As the last post in this Worldview Series, I would like to summarize the importance of knowing what a worldview is and why so much time has been dedicated to it. In our Christian faith we are told to not conform to the secular worldview yet shed the sinful bent and renew our thoughts so that we think and become more like Jesus Christ every day.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)”
Due to this clear scriptural mandate, I want everyone to be clear that a Christian school, such as Salem Christian School, does this through the Christian school experience. Because it is so important, I wanted to take a blog entry to summarize this critical feature of a Christian school (Stanton, 2017).
A worldview embodies the central values of a culture and providing the basis upon which one’s identity and self-esteem are established (Brookfield, 2000; Coleman, 2003). While it might seem self-evident that these things are the same, as it turns out, there are critical differences between them. Worldview is self-evident: an individual or collective intellectual perspective on the world or universe (Funk, 2001). Worldview is largely a life philosophy that answers big questions with practical implications held by a certain individual or group of individuals that directs conscious and subconscious decisions (Funk, 2001; Schultz & Swezey, 2013; Tsvetkov, 2014).
In Types and Problems of Philosophy, Hunter Mead (1964) defines worldview as the inclusive view of the world or outlook. Worldview is a somewhat poetic term to indicate either an articulated system of philosophy or an unconscious attitude toward life and the world (Funk, 2001; Mead, 1964; Schultz & Swezey, 2013). Importantly, a person’s worldview can include both conscious and unconscious beliefs. Primarily, a worldview is the system by which human beings answer the relevant questions and dilemmas that confront them in daily life (Funk, 2001; Sire, 1990; 1998). Worldviews tend to be more malleable and less concrete, shifting and evolving over time to account for the changing circumstances in the lives of individuals and culture at large (Sire 1990). Speaking to this, James W. Sire (1990), in Discipleship of the Mind, defines worldview as “a set of presuppositions … which we hold … about the makeup of our world” (p.17).
According to Funk (2001), a worldview can implicate a number of different things. Included in a worldview are beliefs based on reality, which can come from many different sources. Specifically, a worldview will typically consider the question of epistemology or a person’s beliefs about the nature of knowledge and how human beings collect knowledge (Funk, 2001; Mead, 1964; Schultz & Swezey, 2013). One’s worldview will also cover metaphysics, which are the inherent beliefs about the nature of reality. Bigger picture questions about cosmology are also implicated in a worldview (Funk, 2001). These are the beliefs about the origin of man, including the origins of life and how the universe came to be (Mead, 1964; Funk, 2001; Schultz & Swezey, 2013). It may be true that religious worldviews concern themselves more commonly with these bigger questions of being than do secularist (Howse, 2005; Schultz & Swezey, 2013; Wolters, 2016). However, the secularist does have a specific view that is in part derived from their need to be consistent with the atheistic or agnostic theological view (Funk, 2001; Howse, 2005; Moreland, 2007; Spears & Loomis, 2009; Swezey, 2013; Wolters, 2016). Religion has often set out to answer critical questions about teleology or beliefs about the meaning and purpose of life (Sire; 1990). Funk (2001) believes that worldview will necessarily take into account elements of theology or the beliefs about the existence of God and God’s nature. On a more individualistic note, worldviews tend to consider anthropology, or the study of the purpose of man (Funk, 2001). This can be applied to the individual, as that individual’s worldview is shaped by one’s personal beliefs about one’s purpose on earth (Funk, 2001; Howse, 2005; Sire, 1990; Wolters, 2016). The final worldview element, axiology helps to frame the day-to-day worldview that people practically take with them when they leave the house (Funk, 2001; Sire, 1990). Critical to the fundamentals of worldview understanding is axiology. The term axiology comes from the Greek axios or value (Funk, 2001). In the context of worldview, one’s axiology consists of a set of beliefs about the nature of worth and what is valuable: What is right? What is wrong? What is good? What is bad? Virtually all elements of your worldview, from epistemology to anthropology, are intimately related to your axiology and vice-versa; it is a person’s beliefs about the value of things that are the proximate cause for most of that person’s behavior (Funk, 2001; Mead, 1964; Sire, 1990; 1998). These are axiological beliefs about value—What is good? What is bad? And, what constitutes right and wrong? (Funk, 2001; Howse, 2005; Mead, 1964; Wolters, 2016).
Worldview Lenses and the Big Life Question Asked
: What is truth? What is nature of knowledge and collection of knowledge?
: Does God exist? If so what is God’s nature?
What values are important? What is Good? What is bad?
The following elaboration of these lenses and their implications to thought and action is based on Hunter Mead’s Types and Problems of Philosophy (1964) and Dr. Funk’s insight. For each worldview element, there are overarching questions posed by Dr. Funk (2001) that illustrates the individual’s Worldview (2001). Furthermore, Dr. Funk (2001) presents the implications those beliefs could have to thoughts, beliefs, and actions. And, thoughts, beliefs, and actions are all fundamentals to why and then how someone would approach the world (Funk, 2001; Howse, 2005; Mead, 1964; Moreland, 2007; Spears & Loomis, 2009; Sire, 1990).
A person’s worldview does not have to be an explicit thing that he or she states (Funk, 2001; Sire, 1990). In most cases, it is precisely the opposite of this, as it will be something that a person just operates on without thinking (Funk, 2001; Sire, 1990; Wolters, 2016). Human beings only have limited conscious time to think, and most people would prefer to use that time thinking about something other than their prevailing worldview (Sire, 1990). Additionally, it is critical to recognize those worldview elements can be highly interrelated (Funk, 2001; Howse, 2005; Sire, 1990; Wolters, 2016). One element can weigh heavy on another, and they cannot be discussed independently without understanding the inter-relatedness (Sire, 1990). The factors mentioned previously are not exhaustive or comprehensive. Some people can have worldviews that consider questions outside of the scope (Funk, 2001). The practical application of the worldview is going to operate on assumptions that are key to the underlying beliefs within a worldview (Sire, 1990). A worldview is the set of beliefs about fundamental aspects of reality that ground and influence a person’s perceiving, thinking, knowing, and doing (Funk, 2001; Mead, 1964; Sire, 1990; 1998). A worldview consists of an individual’s epistemological, metaphysical, teleological, theological, and axiological understandings of the world around them (Funk, 2001). Each of these subsets (lenses) of a worldview is highly interrelated with each of the others and affects virtually all of the others (Funk, 2001; Phillips & Brown, 1991).
What’s The Difference? -Head of School Blog
Brookfield, S. D. (2000). Transformative learning as ideological critique. In J. Mezirow & Associates (Eds.), Learning as transformation (pp. 125-148). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Coleman, J. (2003). School choice, diversity and a life of one’s own. Theory and Research in Education. March (1). 101-120. doi:10.1177/1477878503001001007
Funk, K. (2001, March 21). What is a worldview? Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://web.engr.oregonstate.edu/~funkk/Personal/worldview.html. Essay Series
Howse, B. (2005). One nation under man?: the worldview war between Christians and the secular left. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman.
Mead, H. (1964). Types and Problems of Philosophy, New York, NY: Holt.
Schultz, G., & Swezey, J. A. (2013). A Three-Dimensional Concept of Worldview. Journal Of Research On Christian Education, 22(3), 227-243.
Sire, J. W. (1990). Discipleship of the mind: Learning to love God in the ways we think. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. pp 17-19.
Sire, J. W. (1998). The universe next door: A basic worldview catalog (3rd ed.). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Spears, P. D., & Loomis, S. R. (2009). Education for human flourishing: A Christian perspective. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.
Stanton, M. (2017). Worldview of Inclusivity.. Rutgers Press, New Brunswick, NJ.
Tsvetkov, V. Y. (2014). Worldview Model as the Result of Education. World Applied Sciences Journal, 31(2), 211-215. doi:10.5829/idosi.wasj.2014.31.02.14309
Wolters, A. M. (n.d.). On The Idea of Worldview and Its Relation to Philosophy. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from http://www.allofliferedeemed.co.uk/Wolters/AMVWorldviews.pdf