A Solid Worldview Won’t Save My Kids

If you hang out in Christian circles for more than ten minutes, you’ll inevitably hear someone talk about ‘worldview’. Christian parents, particularly those in the homeschool / private school / unschool / charter school vein, are intensely passionate about giving their children a biblical worldview which helps their children understand themselves, the world, and all of history in light of Scripture. Abraham Kuyper, the patron saint of Christian worldview, famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

This quote, which is recited approximately 12,000 times per year by conservative Christians, is the anthem and impulse for the worldview camp.

And I’m in no way opposed to having a biblical worldview. I think it’s crucial. Heck, I even went to “Worldview Academy”, which is kind of like a summer camp, except instead of swimming in lakes and going on hikes, we sat in a classroom and dissected the various flaws of evolutionary theory. Going to Worldview Academy officially qualifies me as the most homeschooled homeschooler.

But the older I get, the more I realize that it’s not enough to give my children a biblical worldview. I’ve seen too many of my childhood friends grow up to reject the biblical worldview that was so furiously drummed into them as children. I’ve seen too many people make choices that they know are in direct contradiction to the worldview they embraced for so many years. I’ve seen too many train wrecks to think that worldview alone is enough.

Worldview is important, but it’s only one part of the equation. A biblical worldview helps a person think correctly. But we are not purely intellectual beings. We don’t operate solely based on ideas and thoughts. We are flesh and blood, with passions, desires, and longings. We feel things deeply and desire things strongly. Our intellects and desires are intricately interwoven, interacting with and informing each other.

If I’m going to be an effective, godly parent, I need to appeal to my kids affections as much as their intellects. They need to see that the Bible makes sense, but they also need to see that Jesus is supremely delightful. As James K. A. Smith says in his helpful book Desiring The Kingdom:

What if the primary work of education was the transforming of our imagination rather than the saturation of our intellect? And what if this had as much to do with our bodies as with our minds?

The goal of my parenting must be that my children would come to fully believe Psalm 16:11, which says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Satan, sin, and the flesh always attack both the intellect and the affections. When Satan tempted Eve, he encouraged her to disbelieve God (intellect), and also pointed out to her how desirable the fruit was (affections). When Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, he appealed to his identity as the Messiah (intellect) and his hunger (affections).

The reality is: the mind can only stand against the affections for so long before it gives out. If my kids are going to stand against the allure of sexual impurity, I can’t simply tell them about all the negative consequences of premarital sex. I need to also dazzle them with the all-satisfying beauty of Christ. If my kids are going to stand against materialism, I can’t simply tell them that money is the root of all evil. I need to also show them that Christ is the pearl of great price.

Family devotions can’t be just about information. They also need to be about inspiration. I want my kids to know that there is good evidence that the resurrection is a historical reality. I also want my kids to know that Jesus is real, and he lives within me, and he gives me supernatural power, and he gives me more joy than anything else.

Worldview is important, but I can’t rest with simply teaching my kids how to think. I need to also show them the surpassing joy of knowing Christ. I want my kids to understand at a visceral level that Jesus is sweet and sin is bitter. Good thinking is necessary, but good feeling is just as, if not more important.

Stephen Altrogge

I'm a husband, dad, writer, & Mixed Martial Arts Salsa Dancing Champion. I created The Blazing Center. I've also written some books which people seem to like. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook

One comment

  • Interestingly, it is just this intellectual focus that renders the Pearcey school of thought less than what a complete Van Tillian approach would be – and even Schaeffer suffers from this soemwhat. Van Til spoke of not just an intellectual worldview, but of a life and world view – like Kuyper, he wasn’t talking about only every square inch of the intellect, but every square inch of every human – every crevice of his nature – and of every human setting in creation. Everywhere that man can be, to quote the hymn. I was struck by the opportunity missed, when citing Kuyper initially, to make this connection. Kuyper certainly wasn’t speaking of only the realm of the intellect with his famous statement. Why should we limit it in his wake? If God is, indeed, Sovereign, then worldview is not only thinking God’s thoughts after Him – but living after Christ, no?

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