In chapter 6 of his new book Developing a Biblical Worldview, C. Fred Smith discusses secularism and the “American” worldview. In the excerpt below he introduces the four worldview questions.
There are other ways that the American worldview differs from the biblical one. The American worldview is decidedly secular. The biblical worldview places high value on living life in relationship to God. One’s worldview should be formed and shaped in relationship to who God is and what he has done. Americans typically do not see it that way, nor, in general, do many Christians in America.
The four worldview questions are all too often answered by Americans without reference to God, as we will see below. This happens when we fail to include God in our description of what is happening or why it is happening. There are various ways this plays out. Americans see problems they have internally—that is, within their minds or emotions (e.g., depression)—as psychological problems only. They do not normally see them as “spiritual” problems. This is because the American worldview is secular. While many times psychological answers are helpful and even necessary, most people suffering depression or anxiety or any of a number of similar problems never consider the possibility that the root cause may lie in their relationship with God, or lack of one. This is true of Christians as well—which indicates that many American Christians do not have a biblical worldview. They, like their neighbors, assume that problems have secular answers rather than spiritual ones.
Americans look at the world around them through secular eyes also. They fail to discern, for example, the role of the fall in the way people behave. Americans assume that a serial killer has a psychological problem, not a moral or spiritual problem. Christians in America are squeamish about calling moral failures what they are. We prefer to say that someone “made a mistake” or “got into trouble” rather than saying that they sinned or rebelled against God. Americans (including American Christians) often fail to include God in their way of describing and understanding the troubles people face in the world.
We will understand all of this better when we see how Americans usually answer the four worldview questions. Universally, two things shape the American worldview. One of these is evolution (even though many Americans say they do not believe in the theory), and the other is the story of the establishment of the early colonies in North America, a story that functions for many Americans as a “creation myth” with almost religious significance. This discussion will sometimes consider the four questions in related pairs. Therefore we will look at the “Who are we?” and “Where are we?” questions together here, and then the “What is wrong?” and “What is the answer?” questions together.
About the Author
C. Fred Smith (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary.