Beginner’s Guide to Worldview Jargon

My friends Byron Harvey and Paul Oyler have been talking a lot about worldview lately.

I recently came across this very nice article from my man Byron Borger at the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach). Here is an edited version of it.

Beginner’s Guide to Worldview Jargon

I hardly need to mention this—you'll hear it so much. Still, the point is that the biblical view of life includes the profoundly wonderful idea that this is God's world, sin has radically distorted everything and Jesus is big enough to make it all good again. The implications of seeing such a continuous flow to the unfolding biblical drama should chill us to the bone and compel us to praise and worship and unceasing service.

All of Life Redeemed:
Not only a book (out of print) written by former CCO staff, but a slogan calling us to work out the implications of the Lordship of Christ over every area of life. Because God is bringing restoration to the creation, we can with confidence seek His will "on Earth as it is in Heaven."

Creational Ordinances/Law Structures:
God has built into His creation structures and laws which provide norms for the opening up of our lives and culture. In other words, marriage or the state, or the possibilities for art or science are not human inventions but have been put into the fabric of reality; the principles which govern them are not arbitrary or relative. A Christian worldview would consider not just how sin has messed things up, but the abiding laws God upholds in his creation.

…as in "No Dualism!" The unbiblical assumption that life is divided into two parts (the sacred and the secular, the realm of nature and the realm of grace. Hence, the derogatory phrase, "that's nature/grace!"). Dualistic views always lead to an irrelevant super-spirituality applied to only a few areas of life and thereby yielding vast territory to Satan.

Not just your view of the globe, but your fundamental convictions and assumptions about the meaning of life, the nature of good and evil, your view of humankind, your values and overall life perspective.

All of life is seen through a grid, a lens, spectacles (to use Calvin's metaphor for Scripture). Worldviews function in life as a pair of glasses coloring how you see things. We need a biblical worldview to see and perceive life as God intends. Nothing is more urgent or practical than polishing our lenses to see properly.

Ground Motif:
The idea that certain worldviews or ideas gain influence and shape the development of society. Worldviews are not just individual; certain ones become the dominant ways societies order themselves. They are rooted in and also give rise to idolatry.

That which is pre-supposed, assumed, a priori. Underlying ideas/beliefs which form the foundation of worldviews. Often not spelled out or made explicit.

The most foundational beliefs are heartfelt (and are therefore religious in nature) and they shape, color and help determine the nature of scholarship, philosophy, science and theology. Theories about things taught in the classroom (or assumed by the media or pop culture) are rooted in a priori religious convictions.

The Myth of Objectivity:
Secular science since the Enlightenment (mid-1700s) has presumed that there are no pre-theoretical, faith-like commitments which shape or color the doing of scholarship or science (and if there are, that then is bad science). This is one of the bastions of the rationalistic worldview.

A faith (i.e. pre-theoretical) in the ability of human reasoning to objectively reach all Truth. Most Rationalists deny that they have faith in their own starting point, but that it is just an objective truth.

Saere Aude!:
Have the courage to use your own mind without the guidance of another, from Kant's "What is Enlightenment" (1784). In other words, "grow up—reject those old religious (non-scientific) superstitions from the Dark Ages and don't let faith prevent you from doing whatever you want."

Lumen Natural:
The "natural light" of Reason. In the secular Enlightenment worldview, Reason replaces God's revelation. Who needs Scripture (or even God) when reasonable people can think up their own ideas? In the French Revolution, a ceremony was held after taking over the cathedral in Paris where "goddess Reason" was crowned.

"We will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" (a popular slogan of the French Revolution). That seems to sum it up quite nicely, huh?

"We hold these truths to be self evident…" Self evident? The natural light of Reason is all you need. Although there are considerable differences between the American Revolution and the French, we should not underestimate the similar intellectual roots.

"Smash the infamous!" Voltaire, a philosopher/statesman of the French Revolution, used to correspond with his friend and soul mate, Ben Franklin. They would often jokingly call each other "anti-Christ" and sign letters with this call to destroy the Catholic Church (and, presumably, all constraints of the Christian God).

A Common Faith:
A very influential book by the father of the America public school system, John Dewey. A scientific-minded pragmatist, Dewey said in this book (and in his travels throughout, among other places, western Pennsylvania) that schools should propagate a faith in Reason to unite all Americans, away from the divisive sectarian fights. Dewey didn't oppose Christianity, as long as it was secondary to a unifying, reasonable, pragmatic, American faith in the public square.

The process whereby God's Word and norms are increasingly seen as irrelevant to a society's corporate life. Personal faith tends to be private and inadequate to relate to public affairs.

"I believe in God, family and McDonalds, but when I go to work, I reverse the order." —Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds, Inc. Secularism at its finest.

"A Better World Through Westinghouse." —famous ad slogan, circa 1968.

"Greed is good." —Gordon Geko, in the movie, Wall Street. A brief paraphrase of the famous Enlightenment rationalist, Adam Smith, father of capitalism.

A philosophic movement which arose (out of the non-rational half of Imannual Kant's dualism) in reaction to the reductionism and over-reliance on Reason, science and greed on the part of Enlightenment secularists. Influenced by the imaginative and mystical poetry of Coleridge, Wordsworth and, later, Ralph Waldo Emerson, et. al., anti-rationalistic romanticism is a major influence on the hippie counter-culture, gays, greens and grunges. (Check out recordings of Van Morrison who gives it a Christian slant.)

"And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden…" —Joni Mitchell (Woodstock). Immortalized by Crosby, Stills and Nash. And they weren't talking about CFR, either.

Julia Roberts teaching Richard Gere (in Pretty Woman) how to throw away his car phone and walk barefoot in the grass may be better than him walking on concrete in wingtips, but it is still a far cry from the Kingdom of God.

Paraphrase of author John Alexander in The Secular Squeeze, where he shows how counter-cultural Romanticism arose as a response to rationalism and how it may seem attractive to Christians seeking an alternative to the dominant worldview.

Third Way:
A shorthand slogan suggesting that Christians should be uniquely and distinctively biblical and therefore radically different from the traditional cultural and religious life options. A biblical worldview is neither conservative nor liberal, progressive nor traditionalist, rationalist nor romanticist, left nor right, but an entirely alternative community: a third way.

A word coined to describe a new brand of Calvinists who take the ideas of the Protestant Reformation beyond theology and abstract debates about the nature of the atonement and church life and rather seek to bring about Christian cultural change and social transformation. Serious, lasting change, however, can only come about after serious and radical re-formation of the philosophical assumptions currently deforming each sphere of culture. Reformational folk realize that to be "light in the darkness," we need to re-think the inner structures of each academic discipline which shape each area of life.

Abraham Kuyper:
A journalist-statesman-theologian-organizer-pastor of a great period of reformation in the Netherlands in the late 1800s and early 1900s who emphasized the need for Christian renewal in each sphere of cultural life. (The phrase "sphere sovereignty" comes from Kuyper, which means that God has given norms for each area of life which Christians can open up and obey without the church itself running everything.) His famous Stone Lectures at Princeton (1898) argued for a Calvinist perspective in the arts, business, science, etc. The great-grandfather of the Jubilee conference. Also the founder of the first Protestant University, a Christian daily newspaper, a Christian farmers association and a major Christian political party (through which he became the Prime Minister in 1901). Strong emphasis on the "cultural mandate" of Genesis 1:26-28.

Herman Dooyeweerd:
A heavyweight Dutch philosopher who taught law at the Free University of Amsterdam (founded by Kuyper) in the mid-1900s (he died in the late 1970s). Dooyeweerd was a forerunner of the whole idea of a uniquely and distinctively Christian philosophy and a major influence on Francis Schaeffer and other young evangelicals of the past 50 years. He critiqued the myth of objectivity and exposed the self-contradictory dualisms in humanist thought. Described the multi-dimensionality of humans and showed how the convictions of the heart shape and give life direction and worldview.

Whole-Life Discipleship:
The official CCO phrase which suggests that you are professionally obliged to do evangelism (calling people into the Kingdom) and disciple-making (equipping them to serve in the Kingdom) in a way which emphasizes Christ's sovereign and royal claim over the totality of life, particularly in the development of a Christian view of academic work and career preparation. A Kingdom vision of multi-faceted, "whole-life discipleship" influences how we share the gospel, how we mentor young disciples, how we view our cooperative relations and how we pursue our own faith development. It intentionally and consciously reflects a reformational worldview and underscores the CCO's uniqueness of vision and expectations for ministry within the context of higher education.

Byron Borger is an associate staff member of the CCO who first came on staff in 1976. He and his wife, Beth, own and operate Heart & Minds Bookstore in Dallastown, Pennsylvania, and Byron writes a monthly column for our staff newsletter, the Ministry Exchange. This guide to worldview jargon was originally presented to new CCO staff when Byron taught the New Staff Training Worldviews course. © Coalition for Christian Outreach 2001

1 comment:

Byron said...

Helpful! Thanks!