If it wasn’t already clear during the November election and in the months since the inauguration, conservatives and liberals have some “irreconcilable differences” when it comes to their outlook on the world, especially when it comes to who God is, the inerrancy of the Bible, the definition of success and the meaning of life.
A new study from the American Culture & Faith Institute confirms these differences with a worldview survey released just last week.
As an example, I’d point to the findings of social science researcher George Barna, who several years ago, discovered that just half of Protestant ministers in the United States had a Christian worldview. Those with the highest percentage were Southern Baptists at 70 percent, and the lowest were Methodists at 20 percent.
Those awful statistics have now filtered down to the general culture. When the pulpit gives forth an uncertain sound, the people suffer. A separate study by the American Culture & Faith Institute recently found that seven out of 10 Americans call themselves Christians, but just one in 10 have a truly biblical worldview and are able to answer basic questions about the Bible and about Christian beliefs. The news is even worse for millennials—the future. Among millennials, just four percent were able to answer basic questions about Scripture and to articulate a biblical worldview.
Proverbs 29:18 tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish. But he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Today in America, far too often the pastors—the shepherds of God’s flock—are unable or unwilling to articulate a biblical worldview. And where there is no vision from the pulpit, the people perish.”
This begs the question: “What is a biblical or a Christian worldview?”
Here’s my answer from a recent installment of my daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive”:
“A Christian worldview is a view that understands the world through the filter of the truths that are revealed to us in Holy Scripture, for instance, that some things are always right and some things are always wrong, that there is a spiritual world, that we are not just material beings, and that human beings are the special creation of God. Thus, every human being is of incalculable value. We are not ‘merely specks of dust blown on the wind of fate,’ as Bertrand Russell once proclaimed that we are. Life has meaning. Life has purpose, and human beings have value. Human life is sacred.”
Harry Blamires, one of C.S. Lewis’ pupils, describes a Christian worldview this way: “A mind trained, informed, equipped to handle data of secular controversy within a framework of reference which is constructed of Christian presuppositions.”
What are those presuppositions? The supernatural—all things are related to man’s eternal soul. And everything stands or falls on an eternal perspective no matter how trivial the issue. Eternality gives it a different and a new perspective. Also, I believe in evil, that we do not live in a morally neutral world. We live in a world that is rampant with evil activity. Human beings are not neutral. The environment in which we live is not neutral, but is contaminated by evil and by sin. Modern secularism asserts that the opinionated self is the only judge of truth. Christianity imposes divine revelation. Some things are always right. Some things are always wrong. As Blamires puts it, “A Christian worldview has an overriding sense that the truth it clings to is supernaturally grounded, revealed, not manufactured, imposed, not chosen, authoritative, objective, and irresistible.”
Dr. Richard Land is president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and former president (1988-2013) of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention’s official entity assigned to address social, moral and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families. He has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor for several seminaries and has authored or edited more than 15 books.