Christian worldview vs. the Gospel of Jesus Christ

One of my main concerns with the whole concept of “Christian worldview” (which has become quite a trendy thing in the past few years) is that it seems to imply that Christians by default have a different (i.e., better) understanding of the world and reality and that out of that understanding flows a superior ethical framework by which we can make ethical decisions, knowing what is right and wrong, doing the right and declaring to others when they are, and when they are not.

This troubles me because there is an underlying self-assuredness (one might well call it arrogance) that I find at odds with the sort of life I see Jesus calling his followers to in the Gospels, the sort of life lived out in Acts and the rest of the NT. What I see there is always more of a limited understanding and a dependence on obedience to the command of God, the leading of the Holy Spirit, to know what is right to do. More than once in Acts, Paul tries to go in one direction, but the Spirit sends him in a different direction. The sermons in Acts focus almost exclusively on the basic story of Jesus. The epistles give us more teaching content, but most of them deal with specific issues relating to their initial audiences. We can glean truths from them, but we have to be careful doing that outside their context. For example, Paul sends Onesimus back to be a slave under Philemon. Paul tells Philemon to receive him back in love, but he still sends him back. We could easily read this as Paul approving slavery (this IS how this was read in the antebellum South), but that is making more of it than Paul likely intended, and a bad distortion of the overall way Jesus established.

Don’t get me wrong, I am firmly committed to the foundational teachings of the Christian faith (e.g., those laid out in the Apostles’ Creed). But we affirm belief in those long before we understand what they mean. Believing itself is an act of obedience, a trust in the Spirit of Jesus to lead us into all truth. But how can the Spirit lead us into truth if our worldview already has it all figured out? How can we walk as disciples in obedience if our worldview enables us to make ethical decisions on our own? Do you notice how close this puts us to the original sin of Adam and Eve? To the extent that a “Christian worldview” lessens our dependence on the Holy Spirit to lead us into truth and teach us to walk in obedience, we should reject it as just another attempt to make ourselves gods, which is what all religion is. Which is sin. Which is why God hates religion.

The (in)famous rebuttal to this is that Christians are always supposed to be ready to give an account for the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3.15). Many Christians immediately take this to mean we need to have everything figured out, be able to explain it all, which is where the whole Christian worldview concept came from, just a nicer, more philosophically tame version of apologetics. But this gets it all wrong. Giving an account for our hope doesn’t mean explaining the whole story of the world. It means one thing. Telling them about Jesus. He is the reason we have hope. This brings us right back to Acts, where all they talk about the whole time is Jesus. What Jesus did while he was on earth. What Jesus did when he met Paul on the Damascus Road. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Our hope is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The opposite of all religions. Especially the Christian one.

One thought on “Christian worldview vs. the Gospel of Jesus Christ

  1. This one caught my eye; it’s something I teach on often. Christians also forget to see the Epistles through the lens that these writers believed that Jesus was coming back in their lifetimes. IMO Christians spend too much time trying to shape the culture instead of the kingdom, this has only led to a “mean spirited” type of Christianity that takes our focus off our primary mission to love our neighbors. As you point out, we lose our focus on one person, Jesus, and when we do this we miss the point for why we are placed in our particular culture; we don’t “wage war” with the people in the culture, we love them because Christ loves them.

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