Developing a Christian worldview is a topic that often comes up in Christian circles. A proper Christian worldview should give one the biblical lens to interpret the world and events around them. If the Bible gives Christians the full revelation of what they need to know to understand the world, there should be a universal Christian worldview to accurately interpret the world. I would argue, however, there is no such thing as an attainable, correct Christian worldview.
Having graduated from a Christian undergrad and currently attending a Christian seminary, I have had many lessons focusing on developing a Christian Worldview. Whether it was their intention or not, I understood these lessons to say anyone could achieve the perfect worldview if they understood the Bible correctly.
This led me to believe if everyone simply understood the world in light of God, creation, the fall, sin, and redemption, then there would never be any disagreements or problems. After all, if everyone had the correct worldview and beliefs, they would all come to the same conclusions about every subject.
This may not have been the lesson my professors intended to teach, but it was the one I received and am going to assume I am not the only one to come to this conclusion. However, the idea of a Christian worldview came undone when I realized the extent to which my conservative Americanism had influenced the way I understood the world more than my understanding of the Bible. Even more, I learned my worldview has always determined my understanding of the Bible and not the other way around.
If I believe it is the Christian position to support the military, then I will read the Bible in a way that supports this idea. If I believe in Christian pacifism, then I will find support for that idea in the Bible. It will not matter if there are those with more knowledge and experience, I can always find another scholar, with credentials similar to those holding an opposite opinion, who agrees with me. Change for me does not come from a better understanding, but only after I first recognize the shortcomings of the worldview I already hold.
I came to realize my version of Christianity was derived from my Americanism, when I was forced to see Christianity as something that is not limited to America alone. When I was younger, I believed that America was God’s new promise land. After all, I had been taught America was founded as a place where Christianity could be practiced in peace and its formation was blessed by God. Even though there are many passages that speak about the kingdom of heaven and how followers of Jesus are aliens in their own land, this has always filtered through the lens that we do not have to be aliens, because we were in Christian America. Seeing yourself as an alien would only come about if Christianity was ever outlawed and we were forced to choose between our faith and our country, which would never happen.
I was not able to appreciate what it meant to be part of the kingdom of heaven, a kingdom with no boarders, until I chose to believe Christianity could exist outside of my own American context. For example, I was shocked to find out Korea sends out missionaries, just like the United States. In fact, most countries do. Until that point, I could not imagine a non-English speaking missionary. My white, American identity was the foundation for the way I viewed Christianity.
This underlining foundation was put into the clearest perspective when I realized how much people’s worldviews shape their religiously-driven political support. If most Christians are trying to live out a Christian worldview, why does their social context define their political opinions? In January 2019, 69% of white evangelicals supported President Trump, whereas only 12% black protestants supported the president. What causes the vast difference between the two sides? Does one have a better grasp on what a Christian worldview should look like?
When I was younger, I could not understand how a God-fearing person could have a differing political opinion than I did. I thought my leanings were derived from Christianity and my political leanings were biblically based. I was wrong. I only understood politics through the lens given to me by my social context.
That is not to say the Bible cannot change or inform a worldview, but for me, the worldview comes first. It defines my understanding of God and the world. This is why I believe there is no such thing as a Christian worldview. People do honestly try to shape their worldview through a biblical understanding, but the foundations to our worldviews come from our social and societal context. Like all of us, I was born into a society that gave me my worldviews and am limited by my personal experiences.
Knowing this should help guide me towards an understanding for the humility required to live in this world. I do not have the perfect view of any situation and to think I do would be wrong. Being open to listening to others’ views and experiences is the only way I can hope to develop a more well-rounded worldview.
I will never see the world from someone else’s eyes. I cannot live someone else’s experience. However, if I am willing to accept the limitations of my own lens, I can learn from the experiences of others. I can try to see the world in the same way they do. I can realize we are not meant to understand the world in our own social vacuum. The kingdom of heaven is a kingdom of all people, with their own stories, backgrounds, and worldviews.