Worldview Pilot Project

    Isaac Newton Christian Academy recently complete a three-year pilot project with Christian Overman’s Worldview Matters organization. This has been a multi-year process that has meant re-vamping all of our curriculum guides and lesson plans. Through the Worldview Matters pilot program, however, teachers have learned how to take integration to a deeper level. They have taken coursework from Seattle Pacific University and have studied, written papers, collaborated with peers, and implemented many new teaching strategies.            
     A biblical worldview is one that provides a frame of reference for all things, so the pieces of life can be righty understood in light of God’s bigger picture. These “pieces of life” can be any idea, event, problem, experiment, thing, person concept, activity, feeling, etc. For Christians, the biblical worldview should be shaped by what the Bible has to say about the “big picture” of reality as shaped by beliefs or assumptions about:  God, Creation, Humanity, Moral Order, and Purpose.
     Mr. Ridder, Head of School, has worked with teachers on questions faculty can use in each of these five areas as they teach curriculum content to students.  We are also developing open-ended questions that prompt reflection and critical thinking.  Our teachers can customize these questions to fit the various academic subjects and grade levels.  For instance, the fifth grade recently studied a unit on weather, and had a specific section on Hurricanes.  They each created a brochure on hurricanes that addressed not just scientific information but also addressed what hurricanes tell us about God, His creation, as well as the Christian’s obligation to his family and his fellow man in the face of a weather disaster.
     This third and final year of the project focuses on a “Theology of Work.” The following is a document on how we accomplish “biblical worldview integration” at the Academy.  
 
Biblical Worldview Integration
 
How does a Christian school provide a truly distinctive, truly Christian education?  What is the key distinctive of a truly Christian education?  It is the effective practice of biblical worldview integration.  True intellectual coherency is possible when all of life and learning, and private and public life can be integrated with one’s worldview.  Biblical worldview is far more than prayer and Bible reading before class begins.  It is more than a Bible class alongside of all the other subjects. 
 
A worldview is the assumptions and answers we have about life’s biggest questions and issues.  It is a “big picture” of reality.  Our core beliefs and assumptions shape our worldview.  We must examine these assumptions, because this is where decisions start, and actions germinate.  A biblical worldview is one that provides a frame of reference for all things, so the pieces of life can be rightly understood in light of God’s bigger picture.  These “pieces of life” can be any idea, event, problem, experiment, thing, person, concept, activity, feeling, etc.
 
For Christians, the biblical worldview should be shaped by what the Bible has to say about the “big picture” of reality.  Christians should analyze and filter all subjects through the lens of Scripture to supply reasons for life’s activities and decisions.  The following guidelines apply biblical truth to all of life.
 
Our worldview is our “big picture” of reality, as shaped by beliefs or assumptions about:
  • God
  • Creation
  • Humanity
  • Moral order
  • Purpose
 
What questions do we ask in each of these five areas:
  • God
Is there a supernatural Supreme Being?
If such a Supreme Being exists, is He a personal being, or an impersonal force?
Is He unlimited in power?
Is He present everywhere, and does He know everything that is going on?
Is this God active in human affairs?
(continued)
Does He communicate with mankind?  If He does, in what ways can we hear and understand what He is saying?
Does He love?  Is He just?  Does He care what happens to people?
 
  • Creation
Did the universe make itself or did a higher Being cause it? Were we once fish?  Are humans the result of time + chance + impersonal matter?
Is physical matter upheld by the Creator through time or does “Nature” function on its own, independently of God?
Does the material world have value and meaning?  If so, on what basis?
What is really real, especially in the realm of things humans cannot observe or measure?
Is God and active participant in the world of things He has made and ordained, or is it a “closed system?”
 
  • Humanity
Were we once fish?  Are humans the result of time + chance + impersonal matter?
What determines human worth and value?
Are people basically good or are they basically corrupt?
Are people responsible and accountable for their actions or are they caused to behave certain ways by their environment?
How can people know what is really true and real?  Is the human mind capable of knowing what is really true?
Are observation and measurement the only valid ways for humans to determine truth and reality?
What is a family?
What happens to people after they die?
Do people have souls?  If so, what is a soul?
 
  • Moral Order
Is morality a human invention or is it predetermined by God?
Is there an ultimate standard of right and wrong to which all humans are subject?  If so, what are the rules?
Is there a final judgment?  If so, on what basis?
 
  • Purpose
Does history have any direction?  Any meaning?
Is there a purpose for human existence?  If so, what is it?
Is there a reason for the material world and the resources it contains?
What is the purpose of the family?
What is the role of civil government?
Has God given any mandates or “job descriptions” for human beings?
 
Christian education provides answers to these questions.  Further, when integrating the Bible into every lesson of every subject in every classroom, every day, we can focus our attention to the following “big picture” pieces:
 
The Creation Component:
  1. The entire universe was spoken into existence by the Designer-Creator’s willing choice. (Genesis 1; John 1)
  2. God caused all things to first appear, and He continuously sustains all things throughout the present.  (Genesis 1; Acts 17; 1 Corinthians 8)
  3. The Designer is a Divine Person.  (Genesis 1, 2, 3, 18; John 1)
  4. Man and woman were specially created in the likeness and image of God, thus setting us apart from animals, and giving us a basis for intrinsic value and inherent worth. (Genesis 1, 9)
The Fall Component:
  1. God has set in place non-negotiable moral laws for our good, and when we disregard them, we hurt ourselves and others.  (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 28; Psalm 119; Matthew 5-7; Romans 6)
  2. Since the Fall, human beings have experienced an internal problem with sin—a natural “bent” to go our own way rather than God’s way, and to be a law unto ourselves. (Genesis 3; Romans 6-8)
The Redemption/Restoration Component:
  1. At the cross, Christ took upon Himself the sins of the human race, in order to bridge the relational gap between us and God, and to provide a way of redemption through personal faith in His finished work.  (John 1-3; Romans 5, 6, 10)
  2. Genuine freedom is the internal self-control that comes from self-government under God—through the enablement of the Holy Spirit—regardless of the circumstances.  (Galatians 5; Romans 6-8)
  3. We live in a fallen world, which is not the way it was originally made to be, but we do not live in a forsaken world.  (Genesis 3; Colossians 1; Hebrews 1; Acts 17; John 3)
  4. The earth and everything in it remains God’s own possession, and therefore it has great significance.  (Psalm 24,103; Acts 17)
  5. The First Commission given by God to mankind is to govern over all the earth.  (Genesis 1; Psalm 8)
  6. God purposes to do His will on earth as it is in heaven, and by His grace, He will work through redeemed people to bring His light to every sphere of life.  (Matthew 5, 6, 28; John 15)
To help us keep the “big picture” in mind, teachers at Isaac Newton Christian Academy apply two questions to the content, materials, and methods of teaching.  These questions are:
           
  • With respect to (an issue, opinion, event, area of content, etc.),what is being assumed, taught, ignored or implied regarding God?  Creation?  Humanity?  Moral order?  Purpose?
  • With respect to (my work, my relationship with so and so, a task, an issue, etc.), what can be discovered, applied, developed, or implemented in connection with the biblical view of God?  Creation?  Humanity?  Moral order?  Purpose?
 
Perhaps the best way to help students “make connections” between whatever academic subject they are studying and the bigger picture of a biblical worldview, is by posing open-ended questions that prompt personal reflection.  When students think deeply about how the “bigger picture” really relates to what they are studying, and they come up with their own personal answers (rather than just parroting back what the teacher, or the textbook, has said) it can cause a greater sense of meaning and relevancy for the subject studied, and perhaps motivate them to look deeper.  We know we are making progress when students ask their own questions.  This is a sign of intrinsic desire to learn, and the “internalizing” of understanding.
 
Below are examples of open-ended questions that prompt reflection.  The teacher customizes these questions to fit the various academic subjects, and various grade levels.
 
“God” Questions
How do you think God looks at _____?
How do you think God feels about _____?
What do you think God has in mind with respect to _____?
What do you think the study of _____ is really important to God?
With respect to _____, what difference does a Christian view of God make?
If you were God, what would you do about _____?
What has God said in His Word that relates to _____?
Why do you think God is silent in His Word about _____?
How does God’s view of _____ differ from man’s view?  …from the view of a Hindu1?  …a Humanist?  ….an Animist?  …an Atheist?, etc.
How does _____ reveal God’s hand at work in the world? …God’s glory?
How does God participate in _____?
What assumptions about God lie behind _____?
What about _____ is in harmony with a biblical view of God?  …in opposition to a biblical view of God?
How does _____ help us to know God better?
How does _____ reflect others’ view of God?
 
Creation Questions
Is there more to _____ than meets the eye?
How does the design of _____ reveal the Designer?  What does it tell us about Him?
When it comes to its effects on the material world, what difference does a Christian view of _____ make?
What effects might unseen realities [angels/demons/Holy Spirit, etc.] have on _____?
Do you see any evidence of unseen spiritual forces (positive or negative) on _____?
What is “real” about _____?
(continued)
What isn’t real about _____?
What about this subject [theme, idea, etc.] is in harmony with a biblical view of creation?  …in opposition to a biblical view of creation?
What is _____ good for?  Why do you think this part of creation exists?
What does _____ have to do with the First Commission of Genesis 1:26-28?
How does the Bible help us make sense of _____?
How does _____ relate to all other aspects of creation?
How does a Christian view of _____ tie it together with the rest of what is really real?
How has sin distorted _____?
What biblical realizations/clarifications/truths must be brought into the picture in order to make the study of _____ truly complete, or “whole?”
After God created the world, He said it was “good.”  What is still “good” about _____ in a fallen world?
How does the biblical “Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration” theme relate to _____?
 
Humanity Questions
When it comes to a Christian view of _____, what are the ramifications for human beings?
How has a Christian view of _____ affected history?  …affected culture?  …affected the economy?  …affected the arts?  …affected business?  …affected the family?  …affected the workplace?  etc.
What makes human beings unique, from a Christian perspective?
What positive character qualities can _____ strengthen?
How does _____ relate to spiritual growth or spiritual decline?
What should concern a Christian about a [Humanistic, Hindu, Animist, etc.] view of _____?
How does the view of a Christian affect one’s interaction with _____?   …one’s interpretation of _____?  …one’s response to _____?
How does Christian faith affect _____?
What does _____have to do with the work of a Christian car [engineer, mechanic, hair stylist, lawyer, teacher, artist, business person]?
What does basic human nature have to do with _____?
What biblical basis for community is part of _____?  …basis for relationships?  …basis for authentic love?
How does _____unite people?  …divide people?  …fufill people?  …ruin people?
What assumptions about humanity lie behind _____?
When it comes to _____, what aspects of the human mind need to be transformed?  How?
What worldviews would be opposed to _____, and why?  …in favor of, and why?
What is truly human about _____?
What about the [subject, theme, idea, etc.] is in harmony with a biblical view of humanity?  …in opposition to?
How might _____ affect a Christian’s view of the future?
What does _____ have to do with Christ’s call for us to disciple the nations, and teach people to observe all He commanded?
(continued)
When it comes to a non-Christian view regarding _____, what is missing?
Is there anything in _____ that Christians may need to re-learn?  …re-apply?  …restore?
How can the study of _____ benefit humanity?
How does _____ relate to a healthy family?  …healthy city?  …healthy workplace?  …healthy church?
How can we find real joy in _____?
 
Moral Order Questions
What moral aspects are there to _____?
How is _____ being misused?  …abused?
What value does a Christian see in _____?
What value does Christ see in _____?
From a Christian perspective, what determines whether _____ is right or wrong, good or bad?
Is there an absolute standard of right and wrong with respect to _____?
From a Christian perspective, what controversies surround ______?
With respect to _____, what has not been said that should be said?
What should concern a Christian about a [Humanistic, Hindu, Animistic, Atheistic, etc.1] view of what is “true” in relation to _____?
How could _____ be approached in a God-honoring way?
How does biblical teaching about poverty/wealth relate to _____?
What basis for true morality is there behind _____?
What special challenges are there for Christians with respect to _____?  How can these challenges be addressed?
What moral assumptions lie behind _____?
What is best about _____?
What responsibilities are part of _____?  For whom?
What responsibility to God does the study of _____ involve?
What about this [subject, topic, idea, etc.] is in harmony with a biblical view of morality?  ..in opposition to a biblical view of morality?
What biblical reason is there for _____?  …biblical justification for?  …biblical prohibition for?
Whose fault is it?
What rights do people have with respect to _____?  …what responsibilities?
How does _____ relate to the biblical idea of freedom?  What is the biblical idea of freedom?
Why is there no neutral position with respect to _____?
How does [Humanism, Naturalism, Pantheism, etc.1] shape a person’s view of _____?
What should Christians do in response to _____?  …think in response to?
What elements of truth in _____ do Christians share with [Humanists, Islamists, Atheists, etc.1]?  Is there any common ground?
How does sin relate to _____?
What might happen if _____ is carried to its logical conclusion?  What did happen when it was carried to its logical conclusion?
(continued)
What is “good” about _____?
 
Purpose Questions
What purpose does a Christian see in _____?
What purpose does Christ see in _____?
Why does _____ really matter?
How does a Christian view of _____ make a difference in the way we _____?
What difference would the view of a [Animist, Hindu, Humanist, Atheist, etc.1] make in how _____ is used?
What does _____have to do with the purpose of a Christian [lawyer, mechanic, engineer, hair stylist, lawyer, pastor, artist, etc.]?
What are biblically acceptable goals or objectives for _____?
How can _____ be reconciled to Christ’s purpose for it?
What assumptions about meaning or purpose are behind _____?
What affect does “gnostic dualism” [sacred/secular divide] have on _____?
How is this [subject, theme, idea, etc.] in harmony with a biblical view of purpose?  …in opposition to a biblical view of purpose?
What biblical reason is there for _____?  …biblical justification?
How does _____ relate to the First Commission of Genesis 1:26-28?  …to the Great Commission of Matthew 28?
How does _____ relate to the future?
What gives this [topic, theme, idea, etc.] meaning for a Christian?  …for a Humanist?  …for an Atheist?
What should Christians do in response to _____?
How does the Bible help us make sense of _____?
What biblical “baseline principle” is behind the [subject, theme, idea, etc.]?
How does the Bible affect the application/implementation of _____?
How does the study of this [subject, theme, idea, etc.] contribute to a Christian view of “wholeness?”
How should _____ affect the way Christians live?  …vote?  …work?  …play?
How can Christianity turn _____ around?  …restore it?  …redeem it?
What does _____ have to do with “world-changing,” or “culture-creating?”
 
1Various worldivews contrasting to Christianity may include materialism (naturalism), atheism, animism, humanism, relativism, hedonism, post-modernism, deism, gnostic dualism, Islam, Marxism, etc.
 
The following resources were beneficial in the compiling of this document:
Making the Connections:  How to put Biblical Worldview Integration in Practice by Dr. Christian Overman and Don Johnson
Assumptions That Affect Our Lives:  How Worldview Determines Values that Influence Behavior and Shape Culture by Dr. Christian Overman
How To Develop a Teaching Model for World View Integration by Dr. Martha E. MacCullough
Mentoring Your Faculty in Biblical Integration by Dr. Martha MacCullough
Biblical Integration:  Understanding the World Through the Word, by Dr. Mark Eckel
Classroom Strategies for Biblical Integration by Dr. Mark Eckel
Teaching Redemptively by Donovan L. Graham