Worldview Analysis–Lessons Learned

Posted: May 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

In 2005 I spent a year in Iraq with the United States military.  While in the country, I had the opportunity to be involved in some intense operations.  In the midst of those operations I can recall being very thankful for the military classes and training I completed.  Far from being a waste or just a way to pass the time, the classes that our unit completed and the training exercises we executed were critical to our success while overseas.  

Classes are meant to be like this.  We take classes to learn, but not merely for the sake of accumulating information.  We weren’t taught how to run convoys, push through an ambush, or sweep a building so we would be the coolest guys on the block.  We were to practice what we learned when the time called for it.  At Boyce College, we should be taking classes to learn, but not just to win at Bible trivia!  We should be learning material and thinking through difficult issues in order to go out into the world and put our newly-acquired knowledge into practice. 

Worldview Analysis is a class meant to introduce the student to some major worldviews held throughout the world.  However, it is not meant to simply pass on some interesting information.  It is a class intended to help the student engage those outside of the Christian faith with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is a training ground for soldiers—Christian soldiers.  We equip our minds.  We prepare our hearts.   We do so to engage a world that desperately needs to hear and believe the gospel.

As this class ends, one question has been put forth:  What is one thing that you have learned in this class that will help you with evangelism?  This question gets to the core of why we labor to learn these things.  Why study Nihilism, Eastern Pantheistic Monism, Existentialism, Postmodernism, or Naturalism?  Why read confusing pages trying to explain various tenets of these worldviews? –so we can understand those who believe differently than we do and hopefully engage them with the gospel in an effective way.  Being better ambassadors, warriors, and witnesses of Christ, for God’s glory, is the goal.

I have learned much in this course; narrowing it down to only one thing is a tall order.  However, since I must, here it is:  I have learned, and have been reminded, that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who will repent and believe (Romans 1:16).  The power of persuasiveness is not my hope.  How well I understand Eastern religions or how philosophically astute I may be will not regenerate hearts.  What will save, what will call dead hearts to beat, is the gospel.  I have learned that the gospel is my confidence.  In the mire of sophisticated religious belief, I need to share the simple gospel!

I do not intend to say that what I learned is that these worldviews are so complex that we need not worry about thinking through them and just share the gospel.  Working through various worldviews and subjecting them to the seven questions of James Sire has opened my understanding to these other beliefs.  Understanding them better will help me know how to share the simple gospel message in a way that connects with others and challenges their presuppositions.  When I think through the pantheistic beliefs of an Eastern Pantheistic Monist, I am able to come into the conversation with some understanding of from where they are coming.  Understanding the worldview of an Existentialist helps me navigate a conversation with him or her.  As I comprehend the worldview of the other person, I can sympathize with, challenge, and engage him or her with the gospel in the best way for that specific situation.

As I do this, I must remember that no matter how difficult and how complex their worldview, the goal is that they consider the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation.  1 Peter 1:23 reminds us that we are “born not of perishable seed but of imperishable, by the living and abiding word of God.”  It is the word though which the Spirit works to call dead men to life.  Therefore my goal is to allow God to work through the gospel. 

How liberating this is!  When we encounter a man who is convinced of his naturalism, we are reminded that we are not responsible for changing his mind but for engaging his mind and heart with the gospel so that God can work that change.  I do not need to fear walking into a situation where I will be made a fool—that is guaranteed!  We preach a message that is folly to the perishing man (1 Corinthians 1:18).  When our confidence is in the word of God, the gospel of Christ, we will not be as burdened to have the best arguments or most profound philosophical propositions with which to engage the hearer.  We will be concerned with weaving the gospel message into our conversation, trusting that God will do His work (Isaiah 55:11).

I have learned much this semester as we have evaluated various worldviews.  I have come to understand, to a small degree, the minds of millions who believe differently than I do.  Nevertheless, the most fundamental thing I learned was an old truth, one that Paul articulated long ago: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).

Lord, help me never to forget.

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