Re-thinking Worldview, by J. Mark Bertrand (Crossway, 2007): A Review
Paul Luedtke, February 13, 2008
A book on worldview seems a bit anachronistic in this day of post-modern thinking. Francis Shaeffer, who popularized the idea back in the 1970s, spoke of the Christian worldview as the most accurate and consistent way to understand our reality. This gave Christians an assurance that believing in God’s self-revelation as well as his revealed purpose for the world around us (as found in the Bible) did not mean committing intellectual suicide.
But with the arrival of popular post-modern thought with its distrust of the influence of modernism on the Christian pursuit of the search for—and existence of—truth, the idea of “the Christian worldview” has been strongly called into question. Can one really make an argument in this world of diversity that there is one Christian worldview? Even more serious is the claim by some post-moderns that there is no “meta-narrative” for life in this world, challenging the whole idea of there being a worldview at all.
While the discussion of worldview may not be of particular interest to many with a post-modern mindset, Re-thinking Worldview remains an important book and deserves a serious read because Bertrand’s approach is fresh, informed, and anchored in a global context.
Bertrand tells us from the beginning that his purpose is to do more that make a presentation of worldview. Rather, he wants to show how worldview guides the development of wisdom, as well as the Christian’s witness to God’s existence. This approach makes it immediately relevant for those wanting to live an authentically Christian life.
For Bertrand, a worldview is simply a map of reality. While worldview is always a subjective construct, if reality exists, then more and more accurate descriptions of that reality should be possible and worth seeking. Since worldview is about accurately viewing true reality, and since the Bible contains the ultimate description of reality, it becomes the basis for living wisely.
This book is of particular interest to those trying to understand, and engage the culture that surrounds them. In view of the current “culture wars”, where Evangelicals often see culture as something to either battle against or be isolated from, the author shows how correctly understanding a Biblical worldview and “asking worldview questions” can be “a way to open up the culture to deeper scrutiny. It ought to provide a fuller, richer experience of the world around us.”
Bertrand’s erudition and use of relevant literature contribute to a very intellectually satisfying reading experience. The writing style ranges from very concrete discussions and presentation of content to pertinent stories and personal examples.
One fairly obvious oversight pertains to the author’s threefold test for forming worldview: correspondence, coherence, and productivity. While these tools sound convincing, there is no explanation for why they work. They are treated as presuppositions; taken on faith. This reader also found the “W” alliteration of the author’s major points to be somewhat forced.
Bertrand ends on a welcome, spiritually centering reminder: Worldview informs the development of wisdom, which guides the Christian in living out his or her witness. But all of this, to be a truly Christian endeavor, must result in worship. If we really understand the true nature of reality, Bertrand says, our worldview must bring us to our knees in the worship of God, who is himself the glorious, personal, ultimate reality.
Paul Luedtke, who works with international youth in Geneva, Switzerland, is pursuing doctoral studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
The views here expressed are those of the reviewer and may not reflect those of the editors of theportableseminary.com. To comment on this review, send us an e-mail.