Everyone has some type of worldview, but Christians are to hold a biblical worldview, which means that every decision and action should be shaped by the Truth that was from the beginning—Jesus Christ. The question to consider is not whether you have a worldview, but rather, is your worldview true? If Christians don’t use discernment, we can allow popular worldviews to confuse us. BJU Press is committed to upholding a biblical worldview in education. We also want to help you, as a homeschool parent or educator, understand different worldviews so you can help shape a biblical worldview in your children and make informed decisions about the curriculum you use.
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Many times the Bible calls Christians to be set apart—we are holy, consecrated, chosen, sanctified. But what does it mean to be set apart as a Christian homeschool family? At times, you may feel that you are set apart simply by being a homeschool family, but as more families recognize the impact of public education on their children, secular homeschooling also becomes more popular. If secular families can adopt the homeschool lifestyle, it isn’t inherently Christian. What, then, makes education Christian? It is possible to be a dedicated Christian family that attends church regularly and still miss a vital element of biblical worldview education.
What is that vital element of biblical worldview education? It has to do with how we look at the world—with our worldviews. Secularism has had a profound impact on the Christian worldview, and many of us don’t even realize that we’re holding a secular worldview.
The Two Stories of the World
At BJU Press, we often talk amongst ourselves about the two-story view. You could also call it a secular disconnect. It’s a worldview that divides the things we encounter into two separate levels, like a two-story house. Each story holds certain aspects of the world. The second story is God’s level. It’s where we attend church and have Bible studies. For Christians, it’s where we keep our testimonies and our morals. Our positions on the major political “hot topics” usually come from here.
The first story is the world’s level. It’s supposed to be a neutral level where religious views don’t matter. That’s the definition of secularism: indifference to, rejection of, or exclusion of religion and religious considerations, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. In the lower level, we aren’t supposed to use our upper-story views to make decisions because they shouldn’t be relevant. Here, you find math, spelling, and grammar lessons. Here are all the science lessons that aren’t related to creation. After all, how can knowledge of the Bible change how we teach math, spelling, or grammar? Isn’t an igneous rock an igneous rock regardless of how it came to be?
Problems of a Two-Story View
Obviously, this view has problems. For Christians, our faith is the foundation for all of our interactions with the world. It’s the basis for every decision we make, whether we’re at home, at church, in the grocery store, or in a courtroom. If we take away the very foundation for our decision making process, then we have no business attempting to influence anyone in the world according to our morals, our principles, and our beliefs.
This view also changes education. If the Bible only belongs in Bible things—at church, in Bible class, or personal devotions—then it can’t be relevant to non-Bible subjects. Sure, you can talk about the Bible in math class, but it doesn’t connect to the lesson. The lesson is as secular as if it were taught in a public school. And Bible integration? It’s just a corresponding Bible verse or devotional that’s been tacked on.
A Biblical Worldview Education
If God’s world is God’s world, then there’s no part of His creation the Bible doesn’t apply to. Christians should not see the world divided into “Bible things” and the world’s things. They should see Christ’s lordship in all things. Christ is lord of the world just as He is lord of the church. This is the reality that a biblical worldview education teaches.
BJU Press materials use the Big Story of creation to teach Christ’s power and lordship, highlighting His intentions for the world at Creation, the brokenness of the world because of human sin in the Fall, and His plan for the world’s redemption.
With this story, we acknowledge not only the beauty of God’s creation, but also its brokenness. For example, God created communication, and it was good. Because we are sinful, we often communicate in twisted ways. But God can sanctify our ability to communicate so we can use it for His glory. We study grammar so we can communicate well without distorting Christ’s message.
If children can learn to recognize how the Fall distorts things that God created good, then they can also learn how to live faithfully in light of God’s redemptive work in their lives. We work through this model in all our subjects so children aren’t learning secular lessons with a verse tacked on at the end. Instead, the Bible shapes their world. We want to equip them to respond to the secular mindset that divides the world.
A biblical worldview education reshapes how your children think about the world. With a strong foundation, they can have biblical discernment and can account for the fallen nature of the world. That is how to set your children apart from the world: by teaching them to think differently from the world.
Some Christian educators watch with concern as students finish a “Christian worldview education.” They observe that sometimes these students are too quick to label ideas such as feminism and Marxism in order to dismiss them without engaging with understanding.
This can be a real problem. If students fail to understand ideas that they don’t agree with, they won’t be able to communicate thoughtfully about false worldviews. But what can we do to help them think biblically about distorted worldviews?
The problem is not with worldview education but with how worldview is taught. Worldview education must go beyond rote memorization of charts with categories. Instead, students must be taught to analyze from the correct biblical perspective (i.e., through the lens of Creation, Fall, and Redemption). Only then will they be able to evaluate precisely how false worldviews twist God’s good design.
One way to represent Creation, Fall, Redemption is to illustrate it with the terms structure (God’s creational norms) and direction (bending God’s norms in a fallen direction or bending fallen direction back towards God’s creational design). In other words, children must understand how creational norms and sinful direction work in the formation of wrong ideas.
We teach our children in order to impart wisdom to them, but where can wisdom be found? It begins when our children fear the Lord by submitting to His wisdom rather than embracing evil (Prov. 9:10). God reveals His wisdom in Scripture, but Scripture also directs us to observe God’s wise design in creation (Ps. 19:1; Prov. 8:22–31).God created His world to work in a certain way—according to His blueprint of wisdom. So paying attention to how God created the world to work in the beginning reveals principles for living according to His wise design in the present. These principles can be called “creational norms” because they were present at creation.
There are creational norms for marriage (Matt. 19:4–8), economics (Exod. 20:9; 2 Thess. 3:11–12), science (Gen. 8:22), and every other facet of life (Isa. 28:24–29). In some areas, we have direct comment from God’s Word. Others come through careful observation of creation.
Of course, each of us is corrupted by the Fall. We inevitably bend God’s creational norms in a way that suits our sinful ways. Some people push against the norms a little and some push a lot. In every case, sinners think of their vision of bent norms as correct and natural. While false worldviews can’t completely ignore creational norms, they bend those norms to fit their vision for individuals and society. The creational norms are still present but in a twisted state.
The challenge for believers is discerning between what part of the sinner’s vision is creational and what part is sinful direction. Christians have an obligation to identify creational norms. Of course, we’re going to engage with many ideas that push these norms in a bad direction. Some of these bad directions have been codified into law and large institutions.
When we encounter these norms, bent in a sinful direction, we should seek to live faithfully in light of redemption by pushing back in a redemptive direction, that is, back toward their creational state.
The Case of Marriage
A discussion of creational norms and sinful direction is difficult to understand without an example. So let’s examine marriage as an illustration of how these principles work out. God created marriage when He made humans male and female. He even gave us a direct word on what marriage should look like in Genesis 2:23–24. This passage outlines the creational norm for marriage.
Very quickly after the fall, people started bending marriage in various sinful directions. Polygamy and serial divorce were and continue to be serious examples of bending marriage in a sinful direction.
When God graciously gave his people the law, He pressed them towards the creational norm. We might have predicted that He would ban divorce, but He didn’t. He regulated it very strictly (Deuteronomy 24:1–5). God put in place legal protections for women being divorced by their husbands.
God still hates divorce; Jesus made that clear. But He understood that the people were evil and were going to divorce, so He established laws that protected a woman when a husband decides to divorce.
When the Lord graciously gave Israel laws, He modeled a reformational approach to creational norms that has been twisted by the Fall. In a civil setting, He moved His people towards His creational norms without legally requiring something they would not do. To be clear, God calls us to take radical action against personal sin. But in the civil setting, His laws guided His people like children to make reasonable steps toward the norm.
Reformation requires nuance and understanding of the creational norms and the false worldview. Only then can we discern a corrective step that doesn’t create the chaos that comes with radical measures.
Effective Worldview Education
When we teach our children science, history, math, and literature, we want them to develop skills in finding creational norms. As our children grow, they need to learn to understand and evaluate false worldviews that twist creational norms. Finally, our children need to begin learning to create steps to reform within their context.
This kind of worldview education produces children who do more than dismiss. It enables them to create reformation steps in their generation. To help you equip your children to do just that, BJU Press provides in-depth treatment of these concepts in our Biblical Worldview textbook.
The aftermath of the Fall is all around us. Today’s mounting concern about issues such as global warming, deforestation, and animal extinction is evidence of that, and homeschool families like yours are often more aware of current issues and events than others.
Though we don’t have the power to stop the deterioration of our environment, it’s our duty as good stewards to care for the world God has given us to the best of our ability. While it may be true that those who spend their lives studying the climate, plants, and animals know best how to care for them, that doesn’t mean we all have to become meteorologists, ecologists, and botanists in order to fulfill our responsibilities. You may have dreamed of your child one day making a great scientific contribution—what parent wouldn’t?—but not every child can be a scientist.
So what is the bigger purpose of your children studying science from elementary to high school? Studying science should give your children the tools they need to take better care of creation.
There are two key tools that your children will gain in science lessons.
• A practical understanding of how the world works
When they know how the world works, they can make informed decisions about real-world issues. If your children don’t know the factors that contribute to climate change, they won’t be able to choose a practical solution to incorporate into everyday life. They may choose something that seems effective without knowing the consequences of that choice. On the other hand, if your children do know those factors, they’ll be able to recognize when suggested solutions either won’t last or will merely substitute one problem for another.
• The ability to think like scientists
Science should teach your children to research, observe, and verify under varying circumstances. Rather than expecting them to go into their adult lives pre-equipped with all the knowledge they will need, we should make sure our children are able and willing to do the work of finding answers to problems they’ve never encountered before.
As a graduate assistant, I helped teach a rhetorical writing class. My students all had to write their research papers on energy technology and policy, a subject most of them knew very little about. It was always obvious when my students thought they could succeed in writing the paper through their own knowledge of the subject alone. They weren’t willing to find out what they needed to know about energy in order to do well on the paper.
BJU Press textbooks drive home a practical understanding of the world and of scientific thinking as they weave together a biblical worldview (presenting the Creation Mandate for Christians as well as the demonstration of God’s character in nature) and the discipline of the scientific method. Life Science for Grade 7 explores the potential benefits of biofuels, while Biology for Grade 10 focuses on a balanced view of the conservation of the earth’s resources.
Armed with both an understanding of the world and a willingness to learn, your children will be better equipped to appropriately use creation, even if they don’t develop a revolutionary new fuel system.
Homeschooling is an extraordinary experience. We have our children at home all the time. As Christian parents, we get to instill our values in them in a Deuteronomy 6:7 sort of way. In fact, that scriptural command is why we want to give our children a Christian education. To do that we have to base everything we teach on a biblical worldview.
But what is a worldview? One online dictionary says that a worldview is a “collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group,” but that’s a little generic. Consider this definition from Merriam-Webster for English Language Learners: “The way someone thinks about the world.” Again, not very specific, especially when we’re trying to construct a solid foundation for our children’s education.
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, uses a metaphor that I really like. He talks about worldview as a pair of glasses. This illustration resonates with me because it brings the concept of worldview from the philosophical realm into everyday experience.
Ken talks about how two equally intelligent scientists can look at the exact same evidence (say, the Grand Canyon) and come to two completely different conclusions. It’s because they’re viewing it through different lenses. One scientist looks at the Grand Canyon through biblical glasses and sees evidence of Noah’s Flood. The other looks at the Grand Canyon through uniformitarian glasses (the idea that all geological events happen in “uniform” ways) and sees evidence of millions of years. The conclusion each scientist comes to is based on his or her worldview, which determines how he or she views the evidence.
A worldview answers several crucial questions for those who hold it, including where we came from and why we are here. A worldview defines what it means to be human. So we can distinguish one worldview from another by its answers to those questions.
However, most of us don’t think in terms of these grand questions as we go about our everyday lives. But our worldview is still there, shaping the way we see the world.
A simpler way to understand worldview is to think of it as a story—or better yet, a big story. For most people, the answers to life’s most challenging questions fit into a story. This is helpful since small children routinely use stories to interpret their world. But it’s not just for children, adults also think about the world through the lens of the stories they believe.
Telling Different Stories
Seeing worldviews as stories helps Christians understand our own worldview. The Bible is, among other things, a big story. It tells us that God created the universe but His good creation was thrown into disorder by human sin. It also tells us how God is working to redeem humankind from that sin.
Secular humanists tell a different story. They tell a tale of great human progress taking place without God’s involvement. They tell stories about how religion often stops human progress. Their heroes are people who stand up against the church. And scientists like Bill Nye look to education to “save” people apart from God.
Getting the Narrative Right
The stories told by secular humanism dominate public education. That’s why so many Christians have opted for homeschooling. When we homeschool our children, we can tell them the Bible’s true account of creation, fall, and redemption every day of the week.
But there’s a potential problem—if we use curriculum shaped by the secular humanists’ stories then those educational materials will argue for secular humanism. And we can’t change the core argument of secular education by adding devotionals on top—like icing on a cake. We have to teach from a biblical worldview perspective from the get-go.
Science, history, math, and literature must be based on the narrative of creation, fall, and redemption. This true story changes the way we view everything, including education.
Think of ways the Bible’s story changes the way we view subjects such as literature and history.