Witnessing and worldviews

Many of the concepts encircling the globe today are opposed to God’s Word. Worldviews give birth to ideas, and the world revolves around these concepts, such as macro-evolution, jihad, infanticide, or the new tolerance. Obviously, these ideas have consequences. From a Christian worldview, sinful people produce bad ideas leading to negative consequences. This explains the reality of life as we experience it everyday. Yet Christians need to understand what others believe and why.

Nancy Pearcey writes, “Before they leave home, they should be well acquainted with all the ‘isms’ they will encounter, from Marxism to Darwinism to postmodernism. It is best for young believers to hear about these ideas first from trusted parents, pastors, and youth leaders, who can train them in strategies for analyzing competing ideologies.”

Why bother studying various worldviews? Don’t we have enough of the Bible to study? We study the Bible as well as these other worldviews because souls are at stake, as well as institutions. Christians need to make a difference; we are sent into the world with the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20. “‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’” People’s lives, way of life, and eternal souls are on the line—that’s why we study what others believe. The love of Christ motivates us to talk.

Furthermore, our understanding of their worldview enhances the way we witness.  As Christians we are called to be missionaries to our world, and that means learning the language and thought-forms of the people we want to reach.  As discussed in an earlier blog, the best way to make a window for witnessing is by showing the conflict of what people believe but know experientially. When someone says people are basically good, you ask if they lock their door at night. They shouldn’t if people are good—what do they have to fear? When someone says we’re evolved animals, you ask if they are upset when a murder takes place. They shouldn’t be if we’re animals—creatures kill each other every day in the wild. People’s inconsistency, when their worldview points in one direction while their life experience points in another, reveals that their map doesn’t work. But you have to do your homework first and know where people are coming from.

That’s why Paul was bothered about the unbelievers in Athens and did something about it. He had done his homework and knew the worldview of the people there. In Acts 17:16-17 it says, “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.” Paul became distraught over these unbelievers in Athens so he reasoned with them in the synagogue and market on a daily basis. To what end? So that he might be known as the smartest man in Athens? No, Paul’s motivation for witnessing is in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23. “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”

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