The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book, Freshmen 15. You are literally picking up in the middle of a chapter entitled, “The Worldview.” Here goes:
When it comes to how you view the world, I am worried that, in appearance, you look like you hold to a Christian worldview, but in reality, your actual perception of how the world works has never changed. If you decided to make Christ your one thing that you go after in your life, my concern is that you join the ranks of those who have an appearance of a life change but whose perception has never altered. By association, you are a Christian, but by practice, Jesus never influences how you live. The world’s perception of you may has changed, but has your perception of the world changed?
“Syncretism” is a word that missionary strategists throw around a lot. When a missionary organization decides to outreach to a particular people group, they study how those people live, interact, and worship. Does that particular group believe in some religious authority? If they do, what does that religious authority command them to do? Oftentimes, a missionary will realize that a people group possesses a faith built on syncretism. In its simplest form, syncretism may be defined as an attempt to merge different systems of religious belief into one unified system.
In the mountains of Guatemala, many towns possess a Catholic church, but many of the people also hold to many animistic beliefs – the beliefs that items in nature have souls and/or spiritual powers. When I visited that country, I would talk with people who would revere Jesus and Mary, but they were also fearful of disturbing a tree for the probability of ensuing revenge the tree might take on the people. These people’s beliefs would be characterized as syncretism. They were not Christians, but they were not full-blown animists either. They just possessed a belief in a religious authority somewhere in the middle.
I believe that today’s college campuses are one of the most unreached people groups in the world right now. My fear is that a majority of Christian students really hold to a faith based on syncretism. They do believe that Jesus is Lord, and he has the power to change lives, but they also believe certain elements that would be seen as contradictory to biblical teaching. This kind of thinking can flesh itself out in a number of ways.
Maybe it is that student whose political rallying is adamant concerning some issues but not ever questioning God’s stance on it. It is shown through that student who, due to her genuine niceness towards everyone, thinks that any road would be able to go to heaven because she is nice and therefore, God must be at least as nice as her. Or it could be that guy who writes Bible verses on his MySpace profile but also has the language of a sailor and the morals of a convicted criminal.
Honestly, some of you may claim to be a Christian. But do you honestly know what associating with Christ truly brings along with that association? As a Christian, we don’t have the luxury to casually say, “Well, I think that God would probably do this…” and make that particular statement solely based upon your feelings. We actually have God’s thoughts contained in the Bible. And if my experiences have been normative, a professing Christian who doesn’t back up what their association purports is actually a dangerous negative effect for the Kingdom of God on your campus.
What’s a Worldview?
A worldview is simply how you choose to view the world. What lenses are you looking through to gain your perspective on the state of the world? How you perceive God, other people, the world’s problems, our purpose, and our ultimate destination all stems from your personal worldview. A worldview is not something that only your college professors and philosophy majors possess. You already have one whether or not you acknowledge it. The question is: do you have a good worldview?
I have seen many different ways for people to attempt to compile a worldview. Honestly, you can walk away from here with a complete understanding of your worldview if you answer these five simple yet profound questions:
1. Where did it all come from?
2. What went wrong?
3. How do we fix it?
4. What are we supposed to do now?
5. Where is all this heading?
Simple enough? If you would answer those five questions for me, I can ascertain how you view pretty much everything you could encounter in this life and beyond. So before we get into each of those five questions a little deeper, let’s look at some biblical examples of people who were confronted with the same task…
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.