I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Jim Raymo at lunch and discussing the worldview class he is currently leading the January students through. He gladly answered my questions by relaying his life experiences that showed him worldview in action.
Worldview, as described by Dr. Raymo, is a term used to explain a person’s set of assumptions on how to live life. It is the grand story they relay all of life’s experiences to; giving them understanding on how to deal with things that happen. Everyone from the farmer in South Africa to President Nicolas Starkozy has a worldview. It’s our worldview that that teaches us our place in this world, the value of man, the purpose of man, the cure to society, etc.
As he expounded on worldview, it reminded me of when I read Chuck Colson’s book How Now Shall we Live? It gave the reader a fair grasp on the basics of worldview, posing three questions which have stuck with me ever since. The first is Where did we come from? The second is equally as basic, What went wrong with the world? The third is How do we fix it? Pretty basic questions, but it’s always very interesting listening to people’s responses because the person’s worldview, in part, is comprised of these answers.
Dr. Raymo explained worldview to me further by stating that everyone is subject to the same kind of information, but how we interpret that information is dictated by their worldview. It’s almost as if everyone is looking at the same tree in a field, but each group of people has a different color tint in their “worldview glasses,” making the tree different in each culture’s eyes. He shared with me his experiences overseas and how worldview trumps everything. Although worldview is somewhat influenced by culture and culture is also influenced by worldview, worldview tends to win out when the two clash.
The answers differ slightly from person to person here in the States, but in comparing the worldview of a Chinese soldier to a farmer in Arkansas you will see a world of differences.
The first step to effectively reaching a people is by listening to them and understanding their worldview. After understanding their worldview, the next step is to demonstrate the Gospel in a way that dovetails with the cultural values. Examples of this are found in missionary books such as End of the Spear “the trail of Waengongi”, or Don Richardson’s book Peace Child. This does not mean that we compromise on any Christian values. It means that for a culture which is based on shame and honor, we capitalize on the fact that Christ takes away our shame and restores honor to us when we follow him. For a culture that emphasizes on fear and power, we demonstrate how mankind is afraid of death, yet Christ has shown his power over death by rising from the grave.