For this last installment of the book lists for my upcoming fall classes at Boyce College, we will focus on a class I have been teaching for a few years now and one of the first classes I taught. I really enjoy walking with students through some of the most important ideas that have shaped our world as we seek to understand what we believe, why we believe it, and why all of this matters in the Christian life. This course is designed to introduce major philosophical ideas as they connect with cultural analysis. My overall goal for this class is to help students develop critical thinking skills as we seek to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt 22:37-39).
In this class, we first start by unpacking what we mean by the term worldview which is a term that has taken on significant baggage in recent decades. While this concept can be controversial in some circles as many think that the concept has been abused and misused, I think that a worldview is still an extremely beneficial concept for us today as we seek to understand the fullness of who God is, how he has created us, and how he calls us to live in this world. Whether we realize it or not, we each have a particular worldview or philosophy whether we are Christian or not. Understanding our own worldview and those around us is central to the Christian life and to the process of discipleship.
As we unpack the terminology, varying definitions from across Christian and non-Christian philosophy, and related ideas such as a world and life view or even a social imaginary, I like to put before my students my own definition of worldview and talk about its strengths and weaknesses. My definition is pretty simple and highlights two critical elements to any worldview.
A conceptual framework for understanding the nature of reality and how we are to live accordingly
In this definition, I focus on two primary elements contained within a worldview that serve as the bookends to a larger set of ideas that we unpack throughout the semester. First, the nature of reality focuses on our beliefs, including our most fundamental beliefs about God and the universe. We acknowledge that whether we believe in God or not, everyone has a theology (at least a negative theology). Second, we focus on how we are to live and what we do in light of what we believe. We discuss at length that what we believe shapes what we do and what we do reveals what we truly believe. In the larger framework that we examine in class (theology, anthropology, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics), these two elements of theology and ethics serve as the backbone of any and all worldviews/philosophies.
Throughout this course, we explore ideas, concepts, people, and movements that shape our perspective of the world and the perspective of those in our families, churches, neighborhoods, communities, and nation. As we do this, one of my primary goals in this course and the marker of if I succeed as a professor is if my students are not only able to clearly articulate their own worldview and explain the prevailing worldviews in our society today, but also if they are able to engage other people with truth, grace, and charity.
Education is not simply about memorizing a set of facts or regurgitating a list of our tribe’s talking points, but being transformed as a whole person as we speak uncompromised truth in uncompromised grace. Part of this holistic transformation is the cultivation of virtue, including the virtue of epistemic humility which we focus on throughout our studies of various worldviews.
Below are the texts we will read together this fall:
- ESV Scripture Journal: Proverbs. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019.
- Jacobs, Alan. How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds. New York: Currency, 2017.
- Sire, James. Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept. 2nd Edition. Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2015.
- Thacker, Jason. Following Jesus in a Digital Age. Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2022.
- Trueman, Carl. Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022.
If you or someone you know is interested in taking a class like this, make sure to check out the programs and offerings we have at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky. Learn more and apply now at boycecollege.com.
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