A Biblical Worldview in a Darkening Era

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A Biblical Worldview in a Darkening Era

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In October the U.S. House of Representatives elected Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) as its new Speaker of the House. He immediately came under fire for his stance on some of the most controversial issues of the day. His time defending the traditional teaching and sanctity of marriage was unearthed. His opposition to gay marriage and homosexuality was also cited.

Speaker Johnson responded with a statement that should challenge all of us. “I also genuinely love all people regardless of their lifestyle choices. This is not about the people themselves. I am a Bible-believing Christian,” he declared. “Someone asked me today in the media . . . ‘What does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?’ I said, ‘Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it—that’s my worldview.’ That’s what I believe, and so I make no apologies for it.”

What a brave, candid and refreshing declaration to hear from a leading American politician. His view of culture, politics and “any issue” is influenced by his reading of the Bible. Howls of protest came from those who fear anyone quoting the Bible.

Today’s rapidly changing values, morals and cultural beliefs are creating a new era. Gone are the traditional teachings of marriage as a biblical institution between a man and a woman. The arc of popular culture seeks to dismantle and overturn the natural order of the sexes. Language is being used to redefine right and wrong, good and evil. You could pay a steep price for holding to what you’ve always believed.

So, just what is your worldview? Is it based on absolute truth? As world events spiral into increasingly perilous times, you need the right filter to effectively understand what is happening and why. You need a biblical worldview.

Elements of a worldview

People develop a worldview at a young age. Religious pollster and market researcher George Barna writes about teaching values: “By the age of thirteen, most people’s worldview is so deeply formed that it rarely endures significant change . . . A person’s worldview starts developing in the fifteen-month to eighteen-month age range and is largely in place by the age of thirteen. That’s the prime window of opportunity for discipleship” (Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Spirit, 2023, p. 18).

What shapes a worldview? Parents, ethnicity, nationality, religion, education, peers and popular culture are among the main factors. I grew up in a middle-class American home. My parents were Caucasian with roots in the deep South. Both had their lives formed by the Great Depression and World War II. That affected my young world along with my mother’s deep religious faith. How I viewed other people, social issues, my potential future and even sports was shaped very early. This is repeated across the world and shapes the major nations, regions, races and religious movements. History and events at any point in time are shaped by people with strong prejudices, ambitions, fears and hopes.

A class I teach called World News and Prophecy includes an orientation on what a worldview is. In it I’ve used a standard work by the late InterVarsity Press (IVP) editor James Sire titled The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. It offers a succinct definition: “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being” (2020, p. 20).

Helping us to unpack this definition, Sire has shown eight questions a worldview answers:

1. What is prime reality? Is it God or a meaningless cosmos?

2. What is the nature of external reality, the world around us? Is there design or random disorder?

3. What is a human being? Is he descended from lower life forms or a unique creation in the image of God?

4. What happens to a person at death? Heaven or hell, or something else?

5. Why is it possible to know anything at all? Is a conscious rationality by design or evolutionary development?

6. How do we know what is right and wrong? Is good a social construct or based on absolute truth?

7. What is the meaning of human history? Is there a divine purpose, or is it only insane human events and untold suffering?

8. What personal, life-orienting core commitments are consistent with this worldview?

Various faiths, religious traditions, philosophies and ideologies have attempted to answer these basic worldview questions. Most people go through life without even thinking about the concept. But as research shows, all of us form a worldview early in life, and without any effort or desire to change it we will carry it with us till we die.

That’s something you should think about. What if the way you view the world is wrong? If you question the existence of God, have you had that challenged? The reality of life points to design that points to a Supreme Being revealed in the Bible as God.

Does your worldview tell you that heaven awaits a good person at death and ever-burning hell awaits the unrepentant sinner? You might be surprised to find that the Bible presents neither outcome—and that even many who claim to have a biblical worldview really don’t. A truly biblical worldview is based on what the Bible actually teaches.

Consider how the biblical teaching of man’s having been created in the image of God as male and female holds the key to understanding how to view the great cultural and sexual upheaval we are seeing. Same-sex marriage, transgender matters and all aspects of the LGBTQ+ movement are clarified here.

If the massive propaganda push behind these changes has left you confused, then take a step back and investigate the Bible to see what it says. It doesn’t take a theologian to see that, according to the Bible, marriage is meant to be between a man and woman in a lifelong relationship of fidelity.

Marriage and family are to mirror, on a physical level, spiritual relationships in the God family—between God the Father, Christ the Son and all who are being made part of that family. Any behavior contrary to what Scripture presents is against the natural order and is sin. A biblical worldview recognizes the truth about this issue. It’s not merely a political or social issue with no relevance to our relationship with God. It concerns our having been created in God’s image to share in His glory.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict in perspective

Since the terror attack by Hamas militants against Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, we again have this major world crisis in the headlines. More than any past war between Israel and its Arab foes or any other flare-up of terrorism, this present crisis has deepened the divide between those who support the Jewish state of Israel and those who sympathize with the Palestinians. Street protests are bigger and more violent. Emboldened by the support of governments, academia, media and even law enforcement authorities, supporters of Hamas have stepped up protests.

Calls for ongoing Israeli ceasefire before the elimination of the Hamas threat have been consistent and strong. The United Nations, no supporter of Israel in recent years, has moved to end Israel’s attacks on Gaza. More sympathy for the Palestinians’ cause seems to be the norm in this war.

Here at Beyond Today we have consistently presented the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and surrounding Arab nations in the context of the biblical story of God’s promises to Abraham’s descendants. The Jewish claim to the land flows from God’s ownership of the land. God promised it to Abraham’s descendants through Isaac and Jacob—the Israelites, including the Jews—with the stipulation they obey His laws, commandments and statutes. They failed.

History records three distinct episodes where the people of Israel and Judah sinned grievously and were removed by God from the land. The recent history of the state of Israel from 1948 is but the latest chapter of times of restoration to the land. It’s an important one because key end-time prophecies tell us there must be a Jewish/Israelite presence here. Sacrifices will again be performed at a restored temple area, signaling Christ’s coming is near.

The Jews are in their land because of God’s purpose and plan, not some innate superiority. They hold the land by God’s design to advance His plan of salvation for all peoples, including the Arabs! This is the biblical lens through which to view the current war and the whole story of the state of Israel. It’s far more than a political dispute born in modern times between Jewish emigrants from Europe and other lands to the Holy Land and their displacement of the Arab people, who only in recent decades took on the name of Palestinians.

It’s about God and His plan, as revealed in Scripture. That’s the needed perspective for understanding the Middle East struggle and world news in general. Indeed, a biblical worldview can open new vistas of understanding—including the fact that the best possible solution is coming.

A basis for hope amid the gloom

A true biblical worldview offers hope for the future rather than fear and uncertainty. A biblical worldview is a blueprint for a productive and successful life today of freedom, productivity and contentment. Any other worldview falls far short.

In 1947, soon after the nuclear arms race between America and the Soviet Union commenced at the end of World War II, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists first published its Doomsday Clock—an imaginary clock ticking away the minutes until nuclear devastation of civilization. Through the Cold War, the world lived under the cloud of fear of a nuclear winter and all life being erased from the earth.

Today, the Doomsday Clock is still with us. It was reset in January 2023 to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it’s ever been to the hour of global catastrophe. And the Bulletin recently said it would be reset again in late January 2024, noting:

“The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board is reviewing multiple global threats, including the Israel-Hamas war, Ukraine-Russia war, the continued climate crisis, AI, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, disruptive technologies, biothreats, and the intensification of nuclear weapons programs worldwide.”

Imagine that framework as your only worldview. Frightening, isn’t it? A purely secular worldview offers only a cold, bleak future. A worldview based on false religious or philosophical ideas cannot bring true solace and peace of mind.

But a biblical worldview based on the truth of the Bible offers hope. Jesus Christ faced down this false worldview when He said of the times of trouble ahead: “It will be a time of great distress, such as there has never been before since the beginning of the world, and will never be again. If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; but for the sake of God’s chosen it will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21-22, Re-vised English Bible).

The earth will not be destroyed by nuclear war or human-induced climate change. AI will not seize control of human destiny and create a machine-ruled world. Yes, there will be a time of trouble unlike any since the world began. But a true biblical worldview shows that Jesus Christ intervenes at the critical moment. He will bring a new order to the world and restore the right spiritual focus and direction the world has been missing.

Scripture proclaims these words of the apostle Peter: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).

Examine your cherished beliefs and views of world events, religion and where you fit in the world. The apostle Paul upended the worldview of the Athenian elite by revealing to them “the unknown God” (Acts 17:22-23). He said, “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (verse 28).

This is the one worldview that counts!