The first area to consider is how a worldview understands God. Christians believe in much more than the “existence” of God. The God that Christians believe in is the God who has revealed himself in the Old and New Testaments. Even though I am a United Methodist and believe we have a rock solid doctrine of God (see here and here), perhaps the most comprehensively and clearly described doctrine of God can be found in the Westminster Confession of Faith. It says:
1.) There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory most loving gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
2.) God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things and hast most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleaseth. In His sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.
3.) In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none, neither begotten, not proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
The Christian God described above in the Westminster Confession of Faith is not only different than, but actually in contradiction to other worldview conceptions of God, if indeed they have one. For example: atheism asserts the non-existence of God. Polytheistic religions believe there is more than one God. Pantheism contends that God is all and all is God. Islam and Judaism deny the Trinitarian understanding of the Christian God. Therefore, the glaring contradictions between these worldviews seem self-evident. They could all conceivably be false, but they can't all be true.
The second area of focus is called metaphysics, which deals with ultimate reality. “These beliefs include answers to such questions as: What is the relationship between God and the universe? Is the existence of the universe a brute fact? Is the universe eternal? Did an eternal, personal, omnipotent God create the world? …[I]s there any purpose to the universe? Are miracles possible?” The Christian response to some of these questions is that God did create the whole universe out of nothing. In fact, Christians believe only God is eternal. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, Christians affirm that God is our personal Creator who is not a remote deity far away. God in his transcendence is not the same as his creation, yet in his immanence he is close at hand, participating in his creation. These are important elements of the Christian worldview to maintain. These metaphysical truths about the Christian worldview also contribute in distinguishing Christianity from its competitors.
The third ingredient in a worldview is perhaps the hardest to understand, although every person implicitly holds beliefs on this subject. This third area has to do with one’s view of knowledge and is called epistemology. The subject of epistemology basically asks the questions: “how do we know what we know?” or “is knowledge possible?” For the Christian, knowledge comes from God’s self-disclosure concerning himself, the world, and humankind. Furthermore, God “is a God who created men and women as creatures capable of knowing his mind and will and who has made information about his mind and will available in revealed truths.” While Christians confess they do not have complete knowledge about God, it is maintained that Christians have true knowledge about him. Therefore, the Christian worldview categorically rejects skepticism. Christians steadfastly affirm that knowledge about God, the world and humankind is possible. The foundation of God’s self-disclosure, once again, reminds the Christian to walk in humility because it is God’s graciousness, and not one’s own autonomous reason, which allows him or her to know anything at all.
Next time we’ll look at ethics and anthropology.
Grace and Truth,