Protect Your Children from Non-Christian Worldviews in the Media
By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher with Dr. Tom Snyder, Editor
Editor’s Note: The following is the first of many articles developed from my new book, THE SCREEN-WISE FAMILY. This article is an introduction. The subsequent articles can be read on their own merits.
Today it’s become abundantly clear that we are living in a culture war of ideas. The Bible warns us, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8).
Whether consciously or unconsciously, consistently or inconsistently, everyone is influenced by a worldview – their set of presuppositions and assumptions (which may be true, partially true or false). Our worldview consists of those sets of beliefs and presuppositions that we hold about basic realities of our world. Our worldview determines our values, influences how we think and therefore guides how we live.
Every movie and television program you and your child watches has a dominant worldview that informs the themes, values, messages, and lessons in that movie or TV program. Sometimes, the presentation of that worldview is mixed, inarticulate or confusing. Whether or not that is the case, however, it’s vital for you and your child to comprehend and understand the movie or program’s worldview so that you can measure it against the Christian worldview and what the Bible teaches and evaluate the movie or TV program.
What Is a Worldview?
According to Norman Geisler and William D. Watkins in Worlds Apart: A Handbook of World Views, a worldview is “a way of viewing or interpreting all of reality.”[i] Later, they add that a worldview provides “an interpretive framework through which or by which one makes sense out of the data of life and the world.”[ii] As such, all comprehensive worldviews seem to share at least six things:
- Cosmology: A view of the “physical” or “material” universe,
- Metaphysics: A view of what might or might not exist beyond the “physical” or “material” universe,
- Epistemology: A view of knowledge including divine revelation,
- Anthropology: A view of human beings and their environment and culture,
- Psychology: A view of the human soul and the mental, emotional, spiritual, behavioral, and interior life of human beings, and
- Axiology: A philosophy of values.
In general, a good worldview must have at least three components: internal consistency, explanatory power and empirical adequacy or sufficiency. Thus, it must be logical, it must be able to explain many different kinds of phenomenon, and it must fit the facts.
The Basic Questions of Life
Our worldview requires us to answer the basic questions of life:
- What is reality? For instance, materialism maintains that there is no reality beyond the physical; whereas nominalism and its many derivatives maintains that there is only the supernatural and the material is an illusion.
- What is our basis of knowledge? For instance, rationalism seeks to discover the structure of reality guided by human reason alone; whereas empiricism declares that reason alone is not sufficient, all our knowledge must be based on information provided by our senses.
- How can we know what is right or wrong? For instance, existentialism evaluates everything from subjective personal experience; whereas Agnosticism maintains it’s impossible to settle the primary questions in life because of the limitations of human knowledge.
- What is man? For instance, evolutionism maintains we are matter in motion, evolved slime, mere machines who mutated from goo to the zoo to you…the result of random chance; whereas intelligent design realizes that there must have been a designer.
- What happens to a person after death? For instance, according to Hinduism, we are reincarnated in a kind of cosmic recycling of souls, either moving up the ladder to become holy cows, or sliding down, because of bad karma, to possibly become insects; whereas as Christians know that you die once and then are resurrected just as Jesus Christ was.
- What is the meaning of history? For instance, marxism maintains that history is driven by economic determinism, and the post-modernist maintains that there is absolutely no meaning to history; whereas Christians and Jews believe that history is progressing according to God’s plan to a wonderful resolution.
- Why is there suffering and evil? For instance, the polytheist, who believes in many gods, maintains that it’s because of conflict between the various gods; whereas Christians and Jews believe that suffering and evil come from the disobedience of human beings so we live in a fallen world.
- What is the purpose for our existence? For instance, the hedonist maintains we should live for our own personal pleasure, while the materialist proclaims, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” and humanism ultimately destroys all purpose for one’s existence since you came from nothing, you are going nowhere, and so life is meaningless; whereas Christians and Jews know that God has a wonderful plan and purpose for each and every person’s life.
- How should we live? For instance, the Muslim claims we should live in obedience to a whimsical, angry god through Sharia law, based on the Quran and the Hadith, the teachings and practices of Mohammed; whereas the Christian believes that Jesus Christ set us free to have a more abundant life by the power of His Holy Spirit.
The Biblical Worldview
The biblical worldview provides us with different answers to our basic questions of life:
- The Bible makes clear that God is ultimate reality. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
- Our basis for knowledge is God’s Revelation, but that Revelation is not illogical or irrational because logic is part of God’s essential nature. “In the past God spoke. . . through the prophets. . . but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1-2). (Note: If logic were not part of God’s essential nature, then the words in this biblical verse would have no inherent meaning.)
- We can know what is right and what is wrong from the Word of God. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).
- Man was created by God, but human nature is sinful. Because we have been created by God, in the image of God, there is some good even in the worst of us. However, because we are fallen, there is bad even in the best of us. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Eph. 2:10).
- After death, each one of us shall face eternal judgment. We will either enjoy God’s gracious rewards in Heaven or endure just punishment in Hell. “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
- God is ruler over history. “The Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men, and He gives it to anyone He wants” (Dan. 4:25).
- Suffering and evil are a result of man’s rebellion against God since the Fall. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Gal. 6:7).
- The purpose of our existence is to glorify God and to worship Him forever. “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
- We should therefore live in obedience to the Bible. “The Lord your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 26:16).
Theism is the realization that the Creator God created the universe. Therefore, we can explore and study (science) the universe because we know it was made according to God’s plan and is not haphazard. Unlike the pagan belief in many gods that causes fear and uncertainty about the nature of the world, biblical theists understand that the world has order. So, they can develop agriculture, science and technology to cultivate the world and establish wise stewardship and dominion over Creation. Furthermore, biblical theism realizes that God reveals himself and His order in the universe (Romans 1) so the universe is knowable. The biblical theist also understands that God is good, and that man has been given stewardship over the earth. Finally, the theist knows that he has fallen short of God’s glory, but that God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ to reconcile man to God and bring us into the fullness of His Kingdom.
Biblical theism gives man the liberty to pursue knowledge and understanding, the assurance that good will triumph, and the opportunity to enter into the Grace of a personal relationship with our Creator and be delivered from the alienation, confusion and demons of our fallen condition.
The Bible provides the definitive answer to the meaning of the Christian worldview, which is biblical theism. God has revealed Himself in creation so that no person can say, “I didn’t know there was a God” because:
“. . . that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
– Romans 1:19, 20.
God chose to reveal Himself most completely in written word. For this reason, ultimately, the Christian worldview and the biblical worldview are synonymous.
Other Scriptures that provide the basis of a Christian worldview (viewing all things in life through the lens of Scripture) include:
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”
– Isaiah 55:8,9
“Do not conform any longer 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.”
– Romans 12:2; and,
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
– 2 Corinthians 10:5
These Scriptures help us see how critically important it is that we think as God reveals to us that He thinks to the degree granted by Him. This is a fundamental meaning of the Christian worldview.
Christianity is superior to all other worldviews because it is logical, it explains many different kinds of phenomenon and it fits the facts. As such, it provides a rational justification for judging what is good or evil, right or wrong, true or false and proper or improper. It also gives human beings a meaningful love and provides us with a document, the Bible, which can be empirically and rationally verified. By perceiving the worldview in a work of literature, cinema, video, television, game, or streaming program, we can determine the level that the work reaches with regard to Truth, Justice, Goodness, Love, and Beauty, as depicted in the Bible, the Word of God, which is embodied in Jesus Christ, and in the divine traditions which the One True God has inspired.
In subsequent articles, we will discuss various Non-Christian worldviews and see how they stack up with a Christian, biblical worldview.
- [i] Norman Geisler and William D. Watkins, Worlds Apart: A Handbook of World Views (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989), p. 11.
- [ii], p. 246.