Worldview and Education

Worldview has often been described as a lens, a set of presuppositions, or a framework of beliefs. While related to theology, philosophy, politics and ideology, worldview is broader. It can be thought of as how we see things—the big picture. Note that worldview formation happens regardless of any intent or design. As a result, worldviews are susceptible to unintended impact and, if left unattended, can develop unevenly. Not only are worldviews often unintentionally formed even within the church, but not all worldviews formed in the church are even Christian or biblical. Living, Christianly or not, is guided by something which can be thought of as a lens or guide based on what Al Wolters has called “… the comprehensive framework of one’s basic beliefs about things.”[1] This framework is what we mean by worldview. Therefore, since worldviews will form regardless of intent or design, can form wrongly, and impact how a person thinks and lives, careful and purposeful worldview formation is critical in the church.

Since the Fall, man has experienced the realities of the curse, including a blurred understanding of the nature of man and God. However, the Christian is concerned with proper living, that is, conduct and thinking in alignment with the scripture. Yet, the Enlightenment and a shift from the necessity of reason to the sufficiency of reason brought a significant erosion of established early church theological answers to questions about those two natures. Elevating man’s position while degrading and weakening the commonly held view of God led to the crowning of man as the ultimate authority. This condition undoubtedly reflects our contemporary culture and all too often includes members of the church and those actively participating in Christian endeavors. On the other hand, Christian worldview functions as a comprehensive and holistic system of truth that applies to all of life. In its most robust form and application, it is the gospel. It is the Truth, not merely a collection of truths that only inform the inner or private realm. Worldview requires thoughtful consideration and careful cultivation, neither of which our current cultural context appreciates or affirms.

Yet with the inauguration of the Kingdom of God at the incarnation and signaled by the ascension, the church age has been marked by a tension often referred to as “living in the world and not of it.”[2] The Church and hence the individual Christian is left pondering how to faithfully live while navigating the realities of a post-fallen world. James Davison Hunter states, “To be Christian is to be obliged to engage the world, pursuing God’s restorative purposes over all of life, individual and corporate, personal, and private. This is the mandate of creation.”[3]

Believers should turn to the scriptures for remedy; they must form an accurate picture of the world’s brokenness and beauty from God’s revealed truth—a Christian worldview—to be able to act restoratively.

To this end, believers should turn to the scriptures for remedy; they must form an accurate picture of the world’s brokenness and beauty from God’s revealed truth—a Christian worldview—to be able to act restoratively. At its best, a worldview is intentionally constructed and is the business of education. Unfortunately, intentional construction is not always the case. Instead, these views are usually formed unconsciously and progressively. They are shaped by a wide range of inputs, often called culture, which can be defined as “a system of truth claims and moral obligations,” in other words, a normative order.[4] This “accidental” worldview formation seems to be increasing in a time marked by polarization, information overload, and a proliferation of what Neil Postman called “amusing ourselves to death.”[5] Because we live in the “already” and “not yet,” those cultural norms impacting our worldview are frequently marred and destructive. In his well-known book, Culture Making, Andy Crouch suggests that making sense of the world is a fundamental human endeavor and that, for the Christian, working toward a culture that distinctly reflects our image-bearing is the ultimate fulfillment of the Genesis mandate.[6]

The term biblical worldview has long been the bailiwick of Christian education. This is the case regardless of the educational forum–the pulpit, church discipleship programs, or the Christian day school. Worldview matters, particularly for the Christian, since part of what it means to be human is to possess a worldview, and the Christian is specifically interested in living consistently as a consequence of redemption. Thus a well-constructed worldview, biblically based and reflective of the gospel, is essential for the Christian. Fortunately, at least one place in our society exists that features both ample time and the specific design necessary for purposeful worldview formation—the schoolhouse. Therefore, the Church’s interest in Christian day school education aimed at intentional biblical worldview formation is essential.

[1] Albert Wolters, Creation Regained (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 2.

[2] John 12:31, 17:14-15; 1 John 5:19; Romans 12:1-2.

[3] James Davidson Hunter, To Change the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 4.

[4] Hunter, To Change the World, 33.

[5] Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death (New York: Penguin Press, 2010).

[6] Andy Crouch, Culture Making (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008).


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