by Preben Vang and Terry Carter
Worldview speaks of how a person sees the world and interprets it in life. Everyone has a worldview that determines how they live. A worldview consists of a set of beliefs that guide actions and choices. Personal stories are part of a worldview. They provide some of the tools by which humans make sense of life. The story of God’s creation, redemption, and consummation of all things provides a framework to view the world.
But the biblical story claims to be more than just one of the stories; it is the big story that functions as the interpretive framework for all other stories including personal stories. The story this book retells and explains is the metanarrative that connects all of life’s smaller stories and gives them meaning.
As the story of all stories, this narrative forms the basis of the Christian worldview. All personal stories in a Christian’s life are interpreted in light of God’s story. All decisions Christians make should be shaped by God’s story. As with all worldviews, the metanarrative shapes the way people think and the way they answer the basic questions of life. Because it finds its origin in God’s revelation of himself, it often yields different answers from other worldviews. The following chart lists the basic life questions and compares the answers generated by various worldviews.
With every life question comes a corresponding answer based on the view one has of reality and truth. The modern worldview focuses on man’s ability and technology. In a sense it sees a man-made world with man-made solutions to problems. The postmodern worldview rejects the modern concept and understands the world in less universal terms. Individuals and groups make their own world, and their own personal stories become their interpretive framework. This results in relativism and an individual focus. Postmodernists reject the notion of a metanarrative that gives structure and meaning to all experiences.
This book has dealt with God’s story that, as the explanation of all reality, yields answers to all the big questions of life. Where are we? We live in a world created and sustained by God. God is the reason for all things. Who are we? We are human beings created in the image of God for the purpose of relationship with God and others. What’s wrong in the world? As the biblical story explains, sin entered the world through humans and affected negatively everything including humans’ relationship to God. What’s the remedy? God orchestrated a plan of redemption through Jesus Christ, his Son. Jesus provides the way to life through his own life, death, and resurrection. All of life centers on this story of redemption. The creating and redeeming God who loves his creation and desires only what is best for it becomes the foundation for all life.
All decisions and actions in life can and should find guidance from this story. If God is Creator, humans should live and act as created beings and not as their own gods. If Jesus is the only way to find true life, the best choice is to trust in him. The biblical story speaks of gaining life from death through the redemption provided by Jesus on the cross. Without it, all people are separated from God.
Transformation of Way of Life
The story not only affects the way a person thinks; it impacts action as well. A person who accepts God’s story as true lives a certain way. That is because participation in God’s story alters human behavior. In the Old Testament, wisdom literature provided guidance for this change of lifestyle; the New Testament explains it as life with Christ. A person who accepts Jesus becomes a new creature; the old has passed away, and all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17). A Christian offers himself to God as a sacrifice and is transformed because of it (Rom 12:1–2). The focus of a Christian is to live for God. “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col 3:17).
God’s story transforms the person who surrenders his/her life to Christ. That person puts off the old way of life, which grew out of other worldviews, and acts differently. A good beginning description of the life of a Christian can be found in Ephesians 4:26b–5:2.
Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit, who sealed you for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.
Preben Vang serves as Professor of Christian Scriptures and Director of the Doctoral Studies at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University.
Terry G. Carter is associate dean, Pruet School of Christian Studies; W. O. Vaught professor of Christian History and Ministry; and chair, department of Christian Ministry at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
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