Articles

The Christian Worldview and the State of the World

04/22/20

Glenn Sunshine

One thing that should be clear from this series is that we are in a period of worldview ferment. The old assumptions that provided the unifying ideas within the culture have eroded, and although we are seeing what may prove to be the emergence of a new worldview consensus based on Critical Theory, it has not solidified its hold on society yet—which is a good thing in view of many of its fundamentally anti-biblical assumptions.

So how should we respond in our current environment?

Before we even get started, we need to be clear on our own worldview and live it out with greater consistency.

Christian Metaphysics and Prayer

Christianity is based on a metaphysics that recognizes that the visible and invisible worlds interpenetrate and influence each other. Thus, Scripture talks about angels and demons—denizens of the invisible world—acting in the visible world, and actions in the visible world, such as prayer and fasting, can affect the invisible world.

What this means is that we need to start with prayer. A lot of it.
Somehow, we’ve gotten the idea that it’s more important that we do things rather than praying and asking God to do them. We tend to view prayer as an add-on or something we resort to if we have the time or are desperate. This needs to change. We need to make prayer a constant element in all our strategies and activities in confronting the worldview challenges in our culture.


None of us can change the whole culture. Our responsibility is to do what we can, where we can, with whom we can.


Christian Hope

We also need to be clear in our own hearts and minds about the solution to the world’s problems. It isn’t found in politics but in the Gospel of the Kingdom. In our cultural moment, it is easy to fall into the political illusion, that our fates and the fate of the church depend on who wins the next election, or to focus on media or education or on some other aspect of culture. As important as those things are, if we lose our focus on the Kingdom, we become part of the problem, not part of the solution

Christian Love

Further, we need to recognize that those who oppose us are not our enemies. Eph. 6:12 reminds us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Our opponents are people made in the image of God and thus are to be honored and respected.

We should see them not as enemies but as people who have been captured by Satan and are victims of the Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon where prisoners begin to identify with their captors and join them. In other words, they are the people we need to deprogram and rescue—and our worldview conversations need to have this as their goal.

Lastly, we are only responsible for what we can do. None of us can change the whole culture. Our responsibility is to do what we can, where we can, with whom we can. Remember the parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32). Fortunately, if we understand that the Kingdom of God extends to all of life, this gives us a surprisingly wide range to work with.

With those things in mind, let’s look at how we can approach our neighbors.

Ask Questions

Worldview conversations most often come up in pre-evangelistic settings; in other words, they help prepare the ground for people to hear the Gospel. Following the example of Francis Schaeffer, who put worldview thinking on the map for Christians, this generally involves raising questions in their mind about their own worldview. They aren’t going to be interested in what you’ve got until they’re dissatisfied with what they’ve got.

To get them to that point, you need to understand the worldview options out there and to learn to ask good questions. We tend to want to tell people things during an evangelistic conversation, but this is often a mistake. The person who asks the questions controls the conversation. To learn that skill, study Greg Koukl’s book, Tactics. It’s the single best book on effective use of questions available.


Our culture has accepted the idea that objective truth is inaccessible and that truth itself is therefore relative and personal; we thus need to make the case that the truth of Christ is personally relevant and beneficial to them.


Postmodern Apologetics

One caveat: Although there are exceptions, a significant number of people today do not respond to traditional apologetics approaches. You can present a perfectly reasoned defense of the existence of God or of Jesus’ Resurrection so that your audience agrees that it is the best explanation of the evidence, yet unless you show them why it is relevant to their lives your argument will have no effect on them.

Our culture has accepted the idea that objective truth is inaccessible and that truth itself is therefore relative and personal; we thus need to make the case that the truth of Christ is personally relevant and beneficial to them.

Perhaps the most effective way to do this is with our actions rather than our words. In the mission field, self-giving service to meet the needs of a community often opens doors for evangelistic Bible studies and church planting; although the needs are different, the same principle applies here. As Art Lindsley points out, love is the ultimate apologetic.

To put it differently, how we conduct ourselves is just as important—even more important—than what we say and will make a far better case for a biblical worldview than our words will. In the worldview competition we face today, we must live out our faith consistently to earn the right to be heard. And when we do that, we are far more likely to find people who are spiritually open and willing to engage with Scripture to come to know the Jesus whom we serve.

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