Living overseas at this young age and interacting with people from divergent socio-economic backgrounds with different beliefs and perspectives informed my personal worldview.
Even though individuals often do not realize it, everyone has a worldview, and our worldview greatly shapes our opinions and conclusions. This perspective is the lens through which we understand and interpret life. A person’s worldview greatly influences his or her attitudes, beliefs, anxieties, and decisions. It is probably the most important issue one needs to consider when searching for truth and understanding other people.
For success in this endeavor, it is vital to identify and understand our own and other people’s distinct worldviews. Additionally, if we want personal growth, we should realize that it is difficult to make any lasting dramatic change in our personal life without modifying our worldview. That is what faith and religion often do.
Religions greatly influence the worldviews of their followers and how they evaluate the beliefs found in other traditions. In order to facilitate understanding and constructive dialogue between various religions, it is helpful to understand the perspective of different belief systems. Even though each of the following traditions has greater breadth and depth of nuanced theology, the following synopsis is a very general summary of the worldviews of the major world religions and belief systems:
Eastern religions are centered on the cycles of existence.
Islam stresses the importance of God and of human forgetfulness.
Judaism is founded on God’s covenant relationship with his people.
Mormonism emphasizes human growth and development to become like God.
Eastern Orthodox Christianity focuses on its followers’ union with God.
Western Christianity is engrossed with the issue of forgiveness of sin, with the Roman Catholic tradition placing weight on obtaining grace through sacraments, including works of penance, while Protestants rely on free grace.
Modern secular belief is based on an evolutionary, atheists, nihilist view, with reliance on science as the arbiter of truth.
What is important to believers in one tradition may not matter much to followers of another religion. For example, Western Christianity’s major theological debate regarding free will versus predestination holds little interest to Orthodox theologians. There is merit to each of these worldviews, but any one of them carried to an extreme, leads to an unbalanced life. As we strive to improve our communication with others, it is important to keep these various general worldviews in mind while recognizing that each individual is unique with his or her own nuanced perspective.
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell documents how “cultural legacies are powerful forces,” affecting our world today in ways we rarely expect. It is why some individuals with the same intelligence succeed while others fail, and until recently, it was the cause of most commercial airline crashes.
This cultural legacy informs the worldview of each community’s descendants for generations. Even now as Western society jettisons its Judeo-Christian moorings, its influence is still evident in our modern secular world. In order to understand our world today, we need to grasp the ideas and values that are the foundation on which much of our society is built. Understanding our religious heritage will open our eyes to the influence it continues to exert on our lives and help us evaluate our modern beliefs and attitudes.
Christ’s worldview encompasses all truth. As we approach him by seeking truth, our worldview expands, leading to greater understanding and appreciation of others.