I have written on several occasions about the subject of worldview. I often think the term is used improperly or too broadly. It has even become a way of saying, in a most sectarian manner, that "I have a robust Christian worldview and you do not." I wonder when I hear such a claim if the claimant has a clue what they are talking about or if they are just parroting something they picked up along the way.

Discarded Image One thinker who clearly understood this idea was C. S. Lewis. The last book Lewis wrote was The Discarded Image. It is an introduction to medieval and renaissance literature. In this book he writes (pages 222-23) that:

It is not possible that our own Model

[by which he meant what we generally mean by the term worldview] will die a violent death, ruthlessly smashed by an unprovoked assault of new facts—unprovoked as the nova of 1572. But I think it is more likely to change when, and because, far-reaching changes in the mental temper of our descendants demand that it should. The new Model will not be set up without evidence, but the evidence will turn up when the inner need for it becomes sufficiently great. It will be true evidence. But nature gives most of her evidence in answer to the questions we ask her. Here, as in the courts, the character of the evidence depends on the shape of the examination, and a good cross-examiner can do wonders. He will not indeed elicit falsehoods from an honest witness. But, in relation to the total truth in the witness's mind, the structure of the examination is like a stencil. It determines how much of that total truth will appear and what pattern it will suggest."

Lewis I have highlighted, in Lewis' words above, the sentence that really underscores what I think is happening in our time. Ideologies must be shown to be bankrupt, both from the left and the right. People must become disabused of their dependence upon worldviews that they embrace, knowingly or otherwise. Christians are too often in the same boat, the only difference being that we hold to faith in Christ as our escape from this world and our hope for the next. We are so committed to escape that we cannot see the "inner need" to change our worldview. Most of what we believe we got from a kind of semi-religious osmosis. We believe it because someone told us to believe it. It is not truly ours thus it makes little or no real difference to how we think and live.

Lewis says "nature gives most of her evidence in answer to the questions we ask her." We modern Christians ask far too few good questions. I aim to ask a lot of questions, not simply provide ready answers. This makes a lot of people nervous. I think it is absolutely essential if we are to embrace a carefully thought out worldview that is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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  1. LKH January 18, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Are you familiar with the C.S. Lewis Foundation? They are building a university to engage what you are talking about here…

  2. Bruce Newman January 18, 2010 at 10:30 am

    This is great stuff. Once again I will help Amazon.com stay afloat in a bad economy.

  3. John H. Armstrong January 18, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I do not know the C. S. Lewis Foundation. I will check it out though.

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