An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 1 – There are two worldviews.

By C.L. Bolt

There are only two worldviews. Within these two worldviews, or at any rate within one of them, is a whole plethora of other entities usually referred to as wordviews. A worldview is a network of presuppositions, beliefs, concepts, ideas, etc. through which an individual or individuals view the world. Every person has a worldview; every person has a network of presuppositions and beliefs by which he or she views the world. By viewing the world here I mean thinking in terms of what is right and wrong, good and bad, logical and illogical, sensical and nonsensical, worthwhile and not worthwhile, etc. The list could go on and on as to what is filtered through a worldview. People also act in accordance with these worldviews. It follows from what has been said already concerning people viewing the world through worldviews that people also interact with the world per these conceptual structures.

Some examples of worldviews then might be the Islamic worldview, the Christian worldview, the atheist worldview, the materialist worldview, the scientific worldview, etc. Some of these refer to religious positions, some do not, some are tools, and some are specific stances regarding some topic. But all of these are what people typically refer to as worldviews.

As I’ve already noted however, there are only two worldviews. This could be rather confusing, granting what I’ve just stated. What I mean here is that while we typically refer to all of the above (and much more) as worldviews, there are nevertheless ultimately only two worldviews. The two worldviews in question are the Christian worldview and the non-Christian worldview. I have at least two reasons for saying this.

First, it is the consistent testimony of Scripture that there are, at bottom, only two worldviews. There are explicit references which would indicate as much. For example, Christ Jesus says that one is either for Him or against Him. There is no middle ground here. Even if one should disagree with Christ Jesus in His words it follows that the individual doing so would then be in disagreement with Christ Jesus. Thus that individual would be agreeing with the worldview of the non-Christian; it is certainly not of the Christian worldview to question the words of Christ.

There are other more nuanced and perhaps controversial theological positions that take the reality of these two worldviews or systems presented in Scripture quite seriously. There is, for example, the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent in Genesis which theme runs throughout the remainder of Scripture. There is the God YHWH versus all other pagan gods, there is the wise or righteous of the Psalms, Proverbs, and other wisdom literature and then there is the fool who stands in contrast to the wise or righteous. Each of these two adopts a different worldview; one is wise and the other is foolish. There is, further, an antithesis between the two positions. We will no doubt return to this concept of antithesis later. For now, it means that the two positions, or in our case worldviews, stand in stark contrast one to another. Paul speaks even more of these two worldviews underlying all others.

Secondly, for one to deny the Christian worldview is for one to possess a non-Christian worldview. So even though there are so many manifestations of the non-Christian worldview, they all have in common that they have rejected the Christian worldview. They are, in this sense, predicated upon the negation of the Christian worldview. Islam, atheism, materialism, etc. are all non-Christian worldviews. They stand in contrast to the truths of Christianity. While some may argue that it is in some sense unfair or improper to classify worldviews by that which they reject, it is nevertheless the biblical testimony concerning the subject. For example, the fool who says in his heart that there is no God denies the Christian God. The fool then need not be an atheist at all; he or she can be a Muslim or a Sikh. The Muslim and the Sikh have in common that they are both non-Christian; they have rejected the Christian worldview, and there is no in-between position.

We can speak of these worldviews that exhibit the property of being non-Christian; we can label them “manifestations” or “variations” of the non-Christian worldview.

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14 Comments

Luis Dizon

There really is a lot of nuancing that has to be involved here. What do you say, for example, to the various non-Christian worldviews that claim to be Christian and believe the Bible? I’m thinking of groups such as Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.

taco

I would assume this objection will be addressed later near the end of this introduction in reference to Fristianity.

C.L. Bolt

You called them “non-Christian,” so I’m not sure I understand the question.

RazorsKiss

That they aren’t. That’s what I do, at least. I might not be as “nuanced”, though.

David Gawthorne

Given your definition of a worldview as a network of presuppositions and beliefs by which [a person] views the world, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that there are 2 fundamental types of world view? You seem to be confusing the claim of 2 types with the claim of 2 tokens.

C.L. Bolt

“…wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that there are 2 *fundamental* types of world view?”

“…*ultimately* only two worldviews…”

“…there are, *at bottom*, only two worldviews…”

“…two worldviews *underlying* all others…”

David Gawthorne

Yes, I was not suggesting that you did not invoke fundamentality. Rather, that there are more than two worldviews. For example, I suspect that I share your Christian worldview type, but I doubt that we share the same worldview token (or qualitatively identical worldview type, for that matter).

C.L. Bolt

Now I see what you are saying, but I’m going to hide behind what I explained in my introduction and suggest that your concern will be a helpful one that I need to work on if I develop any of this further in the future.

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RazorsKiss

Chris: Don’t get bogged down in objections and “I don’t get it” – that’s what the next lesson is for 🙂

David Gawthorne

Okay. BTW I’m finding this introductory series of posts very helpful. Thanks.

ZaoThanatoo

Given that the discussion is over abstract objects (i.e. “worldviews”) invoking the type-token distinction is a category error; we’re not discussing concrete particulars. Strictly speaking, David seems to have confused “tokens” with “occurrences.”

I’m not trying to be pedantic, I’m simply pointing out that I think the introduction of the type-token distinction only complicates a discussion which is attempting to be introductory… especially if the distinction is improperly employed.

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