Teaching Worldview Part 1
by Joelle Grubb Copyright 2015
This article is an adaptation from a workshop given at the Mum Heart Conference 2015 in Newcastle.
We thought we entered home education to protect our children, give them a better education or have the freedom to teach our beliefs without interference, but no matter what our reasons are, what we find ourselves actually doing is passing on our worldview. The reason we are home educating is due to a conflict of worldviews. God has called us to teach worldview, and we will do it whether we realise it or not, and actually, we already are, but we need to be aware of what our worldview is and how to teach a biblical worldview. If you are a Christian you may think you already have the right worldview, right? As growing Christians, we have a lot of baggage and influence from this world around us. A certain amount of what we believe has been shaped by non-Christian and even anti-Christian influences. Most of us were immersed in a secular education system and have a lot of reshaping to do to our own thinking. Home education, in our quiet little homes, gives us, as well as our children, the opportunity to develop our worldview into what God would have it be. Learning more about and articulating worldview will strengthen and affirm your decision to home educate your children.
In this article, Part 1, I will explain what worldview is and why it is important to be deliberate about teaching it. I will also summarise a brief history of the development of Western thought which will help us see how we got to the culture we are immersed in currently. In Part 2, I will lay down some points to help articulate a Christian worldview and give some practical tips on how to teach worldview in your family.
What is Worldview?
Your worldview is shaped by assumptions you hold regarding reality through which you interpret everything. Put simply, it is the grid or filter through which you process information and make conclusions about how you view the world. It determines how you make decisions, how and what you teach your children, how you discipline them, your attitude to work, business and leisure - do you live to work, or do you work to live? Your worldview determines what you value and give priority to in your life, and how you relate to others and navigate those relationships.
Why is it important to deliberately teach a biblical worldview?
We need to train the minds of our children to not just think about things, but to evaluate and expose the myths, lies, and errors of our current culture, as well as learn to recognise those things which are of positive and enduring value to the building of Christian culture.
Besides teaching your children to love and serve God, teaching worldview will be the most important thing you will do, and these two things are intertwined. Christianity is a worldview. It does not run alongside other worldviews sharing this world. It is not separate from science or the arts. It is holistic and takes dominion of all areas of life.
Home education is not just about giving our children their education and sending them on their way. It is about being God’s instruments in shaping world changers. The fruit may not be big or appear in the very near future, but what we want to do is sow to future generations, and not just think about our own. We can’t just stop there in our thinking. While the times we live in are worrying, understanding what we are dealing with is half the battle. These times offer more hope for the gospel and Christian culture than ever before, and we as home educating parents have been called to such a time as this. Christian home education is and will be a major contributor to change and is a big step towards redeeming Christian culture.
A History of Western Thought and Worldview Development
You would have heard that ideas have consequences, but ideas also have antecedents which are those things that have brought us here. So how did we come to the worldview we hold today? We live in what is called postmodern times. Just briefly, and I’ll elaborate on this further as we move along, Postmodernism is characterised by having no absolutes, that there is no truth to be known other than the result of our own experiences, which leads to relativism. To understand more about what postmodernism is and what we are dealing with in our current culture I will go through a brief history of how we got here.This is just an outline of the major ideas that have pervaded other times in history and hopefully we’ll be able to track the ideas and relate them to the postmodern worldview that we are experiencing today.
We’ll start with the Ancient Hebrews and Greeks since their worldviews are the two which have had the strongest influence over the ages of Western civilization.
The main purpose of the Hebrew worldview was that man lived to serve God.
The Hebrews recognised that an external source of information (God) was needed to define human values; right and wrong. They recognised that man could not create his own values, as these would be subjective and changeable (which is what we have now in the postmodern age with the rejection of God and absolute truth). To not understand this external source, God, was to be considered uneducated according to the Hebrew mindset. The Ancient Hebrews valued reason, but it was subject to Revelation (the Word of God).
Just a quick word on reason. Reason is nearly man’s highest gift from God (second only to love: 1 Cor 13 & 14) having enormous explanatory power and usefulness but it needs to be in subjection to Revelation.
To the Ancient Greeks, man was the measure of all things. They believed in gods but these were modelled on humans with their limited virtues, and all their vices.
Reason was exemplified by the Greeks and everything was subject to it – it was the highest rule.
During Ancient times and the Middle Ages people had a basic belief in the supernatural, whether Christian or pagan; they believed in God or gods.
The Middle Ages is also known as Christendom due to the influence of the church and the development of Christian culture.
Humanism and mythology did not go away during the Middle Ages; it always stood as a challenge to Christian thought. Biblical Christianity will always be in tension with the culture of the day.
Renaisance means 're-birth', and was a revival of Ancient Greek and Roman humanism and again man was the measure of all things.
Classical education took on Greek and Latin which were taught in order to access the writings of the Greek philosophers. It produced good results, however it did not promote Christian thinking.
David Quine author of Let Us Highly Resolve says this: “According to (Frances) Schaeffer, St Aquinas and other Renaissance believers did what Classical Educators are doing today -- they "opened the door" to non-Christian thought in such a way that it began to consume the authority of the Scripture. The result was the Reformation. Historically, this decision would eventually lead to the Enligtenment -- a complete denial of Scripture.”
Science had brought the printing press and God moved in the hearts of men and they began to read the scriptures for themselves.
The Renaissance or humanistic model of classical education was rejected by the Reformers.
The Word of God, and not the church, began to be recognised as the final authority for faith and life. Up until this time the church held a lot of power in this regard, however Revelation began to vie for its rightful place.
The Renaissance rediscovered and reasserted the Greeks; the Reformation rediscovered and reasserted the Bible.
In order for us to understand Postmodernism, we need to know what Modernism is. The Enlightenment of the 1700’s was the seed-bed of Modernism. The term Enlightenment, coined by the ‘enlightened’ ones during this time, contrasts with the preceding ‘Dark Ages’. The new light of the age became human reason. The Enlightenment was the time of the Age of Science, Industrial Revolution and French Revolution.
The reformation and church was not quashed during the Enlightenment, but rather gradually sidelined into the sphere of life called ‘religion’. It was during the Enlightenment that the separation of religion and science took place. This division is still with us but is even more entrenched in Postmodernism since there is no room for truth at all.
Modernism was defined as leaving behind the old ideas and man moving on and reasoning for himself. Truth was attained and authorised by science, which meant that man no longer needed God. Man decided he could diagnose all the problems of society and solve them with his own unaided intellect.
Reason replaced God and again all things were subject to it. Man rejected supernaturalism, but not religion. Deism became in vogue which asserted that God existed but was remote and had left his creation to operate without him; man was left to himself.
This progression of ideas meant that man had to make a way of coping with moral issues without God. Utilitarianism quickly became the new ethic which concluded that the right or moral thing to do was that which maximised utility or was the most useful (for the on-going running of the universe without God), which is basically pragmatism – one of the main ideas underpinning postmodernism today.
Romanticism and Scientific Materialism approximately 1800s
The Romantics protested against a purely scientific approach to life and attempted to balance things out by promoting personal experience and the emotional part of man. It encouraged introspection and the power of the mind, deciding that right morals were those that fulfilled the self. This led to Existentialism in the early 1900s.
Entering the 20th century, Modernism is now firmly entrenched and society is under the influence of Existentialism.
Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice. According to existentialism, humans define their own meaning in life, and try to make rational decisions despite existing in an apparently irrational universe. It’s man attempting to live without God.
By around the mid to late 1900s people began to lose faith in science, since it had claimed to be able to solve the problems that religion apparently could not but had failed to do so. The reaction to this lack in solving man’s problems was to throw out morals altogether. And thus Modernism was rejected and Postmodernism began to pervade the cultural worldview. We will cover Postmoderism and Christian Worldview in Part 2 of this article.