As the final days of summer fun unfold—that time between times when the school year has commenced but the weather continues fine—the sunshine and water still beckon our children out to play. My youngest daughter and I took a final tubing venture in the river near our home last week. She demonstrated her end-of-season confidence in the cool water, diving and swimming with her head completely under. She even opened her eyes wide, peering through the murky depths to follow the flash of silvery fish darting through the current. When she came up, her blue eyes were filled with wonder…and river water. I wondered aloud if she wouldn’t see better with a snorkel mask. She ducked back down, unheeding.
In the quiet moment, broken only by her vigorous and staccato splashing, my mind raced back to my last post and towards worldview application. My daughter has become a strong swimmer, but she is not a fish. She’s not made for the water. She can’t breathe it. She could use some more tools to navigate with acumen. She ultimately needs to get out of the water to keep her body at a healthy core temperature, and for her fingers not to wrinkle like prunes. In order to live, she must have clean air, taking it deeply into her lungs to sustain her life.
The illustration breaks down. Though it paints an incomplete picture, it effectively points to the need to rear our children to be “in but not of” the world. We let them swim around in often murky waters, but we supply them with snorkels (and maybe also swimsuits, floaties, and towels)—allowing His truth (living rather than muddy water) to shape all of their thinking, feeling, and doing—that they might be equipped for every good work in the world while we await His return.
But what is worldview? And what makes a worldview specifically biblical or Christian? A worldview, simply, is a framework that seeks to systematically make sense of (or answer) the big philosophical questions of life. (More on that below) A biblical worldview finds the answers to those questions in a story centered on the person and work of Christ and man’s need of it: the Redemptive Narrative.
In my last post, I described it as a lens through which we perceive the world. Imagine blue-tinted glasses: If you look through them, every blue object will disappear, filtered out by the lenses, but objects of any other color will stand out. The Christian worldview works in an inversion to this metaphor: It is a truth-colored lens that allows us to see the truth about God, humankind, and the world as we look through it, causing falsehood to fade or be revealed as the non-truth that it is.
In another way, our worldview supplies our foundation, our bedrock. We root down into Christ, nurtured by the truth of His word, that substrate which sustains us and grows us towards greater maturity and discernment.
As I mentioned last month, thinking through a biblical worldview perspective takes getting used to, and the “lens” requires maintenance. In another way, our worldview supplies our foundation, our bedrock. We root down into Christ, nurtured by the truth of His word, that substrate which sustains us and grows us towards greater maturity (bearing fruit) and discernment. (See Colossians 2.)
When we shape a worldview, we nurture our children and students with words that bring life and health to the bones. We speak to their identity and purpose under the capital “A” Authority of God the Father. We remind them that their lives are not their own but belong wholly to the one who made them, takes care of them, and bought them with a price. Our Christian worldview affirms their value while underscoring their deep need for grace. It provides the help they need as they engage this world for its good and His glory. Our story, systematically communicated as a “worldview,” reminds them of the hope in which we will finally find our ultimate rest and home—in Him alone.
The pillars of any worldview (and they are myriad) supply answers to the same core questions. Put simply: Who (if anyone) made me? Why am I here? Where do I belong? What is the nature of reality: What is right with the world? What is the major problem? What is the solution to that problem? And what happens after death? How do I know?
Other thinkers and writers (see Dr. Roger Erdvig’s work) have simplified these questions even further: What ought to be? What is? What can be? What will be?
Every worldview takes a position on those four questions. In my post on the Redemptive Narrative and in our podcast work here and here, I retold the four chapters of the biblical story and how they apply to our relationships in the world. These chapters correspond with answers to the “ought, is, can, will” questions from a Christian worldview perspective. Our relationships with God, mankind (and self!), and creation ought to be characterized by joy, mutual care, loving-kindness, good stewardship, respect, honor, intimacy. What is, however, falls under the heading of “curse”: sin, brokenness, rebellion, selfishness, idolatry, fear, despair, loneliness. In redemption, something of what we can be is restored: By God’s grace, man can repent, repair, serve in redemptive purpose, a ministry of reconciliation and restoration of all things under heaven. But we are not there, yet. We still swim in murky waters while we wait for heaven to come down and all things to be made new. What keeps man’s sight true is the hope of what will be—that final consummation: glory, ultimate restoration, face-to-face intimacy with the Father that will never be lost. It’s the end to the Best Story.
Whenever you read any story (fiction or non-fiction), watch a movie, or listen to the news or a piece of music, you are provided the opportunity to reinforce a biblical worldview. One of my mentors engaged in after-movie discussions with his children ad nauseum (at least, in their opinion). His children used to ask him, “Do we have to talk about everything we watch?” To which he replied, “Yes, yes we do!” He had Deuteronomy 6:5-9 in mind:
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
We all set apart to be loving the Lord and teaching and learning: With every dimension of ourselves. In everything. Everywhere. All the time.
Make a beginning with your own children and students by asking these four questions:
What does this story say is good (the way things ought to be)?
What does this story claim as the problem (the way it is)?
What does this story suggest as the solution (how it can be better)?
What does this story promise as the outcome (what will happen)?
If you are an old hand at this, stretch further into more challenging material and complex verbiage allowing for greater nuance in your conversations with your older teens and students: theology, cosmology, anthropology, teleology, metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, axiology, soteriology, eschatology. Enjoy building those muscles as you equip your children to swim, confidently, often uphill and against the stream, but always towards the Father. Further up and further in!