December 2017 / January 2018 - Vol. 95

open Bible
                  and man walking towards the cross
. A Solid Christian Worldview and Age Appropriate Goals
by Michael Shaughnessy

Age Appropriate Goals
The previous Youth Culture Newsletter noted that intentional discipleship must include age appropriate goals. The foundation of discipleship (at any age) must be the intention to live one’s life according to the teaching of the Lord and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The phrase “Jesus is Lord” must be applied to one’s own life. This month we will look at another key goal: having a solid, comprehensive Christian worldview.

What Is a Worldview?
A worldview is the way you make sense out of all reality. How you understand everything altogether. In short: how you view the world. It integrates all the big bits of reality (spiritual, intellectual, moral, emotional, scientific, relational, or physical) into one whole that stands up to serious questioning.

Everyone has a worldview of some sort. A person might be educated or uneducated, liberal or conservative, rich or poor, non-believing or God-fearing, but people act the way they do because they are rational. They justify their behavior based on their worldview. It is our nature as human beings.

Today, most people have some form of postmodern worldview. Some have the lazy version: they see no need for everything to make consistent sense. It’s a “whatever” worldview. They are easily deceived. The lack of rationality might be a sign that we are becoming less human.

Other post-moderns just attack any worldviews they don’t like. They can’t put together their own very well, but they can tear down others.

Many Christians have a cobbled together worldview. Their truths and principles don’t fit together very neatly. “As long as you’re happy” doesn’t sit very well next to “always do the right thing.” And “look out for number one” harmonizes poorly with “love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”

Many people hold an incomplete, materialist-scientific worldview that ignores the spiritual. It will debate: “How the universe came into existence,” but not “Why did it come into existence?”

Yet, “Why questions?” are the ones that lead us to want a coherent worldview. By the time we were three years old we were asking “why?” We started with everyday things. Why is the sky blue? Why do cats meow and dogs bark? Why do trees lose their leaves? Why do I have to eat my vegetables? We wanted to understand how every-thing in life fit together and how to relate to it all.

As teens we began to ask: why do I exist? What is my purpose? Our “why” questions got personal! My “self” didn’t know why my self existed!

Teens want a coherent world-view. It is an important and powerful age-appropriate goal.

The Right Worldview
Almost every culture until recently has believed there is a correct, non-self-contradicting worldview. They may have added, “We don’t know for sure what it is! But everything does work in some kind of order.”

Is there one correct worldview? Yes. It is God’s worldview.

In the beginning was the Word. All things were created through him (John 1) and in him all things hold together (Col 1:7). That is to say, all things do fit together.

If all things were created by a single divine mind, all truth must form a single, coherent, consistent system. Truth has to be unified and universal in order to be TRUE. If there is a God, then there is one correct world-view: his. Our job is now simple. It is to ask what is that world-view and how can I learn it?

I’m not omniscient. My point of view is certainly incomplete. It is likely flawed, but God’s isn’t. Still, my point of view can be far more correct than someone else’s, especially someone who does not have any idea about where to look for the true one.

Knowing Where to Start
The Irish tell a joke about a man who doesn’t know the way to Dublin. He comes upon a farmer and asks him, “How do you get to Dublin from here?” The farmer replies, “Well, I wouldn’t start from here.”

We all start putting together our worldview as children. It is a marvelous advantage that we are equipped by God with a mind that is inclined toward truth not error. Our first “faith” is in our senses: we react to pain, hunger, etc. We then learn to reason.

As a young boy, my worldview was a “street view.” It was limited to what I could actually see, on foot, on my bike, or in a car. I did not have a view of the whole. Then I learned how to read a map. I had a view from the top. I could see where my road went, where my town was and how things fit together.
Gradually, the map of the world made sense. Then I had to master the global view and finally a view of the universe. My world went from what I saw “right now” to understanding the universe. What in German is called “Das Weltall!”

The world of truth is similar. It is possible to form a coherent worldview that works from any direction, that puts together faith, family, history, science, morality, politics, etc. into one coherent whole, but where do you start?

Typically in our teens, we begin to wrestle with where our fundamental faith will rest. We start putting together our own adult worldview. The key question is whether we will start with faith in God or faith in something less, like science, senses, feelings or myself? The best answer is: any system of thought that is not founded on faith in God is necessarily founded on faith in something less.

Age Appropriate Goals
One of the most important areas to have age appropriate goals is having a Christian intellect. In Kairos we think it is possible to teach high school youth the foundations of a Christian worldview, one that is rooted in understanding that truth exists and God is its source. And those foundations are the Bible, catechetics, (the ordered teaching of the church), and apologetics (answers to the tough questions of faith).

Age appropriate goals for university aged students build on that foundation. University students should know where to search when confused, and be able to engage new falsehoods with alacrity and worldly people with graciousness and firmness.

Meeting these age related goals can equip our young people to stand firm in their faith.

top illustration by (c) Kevin Carden
Michael Shaughnessy Michael Shaughnessy is the Kairos director for the Sword of the Spirit both in North America and Internationally. He is the editor of the Kairos Youth Culture Newsletter. Kairos is an international federation of outreaches to high school, university and post university aged people.
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