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"Worldview in Conflict
Pt. 2"


In part one, we considered how much the world has influenced the life-perspective (worldview) of professing evangelical Christians. Despite an outward, adamant insistence that commitments are shaped by the Word of God, polls and surveys tell a different story. The Scripture is often reinterpreted to fit contemporary societal convictions. We defined a worldview as “a set of beliefs about the most important issues in life,” considered how such fundamental commitments affect one’s understanding, and acknowledged that a person’s worldview may contain inconsistencies. Dr. Ronald Nash has suggested that a person’s worldview is like a pair of eyeglasses. While the correct worldview (prescription) will bring everything into clearer focus, the wrong worldview will distort one’s understanding of life even further.

The Biblical Worldview

As we have observed, the worldview so prevalent in today’s society is fraught with problems. However, there was a time when the prevailing worldview in Western culture adhered to a more biblical standard. Of course, the biblical worldview is by no means synonymous with any particular period of time or any specific society. It transcends both time and culture as the ideal view promoted by the revelation of Holy Scripture. However, due to the influence of Christianity in pre-modern times, the touchstone proposition of a Christian worldview was widely held until the influence of the Renaissance and Enlightenment turned the Western world in the direction of “modernism.” In part three of our series, we will begin comparing how the prevailing consensus of Western worldviews have departed from the biblical worldview with respect to the touchstone proposition described earlier. But first we will consider the worldview presented in Scripture.

Transcendence and Immanence

In a biblical worldview, God’s relationship to the world is assumed to be both transcendent and immanent. He is far and near. Transcendence refers to the reality of God’s existence as above and independent from the material universe. Psalm 90:2 declares that God’s existence extends from “everlasting to everlasting.” In other words, He is not bound by time and space. 1 Kings 8:27 reveals that God is greater than the universe for “heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain” Him. God is unquestionably transcendent. However, the Scripture also tells us that God is immanent. Immanence refers to God’s closeness. Even though He is transcendent, He is also present in the world. The Apostle Paul declared this comforting truth in Acts 17:27-28. God is “not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being.” Psalm 139 proclaims this same truth. David extolled, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” A biblical worldview assumes God’s majestic transcendence but also acknowledges His nearness and involvement with the world He has created.

The Natural and the Supernatural

Related to this proposition about God is the foundational precept concerning the natural and supernatural spheres of existence. According to the biblical worldview, there is communication between the supernatural realm (the sphere of the manifested presence of God) and the natural realm (that which belongs to the created order of the terrestrial). Of course, since God is transcendent, there can be no communication between these two spheres unless God reveals Himself. But this is precisely the contention of Scripture. The Bible declares that God has revealed Himself in Scripture and in nature, although in different ways and for distinctive purposes. With regard to “natural” revelation, fallen man suppresses the truth about God that is apparent to him in this physical world. Someone once said that a person living in this world and wondering if there is a God is like a man standing in the pouring rain and wondering why he is wet. This is an apt analogy because fallen human beings suppress the truth about God and ignore the obvious. Thus, without divine illumination, the unregenerate will never come to know God. For the Christian, God not only opens his eyes to natural revelation but grants special revelation (the Word of God) as well. Through faith we can apprehend what God has revealed about the supernatural realm. God reasons with His people through the revelation of Himself in Holy Scripture. The Christian worldview acknowledges that there is communication between God and the world. In the words of the late Francis Schaffer, “God is not silent, we are not listening.”

The Sacred and the Secular

That which is “sacred” is holy. The term refers to that which is dedicated to God and set apart exclusively for His worship. By way of contrast, “secular” denotes that which is worldly rather than spiritual. Something that is secular is ordinary and common, wholly of this world. In the biblical worldview, the sacred and the secular are distinguished from one another but they are not detached, isolated, or separated from each other. In other words, those things that are holy were once common. For example, in the Old Testament, a lamb had to be set apart for sacrifice. Before the selection was made, the lamb was an ordinary member of the flock. However, once it was chosen for the purpose of worship, it passed from the realm of the secular to the sphere of the sacred. It was set apart and must not be used in the same way as the other animals.

In the biblical worldview, the distinction between sacred and secular is not an isolation of mutual exclusivity. Since every good and perfect gift comes from God, all things are always to be used for God’s glory. With this understanding, everything one does is for the glory of God, even if it is what we refer to as “secular.” For example, a chair finely crafted is to bring glory to God whether it sits in a farmer’s house or in the sanctuary of the church. Sacredness pervades so much more of our existence when we recognize that the holiness of something is based upon divine commission.

Still, there is a distinction to be maintained. The secular is impacted by the sacred. The worship of God directs the manner and means of our participation in this common realm of creation. Thus, the sacred imposes itself on the secular. Our understanding of how to live righteously in this life comes to us from the realm of the sacred. Biblically, the principles and ethics by which human beings must live are drawn directly from the realm of the sacred. God’s Word is holy and its sovereignty comes from eternity, pervading all spheres of time and space.


As noted earlier, in pre-modern times, the prevailing worldview was far more biblical in these respects than the worldview commonly adhered to today. Whether or not they had illumination, people generally believed that God was transcendent and immanent. He was considered to be above and beyond creation while remaining present within it. God was seen as pre-existent and self-existent yet acknowledged as pervading every aspect of creation. Indeed, they knew that God actively rules over all that exists.

They also acknowledged that communication between the realm of the supernatural and the natural was possible. In fact, much of science was based upon the presupposition that order and design were inherent in nature because it was God’s creation. Thus, Isaac Newton could say, “the task of the scientist is to think God’s thoughts after Him.”

Finally, men believed that the sacred could and should impact the realm of the secular. Men did not sit in judgment of the sacred but submitted themselves to its pervasive oversight and authority. Of course, there were many errors and problems in the pre-modern days of Christendom. However, those ills were not the result of the prevailing God-centered worldview.

Next month, we will consider the shift away from a biblical worldview that transpired during the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

- Stan McGehee Jr