Seven Basic Elements of the Christian Worldview
by Mathew Gilbert
There are seven primary aspects to understanding the Christian worldview (or any worldview for that matter), according to Christian philosopher James Sire. Each worldview, the Christian worldview included, must deal with the following issues:
1.) The ultimate reality of the universe; 2.) The nature of the universe; 3.) The nature of humanity; 4.) The question of what happens to a person at death; 5.) The basis of human knowing; 6.) The basis of ethics; and 7.) The meaning of history
I have benefited from Sire’s works, especially his classic book on worldviews, The Universe Next Door. The following is a basic summation of Sire’s explanation of what he calls “basic Christian theism” on pp. 27-46 in The Universe Next Door.
The first element of the Christian worldview is that the prime reality in Christian theism is God. God is the eternal creator of the universe. He is perfect in his being and in his character. This God is holy, righteous, eternal, unchangeable, wise, powerful, and incomparably glorious. God is triune. There is no one like him. He is incredibly complex. God is also infinite being beyond measure. He is personal. This means he wants to be known and makes himself known. This may be the most crucial aspect of the Christian worldview. Not only do we assert that there is an all-powerful creator who is sovereign over his creation, but the Christian worldview asserts that this all-powerful creator is not some distant deity—he wants to be known and he is a God of relationship. The complexity of this triune God is seen in the fact that this personal God is also transcendent. God is utterly beyond us and beyond the world that he created. In the words of Christian philosopher James Sire, “He is otherly” (29). God is also immanent. So, God is not a stone, but beyond it (transcendence) and God is present with a stone (immanence). Such is the complexity of the God of the Bible.
The second element of the Christian worldview deals with the universe. The world was created ex nihilo by God in a cause and effect open system. This is a mouthful. God is established in the Christian worldview as the creator of all things. He spoke and “stuff” came into existence. Creation flowed from the words of his mouth. But God did not create in a haphazard manner. God created the universe with order and structure. God created the world with clarity. There is orderliness to creation. However, this universe was created in an open system. This means that it is not programmed. God is unfolding his eternal purposes daily. The world and its course are open to reordering by God and by his image bearers. So, because the world is orderly, humans have an impact on it; and because the world is in an open system, the choices of humans are meaningful and have lasting consequences for better or worse.
The third element of the Christian worldview is the dignity and fall of humanity. Christian theism states that humans are created in the image of God…
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