The Christian Worldview:

"What Is A Worldview?"

Part 1

1 Kings 18:20-39 So Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel. Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal's prophets are 450 men. Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God." And all the people said, "That is a good idea." So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it first for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it." Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, "O Baal, answer us." But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made. It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, "Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened." So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near to me." So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, "Israel shall be your name." So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed. Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, "Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood." And he said, "Do it a second time," and they did it a second time. And he said, "Do it a third time," and they did it a third time. The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water. At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again." Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God."


Last week Joyce and I went to the movie, The End of the Spear, that one of our elders encouraged all of us to see. There are many memorable statements in the movie as it draws a distinct contrast between a very primitive, violent people and what you and I would consider to be very civilized people. Some of those statements were shared with us on a recent Wednesday night.

What I want to share with you is not a statement, but a situation. The movie reflects on at least three different ways to look at the world. (1) There is the view of the world held by the missionaries. (2) The view of the world held by civilized people who were not missionaries. (3) And there was the view of the world held by the primitive, violent people. All three views clashed with what most of us would consider horrible consequences.

(1) Because of their view of the world, the missionaries made an extraordinary effort to make contact with the primitive, violent people. (2) Because of their view of the world, the civilized people killed the primitive people in an attempt to produce self-protection. (3) Because of their view of the world, the primitive, violent people killed everyone--including their own people--because they were convinced the way to be strong after death was to kill people in this life.

(1) The missionaries' view of the world was huge including not only this physical earth but another world that exists after death. (2) The civilized people's view of the world was limited primarily to what was good for the Amazon basin. (3) The primitive, violent people's view of the world was limited to existence in the rain forest.

(1) The missionaries view of the world declared there was more to life than physical survival. (2) The civilized people's view of the world was basically restricted to physical survival. (3) The primitive, violent people's view of the world was becoming strong enough to "jump the great boa" when they were killed.

About two years ago the elders announced five goals for us to adopt as a congregation. The fifth of those five goals was this: "To proclaim a biblical worldview that is obedient to Christ."

This evening I want to ask and seek to answer the question: "What is a worldview?" All of us have one. Likely most of us do not even recognize it. How would you answer the question, "What is your worldview?" Some of us might even declare we do not have a worldview because we do not know what it is. Yet, whether we know what it is or not, we all have one.

  1. What is a "worldview"?
    1. Basically a worldview is the way a person explains physical life and explains physical death.
      1. The understanding produced by the person's worldview affects everything we do, everything we are, and every goal we personally have.
      2. All these things are powerfully influenced by our personal worldview:
        1. How should parents raise their children?
        2. At what age should a person stop being considered a child and start being considered an adult? Is this decision behavior based or age based?
        3. As an adult, do you have the "right" to defy authority and the "right" to violate law?
        4. What is the purpose of marriage?
        5. What is the purpose of divorce?
        6. Why do we work?
        7. Why should people help people?
        8. What people should receive help?
      3. Attitudes toward intoxication, attitudes toward pleasure, attitudes toward every aspect of sexual activity, value systems, basic definitions of right and wrong, and the basic concept of truthfulness are all determined by an individual on the basis of his or her worldview.
    2. Let me give you some examples of the worldview of a person and its power.
      1. In the early 70s Joyce, our children, and I lived for four years in a West African country.
        1. Where we lived, it was rude to greet a person through a screen door.
          1. We lived four degrees from the equator just above sea level, so it was hot all the time.
          2. All our windows were open all the time.
          3. Our door was open all day long.
          4. Most of the hours of the day, you could see into or through our house.
          5. Yet, if anyone walked up on our porch and we did not open the screen door and shake his/her hand, we were insultingly rude.
        2. We were supposed to greet everyone we saw by asking, "You de well for skin?" or, "Are you healthy today?"
          1. Even before you started preaching, you asked the congregation that question and they answered aloud.
          2. Once while we were at a night meeting of the missionaries, my office was robbed.
          3. The thief or thieves went through tripple locks to the exact file in which I had some cash to use to help an arriving missionary family.
          4. The next morning in great concern I went to the police station as soon as it opened to report the robbery.
          5. The police were very upset with me and threatened to arrest me.
          6. The primary problem: I forgot to greet them properly and therefore I was rude to them.
          7. Worldviews were clashing: I was concerned about the robbery; they were concerned about respect.
      2. Let me give you an illustration from Russia in the early 1990s.
        1. I have a huge pet peeve personally about being late to an appointment--and if we are not thirty minutes early, we are late--ask Joyce!
        2. An institute in Kaliningrad invited me to come talk to their English students.
          1. I could speak about anything I wished, including religion, as long as I did not "evangelize and proselyze" in my speaking.
          2. I had to speak in English--a translator would be provided to be sure the students understood me, but I had to speak in English.
        3. On one occasion, we were very late to speak to the students, and it was obvious to me that we would be at least thirty minutes late.
          1. My professor host said, "Do not worry! It is okay! They are students. It is their job to wait."
          2. "They will be there when you come;" and they were.
          3. Contrast that with a student who told her professor at registration at the University of Mississippi that she would not be attending his morning class because "I am not a morning person."
        4. See the pronounced difference in worldviews and the way in which worldviews affected behavior?
          1. One said, "I am owed no consideration."
          2. One said, "In my world, the most important thing is me."
      3. You do not have to travel outside Fort Smith to see the effects of different worldviews.
        1. How many of you parents have children who use words and concepts in their vocabulary you cannot even define?
        2. How many different concepts of work ethic exist in this community?
        3. How many different concepts of leadership exist in this congregation?
        4. If two people of radically different backgrounds marry right here in Fort Smith, what is likely to happen?

  2. A difference in worldview is obvious many times in the Bible.
    1. Consider the reading heard earlier.
      [Briefly tell the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel.]
    2. Consider the difference between Elijah's and the prophets' of Baal concept of deity.
      1. The prophets of Baal thought there were many god who lived as families; Elijah declared there was one God.
      2. The prophets of Baal thought it was acceptable to worship all gods; Elijah declared it was acceptable to worship only the one God.
      3. The prophets of Baal thought the gods were far away; Elijah knew God was near.
      4. The prophets of Baal thought you had to get an unconcerned diety's attention; Elijah knew God was near.
      5. The prophets of Baal thought the gods were basically unconcerned about human affairs; Elijah knew God always was concerned about human affairs.
    3. Please note the behavior of both was determined by how they looked at things.
      1. Their worldview determined how they acted.
      2. Their worldview determined what they did.

Your worldview is a significant factor in your choices. If you are going to change how you live, you need to start by changing the way you look at the world.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 5 February 2006

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