Fitting Third-World Believers With Christian Worldview Glasses -- By: David J. Hesselgrave

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 30:2 (Jun 1987)
Article: Fitting Third-World Believers With Christian Worldview Glasses
Author: David J. Hesselgrave


Fitting Third-World Believers With
Christian Worldview Glasses

David J. Hesselgrave*

Every day it becomes more apparent that millions of Christians worldwide still see the world through glasses that distort and discolor it. They profess Christianity but do not possess a Christian worldview. At the same time there is mounting evidence that some Christian leaders at least are becoming aware of the problem and trying to do something about it—trying to fit third-world Christians with Christian worldview glasses, so to speak.

That sounds a bit cryptic. What do we mean?

I. Worldview Glasses

The metaphor is that of Christian philosopher Norman Geisler.1 He says that in the process of learning one’s culture (the technical term is “enculturation”) one obtains worldview glasses. In other words, one comes to perceive the world—God, man, nature, history, values and so forth—in a way prescribed by one’s own culture and/or subculture. Thus the majority of Asian Indians will grow up to think of the world as inhabited by many gods, of birth and rebirth as being the destiny of man as determined by his karma, and of history as an almost interminable cyclical series progressing toward reabsorption into the Brahman or ultimate reality. As Indians study and mature, the nuances, values and obligations of this Hindu worldview will be elaborated and clarified.

The same process of worldview acquisition occurs in all cultures. Everyone everywhere receives worldview glasses. The problem is that for the most part their worldview glasses do not reflect the world as it actually is but nevertheless determine how the wearers will actually perceive it.

Geisler says that there is something else that we must understand about culturally prescribed worldview glasses: They are exceedingly difficult to remove and replace. Once put on it is as though they were secured by superglue. An attempt to remove one’s original worldview glasses and try the glasses of a different worldview will necessarily involve considerable effort and even pain. From a Christian perspective the tragic result of this fact is that without replacing old glasses it is impossible to see Christianly no matter how sincere one may be in his or her determination to be a Christian.

*David Hesselgrave is professor of world mission at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

II. Worldview And The World Church

If we accept a wide definition of “Christian,” there is a total of well over one and a half billion Christians in the world today.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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