(Re)Thinking Through Worldviews

Recently read Rethinking Worldview: Learning to Think, Live, and Speak in This World by J. Mark Bertrand and it was surprising informative and well written. Very fascinating and interesting book.

The main thesis of the book is,

Worldview flows into wisdom which flows into witness. Witness draws strength from wisdom and worldview. Instead of discreet stages we enter into and move beyond, these categories are essential parts of a single whole. Ideally, you can’t have one without the other, which means that any time you see an emphasis on worldview that doesn’t lead to a critical maturity, or criticism that doesn’t lead to cultural contribution, something must be wrong. (page 187)


So we have the symbiotic relationship between worldview, wisdom, and witness, with the beginning and end of all men as worship.

The author mentions the necessity of both wisdom and witness necessarily being held together at all times in the Christian life.

Creative expression is stifled and starved in the sections of the church that have developed an unhealthy critical perspective, and it flourishes in those quarters where there is no critical perspective of any kind to feed on. Where there is criticism, there is no expression; and where there is expression, there is no criticism. We have a socket on the one hand and plug on the other, and we are left to imagine in frustration what might happen on the glorious day one is introduced to other. (page 189)

He asserts that developing a Christian worldview is essentially becoming more Christlike, having the mind of Christ.

So the key to changing your worldview turns out to be, not some profound philosophical quest, but the fundamental journey to Christlike sanctity that every Christian is called to undertake. If you want to change your worldview, to make it a more consistently biblical worldview, then the first and most important thing you must do is work out your salvation in fear and trembling, knowing that it is God working in you, both to will and to worked for his good pleasure. The concept of worldview is one that Christianity inherited from philosophy. We couch it in high-sounding words. But it would be mistake to think that this intellectual language describes an essentially intellectual process. (page 38)

The development and sustaining a worldview is a Spirit guidance process for the believer and non-believer alike.

If we acknowledge that power over our own worldview is only partly in our hands, though fully in God’s, then we must also concede that our ability to change other people’s worldview is limited. Fortunately, we understand that the Holy Spirit often uses precisely the limited means at our disposal to bring about such changes. This is one instance where an honest assessment of our limitations serves more to encourage than to discourage engagement. (page 40)

I particularly enjoyed the author’s thoughts on a Christian epistemology.

I’m both a fallen and a finite creature. There are some things I can’t know because of my built-in limits, and others I’m blinded to by sin. And because I am a creature, it is not possible for me to know what I know exhaustively, as if I were the Creator. I’m derivative, and my knowing is derivative, too. Still, the concept of revelation itself would be nonsense if it weren’t possible for finite, fallen creatures to have real knowledge. We perceive things imperfectly through the senses and through reason, but we also have knowledge that comes via revelation—more certain, in theory, than what we sense or reason, but still subject to interpretation I am held responsive by God for this knowledge, too; so which I may not be absolutely certain, I am at least culpably certain. (page 70)

Perhaps the most convicting paragraph on becoming more Christlike was the following.

How many people pray to become more Christlike and then protest when adversity is poured on them and they are called upon to make deep, scarring sacrifices? They asked but didn’t realize what they were asking for. They did not consider the means by which such a request is granted. The same thing, I believe, applies to wisdom. God is more willing to give than we are to receive. (page 119)


He goes to state about the need and end of Christian suffering is Christ Himself, our greatest treasure.

There are times when virtue demands that we experience pain. There are times when doing right means forgoing pleasure. Christian wisdom differs form that of the world in that it treats as means what others seek as ends. The end, for a Christian, is neither pain nor pleasure, but Christ. If to serve him we must suffer, it is good. If in serving him pleasure, it is good. But pain or pleasure aside, our lives are dedicated to service. (page 136)

I loved the charge for the pulpit to be one of worldview formation not just cultural appeasement.

The scope of Christianity’s foundational doctrines stretches farther than the four pillars [of a Christian Worldview: creation, order, rationality and fear of God], extending to the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation, the resurrection, the second coming, and much more. Sadly, these are the doctrines we tend to assumed rather than preach. The average churchgoer hears much more from the pulpit about his marriage, his job, and his feeling of self-worth than about the Trinity, incarnation, resurrection, and the second coming. The apostle Paul predicted to Timothy an age when men would not endure sound doctrine, and it seems clear that w live in such a time. Therefore it is all the more important for believers who take responsibility for themselves and practice the discipline of self-control to develop a worldview awareness. (page 156-157)

In terms of the need of worldview thinking in cultural engagement he states,

The reason we develop a worldview sensitivity is so that we can use discernment in evaluating the influences around us. Our own worldview, however, includes the notion of God’s common grace poured out to believer and unbeliever alike, resulting in (among other things) the presence of truth and beauty even in the world of hose who reject their Author. The goal of critical reading, then, is not to install a spiritual V-ship in the Christian’s mind, but to help the believer embrace all the truth that unbelievers know, and much more besides. (page 176)

When Paul in Acts 17 quotes Epimenedes and Aratus and the precedent for knowing culture and engagement,

A Christian thinker should have no problem reading the world of non-Christian authors, finding the truth there, and putting it tin the context of a larger truth. “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” It’s a first-century question that is till rattling around. To answer, you have to flip the question over. What has Jerusalem has nothing to do. What Paul understood, and what we too often forget, is that the God of Jerusalem is the God of Athens, too. The idols of gold and silver signify nothing. The trust is suppressed everywhere but the truth has a weedy tenacity. It breaks through Achaean marble as it does Judean sand. (page 197)

Regarding Evidential Apologetics typified by Josh McDowell and the whole enterprise of defending the Christian faith he states,

The evidence did not so much demand a verdict as justify a verdict that the Spirit was achieving through deeper means. That’s when I realize that apologetics is the task of giving unbelievers a way to justify what the Spirit is doing in their hearts. Like all witnessing, it is way not to accomplish but to facilitate conversion. It is Paul becoming all things to all men in the hope that some will be saved. The principal virtue in an apologist, there is the willingness and the flexibility to be used by the Spirit in a variety of situations to help many different kinds of people. (page 202-203)

I recommend this book if the topic of worldview is on your mind.


About adoption through propitiation

I like theology. And I love my wife Katie. Enjoy my blog. View all posts by adoption through propitiation

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