Recently, I posted on the issue that worldview plays in choices to sin. Several people responded, (and I appreciate each of you thinking through the matter). Allow me to further my thoughts on this.
First, let us define a worldview. A worldview is the framework through which we interpret and participate in the world around us. It is a set of values or principles, driven by a combination of internal factors (personality and sin) and external factors (family, education, friends, media, etc.). At the heart of every worldview is a theology—a set of beliefs about God, whether true or false, that ultimately determines the worldview that we hold.
Also related to worldview is our nature. “Nature,” used theologically, refers to the complex of attributes that makes up a person. Everybody has a sin nature. That sin nature dominates the worldview for unbelievers. With salvation comes a new nature that competes with the old nature for a place in the worldview. Believers can still at times live under the influence of a sinful worldview.
So a worldview, as I use it here, is the set of values and principles driven by our understanding of God that provides justification for our thoughts and actions.
It can be seen in completing the sentence, “I did that because …,” or in completing the sentence, “All I wanted was …” Ultimately, the completion of those sentences (or similar ones) is a statement of theology, a statement of worldview, a statement of the values and principles that drive a person to do what they do.
Second, let us examine the origin of sin. James 1:14 teaches us that sin begins with a desire in the heart. That desire leads us to engage a particular action or thought. But how is that sinful act or thought justified? It is justified by the set of values and principles driven by our understanding of God. Every sin is ultimately an act of faith or belief. If we believed something different about God, we would act differently.
The sinful action cannot be separated from the sinful heart. While some want to make a distinction between the heart and the mind, I cannot, as of now, find a biblical reason to do such. The heart is the mind, the thoughts; and that is the worldview. The actions we see ultimately come out of a worldview (set of values and principles driven by our understanding of God).
Now, here is my contention. If we only address the actions, we never address the root cause, the worldview. In order to bring about real and lasting change, we must be renewed in the spirit of our mind (Eph 4:23). Transformation comes by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2). If we hope to lead people to biblical change, we must start at the root level—their view of God and the world they live in, otherwise known as the worldview.
Asserting that the worldview is the ultimate cause does not undermine the problem of sin. It underlines the root causes behind sinful actions.
Addressing sin without addressing worldview is like weeding the garden with a lawnmower. It makes it look better, but doesn’t solve the issue that caused the problem to begin with.