The word “worldview” has emerged as a leading rally cry in America’s religious conflict, competing with the word “inerrancy.”
Fundamentalists are sponsoring a series of “worldview weekends” across the nation. A columnist told journalism students they needed to bring the Christian worldview to the media. A seminary professor wrote a book titled, Worldviews at War! The Biblical Worldview and Its Place in Society.
At the heart of the worldview movement is the Book of Genesis.
“The first chapters of the Book of Genesis lay the foundation for the biblical worldview,” wrote Allan Moseley, a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary faculty member. “Orthodox Christianity bases its ideas about God; the origin of the world, humanity, sin, judgment, and work; the environment; and society on these chapters.”
“Obviously that we get these chapters right is important,” said Moseley, who wrote the 2002 January Bible study on Genesis 1-12 for the Southern Baptist Convention’s publishing house.
Moseley authored Worldviews at War! and was the interim pastor of Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., affiliated with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.
“A worldview is like a pair of sunglasses; it affects the way we look at everything,” he wrote.
His analogy poses a problem, however. Eyeglasses help us see the world more clearly; sunglasses shade the way the world really is.
If a worldview is like a pair of sunglasses, it distorts our perspective, shading the real nature of the world and coloring the way we read the Bible.
This problem is compounded when only part of the Bible is used to fashion “the biblical worldview.”
Of course, Genesis has been a source of deep disagreement within Christianity. Some use Genesis to defend preexisting worldviews. They read Genesis literally, pitting creationism against the theory of evolution. Others claim Genesis teaches male domination and female subjugation. Still others cite Genesis to justify unfettered development rather than environmental stewardship.
Genesis is used to defend eating meat and the death penalty. It is even used to suggest Ham committed “incestuous homosexuality,” according to the SBC’s January 2002 Bible study of Genesis.
Why Genesis is “the foundation” for a biblical worldview is unclear.
What is clear from Scripture is that Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 KJV). Jesus’ words, witness and work should be at the heart of how Christians see the world and engage it.
Such a biblical, theological and ethical affirmation does not undermine the vitality of Genesis. How we read Genesis no doubt affects the way we look at the world.
BCE has produced a six-session study guide that explores the theme of relationships in Genesis 1-12. We hope these lessons enrich Christian discernment about Genesis. We also hope these sessions broaden the discussion about worldviews.
Visit http://www.baptists4ethics.com/genesis.htm to view a sample lesson and order the curriculum.
Robert Parham is BCE’s executive director.
Robert M. Parham (1953 – 2017) was the founder and executive director of Baptist Center for Ethics from 1991 to 2017. He served as executive editor of EthicsDaily.com, BCE’s website, from its launch in 2002 until 2017.