by Karla Perry
Worldviews, like people, have a genealogy. The thoughts we think about the world usually came from someone else. They are recycled thoughts. They entered our way of thinking through discipleship. Sometimes that discipleship is deliberate where we intentionally set out to learn from a particular school of thought. Most of the time it is caught unintentionally. We passively read authors or consume movies and television shows that shape how we think. We sit under teachers who shape our thinking while believing we are only learning Algebra or English Composition.
I experienced this first hand in college. My first day of Advanced English Composition began with my professor declaring there is no truth. She challenged the class to provide a fact. I raised my hand. She called upon me and I said, “today is Tuesday.” “It is here,” she retorted and then asked for another fact. Again, my hand shot up. “The world is round,” I declared. She came back with, “did you measure it?”
Most of the time, the worldview is not so blatantly obvious. Usually it is deeply embedded into the course material or way of thinking of the professor. It comes out much more subtly. This is not a malicious practice of brainwashing as some would label it. It is simply how worldviews work for good or bad. Christians pick up worldviews that are not Christian through such discipleship.
One would never expect a Christian to think like an Atheist or a Buddhist. But our worldviews have a history and it isn’t necessarily what we expect it to be. For example, new atheists, such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, borrow from the Christian worldview. Secularism itself is born out of Christianity. It isn’t neutral. It borrows the Christian worldview to exist.
My most visited article on my website is titled “Who are you Thinking” based on the popular question rendered on the red carpet, “Who are you wearing?” Every celebrity is wearing the artistic attire of a famous designer. In the same way, we are thinking in line with famous thinkers–the only difference is that we do not know whose name to accredit.
Worldviews shape every movie we watch and every book we read. Universities are steeped in Marxism, Postmodernism, Atheism, Progressivism. Popular Christian authors are popularizing those worldviews through their books and podcasts as they weave these perspectives into how they read the Bible. They do not know what they are doing. They have become discipled by the prevailing philosophies of our day.
We pick up their books, read their tweets, and are awed by their new take on Scriptures. It is only an “ism” being introduced into the text. It will not last. When its work is complete there will not be anything lasting to build upon. Only truth provides the foundation that will stand through the storms of time. The latest new trend will only be a passing fashion. The “isms” of our day will only erode their own foundations.
I am not issuing a warning against reading modern books. I read voraciously. I read old and new books. But I also examine all I ingest for truth. I’m looking for the source of its worldview. Is it the Bible? Is it true? Or is it a passing fashion?
Lastly, it is important we are not offended when we discover that our way of thinking is not Christian. It only means we have the great opportunity to repent and change the way we think to what is true. If we get offended, we lock down our mind upon the lie and push out the truth that set us free.
Our worldview genealogy needs to stay in the family tree of truth. If we find that branches of Buddhism, Atheism, Islam, New Age, or Postmodernism have become intertwined in our worldview it means our worldview needs pruning. If it isn’t biblical truth, remove it so that the truth can grow in its place.