!
by Jeremy Sturdivant, CCS Theology/Philosophy Department Chair