Which Biblical Worldview?

Woldviews deal with ultimate questions of ultimate reality (God), origins, truth and knowledge, morality and ethics, and death.  A worldview is the mental, emotional, and spiritual platform from which we see and interpret life as well as shape and initiate a plan for living.  A worldview is a view of and for the world.  Everyone has a worldview and every Christian institution is in the practice, intentionally or unintentionally, of educating and shaping the worldview of its members.

Unintentionally undoing (or weakening) our intentional instruction?

Is it possible that we can unintentionally undo or weaken the formal instruction of a robust biblical worldview and contribute to another one?  Consider the  popular competitor to the biblical worldview: moralistic, therapeutic, deism (MTD).

In Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, the authors summarize the theological perspective (worldview) of the average American teenager as moralistic, therapeutic, and deistic (MTD).

They provide the following descriptions:

  • MTD is about inculcating a moralistic approach to life. It believes that central to living a good and happy life is being a good, moral person. That means being nice, kind, pleasant, respectful, and responsible; working on self-improvement; taking care of one’s health; and doing one’s best to be successful.
  • MTD is also about providing therapeutic benefits to its adherents. This is not a religion of repentance from sin, of keeping the Sabbath, of living as a servant of a sovereign divine, of steadfastly saying one’s prayers, of faithfully observing high holy days, of building character through suffering, of basking in God’s love and grace, of spending oneself in gratitude and love for the cause of social justice, etc. Rather, what appears to be the actual dominant religion among U.S. teenagers is centrally about feeling good, happy, secure, at peace. It is about attaining subjective well-being, being able to resolve problems, and getting along amiably with other people.
  • MTD is about belief in a particular kind of God, one who exists, created the world, and defines our general moral order, but not one who is particularly personally involved in our affairs—especially affairs in which we would prefer not to have God involved. Most of the time, the God of this faith keeps a safe distance.  [Read an synopsis by Smith here.]
At every point, a robust Biblical worldview stands in opposition.  Christian churches and schools would not identify themselves as holding these positions. In practice, however, could we actually be inculcating parishioners and students with this worldview?   Which biblical worldview are we giving?  “Understanding comes in the midst of an understandable contrast.”  In our formal instruction and our informal practice, we need to contrast the gospel with this false view.  We also need to examine how we are teaching and training to discover if we are unintentionally undoing our intentional instruction.  The next post will offer some questions and observations to spur that discovery.  So…stay tuned.


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