Examining Worldviews

by Tommy Doughty | Feb 22, 2023

Recently, the “low tire pressure” alert began appearing on my car’s dash due to the winter drop in temperature. For several days, I merely ignored the warning, expecting that the air in my tires may re-expand due to the roller-coaster weather changes in New Orleans. Finally, the warning chime wore me down, so I pulled up to an air pump and knelt down to unscrew the valve caps only to notice that my tires were beat up beyond belief, showing wear around the sidewalls and little tread.

Now, I still have not replaced my tires, but I am investigating good deals and avoiding driving as much as possible until I identify the best replacements. However, I am relieved that I will not be shocked in a moment of crisis when one (or more) of the tires bites the dust, leaves me stranded, and costs a fortune to replace in a pinch. 

These events served as a reminder of a process I have witnessed many times ministering to people of all ages, but especially in young people. Most of us go through life with the assumption that everything is going fine, sometimes ignoring warning signs, until our world is rocked by a revealing crisis that leaves us calling roadside assistance. Particularly, in terms of our deeply held beliefs, also known as our core worldview, many of us go through life never questioning if we are properly equipped, have kept those components in good condition, and are operating according to the proper design.

So how can we encourage one another to maintain worldviews in a way that protects from harm and does not leave us stranded “when rubber meets the road?”

Inspect Your Worldview

First, be intentional to explore your worldview, checking that all your beliefs are coherent and supported by reality. Worldviews are considered “pre-critical” or “pre-cognitive,” meaning that our thinking about the world has been shaped by presuppositions of our past and environment. However, neglecting to consider the fruit of one’s worldview could lead down two dark paths: you could be holding onto beliefs that make no sense and are dangerous, or you could be easily swayed by faulty beliefs when confronted in a moment of crisis. Inspecting your worldview begins with testing beliefs according to regular intake of Scripture and the historic Christian tradition which unifies gospel believers.

React to Warnings

Second, be open to considering course corrections when warning lights show up on your dashboard. Many young Christians struggle with life-changing doubt during their first encounter with grief, other religions, or tough practical questions. You may find it easy to be dismissive when confronted with minor details or pesky “why” questions that you have never considered. However, these are opportunities to think carefully and perhaps do some preventative maintenance. Why would we not want to keep our worldview in working order by strengthening the truth we cling to rather than being lost on the side of the road when things blow up? Reacting to warnings could be as simple as consulting with a spiritual mentor or a theological resource for answers or better language to navigate difficult problems.

Investigate Options 

Third, be disciplined in pursuing proper responses to particular problems. Consider the new set of tires I am currently Googling: I want reliable parts which won’t fail, but I also have a practical priority of low cost. This analogy is not meant to say we should cut corners when shaping our worldview. Rather, we must note the practical implications of worldviews, including their communication to others. While some Christians shut their eyes to problems in their worldviews, others double down on their beliefs without thinking holistically about different beliefs or communicating with other individuals. Investigating options for worldview problems should include sharpening language in counseling others or adjusting attitudes toward particular topics we thought were settled for all Christians.

Drive Safely

Fourth, be faithful to put your worldviews into action with obedience to God and consideration for others. To finish up the analogy of my car, once we install the correct parts, we must operate the vehicle within its prescribed parameters. Taking our worldview for a spin necessarily means leaving it open for critique as we navigate the trials of life, but hopefully with our beliefs in proper working order, we can survive crises without losing everything. By continually pursuing the knowledge of God and understanding of our world, Christians can clarify and communicate wisdom with confidence.

Read about Intentional Worldview Formation

 

Tommy Doughty
Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at NOBTS

Tommy Doughty is Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at NOBTS. As Associate Dean of Leavell College, he teaches Christian Doctrine, Church History, and other biblical studies, theology, and apologetics classes. His research interests include the work of Christ, salvific inclusivism, and the relation of Christianity and the sciences. For over ten years, Tommy has led music and student ministries in local churches, equipping high school and college students to live out a biblical worldview in their context. Currently, Tommy serves in the music, youth, and deacon ministries at First Baptist New Orleans.