With the declining influence of evangelical Christianity in the Western world and especially North America, caused, I believe, mainly by Christianity either buying into or selling out to a dualistic version of Christianity in the early centuries when attempts were made to wed Athens and Jerusalem, as some have labeled it. So much of the expression of modern day Christianity embraces a strong Platonic and Neo-Platonic framework that Christians actually embrace the dichotomy paradigm-the sacred and the secular, the natural and the spiritual. Luther’s two kingdom concept built on Aquinas’s dualistic paradigm has not helped especially in modern day evangelical circles. Therefore multitudes of Christians have embraced the notion that there is a religious part of our lives and a non-religious, instead of seeing God’s rule over all areas of life.
Thankfully there are some within evangelical, and especially evangelical and reformed Christianity, that are waking up to the fact that Christianity is a religion not only concerned about a personal relationship with our triune God, but it is an entire way of life-that in being a Christian more is required than simply praying and witnessing to the saving work of Christ, important and central as those are. Charles Colson, especially through his Centurion Program and other resrouces are beginning to emphasize more and more the reality that Christianity is a world and life view religion. There is no dualism or dichotomy between Sunday and the rest of the week for Christians.
Glenn Sunshine, professor of history and a teacher in the Centurion Program has written a powerful and readable book that not only surveys that background and development of worldviews and why people have and think the way they do, which is determined by one’s world view. Sunshine’s definition of worldview is basically the same or similar to what others of us say, that worldview is our operating system, the glasses through which we see what is happening in the world and does so in a way that enables us to give some interpretation and understanding of reality. What is real? (Metaphysic); what can I know and how? (Epistemology); and are there such things as right and wrong and if so how do we know? (Ethics). Those are the kinds of questions upon which answers reflect our world and life view and, by the way, everyone, not only philosophers, has a worldview. Not everyone shares the same worldview but nonetheless worldview is present with every normal person.
In 13 chapters Sunshine defines and elaborates on worldview and proceeds, starting with ancient Rome, to show how worldviews so influential on our western way of life have developed. This book is very profound in the ground it covers but it does so in a way that a non-academician can handle. Blending simplicity, without being simplistic, Sunshine sets forth a historical survey which provides us with a foundation to understand why things are seemingly coming apart in our world today and how the rise and fall of modernity and the rise of postmodernism clearly reflect a worldview paradigm that enables us to better answer the question “why do we and others think the way we do and why do they differ especially among Christians and non-Christians. Not only does the author remind us of how we have lost the image of God concept, regarding man, he relates that to how and why things such as infanticide, abortion, euthanasia, and the entire human rights movement are so diversified and relativized today.
Even the lightest observation reminds us that Western civilization is at a crossroads today. Reading the daily news paper or watching the news via the media are a constant reminder that things are extremely fragmented creating much uncertainty and discomfort among us. Understanding how we have come to where we are is a clue and key to knowing what we can and should do about it from a Christian perspective. As Sunshine reminds us and illustrates so clearly, we are losing more and more of our cultural distinctives as pluralism is leading the way to relativism, as we see our freedom and liberty being turned into license without restraint, as our belief in the alienable sanctity of life is challenged. As the book brings us up to date, it also contains things such as global warming, the sexual revolution, the politicalization of language. What feeds the idea that it is alright as long as it does not hurt anyone and then on to even if it does, so what?
Read this book! Use it with small group study and discussion! Sunday school and other classroom settings would find it invaluable. Above all, do not ignore it. The stakes are too high for Christians not to have a clear understanding of what is happening in our world today and some idea of what God would have us do.