August 2021 – Not surprisingly, the focus of Billy Graham’s 1953 book Peace with God was the gospel – a simple explanation of salvation for people of that day. But what readers nearly 70 years later may find surprising is that near the end of that book the prescient evangelist devoted space to discussion of a key issue facing the church in our day – worldview.
The term worldview and discussion of related issues may seem like recent developments to many believers, but intellectual and spiritual struggles for the minds and hearts of people have gone on throughout history.
Paul alludes to the high stakes contest over what people believe: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, following the tradition of men, according to the rudiments of the world, and not in accordance with Christ” (Colossians 2:8, KJ21). The apostle to the Gentiles repeatedly showed his skill at taking into consideration the audience’s worldview in the course of his gospel presentations (e.g., Acts 14:15-17; Acts 17:22-31; II Cor. 4:1-6).
A good definition of worldview is found in James Sire’s book The Universe Next Door. Sire defines worldview as, “A set of assumptions (which may be true, partially true, or entirely false); which you hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently); about the basic makeup of the world.” Your worldview is what you believe about reality. Worldview is what you believe about where we came from and how we should live.
Wisdom that comes from acknowledging worldview
Thinking “worldview-ishly” enables Christians to live and minister with beneficial insight into our present (and future) culture. I am vividly reminded of this when reflecting on interactions with two godly men who each predicted future cultural trends with precision because of their understanding of the word worldview.
Nearly 20 years ago, Dr. James Dobson prophetically observed that the homosexual movement was less about “gay rights and equality,” and at its root was about silencing the gospel. Dobson insisted that defending “traditional morality” was really about fighting for the right to proclaim salvation in Jesus. Today, the “woke” culture threatens our right to free expression, and the speech most legally endangered is that of Christianity.
I am also reminded of a roundtable discussion in which I participated shortly after 9/11. As might be expected, much of the talk then was about Islam, the September 2001 attacks having put that worldview on front pages everywhere. Mention was also made of atheism, a worldview beginning another of its cyclical re-emergences at that time.
David Noebel, Ph.D., author of Understanding the Times, made an assertion I’m sure most of the other speakers privately thought was incorrect. But Dr. Noebel confidently stated that the worldview which would threaten America’s very survival in the 21st century would be ... socialism. He was right; he saw it coming.
Only recently was I made aware of a prophetic prediction by Dr. Donald Wildmon, founder of American Family Association. On page 1 of his October 1978 newsletter, he wrote, “The homosexuals are the strongest organization influencing television other than those in the industry itself. It is their purpose to make homosexuality seem acceptable, normal, healthy, even desired.” In great measure, the culture, Hollywood, corporate America, even the church ridiculed him.
All of the aforementioned leaders would be quick to say that all insights and wisdom they possessed came from the Lord. But knowledge of worldview gives us an accurate picture of tomorrow (based on what beliefs are becoming dominant in the culture).
Taking into consideration the implications of worldview can help you make sense of someone’s perspectives, priorities, and also cultural trends overall. Keeping informed on such things enables God’s people to live and minister all the more effectively.
Truth for a New Generation
Alex McFarland’s next Truth for a New Generation worldview conference will be October 15-17, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and will feature keynote speakers Sandy Rios, Frank Turek, and others. www.alexmcfarland.com