Creation. Marriage. Divorce. Jesus. Gender. Education. Abortion. Parenting. Flat earth. Islam. Immigration. Vaccines. The Bible. Climate change. Did any of these words generate a response in your mind? Did you silently state agreement or disagreement as you read some of the words? Did any personal convictions well up inside you? How about when I turn some of these words into questions?
Does the Bible contain errors?
What is marriage?
Is divorce ever permissible?
Do aliens exist?
What is the role of the government?
Is gender determined by biology or choice?
What is the purpose of education?
Do vaccines cause autism?
Your answer to each of these questions represents a portion of your worldview. Every person has a worldview. Worldview is a way of summarizing what we believe to be true, which determines how we live. If we believe vaccines cause autism, we don’t vaccinate our children. If we believe a person’s gender is discovered rather than predetermined, then we encourage children to explore their gender identity to learn who they are. If we believe divorce is not an option, we work through conflict and commit to lifelong faithfulness in marriage.
What you believe about vaccines, gender, and divorce leads to very real consequences for children. The same could be said about a long list of topics. The point is this: our beliefs matter, and that’s why worldview matters.
Biblical worldview is a set of beliefs, assumptions, and values based on the Bible that determines how a person lives. A complete biblical worldview is the gospel and is based on the Bible’s big story. A biblical worldview is developed by teaching young people the whole counsel of the Word of God and living as a Christ-like example worthy of imitation. Worldview is not an abstract, academic discipline that is concerned with winning arguments or proving intellect.
I summarize biblical worldview in four words: creation, rebellion, salvation, and re-creation. These four biblical truths create a foundation that allows future faith-building to develop and answers the big questions of life.
CREATION: God made the world good (Gen 1:1). God is the sole source of all things (Col 1:16). God created everything for His glory and our enjoyment. Where did the world come from? What is my purpose in life? What does it mean to be human? What is God’s design for manhood and womanhood? What is marriage?
REBELLION: Sin made the world groan (Rom 3:23). There was a great rebellion against the Creator resulting in sin, which distorts our ability to understand the world apart from God’s restoring grace (Gen 2; Rom 3:23). Sin makes us blind and deaf. Sin separates us from God, brought the entire world under a curse, and results in eternal punishment for those who reject Christ. What is true? What is sin? What is wrong with the world? Why do I suffer?
SALVATION: Jesus paid the penalty for sin (Jn 3:16). Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of sin. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He reversed the effects of the fall. We are called to walk in obedience and not to be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind (Rom 12:1-2). Our goal is Christ-like maturity (Col 1:28-29) and training for godliness (1 Tim 4:7). What is the gospel? Who is Jesus? What must a person do to be saved? What is discipleship? How do I make wise choices? How should I live?
RE-CREATION: God will make the world new (2 Cor 5:17). Jesus conquered sin and death. We have hope in the living God who will restore all things and create a new heaven and earth where He reigns forever with no more pain or sadness (Rev 21:1-5). God didn’t just save us from something; He also saved us for something—to resume the task for which we were originally created. We serve God by using the gifts He gave us. We bring Him glory when we reflect His character to others. Running a business, teaching students, and managing a home are not secondary activities but doing God’s work in the world. Our vocation is not something we do for God; it is a way to participate in God’s work. Living in light of eternity reminds us that life has a greater purpose than our own happiness. Joy is found when we love and obey Jesus. How can I be happy? Where do I find hope and joy? What happens after death? Is there anything worth living for? How should I use my time, talents, and treasures?
The secular world aggressively opposes these foundational truths and is actively trying to convince young people to embrace a different belief system, which will ultimately destroy their faith in Christ. Children are confronted with a secular worldview on a daily basis through media, from peers, and in education, which can be summarized as secular humanism (man is god) with a growing appreciation for socialism (government is god). Humanism replaces God’s big story with these four words: evolution, relativism, atheism, and materialism. If the world’s big lies are internalized, they become faith-busting beliefs, and young people walk away from Jesus.
Worldview is concerned with truth. If we want children to know the truth, live according to the way, and have eternal life, then worldview should matter to us. Worldview is discipleship that shapes what a young person believes, how he or she lives, and where each child will spend eternity. Worldview’s main focus is the evangelism and discipleship of young people. The question is who is evangelizing and discipling your child and what beliefs are shaping them?
To understand the worldview of your child, consider three questions:
What does your child believe to be true? Do you know what your child believes about the Bible, Jesus, marriage, gender, hell, and salvation? It should be the goal of every parent, grandparent, pastor, and teacher to shape the beliefs of children from the Bible.
What authority shapes those beliefs? Every child will look to an authority to determine truth. The authority the child chooses will determine what the child believes and how the child lives. While there are many sources of authority that individuals look to, some of the most common include science, experience, psychology, government, cultural norms, or the Bible.
How does your child live? Just because a child knows the right answer doesn’t mean the child has embraced Christ or believes the Bible. A child’s behavior reveals his or her true beliefs. Pay careful attention to a child’s passions and priorities as well as the fruit of the child’s actions.
One of the central aims of biblical worldview training is to shape the beliefs of young people using the Bible (2 Tim 3:16). The Bible talks about the importance of helping young people learn biblical truth to establish firm beliefs (2 Tim 3:14-15), to avoid deceptive philosophy which leads to wrong living (Col 2:8, 20-23), to receive a parent’s instruction so a child is not enslaved by sin (Prov 1:8-10; 3:5-7), and to listen to a grandparent’s teaching which leads to hope in Christ and lifelong obedience to God (Ps 78:4-8).
We must train young people to love God’s Word, trust God’s Word, and live by God’s Word. A child may not know the answer, but if we teach a child to study the Bible, they will know where to look to find the answer. A biblical worldview is developed as we train young people to ask the question, “What does the Bible say about ___________?”
Many young Christians are not adequately prepared to handle the tidal wave of secular views that are presented to them, and they are often left to discern for themselves if what they hear is true. The combination can be lethal for children who are naturally trusting, unsure of the Bible’s teachings, and lack strong voices that speak God’s truth. As a result, many children absorb an unbiblical worldview even while they seek to follow Christ.
Much is at stake. Every child’s eternal destiny depends on what he or she believes about Jesus, and the major life decisions every child makes is determined by his or her beliefs, such as the ones at the beginning of this article. The missionary zeal of our culture is operating in full force. We have the critical job of discipling children with a biblical worldview, which happens as we integrate the Bible into everything we do in our home, church, and school. Unless children are well-grounded in Scripture, they will look more like culture than Christ. Children need the soul-gripping, life-shaping words of Scripture to develop a deep, lasting, and culture-transforming faith.
Dr. Josh Mulvihill is the Executive Director of Church and Family Ministry at Renewanation. He served as a pastor for nearly 20 years and helped launch The Legacy Coalition, a ministry that equips grandparents to pass faith on to future generations. He holds a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Biblical Grandparenting and Preparing Children for Marriage. Josh is married to Jen, and they have five children. Connect with Josh on Twitter at @DrJoshMulvihill.