By Beth Groh
You’ve seen me use the word “worldview” time and again if you’ve read any prior blog posts.
And, if you’re like me, you might sometimes wonder why understanding your worldview—or, more importantly, the worldview you’re helping instill in your children—really matters.
Isn’t it all, really, kind of “academic”? Something you might write about in a school essay?
Shame on me for ever doubting its importance—because understanding worldview issues helped reveal a serious spiritual battle facing a young mom I know.
Here’s how it all began.
I posted something on Facebook a few weeks ago about a paper my son brought home from school around Earth Day. The teacher handed out an EPA-produced cartoon sheet showing kids ways they could protect the environment—seemed rather benign at first.
This cartoon calendar offered specific earth-protecting suggestions for each month. And, for the month of February, the suggestion was to write a “love letter” to the earth. It even showed a cartoon example of what a child might write, “Dear Earth,” the cartoon began. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”
Call me old-fashioned, but I would rather someday (and I mean a long, l-o-n-g time from now) have my children write a love letter to a sweetheart, not the earth.
So I made a joke about this on Facebook. And I was stunned by one response.
This young mother of two thought it was a great idea and couldn’t understand why I would object.
My first instinct? Post a sharp rebuttal.
But I resisted.
Instead I sent a private message, probing her reasons for loving the idea and further explaining my concerns as a parent (saying the love letter idea came near—or crossed over—a line into encouraging a pagan earth worship).
Her next reply stunned me. She said that she could appreciate my view, since she knew I was a Christian. She said that she’s an atheist so it didn’t bother her at all.
Whoa. I didn’t see that coming.
Sometimes, when we learn about our friends or relatives’ views on social issues, political debates, spiritual matters or even parenting philosophies, we can have profound insights into their worldviews.
Those opinions give us insights into how our loved ones view the world. And that’s like having a powerful window into their souls. An example?
Let’s say you know someone who believes the earth is billions of years old. It was formed by chance. And the planet, including all living creatures (man, too), evolved over time by random mutations and natural processes.
In that person’s worldview, life is random…void of a Creator’s hand. Why would that person think that there would be a code of absolute “right” or “wrong”? Nature governs. And nature is neutral. Wouldn’t it seem logical, in that worldview, to believe that everyone is entitled to his or her own idea of morality or truth, even if such a thing as truth actually exists?
If nature governs—not a Creator God—then there’s not much need in that person’s worldview for faith in God.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying everyone who believes in a billions-of-years, nature-driven creation is void of a Christian faith. But I am suggesting that someone’s view on this core faith issue—and many others—can give insights into that person’s worldview.
Hot button issues provide worldview clues. And if you would like to explore this idea more, I would encourage you to study this chart from David Noebel's Summit Ministries suggested by my sister, Lisa Cherry, who has incorporated worldview discernment in her children’s homeschool curriculum.
This visual image helps you take an issue, such as economics, and see how people with differing worldviews tend to stand. While not foolproof, the chart offers a useful tool for assessing the mindset of others based on their belief systems.
Knowing someone’s worldview can help you become a more effective witness—because then you can truly understand the blinders they may have to the one true faith in Christ. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:4)
So what happened with my friend?
After I recovered from the shock of her revelation, I sent her a private message saying how much I appreciated her honestly sharing her faith (and, yes, even a faith in “nothing” is a faith in something).
I offered to be her sounding board on this important issue, encouraging her to test her beliefs with questions…if not for her own sake, then for the sake of her children whom she adores. I told her my hunch was that someone who professed a Christian faith may have hurt her, let her down or painted a picture of a “god” that was in no way reflective of the one true loving God who still cherishes her today. I admitted that sometimes the “god” I hear people describe is no one I would want to submit to or worship either.
So I offered truth about Jesus, my love and an open door. She hasn’t taken me up on that offer yet, but I’m encouraging her, supporting her and praying for her (and, my hunch is now that there are many others praying, too).