How a Christian Worldview Can Make You a Better Listener
- Monday, August 29, 2011
Christian Worldview: Not Just about Fighting
"'Christian Worldview' makes me want to vomit. I'm not sure what it is about those words, but it reminds me of when I was a kid and people taught young Christians to argue with others. I never saw fruit in it. Maybe I just need a new perspective on it."
That was the response I received when I emailed a friend that I wanted to write a book about worldviews.
I understood his frustration. After reading through blogs mentioning a "Biblical worldview," I noticed many of the postings were more about cultural warfare than cultural understanding. Christian writers bemoaned the lack of a Biblical worldview both inside and outside of the church and non-Christian writers warned of a theocratic takeover of our otherwise enlightened democracy.
So is that the purpose of a Biblical worldview - to attack popular culture? I suggest the answer is a definitive "no." Instead, a Biblical worldview helps believers understand the world they live in, and it helps them understand the core beliefs of their non-Christian friends. A Biblical worldview can actually promote meaningful conversations, instead of antagonistic confrontations.
How are such conversations possible? I suggest three steps: (1) understand what you believe, (2) understand what they believe, and (3) have a conversation. But please also understand, Dear Reader, that these three steps are not a linear process. Instead, these three steps form a kind of dance, where the three basic steps are performed in a variety of orders. When these steps are executed with grace, they create art.
A Personal Experience with Worldview Conversations
As part of my graduate school training, I went on some travel-study programs. During one of these trips, I had multiple opportunities for evening walks with a friend from another faith. These walks were one of the best parts of the trip for me.
Eventually our discussions began to focus on religion, and there was one particular moment when I began to feel the need to defend Christianity point for point. At the same time, I realized that engaging in such a defense would move the conversation from friendly to adversarial if I wasn't careful.
I felt caught in a dilemma. How could I be true to both my friend and my faith? Although I believed Christianity was true, I could not defend it point for point.
Later reflections on this relationship reminded me of Stephen Covey's advice in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I could be true to both my faith and my friend by following Covey's habit five: seek first to understand, then to be understood. For Christians the understanding is two-fold. First they must understand their own beliefs, and then they must listen in order to understand the beliefs of others. With understanding as a foundation, friends can construct meaningful conversations.
First, Understand Your Own Worldview
Other writers have discussed worldview at length[i], so I will provide only a simple summary:
- A worldview works like a set of lenses.
- Our basic assumptions compose these lenses.
- These assumptions include our answers to life's most basic questions.
And what are some of these most basic questions?
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