December 18, 2017

Worldview and Christian Discipleship

Don Johnson

I recently published a review of the book, Biblical Worldview. One of our other writers this week, Greg Baker, touched on the concept of worldview in his article, “The Race That Is Set Before Us.” In our church, our people are working through Dr. Jim Berg’s videos on Essential Virtues. He discusses worldview in Session 4. Finally, after reading and reviewing the book on worldview, I am now teaching its concepts to our church during our adult Sunday school time. I now am seeing the concept everywhere, it’s always on my mind these days.

There are two ways that worldview study has useful applications in Christian ministry. One is in aiding our understanding of the world around us and how to reach it. That is, a good understanding of worldview issues can help us be more effective in communicating the gospel to men and women whose worldviews are opposed to the Biblical worldview.

The other is in the area of discipleship. It is this connection that I’d like to explore briefly below.

Discipleship is the process of leading a new believer into maturity in Christ. In the past, when the Christian worldview had stronger influence in our culture, some aspects of discipleship didn’t present as much challenge as they may do today. In today’s world, if you win a convert from the broader culture, you are very likely going to find the new convert confronted with culture shock as he attempts to absorb and assimilate to a whole new way of looking at the world.

Discipleship has always called for patience on the part of the discipler, but given the cultural (worldview) disparity today, it seems we will need much more than ever before. People I talk to every day have a worldview that sees little wrong if anything wrong with matters the Bible directly addresses: abortion, homosexuality, immorality, marriage, male and female roles, alcohol use, capital punishment, foul language, blasphemy, and on and on. That list doesn’t include subtler issues important to fundamentalist Baptists like music, dress and deportment, church order and attendance and so on. (I say subtler in that though Baptists have strong — and I think Biblical — views on these subjects, they are not as clearly addressed in the Bible as other issues.) In all of these areas and more new converts are confronted with jarring upsets to long cherished belief systems. It is one thing to finally come to faith in Christ as our only saviour from sin, but now the implications of that — loving God with heart, soul, mind and strength — come to play in a major way.

I often wonder if the parable of the soils doesn’t address some similar ideas. When the seed fell on the thorny ground, “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches” choked out the word and it became unfruitful. When the seed fell on the stony ground, “when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” I wonder if some new believers have trouble reconciling their new worldview with the old one, especially when old friends begin to mock and ridicule. The way of the cross seems to become increasingly difficult and the way of the world beckons appealingly.

Matters are made worse by the easy and breezy ways of modern evangelicalism which often syncretizes aspects of the Biblical worldview with the world’s worldview. This mixing of worldly culture with a bit of Jesus thrown in seems quite popular in what we call “broader evangelicalism.” It seems like Christians “over there” are having more fun and the new convert may find it very challenging to adopt the stricter rigors of a truly Biblical worldview.

I have seen converts fall away by both means. One man came to us from a drug and rock culture. He had many troubles, brought on by his lifestyle. After hearing the gospel from us on numerous occasions he finally made a profession of faith in Christ. He began attending church. We often had him in our home, trying to help him along, working through Bible concepts with him. He had a very liberal view of politics and social science. I really tried to stay out of those areas as I wanted to get him grounded in the Word and let the Word of God do the work of fixing his thinking where he needed to change. Alas, he quickly perceived these gaping areas of difference and told me he was leaving. He said, “I want to thank you for turning me on to Jesus, but I can’t accept your politics.” I’ve often wondered what happened to him. He quite deliberately dropped out of our lives and refused to speak to us again.

Another man seemed more successfully converted. He spent some time with us and I invested many hours of personal Bible study and one on one fellowship and discipleship. But somewhere along the way he acquired other Christian friends outside our fellowship. These people, though sincere, were misguided in their application of the Bible to their lives. Their worldview was more of the syncretistic kind. They looked at much of the world just the same as the unsaved lost folks did. The result was that my new convert would occasionally bring up questions challenging “Why do we do X this way when this other church does it a different way.” After a time, this man decided it was easier to satisfy his passions by self-indulgence and less Biblical discipline and he fell away.

Facing these challenges is not easy. I am convinced, however, that the better we understand worldview concepts and learn how to address and communicate them, the more successful we will be. I am glad to say that the two examples I mention above are countered by a number of humble Christians that have been won and are being discipled in our ministry. Praise the Lord! I am sure that our readers know of men and women in their ministries who are experiencing the same. (Of course, we are all being discipled, none of us has made it to full maturity.) Thus, I am convinced that it is possible to bring new converts from darkness to the full light of complete Christian maturity. It takes time, patience, wisdom and the amazing power and intervention of God’s Holy Spirit!

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

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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