When you stop to think about it, these are really big questions. Unfortunately, many of us miss the opportunity to stop and think or when we do, we can’t figure out how to get to the answers. The next few minutes could begin a thoughtful journey, one that over time develops clarity regarding what you regard as really real and its affect on how you live.
Each of us has tucked away the building blocks that make up our understanding of how the world works. Some of these blocks form a foundation and others the walls and various rooms of our house of reality. The ideas that we use in the process of thinking itself form the foundation. Characteristics like self, things that are not a part of self, relationship between things and between ideas, the ability to place things and ideas into groups or categories, the relationship of cause and effect, the dimensions of space, time, and the like. We use these thoughts as tools to explore and determine what we hold to be real.
On that foundation of thinking tools, we have assembled a series of other ideas that we may have consciously examined or which we simply take for granted. Either way, we cannot imagine the world without these characteristics or ideas. They comprise the things we hold to be really real, the answers to the big questions in life that help us make sense of it all. These ideas form our worldview and consist of the principles by which we understand what our experience in life really means. Maybe this sounds a little too theoretical to have any practical use. Some have described a worldview as:
• A basic model of reality
• A Set of presuppositions which we hold about the makeup of the world
• A set of assumptions that explain reality
• The interpretive framework we use to make sense of the totality of our reality
One thing lies at the core of each of these definitions. A worldview consists of assumptions or presuppositions that we apply to the world to make sense of it all, to figure out what is real. Over time, people have assembled sets of questions to identify what assumptions or presuppositions form the walls of a particular worldview structure. These are the big or ultimate questions of life I referred to earlier. Questions like where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? What’s wrong with the world? How do we fix it? How should we live our lives?
My hope is that this series of discussions leaves you with at least on foundational idea: Christianity is a worldview. Yet, even within Christianity, we have our family differences about the details of how the world works. For example, has God chosen me out of the population of rebellious humans, dead in their sin and unable to respond to Him without His choice? Or, did the death of Christ bestow on all mankind the ability to decide to allow Him to save us from our sin? Worldviews which compete with Christianity experience these same internal tensions. To characterize a person as a naturalist does not put that person in perfect lock-step with every other person identified as a naturalist. Because we're people, this business can be a little messy.
So, to some degree, our worldviews are personal (shared in the fine detail only by ourselves) as well as public (shared in general form by our group, for example evangelical Christians). This spectrum of worldview variations sometimes provides the wiggle room to talk one way and live another. What we state as our assumptions about life and how we actually live out our lives doesn't always match up. Now we’ve gotten to the place where personal examination will yield sometimes difficult, but very fruitful results. In great DVD series The Truth Project, instructor Del Tackett often says that in the church today, Christians don’t always believe that what they believe is really real. This observation deserves some unpacking. As we’ll see in the next chapter, a Christian worldview gathers it’s assumptions about what is real from God’s revelation of Himself, both in creation and in Scripture. Tackett says, in other words, that even though we profess to believe God’s revelation as our assumptions about life, we may not - and if not, it shows up in how we live our lives. The proof really is in the pudding.