November 18, 2017

Review: Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption

Biblical WorldviewWard, Mark L., et al. Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption. Greenville, SC: BJU Press, 2016.

Reviewed by Don Johnson

BJU Press recently released Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption, a new textbook for Christian schools. It’s intended audience is the twelfth grade and would be taught in a Bible or Religion classroom. The writing is geared for the high school level and often touches on such subjects as “What will you do with your life (now that you have this information)?” Those of us who approach the subject many years removed from high school may find these references nostalgic.

Mark Ward is the Lead Author for the book. Mark now works for FaithLife in Bellingham, WA. You can follow Mark’s writing here and he writes a monthly column in our FrontLine magazine. Mark informs me that he hopes one day that the book might be published in a trade paperback edition which would likely lower the cost and target a more general audience.

The subject of worldview is an important one for anyone attempting to communicate from a Christian perspective in a non-Christian culture. The swift pace of change Christians are experiencing these days causes much consternation, bewilderment, shock, horror, and anger as we are confronted with a culture foreign to us. How do we communicate with people who think so differently from us? What has happened to the people we grew up with? Have they lost their minds? No, they are simply living out their fallen worldview. The further men go from God, the more twisted their view of the world becomes and the chaos we see is the result.

Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption first defines worldview for us in three chapters discussing the notion of worldviews (affirming that everyone has one!), then demonstrating how worldviews rest on presuppositions, and finally contesting the notion that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. These chapters are important for understanding the concept. Many “Ahah!” moments should greet the Christian reader here. The view of the authors is a Biblical worldview, so it is not surprising to find that you are constantly drawn to the Scriptures to orient your own thinking and understanding about worldviews.

“This connection between the fear of the Lord and knowledge points to a key truth: a worldview isn’t just a ‘head’ system. One reason a person’s worldview can be inconsistent, wrong, and even evil is that worldviews grow ultimately from the heart.” (p. 8)

The next nine chapters of Biblical Worldview are the heart of the book. The view of the authors is that the Biblical worldview can be summed up under these three heads: Creation, Fall, Redemption. If your thinking sets out on the basis that the Biblical depiction of these events are foundational to all we know and believe, you will look at the world biblically. To the extent that you are rigorous in your adherence to this view, you will interpret the world correctly. I think the Christian reader will find little to dispute in these chapters.

The chapters on Creation are: God the Creator, Man and His Mandate, Everything God Made Was Very Good. These chapters ground our understanding in what God did in creating the world and his intention for man to fill the earth and have dominion over it. We will look at the Fall in a moment, but the fact is that the Fall did not remove the mandate, it corrupted the worker. Man still works to fulfill the mandate, but his work almost always fails to achieve God’s order to one degree or another. Still, the drive to fill the earth and subdue creation tends to make the world a better place (though man’s efforts are flawed).

“God created the world for the same reason a spring keeps bubbling out water: it’s God’s nature to overflow. The mutual love of the Trinity has a tendency to spill over. It isn’t lack but abundance that makes God, the spring, pour out His love on creatures He creates. There is something rather than nothing because it is the very nature of God to pour out His love on — and display his wondrous glory to — others.” (p. 54)

The section on the Fall addresses: Far as the Curse Is Found, Common Grace, the World, and You, Structure and Direction. The Fall upset everything. “Adam’s Fall flipped the world upside down. He was supposed to submit to God just as his wife submitted to him (Eph 5.22), and as animals submitted to them both (Gen 1.28). Instead an animal led Eve, who led Adam — who blamed God.” (p. 96) All that God intended for his creation could no longer be fulfilled in the way God intended it. God who loved and therefore created found his creation turned on him and made his enemy. The God of love nevertheless sustains his creation and calls his people within that creation to push our world back towards its original untwisted state (though this will only ultimately be accomplished by God himself at the Last Day). The Fall makes it much harder to function according to the Creation mandate, but we have more than common grace, we have actual grace through redemption, which is the section that comes next.

“Culture is what we make of the good creation. When we are twisted, we create a twisted culture. So everywhere you look in human culture you will see not just in individuals but cultural products and institutions that are distorted, abnormal, sick, dysfunctional, corrupted and vain. They have all been twisted by the Fall.” (p. 104)

The Redemption section contains these chapters: An Everlasting Kingdom, Redeemed for Good Works, The Mission of the Church and Your Vocation. Redemption, as we can see from Romans 8, is not simply for the end of redeeming souls from sin (though that is surely the focus of redemption). Redemption is meant to lay the groundwork for ultimate restoration of all creation for God’s glory. Consequently, there is much that we must do as we make disciples and spread the good news of redemption in Christ Jesus. “God hasn’t abandoned any aspect of human life, and neither should we.” (p. 151) Though we struggle in this age against long odds and much opposition, we still have a direction to head as we live out our lives for the Lord. We may suffer in this age and we will surely not succeed in bringing about the ultimate restoration, that is the Lord’s mandate. But we can participate with him, especially in restoring individuals to a right relationship with him and a redeemed view of the world.

“In the short term, evil seems to triumph. That’s because Jesus now exercises his royal power to save, not to judge. So now is not the time for winning. Now is not the time for reigning.” (p. 160)

The remainder of the book takes the Creation, Fall, Redemption worldview (CFR) and applies it to the world we live in under five heads: Gender, Government, Science, History, Art & Culture. These aspects of our world certainly demand our attention. We cannot escape their intrusion on our lives at multitudinous points. In a confusing and conflicted world, Christians need to know how God intended man to function in these areas (the Creation aspect of a Biblical worldview). We also need to understand what happened to all that (the Fall aspect of a Biblical worldview). And, finally, we need to know what we can and should do about it (the Redemption aspect of a Biblical worldview).

The book is very well done with several outstanding chapters. As a textbook, it is somewhat pricier than the average book, but it is well worth the reading for every pastor and Christian leader, not just for high school seniors! One hopes that the target audience will receive the book as enthusiastically as this reviewer does. Young people today are confronted with many powerful messages that contradict and seemingly overwhelm the Biblical worldview held by their churches and parents. If a young person takes the material in this book seriously, they will be greatly helped to prevail and overcome the pernicious effect of our over-bold culture.

I highly recommend this book. You may order it here.


Don Johnson is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.


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