By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
In today’s world it isn’t always easy to talk about spiritual things. Our world is sort of how we think of it. When we think the world is godless and soulless, it tends to become that. And so, if you and I want to live in a world made in God’s image, then you and I need to purge ourselves of all the ways we view this world that stop us from realizing the life and world God wants us to have. Understanding all the various worldviews is the key to breaking free of the power they have over the human mind and soul.
There have only been a handful of worldviews in modern history and normally they function on a subconscious level. We tend to be unaware of their existence. Here is a simple typology of the different worldviews that have shaped human history ‘til now.
The Ancient Worldview– This is often reflected in the Bible. Everything on earth has a heavenly counterpart. If war begins on earth, then God must be warring with some cosmic deity or force. Likewise events initiated in heaven are mirrored on earth. This is a way of saying that every material reality also has a spiritual dimension, and every spiritual reality has physical dimensions.
The Spiritualist Worldview– In this view, creation was followed by the “fall.” Spirit is good, material is bad. Our world is an asylum into which spirits have fallen from a good heaven. The religious task is to rescue one’s spirit from the wiles of the flesh and regain the spiritual realm from which we have fallen. This worldview is still a powerful factor in sexual hang-ups, eating disorders, negative self-images and the rejection of one’s body. This spiritual worldview is also reflected in those forms of the Christian faith that overemphasize the goal of getting to heaven and escaping this present vale of tears.
The Materialist Worldview– is the dominant worldview in the US today. This view claims there is no heaven, no spiritual world, no God, no soul; nothing but what can be known through our senses and reason. The spiritual realm is illusion. There is no higher self, just complexes of matter, and when we die we cease to exist except as chemicals and atoms. People have to create values, purposes, and meaning for themselves. The only right and wrong are what societies agree upon for the purposes of survival and tranquility.
The Theological Worldview– This view concedes earthly reality to science but claims special privilege to the spiritual realm. Many seminaries once taught that science tells us how the world was created, religion tells us why. The price paid for this schizoid worldview is the loss of a sense of the whole and the unity of heaven and earth.
The Integral Worldview– This view sees everything as having both an outer and inner aspect. Heaven and earth are seen as the inner and outer aspects of a single reality. In this view, soul permeates the universe. The universe is suffused with the divine. Spirit is at the heart of everything, all creatures, all living things are potential revealers of God. This worldview makes biblical information more intelligible for people of today than any other worldview, the ancient one included.
Worldviews determine what we are allowed to believe about the world. And, we may be the first generation in the history of the world that can make a “conscious” choice between these worldviews. You and I can, must, decide which worldview best describes the world we encounter, and whether or not we want to take personal responsibility for our own worldview’s relationship to what happens in our church, our country, and the world. And, what its future will look like.