The Theology of a Worldview

As any ardent follower of Pilgrims Rest Stop by now would know questions of worldview and theology are very important to me. Everyone has a worldview and every believer at least is some kind of theologian. The relationship between the two is closer than I had imagined.

In The New Testament and the People of God Tom Wright describes a worldview as a theology. I found this idea interesting but I was not particularly convinced. Theology is more or less theoretical whilst worldviews function at a pre-theoretical level. The connection seemed too general. However, in The Bible Among the Myths by John N. Oswalt, the author ably addresses the question of polytheism versus monotheism in precisely worldview terms. Whatever theism you subscribe to (or do not subscribe to for that matter) religious belief is a universal human phenomenon across all human history. Religion points to something deeper and bigger than us.

One word you will find quite a lot in the James W. Sire classic The Universe Next Door is ultimate. Worldviews deal with ultimate issues, ultimate reality, meaning, authority etc. Theology addresses perhaps the ultimate issue of life itself, the god question. As T. Austin-Sparks so profoundly put it, worship is the ultimate issue of the universe and everything else is related to it. Who or what god is addresses the issue of ultimate reality. How we live our lives is dependent on our perception of reality, the very truth we serve for the rest of our lives, whether it is God, gods, or no god at all. It is something so basic, so fundamental, and so obvious we are usually unaware of it.

Theology addresses the fundamental questions of life which are according to Ravi Zacharias, origin, environment (which I added from The New Testament and the People of God), meaning, morality and destiny. It is told through stories and it is worked out through symbolic praxis. Tom Wright shows the four elements of a worldview can be found in theology. We should not only look at theology as an academic discipline. We must acknowledge the study of God, like any study, grew out of a search answers, for coherence and meaning in life. Theology is not quibbling over superficial details but it is an essential part of the fabric of who we are and how we live in this world.

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