Advanced Worldview Analysis - Lesson 1

Introduction to Advanced Worldview Analysis

Discussion of the content of a worldview and the criteria used to evaluate worldviews.

Ronald Nash
Advanced Worldview Analysis
Lesson 1
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Introduction to Advanced Worldview Analysis

Introduction - Some Preliminary Questions

I. What is worldview thinking?

II. What is the content of a Christian worldview?

III. What criteria should we use to evaluate worldviews?

IV. How do we determine the content of a Christian worldview?

A. Scripture

B. Topics not addressed by Scripture

V. What method do we use to arrive at the content of a worldview?

A. Deductive Approach

B. Inductive Approach

  • Discussion of the content of a worldview and the criteria used to evaluate worldviews.

  • Discussion of liberalism and conservatism, and statism and anti-statism.

  • Political systems fall along a continuum between the extremes of anarchism and totalitarianism.

  • People favoring statism support extensive government involvement in education and social programs.

  • From a biblical point of view, statism is evil.

  • Discussion of justice on an individual and corporate level.

  • An economy based on capitalism has much less government involvement than an economy based on socialism.

  • Interventionism is a capitalistic economic system in which government gets involved to allow free exchange within a framework of laws.

  • Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of capitalism.

  • Two basic concepts of economics are limited resources and the choices we make that reflect our values.

  • Marxism is an economic system based on the idea of a class struggle with the goal of a classless society.

  • Article from The Free Market

  • The Bible and Socialism, Moral Defense of Capitalism

  • We are responsible to be a good steward of the wealth God gives us to manage.

  • Some of the root causes of poverty are government, social and religious systems.

  • Liberation theology is an ideology promoted by people trained in Marxism. True liberation theology delivers people from tyranny, poverty and sin.

  • Christians ought to care about poverty and oppression. People who hold differing economic and social theories propose very different approaches and solutions to these problems.

  • Discussion of the differences between evangelical liberals and conservatives.

  • Guest Lecturer, Alejandro Moreno-Morrison discussing the inflation of rights.

  • Guest Lecturer, Alejandro Moreno-Morrison discusses legal positivism.

  • A balanced approach toward environmentalism is needed because it can be a serious threat to individual liberty.

  • Discussion of how people work in a capitalistic system to address environmental concerns.

  • The public school system in the United States has fostered functional illiteracy, cultural illiteracy, and moral/spiritual illiteracy.

  • Discussion of the pros and cons of setting up a voucher system to fund the education system.

In this class, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of advanced worldview analysis, starting with an introduction to the concept of a worldview and its importance. You will explore the various components that make up a worldview, including epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and anthropology. The course delves into analyzing different worldviews such as theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, and existentialism. Finally, you will learn about the role of the church and individual believers in engaging with culture and responding to worldview challenges, as well as strategies for effective communication of your own worldview.

Dr. Ronald Nash
Advanced Worldview Analysis
Introduction to Advanced Worldview Analysis
Lesson Transcript


What it boils down to is this, as what most of you know, in a course like History of Philosophy, and Apologetics and Ethics, if you take the Ethics course, I describe the importance of worldview thinking in general. And I'm, not going to repeat that here. Anyone who wishes can either listen to the other tapes or get some of the books for the other tapes. But well maybe I will say one or two minutes here. Everybody has a worldview. Problem is very few people know that they have a worldview and that they have no idea what a worldview is. And they have no idea or little idea about how worldviews control the way people behave, and the way people think. In those other courses we deal with what I call the 5 most important issues of worldview thinking. I’ll just write those here briefly 1) the questions of God- Is there a God, what is God like? 2) The question of ultimate reality- which philosophers describe with the technical word metaphysics- how old is the universe? How did the world get here? What is the relationship between the universe and God. And then the question of knowledge. Is knowledge possible? How do we know the truth? Is truth relative or is truth absolute and unchanging? 4) And then ethics- What are the principles of right and wrong behaviour? Are those principles absolute and unchanging? And then the fifth of these would be what do we know about human nature? What is a man? What is a woman? What is a human being? Are we just bodies and when that body dies does that mean the end of the human being or is there conscious existence after death? Those are questions that I cover in those other courses. But the Christian worldview offers important insights into every important question in life, and the purpose of this course is to explorer what the Christian worldview has to say about such issues as government. I'm just writing this word and I went back to my office to get my Bible and I forgot to bring my Bible. I'm looking around for a spiritual student. Oh that's the New Century version. I need a Schofield Reference Bible. Does no one else have a Bible here? Oh well, then we will use this one. But what does the Biblical worldview have to say about government? What does it have to say about law? Now we have a lawyer in our presence and he has volunteered later in the semester to tell you everything he knows about the law, which won't take him very long, will it? Now, I plan to say just a little bit today but I don’t think I'll step on your toes, will I? Because I do know a little about justice. So we'll going to talk a little about government, law. We'll going to talk a little bit about economic, and we may in fact, even though government and law go together, we can move the subject of law back a few weeks if you need more time. I think we'll move you back a little. And then, education, and if time permits, the environment. And if time permits and as one thing leads to another as some of you think of other issues that would be in these domains feel free to welcome them. Give me a note, advise me about them and we could talk about these issues as well.

Now we have 4 textbooks. One of them is 'The Closing of the American Heart- What's really Wrong with America’s Schools'. That's my book about American education. The there is 'Poverty and Wealth' which is my economics textbook. Then there is 'Beyond Liberation Theology', a book that I co-authored with a very interesting guy from Nicaragua, named Umberto Belli. When the communist Sandinistas took control of Nicaragua in the 1980-81, somewhere in there, Umberto Belli during the 1970s was growing up in Nicaragua. Umberto Belli was a professed Marxist. But then he was converted to the Christian faith. Its pretty hard to be a communist and a Christian at the same time. He grew up with many of the Marxist Sandinistas. They went to the same schools together. When they took control of Nicaragua, he went into exile with his family, strengthened his commitment to the Christian faith. He and I met on a couple of occasions became of mutual friends. But then when the Sandinistas were ousted in 1991 and the democratic government of Violetta Chamorro was elected, which is not to say that this government did not have its problems because it did. Belli became Director of Education, the cabinet position, what do we call this? Secretary of Education. Today he is the President of a college in Nicaragua and so on. 'Poverty and Wealth' and then this book, 'Why the Left is not Right'. This is a horrible title but this book will be republished I am told. We signed a contract for it about the title would be what it should have been in the first place-'The Religious Left- Who are they and What they believe'. I don't have any dates when this book will be published, and also I understand 'Beyond Liberation Theology' will be republished as well. Now let's look at the course outline.

Under Introduction, I talked about what worldview thinking is. I'm not going to repeat it here because the 2 hours we have will go very quickly and some of you get that twice in 2 of my courses. So you should just satisfy yourself with reading whatever you want to read. You know what worldviews are, how they work and the content of the Biblical Worldview is, what criteria we should use in comparing worldviews. How do we determine the content of the Christian worldview? Let me comment on that. In the case of my other courses, a huge amount of the content, as much of the content of the Biblical worldview content as possible, is based upon Scriptures, clearly. But this course has got to be a little different. In the case of the other courses we know what Biblical orthodoxy is and so in almost every case where we are dealing with those 5 big questions- God, Ultimate Reality, Knowledge, Ethics and Human Nature. If there is a major disagreement on 1 of those 5 issues, there's a very good chance, now I got to sound ironic here, there's a very good chance in the case of those other things that anybody who disagrees with me, is a heretic, because they are quarrelling with God, the glory of God. And now in these issues, it is possible for Christian brothers and sisters to disagree with more zeamas ??? more intensity. And you can't really throw the word heretic around. I'd like to but we can't. One of the reasons we can't do that is because there is a real big debate as to how we always move from Scripture to Christian convictions, Christian commitment on all of these issues. For example, I am a capitalist. I may died??? in the war, fire breathing capitalist. I can't help it but obviously I can because I arrive at that position as a result of informed thinking. But there are a lot of socialists running around in the Christian churches these days. There are a lot of socialist teachings on the campuses of so called Christian colleges and even in the case of some so called Christian seminaries.

So what I'm going to do in this course is I want to seek out a way in which we can reach an informed decision about forms of government. Forms of economic systems. Attitudes towards such things as justice and the law. The very prickly issue of environmentalism. And do it in a way that number one ends up being an informed position. A position for which arguments are available, sufficient arguments. A position for which evidence is available. And I'm reluctant in matters like this to proceed as some people do from the word of God to our positions on these issues because the ways in which I think we need to relate Scriptures to these issues is more complex, I think than they are in the case of these issues. Now there are 2 basic approaches that you can find advocated within evangelical Christianity today. And by evangelical Christianity I mean, people who profess obedience to Scripture as the final authority on these matters. There is first of all the Deductive Approach. I have friends and non friends who believe that you can deduce the truth on every one of these matters from the Bible. And therefore these people believe that if you don’t hold their position and their position is deductively inferable from scripture alone, then you are a heretic. I have never advocated that position. Let me give a name to this people. Now I'm going to give you a name of conservative thinking people who adopt this position. There are also Liberals and Radicals, and left wingers who adopt this position. Let's give a name to more conservative people who adopted the deductive approach. We call them theonomous ?? I really do have friends who are theonomous. Now, I'm going to tell a story that I gave in the Apologetics course, and if you've heard it, forgive me, but please laugh. This is a true story. Here I will name the school. Sometimes I won't name the school. I'm deciding to name the school here. I was once speaking, I forget the name, it's in Arrowhead, California, Arrowhead Springs, and that's all anybody else needs to know. And I was speaking there in chapel, many years ago, maybe 15 years ago, I was probably 15 years old at that the time. And afterwards, one of the faculty invited me to his office. Some of you have heard this before so just humour me. And as I often say when I tell a story, I really am shy in the company of others. I'd much rather be alone watching the Cliffland Indians lose on television or something like that. When I'm in a place where I have to make small talk, I am very uncomfortable. So I didn't really care to get an answer to my question. I was making small talk. And I said to this professor who had a very large office and a very large library. The office was as big as this room. I said to him, What are your favourite books? You understand I was just making small talk. He told me. I didn't want to know. He got up from his chair, he walked over across the room, took him about 5 minutes to get across the room, and he picked up 2 books that weighed 50 pounds each, and he carried them back. I thought he was going to get a hernia. He put these books on the desk and he said these are the two greatest books in my library. And I said, What are they? He said, In these 2 books, 2 little old ladies from San Francisco deduced the whole system of Arithmetic from the Bible. I'll repeat that. In these books, 2 little old ladies from San Francisco deduct the whole system of Arithmetic from the Bible. There are about 20 pages in which from various Biblical references they proved that 1+1=2. And there are a lot of whole numbers out there. Do you understand? So that book, those 2 volumes may be incomplete. Now that's the deductive method gone crazy. I have another friend, if he ever listens to this tape, he'll know who he is. I will not write a name on the board. I have the highest regard for this fella. He has published his own books, he is teaching at a seminary. One day, as I recall, he was talking with me over the phone and he was upset with me because, he and I had both spoken at conferences and I think he called me because I have been critical of his deductive approach to economics. And I remember saying this to him. You may write this down and give me credit for this. Many things are true not because the Bible teaches them but because they are just true. Would you like me to repeat that? When you are into this theonomous mood or mode, you tend to think that unless you can prove something from the Bible, it isn't true. But in the case of mathematics, in the case of the multiplication tables, the Bible isn't going to contradict these statements, but their truth does not depend on your findings some justifications for them from the Bible. They are just true. They are necessarily true and those of you who have taken my other courses, you know, from my chapter on the language of possible worlds, that I make a case for the necessary truth of such claims. So, I'm not going to adopt the deductive approach.


Because I'm an open minded guy, I have another friend who is a theonomous, Herbert Slashberg. He is a great guy. He has written a couple of great books. Any of you remember a title for one of them? 'Idols For Destruction'. That is a great book. On one occasion, Herb Slashberg and I were speaking on the same program at a big conference in Washington DC. I remember because I got up before he spoke and I said if any of you don't know the speakers are, my name is Ron Nash and the bald headed guy is Herb Slashberg. I thought that was funny. He's got less hair than I do. And Herbert, if you are listening, I love you brother. You're a great guy. But Herb Slashberg gave a lecture that evening, oh no, we were in a conference in Washington, but we were also in a conference in Chicago, and this happened in Chicago. He gave a deductive presentation of the fundamental principle of a market economy from Scripture. And he blew me over. It's a great job. And I may in fact use some of his material in here, but I just don't recommend that approach.


What approach do I use? I use the inductive approach or the adductive approach, which is this. In the case of economics for example, I am not going to deduce my economic views from Scripture. I don't think the Bible was intended to be an economics textbook. So what I'm going to do and what I've been doing for 31, 32 years. I do the best hard thinking I can about economic issues and then I check my conclusions against Scripture to see if anything I've said is inconsistent with Scriptures. Well, you may say, I like the deductive approach better. Well, yeah. I'm not here to persuade anybody to abandon theology or something except you had better understand that the same deductive method had led some erring brothers and sisters to socialism. To some very bad economic positions and we will be going to be talking about some of these people as the course proceeds. So, that's the approach I will represent in this course. Is it possible that before I die I'll become a little more sympathetic to the deductive approach. I suppose it's possible. Who knows? We'll see. I mean I may have a long time yet.