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  • Writer's pictureFraser Buchan

Comparing Worldviews



Table of Contents Introduction......................................................................................................................................... 1. God…….…………….…...……...................................................................................................... 1.1. The biblical worldview key truths about God........................................................................... 1.2. The Atheist’s view of God………............................................................................................... 2. Creation…………….…………………........................................................................................... 2.1. The biblical worldview key truths about creation………......................................................... 2.2. The Pantheist’s view of creation………..................................................................................... 3. Man……………………………………........................................................................................... 3.1. The biblical worldview key truths about man........................................................................... 3.2. The Atheist’s view of man………............................................................................................... 4. Sin…………………...…………………………............................................................................... 4.1. The biblical worldview key truths about sin.............................................................................. 4.2. The African Traditionalist’s view of sin………........................................................................... Conclusion........................................................................................................................................... Works Cited.........................................................................................................................................



Introduction


Developing an unshakable biblical worldview is imperative for the disciple of Christ since it will ultimately define the way you view and live out reality (Smith 2012:4). There are multiple worldviews (vain philosophies) that are contending for the hearts of men (Col 2:8). However, for the Christian, the only worldview that matters is firmly rooted in the words of our Lord and Master, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn 14:6, NKJV).


In this essay, I will discuss and contrast a holistic biblical worldview on God, creation, man and sin with multiple other worldviews ranging from an Atheist’s view of God, a Pantheist’s view of creation to an African Traditionalist’s view of sin.


1. God

1.1. The biblical worldview key truths about God


Smith (2012:11) correctly asserts, “God himself lies at the heart of a Biblical worldview”. In fact, the conceptual notion of correctly understanding the “Doctrine of God” is at the very core of a disciple’s definition of ministry and philosophy vis-à-vis creation and life in general (Smith 2006a:2). It is extremely challenging for mankind to define God, which in turn is as equally challenging for God to make Himself known to us, since He is outside of our time frame of reference. The foundational starting point in knowing God’s will, person and attributes are revealed to His followers in the inspired and accurate instruction of the Bible (Barna 2003:46).


The opening words in Genesis 1:1 are both foundational and radical (Longman 2014:15). Observed in context they are definitive and life transforming. The primordial words “God created” have unleashed a plethora of soul-searching questions that have driven mankind for millennia. Firstly, the Christian’s holistic worldview rests on the biblical Doctrine of Creation (Smith 2006a:12). Secondly, it is imperative to understand that God created everything for His personal glory (Isa 43:7). God’s greatness can be known through His non-attributes. This is clearly seen in the “Trinity”. However, Jesus Christ is finally revealed to be the unique personal revelation of the Creator (Cowan 2014:3). The goodness of God is experienced through His three main moral attributes which are holiness, truth and love which stands in direct contrast to the atheist’s view of God (Smith 2006a:6).

1.2. The Atheist’s view of God


The most radical challenge to the Christian Doctrine of Creation is the atheist’s erroneous view of denying the reality of God (Kreeft 1993:3-4). The atheist’s worldview categorically rejects the notion of supernatural or transcendent beings. This diabolical worldview continues to shape and influence modern culture. It has also vehemently forged the framework for the secularization of postmodern society. Philosophical atheism has no foundational propensity for the determinant grounding of ultimate value (Smith 2012:27). The epitome of practical atheism is rooted in absolute self-centredness (p. 28). In the atheist’s estimation, there is categorically no end purpose for existence. Atheism therefore concludes there is no end goal or pinnacle of destiny. Everything is meaningless (Ecc 1:2).


Biehl (2017) correctly asserts, “To deny God’s existence makes significant claims about every aspect of reality.” This leads to the atheist’s assumption that everything is uncreated, accountable for its own beginning, direction, and ongoing survival. This inevitably leads to the belief system that there is no ultimate accountability, authority and basis for revealed absolute truth. The outworking of the atheist’s worldview is manifest in the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3:1-4. Scripture clearly teaches in the last days before the return of Christ, men will be “lovers of themselves”. The theory of “Atheistic Evolution” has systematically dismantled the fear of God and has morphed into a belief system of egotism, materialism and hedonism that denies its Creator (Smith 2012:74).


2. Creation

2.1. The biblical worldview key truths about creation


“God is the Creator” (Smith 2006a:12) is the defining factor in Christianity. In fact, scripture emphatically teaches that “Elohim” (The Trinity) were all involved in the creation of the heavens and the earth (Keathley 2013). This is later extrapolated through scriptural confirmation that Jesus and the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the Father created all existence (Gen 1:2; Col 1:15-17). Understanding this primal revelation has the potency to correctly shape the way the Christian views the world (Smith 2012:5). The Bible-centric Christian acknowledges that God created all things for His ultimate glory (Smith 2006a:14). A biblical worldview also acknowledges that man has been created in God’s image. Howbeit, man is created, fallen, sinful, remains significant and is in need of redemption through the finished work of Jesus Christ (Smith 2012:65-70).


Appropriating this biblical worldview has three major implications for the Christian, namely, God is sovereign over all creation and man is not master of his/her destiny (Smith 2006a:14). Secondly, God is the ultimate lawgiver, He determines definitive right and wrong. His laws are administered by cause-and-effect governing the lives of the faithful and disobedient respectively. Finally, God is the ultimate value and not creation itself. The purpose for creation is God’s own glory. Creation was designed to serve God. Embracing ultimate value is to live a Christ-centred life. A biblical worldview declares two more imperative principles regarding its Creator. Foremost, God preserves all of creation in the characteristic of His goodness and governs all of creation toward the fulfilment of His ultimate plan (redemption) through the Holy Spirit in contrast to the Pantheist’s view.


2.2. The Pantheist’s view of creation


The pantheistic worldview is rooted in the specious idea that “god” is an impersonal force (Eckman 2004:4). The pantheist presumes that he/she can learn to control, manipulate and use magic incantations (spiritual laws) to effectively use this impersonal force field or energy source to their own advantage. This is clearly evident and taught in the popular George Lucas movie franchise “Star Wars” (Geisler 1987:9). Pantheism, eastern religions and New Age philosophy purports the notion that “evil” is an illusion which is not rooted in reality (Allen 2012). Cole states Pantheism is “the view that the creation is one with God, and the New Age movement, which worships the creation” (2013).


Nester (2006) asserts that a group of people following a Pantheistic worldview are a “Unity Society” and cannot be defined as a church. He defines Pantheism as an idea that God is everything and everything is God. This leads to the false impression every individual is god and has the god-principle in himself. Essentially, God and creation are the same entity. The concept of sin, sickness and poverty are factual to the pantheist but in pragmatism, are dealt with through denial. Geisler correctly asserts that the pantheist’s view on God’s unknowability is self-destructive (Geisler 1976:7). The Pantheist view of Jesus is no different to any other man and is able to hypothetically become faultless but has yet to express individual divinity as man (Nester 2006).


3. Man

3.1. The biblical worldview key truths about man


Man is the pinnacle of God’s creation (Gen 1:26-27). This is firstly envisaged by acknowledging that we are created beings (Smith 2006:2). This establishes a pivotal doctrine in Christianity that mankind is not lord of their existence or destiny but is accountable to God for their actions (p. 3). This automatically proports the idea that man is totally dependant on God for his very sustenance. The erroneous notion that mankind is a biological accident is pugnacious to the Christian disposition on “creation” which substantiates the Christians’ claim that mankind is not the ultimate purpose of divine design. This understanding leads to the belief that the Christian lives in a “God-focused world” (Matt 6:33). Secondly, bearing God’s image endows man with five unique characteristics that make mankind similar to God, namely, reason, freedom, morality, self-awareness and spirituality (p. 4).


A biblical worldview acknowledges that mankind through the fall are now a blemished reflection of Adam and Eve before sin entered the world (Gen 3). Man is a tri-part being: body, soul and spirit (Smith 2006:5). The nature of man has been designed by God for us to function in this material world, relate to fellow human beings and have a relationship with God Himself (p. 6). However, our spirits are dead as a result of sin (p. 7). The Christian believes that sin or evil did not originate with God but Satan (pp. 8-9). Sin is defined as selfishness, independence and disobedience toward God which has instigated separation from Him (Isa 59:2; Eph 2:12). Litke (2004) rightly claims that the only remedy for man is to personally put his trust in Christ’s redeeming sacrifice for his individual sin.


3.2. The Atheist’s view of man


Alexandra Tolstoi stated, “The saddest word in all languages, which has brought the world to its present condition, is ‘atheism’” (admin@bible.org: 2009). Atheism is at the heart of all humanism, communism, and materialism which lead to belief systems viewing man as an animal (Smith 2006:3). The atheists’ view of “man” is in absolute contrast to the biblical worldview of man being created in God’s image. The love of self (egotism), money (materialism), and pleasure (hedonism) are the ultimate driving force of the atheist (Smith 2012:74).


To deny the existence of God has three major repercussions for the atheist view of man, namely, God, man and everything in the universe is an accident (Biehl 2017). Secondly, this leads to man interpreting knowledge, truth, and ultimate authority which arrogantly leads to the atheist’s vain attempt of explaining life’s origin, purpose, and meaning. Thirdly, the atheist’s view of man, elevates human opinion to be the highest moral authority, and according to the atheist’s worldview, human beings are at liberty to act as they see fit. This eventually leads to the glorification of man (Kreeft 1993:5). Ultimately, this subjects mankind to man-made restrictions which leads to sin.


4. Sin

4.1. The biblical worldview key truths about sin


Smith (2012:12) is theologically sound in stating, “Biblical Christians see human beings as infinite and eternal in value, yet sinful and helpless in nature”. The Doctrine of Sin teaches us that mankind is engaged in open rebellion toward God (Rom 3:23). The Bible is the only source which has the ability to correctly define sin (Smith 2006:10). The Bible unambiguously categorizes sin into two major categories, sins of commission and sins of omission (1 Jn 3:4; Jam 4:17). Due to the initial sin of our “Federal Head” Adam, every human being has been born with a sinful nature and stands legally guilty before God (Herrick 2004).


The four identifiable effects of sin have been truly devastating to man and creation (Smith 2006:11-12). First and foremost, man has been separated from an intimate relationship with God which has resulted in spiritual death. Secondly, through sin, man has been subjected to a curse. All of creation, including mankind are vulnerable to the inevitable tragedy of sickness, deterioration and demise. Thirdly, mankind after the fall, has inherited a fallen nature which renders us helpless to a built-in law of catastrophe and an innate weakness and tendency to sin. Mankind is now subject to a life-long battle against his mortal enemy–sin. The final deathblow constitutes that each individual be sentenced to death through sin. If personal sin has not been dealt with through the atonement of Jesus Christ, judgement will finalize separation from God which ultimately ends in eternal death (Rom 6:23). This stands in stark contrast to the African Traditionalist’s view of sin.


4.2. The African Traditionalist’s view of sin


There are many African stories attempting to define the source of sin (Light 2012:154). Through sin the African Traditional Religionist acknowledges that God has withdrawn Himself from man. There is a general consensus among African tribes that men have done wrong in God’s sight and have alienated themselves from His presence. This fall from grace has been expounded upon in many African folklores. However, the mutual thread in these stories is that man felt limited and controlled by a distant God. Ultimately, this separation is the cause for all mankind’s suffering (p. 155).


In ATR the community sets the ethical boundaries of what’s defined as sin and not the distant God of Christianity (Light 2012:155). The approach of ATR is that sin is not directed toward God but the community and especially the “Ancestors”. Sin is viewed as a breaking down of the complex structure of the group relationship, which includes the “Ancestors”. Therefore, sin is viewed as collective and anthropocentric. Therefore, an African does not sin against God but the community and ancestral spirits. ATR mirrors the moral law of the ten commandments toward man, however, not those toward God. The spirit of “Ubuntu” embraces most of the values, morals and ethics that are found within Christianity (p. 156). The ATR keeps the second tablet of the commandments but breaks the first tablet regarding God Himself which is the very source of all evil in society (p. 157). An individual’s sins are viewed as perpetrated against the community/ancestors and therefore are not directed against a distant God (p. 157). The answer to ATR is the revelation of Jesus (Acts 17:30).


Conclusion


It is vitally imperative that the disciple of Jesus Christ develop a worldview that is structured on the fundamental truths of the Bible. Knowing God’s will, person and attributes are the building blocks to a successful walk with God. The goodness of God is visible in His foundational work of creation. In essence, this declares God’s primordial thought–His glory. This ultimate truth establishes man playing a significant role in God’s plan for the universe. However, there is a diabolical onslaught of contrasting worldviews that are competing for the hearts of men. Regardless of erroneous and false perspectives, the redemption of God through Jesus Christ remains the one reliable worldview.



Works Cited


Allen M 2012. The Problem Of Evil. Accessed 06/07/2021


Barna G 2003. Think Like Jesus. Brentwood: Integrity Publishers.


Biehl C 2017. 2. The Sweeping Claims Of The Atheist. Bible.org. Accessed 06/07/2021 from


Cole S 2013. Lesson 3: The God Of Creation (Genesis 1:2-25). Bible.org. Accessed from


Cowan SB 2014. The Christian Worldview. Accessed from 11/09/2016


Eckman JP 2004. The Truth about Worldviews: A Biblical Understanding of Worldview

Alternatives. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


Geisler NL 1976. Christian apologetics. Includes index. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.


Geisler NL 1987. The New Age Movement. Bibliotecha Sacra 144(573): 79-102.


Herrick G 2004. 5. Anthropology & Hamartiology: Man and Sin. Bible.org. Accessed


Keathley JH 2013. Overview of the Names of God in Scripture. Bible.org. Accessed


Kreeft P 1993. Does God exist: the debate between theists and atheists. New York:

Prometheus Books.


Light VE 2012. TRANSFORMING THE CHURCH IN AFRICA. A new contextually-relevant

discipleship model. Johannesburg: SATS Press.


Litke S 2004. 7. Survey of Bible Doctrine: Man and Sin. Bible.org. Accessed 10/07/2021 from


Longman T 2014. Old Testament Essentials: Creation, Conquest, Exile and Return. Downers

Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press


Nester E 2006. 48. New Age and the Unity Society. Bible.org. Accessed 06/07/2021 from


New King James Version. 1982. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson


Smith KG 2006. From Sinner to Saint. Johannesburg: SATS Press


Smith KG 2006a. One God, Three Persons. Johannesburg: SATS Press.


Smith KG 2012. Biblical Worldview’. Johannesburg: SATS Press.


Tolstoi A 2009. “The saddest word in all languages, which has brought the world to its

present condition, is ‘atheism’”. Bible.org. Accessed 10/07/2021 from





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