A Look at Christian Worldview
Though I had intended to take an English class, I ended up taking the Christian Worldview class with Dr. Anderson this January term. Regardless of how I ended up in the class, I am glad that I was placed in the class (it certainly helped that I was with many friends). The class is a brief–almost too brief–survey of worldviews and covers what worldviews are, how they impact us, how we test worldviews, what a Christian worldview holds, and the elements of several contemporary, competing worldviews.
Coming into the class, I had heard of worldviews; but if you asked me what a worldview was, I would have danced around with some highfalutin jargon–and most likely gone into great detail about nothing–without ever defining it. Worldview, in its most elementary form, is how you see the world. It describes the things that you hold to be true about the world, whether or not you realize it, and how that impacts the way that you see the world, interpret experiences, and make decisions. It’s surprising that for something so important we spend so little time discussing it!
No matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you know, you hold a worldview. I hold a worldview. My friends hold worldviews. My family holds worldviews. Everyone has a worldview.
One of my favorite aspects of the course has been the discussions. Every day after reading the assigned chapter, we would come to class and Dr. Anderson would give us the opportunity to ask any burning questions regarding anything remotely related to the text. One day, we spent almost the entire class discussing the problem of evil and how to comfort someone who knows the grip of evil not from story nor from distance, but from personal experience. Another day, we discussed the tension in the church between unquestionably accepting tradition as an authority and entirely rejecting tradition as an authority. These discussions and more like it have forced me to re-evaluate many of the assumptions I had taken and step out of the box I had made for myself.
I also benefited from the plenary lectures that featured Dr. Goheen. In the course of five lectures over two days, he surveyed the importance of the gospel story and recognizing the influence of Western culture particularly on how we view the gospel. In one lecture, he discussed the work of two men: Lesslie Newbigin and Abraham Kuyper. In their time, both men noticed the trend of the church to lower its guard to the hostile influence of the Western culture around it and thereby lose sight of the grand story of the gospel.
Walking away from that lecture, I recognized the tendency in myself to lower my guard in the West. Growing up in Asia, I would easily keep my guard up and filter the things that I heard about God with what I knew of the Scriptures. Whenever I would return to the States, I would lower my guard, thinking that the churches here could definitely be trusted. Dr. Gohen showed me how foreign agents have crept into the church in every culture and how I must be grounded in the truth.
Finally, I appreciated worldview study because it helped me step out of my own skin and look through another worldview. So often I have seen people make mistakes and judged them as fools or wondered why on earth they would do that. “I would never do that,” I think, but then I remember that I am not them. They might be seeing the world entirely different from me. I may see a world with an end where God’s rule will reign forever, but they may see death as the end, period. Worldview study helped me see that I see the world much differently than many people, and it is unreasonable and certainly unkind to expect them to see the world as I do.
Worldview was a class worth taking, especially with Dr. Anderson. He is passionate about the material and makes the time fly with his easy-going teaching style. I learned practically, for there are few things more practical than learning to relate to others with greater humility and kindness. If you ever get the chance, take the worldview class. You won’t be disappointed.