Here’s the funny thing about worldview: Everybody has one, but it’s not the one they say they have.
Mark Driscoll reminded me of this in “Radical Reformission”, saying that people usually act in contradiction to the worldview they profess.
This fact is at the heart of how we as Christians use worldview as a tool for evangelism. This fact is also at he heart of how we as Christian mis-use worldview as a tool for evangelism. Let me explain.
Coming to understand worldview was a very exciting time for me as a Christian. My first exposures to David Wells, Don Carson, and Frances Schaeffer were unforgettable. I absolutely cherish the increase in wisdom I gleaned from reading these men. They helped me see that Christianity is reasonable and coherent, and that the unbeliever’s unbelief and sin is exposed by the incoherence of their worldview. As I would evangelize from time to time, I found myself analyzing the worldview of the person I was trying to share the gospel with, with particular respect to post-modernism. As I would discuss evangelism with other believers, my emphasis typically gravitated toward unraveling worldview.
Most of this is good. It involves listening and interaction with the people we evangelize. And yet I can’t help but think that most of the time, I’ve made things too complicated. It’s not that I’ve been lecturing people about their worldview, wagging my finger at them about their epistemological dilemmas. It’s more that I was spending too much time trying to move them out of their worldview and into mine, when most of the time they were already there.
I mean to say that when the discussion is philosophical, post-modernism is the flavor of the day, but when we’re walking down the street, we’re all good, old-fashioned pre-moderns at heart. Pre-modernism held that truth could be known, that God (or gods, or at least the supernatural) existed, and they revealed truth to us for which we were accountable.
We are all pre-modern when we look for meaning in our life, when we demand justice, when we help little old ladies across the street, when we expect others to correctly understand what we say, and even when we grab a coat because it’s cold outside.
Truth is like gravity. I literally holds the moral universe together. We can all deny that it exists, but that only makes us out to be fools. We assume truth just like we assume gravity, And in the end we’re all grateful that our feet are planted firmly on the ground.
The practical results of denying truth would be like removing gravity from the universe. Imagine our feet leaving the ground. Imagine the atmosphere dissolving into space. Imagine planets leaving their orbits around the sun and dying. Imagine the universe itself dissipating. Nobody wants to live in that universe.
Now imagine someone coming to your door to take what’s your because they want it and they’re stronger that you. Imagine having no grounds for objection. Nobody wants to live in that world. Nobody does…yet.
So we see that people are not willing to live with any worldview other than the pre-modern, Christian, Biblical worldview. They only depart from it as long as it serves them. While it eases their guilt and permits their sin they’ll say that anything goes. When their own pursuits are obstructed, their true colors are revealed. And even while they deny the Biblical worlview, they assume it.
In the course of evangelism, I think it’s important to remember that it is the gospel that saves people. I certainly know and believe that, and yet I find myself trying to grease the wheels for the gospel by deconstructing their worldview first. Make no mistake: it is important to listen and understand where people are coming from. Worldview helps you figure that out in a hurry, just avoid the pitfalls of over-thinking and misuse.