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What is a Worldview?

The Christian Perspective / Chris Hughes
The Truth Network Radio
June 14, 2021 2:14 pm

What is a Worldview?

The Christian Perspective / Chris Hughes

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June 14, 2021 2:14 pm

Chris talks developing a solid, traditional Christian worldview with scholar, historian, and founder and president of Every Square Inch Ministries, Dr. Glenn Sunshine.


This is Robbie Dilmore from The Christian Car Guy and Kingdom Pursuit, where we hear how God takes your passion and uses it to build a kingdom. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds.

Enjoy it and share it. But most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network. Welcome to The Christian Perspective, where we look in God's Word in order to develop a Christian worldview and modern culture. I'm Chris Hughes, and today we have one of my heroes of the faith and one of the nation's leading scholars and historians. Dr. Glenn Sunshine is a senior fellow with the Colson Center, and he serves as Professor Emeritus at Central Connecticut State University. He's a true scholar. Dr. Sunshine teaches a wide range of courses, including Renaissance and Reformation history, early modern European history, the Black Death, the Crusades, and one of my favorite things he covers is the history of Christianity. He also knows a lot about economic history and military history.

But you know what? With all that he does, Glenn Sunshine's true passion is teaching Christians how to live with a biblical worldview. He has a great ministry that I hope you'll check out after you listen to the podcast today called Every Square Inch Ministries. You're going to be blessed, as I know, as we listen now to what Glenn Sunshine has to tell us. Glenn, thank you so much for being here today on The Christian Perspective. Thanks for having me. Well, we're excited to have you here, and I know you recently retired. You've been in academia for years, and boy, I just want to thank you because we have so few Christians that are teaching in colleges and universities today. I know it had to be pretty tough for you, but thank you so much for taking a stand for Jesus as a professor on a college campus. Did you ever have any trying times while you were doing that?

Oddly enough, no. A lot depends on the kind of university that you were in. If you're in what's called a research one university, one of the big boys that grant doctorates and things like that, you've got a lot more pressures on you. I was at a lower-tier college, and as a result, they pretty much didn't care what I did as long as I did my job.

Well, you're lucky because I know a lot of professors really experience a lot of persecution, as do a lot of students on campus today. So you recently retired. Before we get into talking about worldview, tell us about what you're doing now and tell people a little bit about your ministry, Every Square Inch Ministries. Well, I've got several different things that I'm working on. I'm a senior fellow, as you said, at the Colson Center. I have been writing articles for them for years. Right now, I'm doing more collaborations with John Stone Street Writing Breakpoints. Also, I've been teaching in the Colson Fellows program there, which is an excellent worldview training program really designed around addressing the challenges that we're facing as Christians in the culture today. Along with that, I am working with Ken Boa, who is probably the most wide-ranging thinker I've ever met. Ken does everything from hardcore apologetics, Bible science stuff, things like that, all the way to spiritual formation, the literature, film, music, on and on and on. He's really a pretty incredible person, and I've got the privilege of working with him or collaborating on several writing projects, and I'll be doing other things within his ministry. And then, of course, I've got Every Square Inch, which is a ministry that I started several years ago. It's inspired by a quote from Abraham Kuyper, who said, The idea is that every area of life needs to be under the authority of Christ, and I try to address a variety of these through writing, teaching, webinars, and things like that offered through the website.

There are a few other things coming up in the future, but they're not ready yet, so we'll leave it there. Boy, that is so powerful, because I think many Christians don't realize today that God was the Creator, and He is involved in every single aspect of the world that we live in today, and I wish more Christians understood that. You know, the most fundamental confession that Christians have held to since the early days of the Church is that Jesus is the Lord.

Now, in the Roman Empire, that was an inescapably political statement. What it meant is Jesus is the Lord and Caesar isn't. But today, if you ask Christians what Christ is Lord of, most of them will be able to go very quickly to Him and say He's Lord of all.

So the question that I have is, what is not included in all? You know, when you think about it, if we really confess that Jesus is Lord of all, that means He's Lord of every area of our life. He's Lord of not just our spiritual life or our salvation, but He's Lord of our families, He's Lord of our friends, He's Lord of our relationships within the community, He's Lord of our politics, He's Lord of our jobs, He's Lord of our recreation, He's Lord of all.

And we need to take that seriously. And that's fundamentally what a biblical worldview is about. The shortest definition I know of for a biblical worldview is understanding what the Lordship of Christ means in every area of life. That's fundamentally what it's about.

Well, what would you say, for maybe some of our listeners don't even know what a worldview is, Glenn, can you share with them what the worldview is and then they can see how they apply that with a biblical perspective? Well, your worldview is a set of ideas that you hold, usually unconsciously. You very rarely think about these things. But they're things that you think of as common sense about the world. They're the filters you use to make sense of the information that's coming into you. In a lot of ways, it's sort of like a pair of mental eyeglasses. Without my eyeglasses, I don't see very well, nothing is clear. When I put on the eyeglasses, things get sharp and I can understand what it is that I'm looking at, recognize things, and so on. A worldview functions like mental eyeglasses. It takes the ideas, the experiences, the things you see around you and the world, all of this stuff, and it puts it into focus for you. Now, the important thing to realize here is that different worldviews really genuinely do interpret the world in radically different ways.

For example, let's take a simple example. Let's suppose you ran into me in a Starbucks and I'm looking really disheveled. I look like I haven't taken a shower in a week. I'm really looking a mess. My eyes are bloodshot and everything else. I'm looking terrible. You know me and you come up to me and say, hey, Glenn, what's wrong?

You look terrible. What happened? I said, you know, I can't sleep.

I can't eat. There's this thing that's just been eating away at me and I just don't know what to do with it. And you say, well, what is it? Well, it's a question that is just driving me nuts. I just can't figure out the answer. And you say, well, what's the question?

And I look at you and I say, well, yeah, maybe you can help me with this. The physical universe, is it real or isn't it? Now, chances are the first thing that's going through your mind is he hasn't just been drinking the coffee. Because, of course, the answer to that question is patently obvious to anybody. The physical universe is not real. It's a dream in the mind of God because we're Hindus. Oh, wait, we're not Hindus. It's an illusion because we're Buddhists. Oh, no, we're not Buddhists.

We're Native Americans. So it's sort of real, but the world of dreams is more real. Every one of those is a common sense answer in their own culture. That's a fundamental part of their worldview. And what comes out of that is how they think about life, how they approach life, how they approach pretty much everything. So this is why worldview is so important. You need to understand, number one, that worldviews exist. Number two, that there are differences in worldview. Number three, you really need to look at your own and examine what some of your own assumptions about the world are. And four, well, if you're a Christian, you need to make sure that the way you think of the world, what you think of as common sense about the world, aligns with what God has told us is true about the world.

You know, that's so important for us to understand, Glenn. I heard a sermon Sunday where a guest speaker was at a church I was visiting, and he said that by the mid-twenties, most people have developed their worldview, and whatever's set in them by that age is pretty much going to be their worldview for the rest of their lives. Would you agree with that statement? That's probably true. Because again, this is not to say that you can't change your worldview.

I know many people who have at much older ages than that. But for most people, that's kind of the way it does work, because by that point, they've gotten a set of answers that they think works for themselves. And unless they are really rocked, unless that really is challenged in substantial ways, it won't change. And they will live out of that perspective they've gotten by then until something forces them out of it.

Yeah. Well, now I want to kind of delve into an area where you really are, in my opinion, the most renowned expert in the world, and that's on biblical and church history. So we're talking about worldview. What are some of the ways that biblical worldview has shaped history, which has led to the culture that we have today? Well, what I would have to say there is that the biblical worldview has shaped culture, certainly, but over the last several decades, we have been running rapidly away from it. So we're ending up in a world that is abandoning the truths that are taught in Scripture that God has revealed to us.

And in the process, we are also creating a much, well, frankly, worse world in many respects. So let's start from the beginning. The idea of human rights. The basic idea that people, all people, regardless of who they are, have certain rights that government should not encroach on is an idea that comes out of biblical tradition.

It comes really ultimately from the idea that all people are made in the image of God, and along with that, the New Testament teaching that people are all spiritually and morally equal. Now, through the centuries, various theologians have tried to tease out what that meant, and so what you find is the development of an idea called unalienable rights, rights that are given by God that no one has the right to take away from us, to deprive us of. And you can think about these as the rights that God gave us in the garden prior to the fall. So God gave us life, therefore there is a right to life. God has given it to us. We don't have the right to arbitrarily take it away from another person, or for that matter, to take our own life either, because it is not ours. It is God's.

He's the one who gave it to us. Liberty, God told Adam and Eve, the concept of liberty is one of these things that we frankly lost in our culture, and this again is a product to a large extent of a biblical worldview. Liberty is the idea that you have freedom to act within boundaries. There are certain boundaries that are set by natural and divine law that we're not allowed to cross. But within those boundaries, we have freedom to act. We have freedom to choose, we can do what we want to within those boundaries. That's the classical understanding of what liberty is, and when Jefferson talks about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that's what he has in mind of liberty. He does not mean what in the 18th century was called license, which is the freedom from restraint, the freedom from boundaries. No one in political history has argued that we have the right to act without boundaries, that there are moral laws we are not supposed to transgress. Unfortunately, since we have frankly lost the idea of objective truth in the area of ethics, natural law, divine law, those kinds of things, liberty is dead, and all we're left with is license.

Freedom to us today means freedom from restraint, freedom to act any way we want to. But in any event, the idea of liberty comes to us from the Garden of Eden again. God tells Adam and Eve, you can eat the fruit of any tree in the garden except that one. So he set boundaries for them, but he gave them complete freedom within these very generous boundaries that he established.

You can do whatever you want to, just don't eat the one that's going to poison you. A third one that you see in the garden, and this is a little more subtle, is the idea of property rights. And we see that where God tells Adam and Eve, tend the garden and eat the fruit. What that amounts to is you have the right literally to the fruit of your labor. When you work for something, you earn it, you have the right to own it, to consume it.

So it's known as the labor theory of property, and this is where John Locke, for example, got the idea of property as an unalienable right, although before him you see the idea of property rights as unalienable going back into the Middle Ages. So these kinds of things, that set of ideas there, are a legacy of a Christian tradition, Christian political theology. Moving from there, women's rights. In the Roman Empire, women basically had very few rights.

They were looked down upon, they were frankly treated with contempt, and this is true in most of the ancient world. Yet Christianity comes along and says that men and women are spiritually equal before God, therefore women are worthy of respect. Christianity was frankly the best thing that ever happened to women, when it comes to pushing their rights. We can look at the abolition of slavery. A lot of people think that the South used the Bible to justify slavery.

That's actually an aberration in church history. For the majority of church history, Christianity has been anti-slavery. We see this in Thomas Aquinas, where he argues that slavery is a violation of natural law. It may be part of what he calls the law of nations, or positive law may be part of what nations do, but it's contrary to natural law and therefore its ascent. We see more different popes during the Renaissance condemning the Atlantic slave trade.

The abolitionist movement is spearheaded by evangelicals and Quakers. And that's just in the realm of human rights. I mean, we could keep going, but there are lots of other areas where we see similar sorts of things happening. Yeah, you probably really stirred the pot with that, with how critical race theory is entering the church today.

They're not going to like what you just said, but what you said was true. Yeah, well, critical race theory has its own series of problems. It's based on fundamentally anti-biblical assumptions about pretty much everything. And it is also contrary to, well, foundings of sociologists, anthropologists, I mean, on and on and on. And critical race theory is its own issue, and that probably deserves a longer treatment than we can do here.

Yeah, it does. Yeah, like I said, it's got a massive series of problems on both a biblical and a practical level. You're right, and that's a huge issue facing the church today. But there are so many issues, as you mentioned—abortion, suicide, homosexuality, transgender—that Christians are facing today.

So what does the biblical worldview have to say about contemporary issues that Christians face? Well, the first thing we have to recognize is that we live in a world that was created by God and was created good. So the world—our bodies, our minds, everything about us—starts good. But the problem is, the second step is that the problem is that sin has infected everything. You know, if you read Romans 8, you'll find that Paul talks about the way sin has really frustrated the purposes of all of creation.

You know, it's marred our minds, it affects our bodies, it certainly affects our souls, our relationship with God—all of these kinds of things. So we live in a world that is broken. However, with Christ, redemption has come into the world, and Jesus intends that redemption to extend to all areas of life.

Everything that's broken is repaired in the Kingdom. Maybe not immediately, but the elements that are needed to fix what's wrong in ourselves and in society, the resources are all there in the Gospel. And so what we need to do is, number one, take a clear-eyed view of the problems that exist in society, of the challenges that we're facing, and so on. Number two, try to assess and evaluate these things from the perspective of what Scripture tells us, what God has said is true.

And then number three, live that out. Try to work out the implications of that as far as the way we deal with the challenges we're facing. Whether it is issues of race, whether it is the problems surrounding abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, you know, pick your problem.

The ecology, you know, it doesn't matter. All of these things find their proper solution in a full or biblical worldview, and to the degree that you deviate from that worldview, you're going to create more problems than you're going to solve. Yeah, that's so true. I think for a lot of Christians today, they don't really know what their identity is or who their identity comes from, and I've heard you speak at some Colson events and other places about talking about the image of God. Can you share with us what is the image of God, and how does that apply to Christians today? Okay, in order to understand what Genesis means when it says we're made in God's image, we need to look to the ancient Near East.

That was a term that was used throughout the Middle Eastern world at the time when Moses was writing. And when someone claimed to be the image of God, or an image of a god, what they were saying is that that god had named them, had picked them to be their official regent, their representative on earth, and thus they had a right to rule under the authority of that god and in the name of that god. Now, when Genesis says that we're made in God's image, what that points to is the fact that we, well, it says let us make man in our image and let him have dominion. Those two are linked.

It's basically the same idea. We are God's representatives on earth. We are to rule the earth not as owners, but as stewards. Remember, we are representatives of God. Scripture is clear that the earth is the Lord's, it's not ours. But nonetheless, we've been given authority on the earth to well develop it and to rule it. If you take a look at the trajectory in Genesis, the first three days, it says that the earth was without form and void.

In other words, without form and empty. The first three days, God is spending forming the world. The next three days in creation, God spends filling it. And then he sort of hands the job over to Adam in the garden, and he says, tend and protect the garden, develop it, develop its resources. He provides Adam with massive amounts of resources. It's one of the points of Genesis when it's describing where Eden is and what's present there.

He provides Adam with massive amounts of resources, tends them to tend and protect the garden to develop it, and so on. And so Adam's job basically is, you know, God hands off the baton to Adam. You know, I've formed the world, I've created the animals, now it's your turn, you're to form it and fill it. So we have reproduce and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it, form it, develop it. So those are our unique responsibilities as people made in the image of God. We are to form the world and fill it. We are to develop culture, and we're to do that under God's authority. Now the problem is we decided multiple times through the Bible to follow our own ideas about how to do this rather than God's. You know, it starts with eating the fruit, it continues with the Tower of Babel, and so on. So what I would point to with the image of God is this calling that we have to develop culture, which starts with our own families having children and so on.

It starts there, but then it extends out to our influence across the world. And with that, the other part of this is that God has given us a whole lot of tools, and frequently people mistake the tools for the image. The tools like reason, like creativity, like morality, spirituality, all of these things are tools that we are to use to help us in our task of building the world, developing the world, developing culture under Christ's authority. And that's what Christians need to see today. You mentioned a while ago that God gave us dominion. We don't own this earth, but He gave us dominion over it, and He did provide us the tools to be engaged in the public arena and to have dominion as He commanded us really to do. And you cover that—we don't have much time left, Glenn—but you cover that in a great, fairly new book you put out called Slaying Leviathan, Limited Government and Resistance in the Christian Tradition. And, boy, I want to encourage our listeners to go to Amazon or wherever you purchase your books.

He probably has it on his site. But, Glenn, tell us real quickly, what is the Leviathan and what is the Christian's battle against Leviathan? The name Leviathan comes from a book by Thomas Hobbes in the 1600s where he argued that government, that the king specifically in his case, had authority over everything. He made decisions about religion and everything else in society. He was an absolute, complete ruler directing everything that happens within society.

Leviathan extends its tentacles into everything. This is completely contrary to the Christian tradition. All the way from the first century, Christians have always insisted that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not. That we're to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, but not everything belongs to Caesar. There are things that belong to God and those can only be given to him. In other words, there is limits on human government. And what I do in playing the Leviathan is trace how people understood what those limits were and then what happens, how we should respond when government transgresses those limits. And so, ultimately, the punchline is that the founding documents in America are sort of the culmination of a long Christian political theological tradition.

And then things change when the French Revolution happens where every purely secular version that dominates politics from that point to today. Well, Glenn, it is a great book and I would encourage all of our listeners to get a copy because a lot of people today don't realize the role that the Bible played in the founding of our nation and that many of our founding fathers were Christians. And I just thank you for all you're doing. Thank you for being on our show. We're going to have to have you back because you just, you know, we hopped around a lot of different subjects, but you are an expert in so many areas. And I'd love to have you back again to talk about this in more detail.

But I want to thank you for being with us. Can you tell us real quick how they find your website to learn more about your ministry? Yeah, the website is Every Square Inch Ministry, so it's You can find me there. And if you go to the Colson Center under their articles, I've got a whole bunch of articles there as well. And you have a podcast, too.

Can you tell them how to find that? Yeah, the podcast is called The Theology Pugcast, that's P-U-G cast. We started recording it in a pub in the area called The Corner Pug, so we called it The Theology Pugcast. I do it with two other guys, Chris Wiley, who's a pastor and former philosophy teacher, and Tom Price, who's a systematic theologian and ethicist. So the three of us, we talk about all kinds of crazy things. And it's, yeah, you can find it on any podcast app.

Or you can go to the FLF network at the FLF app, that's Fight, Laugh, Feast, FLF app, and get it through there. Well, it's a great podcast, or should I say pugcast? But Glenn, we so much enjoyed having you here. You really have influenced me in more ways than you would ever know your writings and your speaking engagements. You really do a lot to further the cause of Jesus Christ and the culture today. So I want to thank you all for joining me. I'm Chris Hughes, and this is The Christian Perspective. Thank you for listening. Subscribe and like our podcast, and please share it with your friends on social media. Now let's go change the culture for Jesus.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-04 17:25:16 / 2023-11-04 17:35:33 / 10

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