The Oxford dictionary defines worldview as a person’s way of thinking about and understanding life, which depends on their beliefs and attitudes. A worldview influences how we look at everything in life, and how we think and act in all circumstances, though we may not even be aware of having a “worldview.”
There are basic questions which have an incredible influence over our lives depending on what we really believe the answers are. Questions like: What is real? Where did we come from? Are we here for a purpose? Does God exist? What is God like? What is right and wrong and how do we know the difference? What will happen to us after we die? A coherent and comprehensive worldview must answer most (if not all) of the above questions. Let us take a look at the Christian or Biblical worldview and compare it with the naturalistic materialism worldview which is gaining in popularity in today’s society.
The question of origins deals with how life came about. Christians believe that all things, visible and invisible, are created through God for His glory (Col 1:16), and are real (i.e. not imaginary). We believe that all humans, created in God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:27), have by their very existence an inherent value, worth, and distinction. This means that God is present in every person, regardless of their race, nationality, sex, culture, or economic standing. All Christians must see within every person both a reflection of God and a mirror of themselves, and must honour and respect this dignity as a divine gift (Gal 3:28). In contrast, naturalistic materialists believe that human beings evolved from other species (e.g. apes), so they have no more intrinsic value than any other species of life on earth. They also believe that those who contribute more to society economically are more valuable than those who contribute less.
The question of meanings deals with the question of why life came about. Christians believe that they are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for them to do (Eph 2:10). For Christians, the main purpose of life should be to glorify God. In the book of Isaiah (43:7), God said: “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” St. Paul told the Corinthians: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31) Jesus told the scribes that the most important commandment is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (…) Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12: 30-31) On the other hand, naturalistic materialists believe that there is no ultimate purpose to human life. People live and people die and it doesn’t matter what they do with their life. However, they believe that the person who dies with the most possessions wins, and wealth and fame will bring happiness.
The question of morality deals with questions of what is right and wrong and how we know the difference. Christians believe that the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:16-17). The anointing that we received from Christ remains in us, and we have no need for anyone to teach us what constitutes the truth. His anointing teaches us all things, it speaks the truth and does not lie to us; so we should remain in Him, and keep what He has taught us (1st John 2:27). John is saying that the truth comes from God through Jesus Christ who has taught us the truth, and that we should adhere to His teaching because it does not lie to us. Christians also believe the moral law or commandments given by God are established forever, and should be obeyed faithfully and with integrity (Psalm 111:8). On the contrary, naturalistic materialists believe that morality is determined by society and can be changed at any time to reflect current practices. They also believe that immoral behaviour can be justified to bring about a “greater good.” These beliefs are commonly known as moral relativism.
The question of destiny deals with the question of the ultimate destination of life. Christians believe that God will repay each person according to what they have done on judgement day. To those who persist in doing good, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Rom 2:5-8) Most Christians long to dwell in the house of the Lord forever when mortal life ceases (Psalm 23:6). Jesus told his disciples: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3) Conversely, naturalistic materialists believe that everything comes to an end when a person dies; there is nothing to look forward to beyond death.
Most of us have a worldview that is informed by many things other than our Christian faith. For example, by secularism, by a culture that is profoundly un-Christian or even anti-Christian. We need a Christian worldview if we are to live out the call Jesus made to us and become who God created us to be, which is to be truly human. In particular, this call embraces our personal vocation and our mission in and for the world. We cannot transform secular culture if we ourselves conform to the behaviour and customs of this world.
For many of us, there has been an obscuring of the fullness of the truth that is Christ (John 1:14). Unless we are strengthened by the sacraments given to us through the Church, we cannot be powerful witnesses in the world. There is no doctrine revealed that is not meant to come forth and be part of the Gospel message. We have a duty to live and spread the Word of God, and we can’t fulfil this duty unless we have a coherent and comprehensive worldview rooted in the Word of God. It is only by embracing a Christian worldview faithfully in our daily lives can we show others that the Kingdom of God is indeed in our midst (Luke 17:21).