What In The World Is A Worldview?

Earth MindIt seems like everyone is talking about the importance of a person’s worldview these days.  However, we don’t often define the term and, therefore, don’t understand the power behind it.  When you look up the definition of worldview in the dictionary, you find something like this.  A worldview is the way someone thinks about the world.  That really doesn’t help one understand this very powerful concept.

Other terms have been used in the past when talking about what is commonly referred to as worldview today.  In 1903 W. R. Harper, the President of Chicago College, stated:

If a man has reached the age of twenty-five without a fairly good theory about life, or the age of thirty without a settled philosophy of life, no matter how much else that man may know he is an ignoramus.

Authors Mitchell and Lambert refer to the concept of worldview this way.

Every kind of teaching and learning is based upon and oriented by a shared vision of life.

In Christian Overman’s and Don Johnson’s Making the Connections training, they refer to Richard Wright’s definition of worldview in order for the students to understand the power of the term worldview.  Wright states that a worldview is,

a comprehensive framework of beliefs that helps us to interpret what we see and experience and also gives us direction in the choices that we make as we live out our days.

In my book, Kingdom Education, I define worldview as:

a system of beliefs that drive all of one’s actions and attitudes in life.

Finally, Christian Overman in his training program, Think Again!, defines worldview this way.

A worldview is a person’s mental concept of the big picture of reality, as shaped by conscious beliefs or subconscious assumptions about God, Creation, Humanity, Moral Order and Purpose.

No matter what definition one uses to define the term worldview, one can see that one’s worldview is something that shapes how one thinks and acts in every area of life.  A picture sometimes is better than a thousand words and I believe Overman’s and Johnson’s model of showing the power of one’s worldview that they present in Making the Connections is worth a look.

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In this diagram the authors illustrate that the culture you find in a society results from the behaviors of the majority of the people that make up the society.  However, these behaviors don’t come out of a vacuum.  What drives a society’s behaviors are the values that are deemed important by the society.  What is most important to understand in this diagram is that the values a society holds as being important spring from the worldview that dominates the society.

We must understand that every person develops a worldview that is going to influence everything he/she does in all of life.  One’s worldview is foundational to how they approach their vocation, define marriage, view material possessions, understand what education is, define human life, and vote in an election.

We must understand not only how to define the term worldview but also how one’s worldview is formed.  In a recent tweet Dinesh D’Souza wrote that academia, Hollywood & the media are the 3 big megaphones of our culture.  D’Souza is saying that schooling, the film industry and all other forms of media are the main influencers that shape the culture.  However, from our diagram, this means that these three “megaphones” also shape the development of one’s worldview.  When you consider these major influences on the worldview formation of individuals and societies, you can sum them all up with one term — education.  How we educate our children and youth will determine what type of worldview they develop.boy-looking-at-world-copy

There is one other thing we must consider when it comes to understanding what is a worldview.  What are the different worldview options that one can choose from?  There are numerous worldviews that have been identified by various authors.  However, I believe that there are only two options out there when it comes to worldview development.  A person will either have a God-centered worldview or he/she is going to develop a man-centered worldview.

Because of the power behind one’s worldview, it is of utmost importance for Christians to do everything possible to help their children develop a God-centered or biblical worldview.  In future posts we will look at the various components that make up one’s worldview.  By studying the components of a worldview, we can strengthen our own biblical worldview and help shape the worldviews of our children and youth.  We must be determined to make sure the next generation develops a biblical worldview if it is going to survive today’s postmodern, anti-Christian culture.

Glen Schultz

Author Glen Schultz

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  • Mark Kennedy says:

    For the past half century or so, North Americans have generally had an Irish stew worldview – a worldview made up of little bits of this or that secular perspective mixed with steadily decreasing dashes of Christianity. That has now changed. For the majority of people, including many Christians, their worldview is a complete, consistent and thoroughly secular whole, the product of a clearly focused message blasted out for decades by what D’Souza calls “the three big megaphones”. If the North American church to survive its current sharp decline in numbers, it needs to assert an equally consistent but distinctly biblical worldview and apply it to all areas of life – especially to education!

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