Naugle: Worldview- the History of a Concept, Chapters 1&2

Chapter 1

Protestant evangelicals have invested more study and application into the concept of “worldview” than any other philosophic or religious community. James Orr, Gordon H. Clark, Carl F. H. Henry, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd, and Francis A. Schaffer are some of these evangelicals who, to varying degrees, conceived the idea of applying the term Weltanschauung to Christianity and popularized it to its current stage. James Orr is primarily responsible for pioneering this term in the late nineteenth century when Christianity in general was increasingly under attack. To defend the breadth of Christianity, Orr adopted the pre-existing term of Weltanschauung – what he ¬†defined as man’s intellectual pursuit of a framework by which he can make sense of the world and life’s concerns – and argued Christianity to be the most comprehensive of such frameworks. Meanwhile, Kuyper was making similar arguments for Calvinism in the Netherlands. Clark and Henry’s writings, influenced by Orr, carried this idea over to North America. Dooyeweerd followed in Kuyper’s footsteps in the Netherlands, though eventually arguing (unconvincingly) there to be a distinction between the intellect-driven worldview and heart-driven religious-conviction. Finally, Schaffer applied worldview to diverse areas such as art, music, and popular culture, and is largely responsible for the popularization of worldview-Christianity in North America today.

Chapter 2

While Protestant evangelicals have primary developed and used the idea of worldview, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox schools of Christianity also each have their own expression worldview. The general Roman Catholic view is defined by the understanding of man as stewards of God’s gift (the world) – though contaminated by sin – and the renewal of that world through time and the redemptive work of Christ. Karol Wojtyla, the 246 th bishop of Rome, believed the horrors of World War II were spurred from false ideas about the nature of human beings. So, like Orr and Kuyper, Wojtyla based his fight for restoration on a ” fresh articulation of an overall theistic view of life that upheld the majesty of man.” While their approach was very analytical and scientifically oriented, the school of Orthodoxy’s worldview lifestyle is significantly different. The key to the Orthodox worldview is found in their liturgical worship, where theology and worship are necessarily the same. The problem of man is his not assigning value of the created to the creator. While these traditions of Christianity (Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism) approach the idea of worldview differently, they can contribute to mutual learning that positively develops Christianity’s case for an all-encompassing worldview.


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