What's Your Weltanschauung?

Everyone has a weltanschauung, though it often goes unnoticed. No two are identical. They are impossible to remove and difficult to rearrange. And they easily gather dust.

The term was used by the Germans to describe one’s perspective on life, the medley of beliefs which influence how we see the world. Weltanschauung literally means, "worldview." It is the big picture, the lens we look through, the grid through which our life experiences are sifted.

It's generally agreed that a person's worldview addresses three basic questions:

    where did we come from? (and why are we here?)

    what is wrong with the world?

    how can we fix it?
Obviously then, people have different worldviews. Some would say we're the result of random mutations and other natural processes, others would say superior life-forms have placed us here and oversee our evolution, and still others would put forth that God has created us and left us to work out our own predicament. The point is that, one's worldview profoundly influences how they see the world around them.

One worldview primer illustrates it this way:

An apple sitting on a table is seen by several people. A botanist looking at the apple sees an "angiospermous pome" and classifies it. An artist sees a still-life and draws it. A grocer sees an asset and inventories it. A child sees lunch and eats it. How we look at any situation is influenced by how we look at the world at large.

Many have undertaken to outline the "Christian worldview." No doubt, the Bible presents a very specific view of the world -- a view which clearly addresses each of those three questions: 1.)We are created by God, to love and enjoy Him 2.)We have fallen from God and thrown the world out of whack, 3.)We must turn from our sin and be reunited with our Creator. Yes, that's simplistic; there are many more details and specifics. But that's the Christian worldview in a nutshell.

After visiting Worldview Weekend, and taking their free online worldview test, I'm starting to wonder whether some Christians haven't co-opted the worldview concept to serve their own purposes. The test makes 85 statements, for which you can offer five responses, from No Opinion to Strongly Agree or Disagree. Your answers are evaluated and you're placed in one of the 8 worldview categories: Strong Biblical Worldview Thinker, Moderate Biblical Worldview Thinker, Secular Humanist Worldview Thinker, Socialist Worldview Thinker or Communist / Marxist / Socialist / Secular Humanist Worldview Thinker (whew!). Luckily, I was found to be a Strong Biblical Worldview Thinker. However, I did not print out the certificate as proof, so you'll just have to take my word on it.

However, I was startled by some of the statements and wondered how in the world they related to a Christian worldview. For instance:

    George W. Bush is the President of the United States of America.

    All forms of government-sponsored socialism stifle economic growth and prosperity to one degree or another.

    The wording "separation of church and state" is found in the U.S. Constitution.

    There is no evidence for a world-wide flood.

    The federal government should require students to pass a national test before graduating from high school.
Of course, the test includes the necessary questions about God, Christ, Satan and the Bible. But what does my opinion about a national test for graduation have to do with a Christian worldview? Or whether or not George Bush is President? The world-wide flood question is loaded because some Christians believe in a local, rather than global flood. These are peripherals and should not be included in a Christian worldview inventory.

You see, if you live with your worldview long enough, it starts gathering dust -- bits and pieces of your own opinions and preferences become spliced with non-negotiables of the faith. The fact is, having a Christan worldview does not guarantee anyone will go to heaven. After all, Satan has a Christian worldview. Just think about it. He believes in God (James 2:19), heaven and hell (why else would he be worried about taking so many with him?). Heck, he may even believe George W. Bush is the President of the United States.

A Christian worldview, like salvation, is not a formula, a series of boxes one can check to ensure peace of mind. Jesus warned that many who look saved, aren't, and some who don't, will be. Christians have many different perspectives, opinions and preferences. But to suggest that because people do not share the same political affiliations, social concerns and, to some degree, doctrinal convictions, they do not possess a Christian worldview, is absurd.

Your weltanschauung is important. And it's worth taking a good hard look at. But in the process, let's keep the dust off and the peripherals out of the equation.


Gina Holmes said...

Great post, Mike, though as you probably already know, some of it is impossible to read, 'cause the background left. As is always the case with you, I learned a new word--weltenshlagen (close enough).

Kelly Klepfer said...

Amen brother!

evandahlke said...

Where do you come up with these words,"Weltanschauung"? I think your 3 months of recovery is going to either propel you to another level of writing about words not common to the average Joe or decompose you to insanity! :)

mike duran said...

Evan, you're so subfusc and puerile. Grow up!