Christians have been hit with disturbing news over the past few years. We have realized that our culture is “post-Christian.” “In general Western culture is deeply post-Christian,” says Dr. William Lane Craig. Any observer would have to agree that, in its expressions of music, movies, television, or the written word, Western culture does not even pay lip service to a Christian perspective on issues of importance. Also, the past few years have seen the rise of “Nones,” people who are unaffiliated with any religion. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, 22.8 percent of Americans describe themselves as unaffiliated. “Young people today are not only more religiously unaffiliated than their elders; they are also more religiously unaffiliated that previous generations of young people ever have been as far back as we can tell,” said Greg Smith, a senior Pew researcher.
How do we influence the culture and communicate with those who are unaffiliated? Common ground seems to be a good starting place. While we do not share a religious perspective with the culture and the unaffiliated, the common ground or starting place is that we all possess a worldview, a conceptual framework through which we view reality. The concept of worldview is the key for communication and influence. However, the concept of religion is often seen as a “communication stopper.”
Therefore, in our dealings with the culture and the unaffiliated and in the church, Christians should use “worldview” instead of “religion.”
Let me give you several reasons why we should use “worldview.”
First, using “worldview” puts all worldviews on an even descriptive footing. Every worldview answers four question: origins, meaning, morality, and destiny. Using worldview and the worldview questions drives each worldview to explain itself using the same terms. For example, the Christian worldview describes morality as objective and coming from an objective moral Lawgiver. The atheistic worldview describes morality as subjective and coming from society, personal opinion, or an evolutionary process.
Second, using “worldview” allows us to use the same evaluative tools. The tests of logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance all show that Christianity is a coherent worldview. Those tests also show the flaws in competing worldviews. Christians need to learn to evaluate worldviews using those tests to see that the Christian faith passes these tests.
Finally, using “worldview” works against compartmentalization. A very real problem for Christianity is the division in some Christian’s minds between what happens on Sunday at church and the rest of the week. Dealing with Christianity as a worldview works to integrate the worship service and the Bible study class with the work week and applies the Bible study with the Christian’s life outside the church and the culture in which he finds himself.
By using “worldview” instead of “religion,” are we making all worldviews equal? The answer must be no. Ravi Zacharias reminds us that there is a common belief that world religions are fundamentally the same and superficially different. However, Zacharias continues, the religions of the world are, in reality, superficially the same and fundamentally different. The differences appear in their worldview application. Examining worldviews without the accompanying rituals inherent in religious practices would allow Christians to see those differences and strengthen the foundation of Christian belief and commitment to their faith. People that are committed to their faith are more likely to communicate that commitment to others.
A strong faith seeks understanding. A faith that seeks to influence the culture understands that that faith is superior to other alternatives. The way to give Christians understanding that our faith is coherent and corresponds to reality is to examine alternatives. The way to examine alternatives is to examine and communicate with others about those alternatives on common ground.
That common ground is an examination of Christianity and the alternatives as worldviews instead of religions.