Volume 49 | Number 4 | August–September 2021

Inglés Español

The Paradigm Shifts of Worldviews

By Dr. H. T. Spence

In more recent months this periodical has presented the concept of paradigm shifts in both the politics and religion of America as well as the rest of the world. We must now consider how these paradigm shifts are affecting the worldview of humanity, especially professing Christians. To understand this worldview shift, we must carefully consider the changes taking place in the warp and woof of contemporary man’s thinking.

First, we must distinguish between the terms worldview and presupposition. Often presupposition has been viewed synonymously with worldview. A presupposition is something that we presuppose in our approaches to and dealings with life, whether in conversing, in reading, in hearing the news, or even in listening to a sermon or lecture. During these actions we presuppose certain things to be true or false. We may enter a conversation presupposing a person is a Christian, but the ensuing conversation could reveal that he may not be a Christian. As a Christian, we presuppose the Bible is the Word of God every time we read it; this presupposition will be in our mind as we converse with another individual. A presupposition is a vital part of the foundation of our worldview.

Defining a Philosophy

The worldview of an individual is a product of his varied presuppositions. The combination of multiple presuppositions establishes and declares one’s worldview. When we take this perspective back to the beginning of the biblical history of man, two presuppositions are established.

First, there is the presupposition of God. As a created being, Adam believed in the reality and existence of a true God. When Cain left his father’s home along with other siblings, he introduced an alternative presupposition for mankind that embraced the natural world, not God.

Second, there is the presupposition of God’s existence or non-existence in the light of man’s thinking. This presupposition directly affects how man will view himself. Will he view himself in the light of God, or will he view himself in the light of the world without the concept of God? These two foundational stones were clearly defined at the beginning of history after the fall of man. Cain left the manifesting presence of the Lord that was established for the giving of offerings to Him at the gate of the Garden of Eden. Cain desired to leave the presence of God totally—both the providence of God and the very consciousness of God. Thus, he sought to establish his life without God in his thought and living. This brought about a civilization without the philosophical worldview of God.

But as Genesis 4 unfolds this rejection of God by Cain, we also read of Adam’s son Seth (Gen. 4:25, 26). It is revealed that this son of Adam believed in God, and that in his time men began “to call upon the name of the LORD.” Because of this we witness another presuppositional philosophy coming to the forefront. Cain’s presupposition led to a worldview of ungodliness, or an absence of thought for God; Seth’s presupposition led to a worldview of godliness, or a consciousness of God in living.

These two perspectives created a philosophy of life that grew among the people of the earth. The word philosophy simply means “the love of wisdom.” Everyone has his own definition of wisdom and what he comes to love, but is it true wisdom or false wisdom? Each person will conclude his own definition of wisdom. So, to sincerely say, “This man is a lover of wisdom” does not confirm that it is a wisdom of truth. He may be a lover of false wisdom that is based on a false knowledge. Philosophy, in and of itself, detached from everything else, is a most proper and noble word. But when the term is placed in the context of fallen humanity or born-in-sin humanity, it may not be a word of honor. Honorable philosophy depends upon the “worldview” of one’s philosophy. In this context, philosophy finally became a word to declare a person’s manner and way of living life. One may ask another, “What is your philosophy of life?” The answer to this question will reveal the reality of that person’s perspective of life. He personally may not be able to express his perspective in detail, but all people (whether they can express it or not) have a philosophy of life; what they have come to believe is their truth of life and the living of that life.

For many centuries, philosophy was viewed and interpreted through the natural world; such philosophers were called naturalist philosophers. They really were not contemplating God; they were not even contemplating themselves. As they observed the world and were coming into a consciousness of the world around them, they did not look within to self, and they did not look upward to God. They looked around themselves, and this is where philosophy began to be established, simply from the natural.

It was not until the days of the metaphysical philosophers, beginning with Socrates, that man began to look within. He was not so consumed with what was taking place around him; his thought life was drawn inward, into himself. And for several generations, philosophers gave their lives in the pursuit of “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” and “Who is the real me?”

Who is the real me? This consideration is quite amazing since fallen man is not naturally inclined to such a question. Sinners do not want to know about themselves; they have no desire to think about themselves or analyze their lives. They have no desire to analyze what they do; they simply desire to live life the way they want. But Socrates (470–399 B.C.), by no means a believer in a personal God, believed in the polytheistic world of his day, the Greek world. Yet his world prompted some troublings of heart and mind. Socrates came to realize that no man really wanted to face himself. It is interesting to note that of all the terms to identify himself and identify humanity, he chose the Greek word hamartia. Socrates called himself ta hamartia, “the sinner.” In the New Testament this word is used by the apostle Paul and translated, “the sin,” or the sin principle. This word literally means “the missing of the mark.”

To Socrates, what was the mark that was being missed? It was the ideal that should control man’s thought life and everyday living. Whatever the “mark” or the purpose of living was, man was failing; he was ta hamartia, the one missing the mark. Socrates believed he was a man “coming short of the mark” that should control the living of life. Again, he did not believe in the Supreme God, he did not believe in the written Word of God, and he certainly did not believe in the coming Messiah. But he was a metaphysical philosopher, believing that the real “self” is found within and that the true life was not worth anything if it could not be tested for its genuineness. Although after Socrates there was a decline of the inquiry into the self, he opened the door for the metaphysical philosophers and philosophy to enter the quest for a worldview controlling the life.

To what degree was this worldview of the metaphysical philosophers? It only encompassed self and its environment. It was the individual’s perspective of his world; it was the world in which he lived; it included others that he lived with; it was the self’s thought life; and it included that which would affect and influence one’s living and his pursuit of life. This perspective became the more important understanding of one’s life.

When speaking about a worldview, particularly from the secular standpoint, we should also note the perspectives of the Epicureans and the Stoics. The Stoics declared, “Get in harmony with fate”; the Epicureans declared, “Get in harmony with pleasure; whatever brings pleasure and satisfaction to the life, that’s what you pursue.” These are the worldviews these two groups of men forged out in reaction to the metaphysical philosophers.

Coming to a Worldview of God-Consciousness

A careful study of the Old Testament saints reveals they were never looking within to establish their worldview; they looked upward. Though these did not use the word worldview, they lived the concept and context of a God-conscious worldview. And it did not come from within; it came from the revelation of God and His Word. The revelation of God was establishing the concept of a worldview to them. We see this clearly with Enoch (Gen. 5:22). Any time we read of a man “walking with God,” the Hebraic context expresses “one who lives and dwells in full harmony with” someone else. Enoch walked in a spiritual sphere, and he never left the boundaries of that sphere. The Hebraic meaning suggests a person who is totally committed and dedicated to living what he believes is the life that is found in that sphere.

Thus, we read that Enoch “walked with God.” Likewise, we read that Noah “walked with God” and that Abraham “walked with God.” These descriptions reveal that God became the controlling principle of their lives. In a very simple definitive understanding of a worldview, these saints “walked with God.” These men identified with a worldview of God, and that worldview controlled their daily living. Abraham, who came from a polytheistic worldview in Ur of the Chaldees, made a transition in his worldview from one identified with this earth and its religious system to a worldview of the one Supreme God Who totally controlled his life.

A worldview simply expresses that to which an individual has completely committed his life. It also is a fundamental orientation of the heart that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions that one holds about the basic constitution of reality. This set of presuppositions provides the foundation on which one lives and moves and has his being.

Let us carefully note the warp and woof of this simple definition. First, we have observed that a worldview is a commitment of heart and life. When does this consciousness come to an individual? We cannot say the consciousness of this worldview comes in elementary grades. At this time a child is coming to a simple consciousness of knowledge given by a parent or a teacher declaring what is true and what is false. A child could attend the public school or a private school where the presuppositions in each context are today radically different. Parents and teachers who have been taught from a modernistic, socialistic, atheistic, and evolutionary presupposition will, in turn, teach children their presuppositions. Whether what is being taught is true or not, the child is now beginning to form in the mind and heart what one day he is going to commit his life to. As the child gets older, his thinking will intensify (whether for good or bad), and he will begin to make decisions of what he will believe for life. Depending on his maturity, the teenager will eventually begin to forge the direction of his worldview. Certainly, more input comes as he grows into his prime years of life; in his prime his worldview resolves in his heart.

The older the growing child becomes, the more secret choices he begins to make. He either will or will not pursue these decisions made within. In a secularistic context it is possible he may endure a lecture and record an answer on the test that he knows his teacher expects, while his heart has concluded, “I do not want to make this a part of my life.” Amidst all the social pressures upon youth, it is also possible in our present contemporary hour that a youth could reach a supreme ruling choice prematurely in his life. Bold, dark philosophical powers pervading modern American education are forcing an anti-God worldview upon the youngest of children. Our government is quickly and aggressively shaping children’s hearts and minds more than it ever has before. Girls are being forced toward a womanhood with a feminist mindset very early now. And young men are trying to grow up at twelve and thirteen, but at the same time being molded into feminine ways and subjective thinking. Both male and female youth also believe that “making my own choices” is part of my growing up.

Another term associated with worldview is purpose, that is, “resolve of heart.” Note Daniel 1:8:

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Daniel was 17 years old when he was taken down into the Babylonian Captivity. It seems that Daniel came to a purpose or resolve for right things early in his life. A worldview was already part of his thinking; it became a commitment of heart, a commitment to a presupposition that he was going to live, and move, and have his being in that purpose. It seems he had entered a supreme ruling choice of life and was committed to a biblical worldview, thereby rejecting the kingly diet placed before him.

Sometimes worldviews must change. When a person comes to Christ, this is what must happen in his life. It is the time when old things must pass away, and all the things which are to establish this life are to be new. These new establishing things are to be of God. They are to be neither of the world nor self’s subjective thinking. Although an individual may have resolved a worldview before he came to Christ, the power of redemption is such a great work of God that it should radically change the worldview of that person.

Regrettably, this paradigm shift could occur in an opposite direction. A young person could be on the road to a worldview in Christ when suddenly something happens. It is usually some crisis involving something he saw, he heard, or someone he met of a contrary philosophy of life that began pulling him away from God. This crisis experience he may not have uttered to anyone, but in his mind and heart such thoughts started churning over and over. In a process of time the road upon which he was walking changed. What seemed to be the precious worldview of commitment to God, His Word, and His Will now is no longer important. At such a point, his worldview begins to slowly unravel; the warp and woof are untangled, and slowly but surely something else comes in to replace what he had committed his life to.

One of the reasons God gave humanity the gift of time was to reveal self. A person may not come to this changed worldview overnight, but how does a person leave God? It is over a process of time. How does a person come to God? Well, it too is over a process of time. At what point in time is this radical change made? There are changes in the presuppositions that become the foundational stones for the worldview, but when is that foundation set, established, and sealed? Time may be appointed for the process, but there must come a crisis to resolve the process of thought.


This is a crucial hour when paradigm shifts are taking place in the hearts of people destructively shifting worldviews away from God and His Word. Again, the first principle of a worldview is erecting foundational stones, whether right or wrong. This process directs an individual toward a commitment of his life to what he sees and knows. The second principle of a worldview is the establishing of a fundamental orientation of the heart. From this point all teaching and knowledge begin taking control and directing the heart toward a desired end.

Whatever we observe as bad, there is always behind it something worse. Genesis 6:5 speaks of the violence and the powers of the flesh in Noah’s contemporary. But what was the major sin that resolved God’s heart to send the Flood?

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Yes, “God saw.” This is the second time we read of God seeing something. The first time is noted in Genesis 1:31: “God saw every thing that he had made, . . . was very good.” But the second time we read of God seeing something, He “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” What does this reveal to us? It is the initial building blocks of thoughts that work their way into forming enlarged imaginations. Noah’s contemporary began to dwell upon their imaginations—a fuller understanding of their thoughts. When random thoughts begin to congeal into expanding and more permanent imaginations, the heart is now being revealed—not simply the mind. The heart will be the revelation of the individual. The “continually evil” thoughts of Noah’s generation declared the worldview and supreme ruling choice it had made. A society dedicated to full evil was ripe for God’s judgment.

Dear reader, we have come to such a global worldview in our own generation. This is the condition of America’s heart in every compartment of human living, including the corrupt, violent, evil political leadership of our nation. A supreme ruling choice has now created a worldview that is taking over not only our nation but also the world. We are sealed in an atheistic worldview not only ripening for the judgment of God but also for the coming of the son of perdition, the Antichrist. We are witnessing the execution of the supreme ruling choice of these global leaders. Only the Bible truly reveals that man has given himself over to a covenant with the Devil. The controlling worldview today includes a collaboration of man and Satan in the End Time to overthrow God and His saints. People today live by the “Lie” and the false posture of personality. The main worldview of today is based on pragmatism, relativism, positivism, and a growing presupposition of pluralism. Truly the worldview of man has been given over to reprobate thought and a diabolical will and heart.

But what is the heart according to Scripture? Proverbs 2:10 begins with the clause, “When wisdom entereth into thine heart.” Although wisdom must first enter the mind, it is only when it reaches the heart that it is firmly resolved. The heart is where the notions of wisdom, or what the individual thinks is the wise thing, come from. The way men live will reveal the truth of what they are given to. This is why a child is known by his doings. Is a young child’s honorable actions more appropriately the wisdom his parents have given to him? Is it evident in the responses to situations or circumstances taking place in his life? Is such wisdom becoming a part of the child’s worldview? Is he choosing to do what his father and mother (or teacher, or pastor) have revealed? Or is he carving out his own way, his own world influenced by self to form a contrary worldview?

Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain [empty] in their imaginations (Rom. 1:21).

Anytime we see this word imaginations, it is always dealing with the heart. When thoughts reach the heart from the mind, they have become the imaginations. Paul here speaks of the vain, empty heart of these reprobates.

Psalm 2 speaks of the people imagining a vain thing. This same emptiness is what their hearts are intent on. The heart is the central defining element of the human person. Proverbs 4:23 warns us to “keep thy heart.” This phrase in the Hebrew reads “Keep the heart with all keeping”; our English reads “keep the heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” All that we are becoming is truly flowing from these issues or tributaries of the heart.

We resolve this first article once again with the definition of a worldview. A worldview concerns an individual’s coming to a commitment of a fundamental orientation of his heart that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions that are held to be the basic constitution of reality. It provides the foundation on which one lives and moves and has his being. In our next article we want to explore this definition further to see what presuppositions must be settled in the Christian’s heart to establish a biblical worldview to face this age, the prelude generation of the coming of the Lord. The paradigms of right living and thinking are radically shifting, and we must prepare to face these shifts, purposing in our hearts we will not change our biblical worldview as a Christian.