Thursday, December 06, 2007

(Re)Thinking Worldview

(Re)Thinking Worldview by J. Mark Bertrand (Crossway, 2007, 272 pages)

Book Review by Nathan Williams @

(Re)Thinking Worldview(Re)Thinking Worldview is a new book by J. Mark Bertrand which seeks to explain the idea of worldview and how this notion will change the way you live, speak and interact with the world around you.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but I was pleasantly surprised by the emphasis on practice that saturates (Re)Thinking Worldview. Bertrand understands worldview as not simply an intellectual checklist but as an outlook on reality that transforms the way you live your life.

Bertrand demonstrates this emphasis on practice even in the flow and argument of the book. (Re)Thinking Worldview divides into three major sections. The first section deals with the topic of worldview in general. In this section he defines worldview as “an interpretation of influences, experiences, circumstances and insight” (p. 26). In other words, your worldview is something which helps you interpret the world around you and which you may not even be fully aware of possessing.

Throughout the rest of this first section he comes at the concept of worldview from three different angles to help the reader grasp the fullness of the term. In the chapter describing worldview as a starting point he gives 4 fundamental pillars that form the basis of the Christian worldview. These pillars are creation, order, rationality and fear.

Next worldview is described as a system. Scripture presents God’s truth as an organized system. This helps us to see the major differences between our view of reality and that of other worldviews. Finally in this section, he describes worldview as a story. In all our systematizing we have to remember our worldview is made up of the gospel story.

The second section of (Re)Thinking Worldview transitions from a discussion of the basic understanding of worldview to the topic of wisdom. At first glance, this may seem like a massive jump, but the transition is quite purposeful. “One of the blind spots of much worldview chatter is the failure to connect thinking and living” (p. 115). The concept of worldview cannot be divorced from the practical outworking of wisdom in the life of a believer.

Under the topic of wisdom, Bertrand gives a helpful chapter on what true wisdom looks like. Wisdom is not detached from practice. “Wisdom, then, is the consistent outworking of belief, action, and discernment from worldview” (p. 133). It is easy to see how wisdom fits perfectly into the discussion of worldview. Our beliefs and understanding of the world work themselves out into our decisions and actions.

As an example of putting wisdom into practice, Bertrand gives a chapter on the importance of learning to read. Reading must always be done with a critical eye for the purpose of understanding the worldview assumptions of the author. We must not only do a worldview critique of books, but also of movies, music, and television programs in an effort to recognize the author’s agenda.

The third and final major section of this book is appropriately titled witness. The progression is intentional. We move from an understanding of worldview to the outworking of that worldview in wisdom to the expression of that worldview in our witness. In the section on witness Bertrand deals with some issues of apologetics and also provides a helpful chapter on unbelief. We must be prepared because inevitably our worldview will clash with other worldviews.

As has already been hit upon, (Re)Thinking Worldview is structured in a very intentional manner to help the reader see the progression from right belief to right practice to right witness. Bertrand also writes in a style which is engaging and easy to read. He mixes didactic sections with interesting illustrations and stories to keep the pages turning and the reader on his toes.

I think this would be a great book to open up the discussion of worldview with a group of college students. A proper understanding of the concept of worldview and the basic structure of the Christian worldview are vitally important for believers to grasp. Sometimes, we need to step back and look at the big picture of our system of belief and our notion of reality. A book on worldview is just the tool to help us in that endeavor.

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