I greet you in anticipation of our 2018 Family-Youth Conference in Toronto and I wish to share a few ideas as a prelude to the conference.
Solomon once wrote:
As Faces are not like other faces, so neither are the thoughts of men (Prov. 27:19).
We live in the midst of a multicultural society and in our day-to-day lives we interact with people who believe and live according to ideas that are foreign to the Gospel message.
Our 2018 Family Youth Conference has for its theme “An Orthodox Christian Worldview.”One can add to this and say that the subtitle is: the many thoughts that guide the actions of men.
One definition of worldview is –an interpretation and explanation of the world. Our thoughts and worldview guides our actions within the world. Everyone has a worldview.
To strive to understand one’s worldview is a spiritually profitable exercise in self-examination. To explore one’s worldview answers the deep questions: why was the world created? What is my purpose in life? A properly understood Orthodox Christian worldview helps us understand and put into perspective our faith in contrast to the various belief systems in the world. Our worldview determines our understanding of what it is to be an authentic man or woman and the purpose of family and culture.
To be a self-aware Orthodox Christian is not merely the act of adhering to a belief system, but rather, it is a multi-faceted life of living in communion with God through our thoughts, our pursuit of knowledge and our prayer life and actions.
A worldview that is properly examined and thought through can provide consistency and clarity to how a person confronts the world and interacts with it. Conversely, many people do not think through and strive to understand all aspects of their worldview and because of this, they become confused and are inconsistent in their actions and, in some cases, are not true to themselves or the worldview they think that they have adopted.
Every day everyone in our Church, from the oldest to the youngest, interacts with someone with a radically different worldview. As Christians we have sympathy for all of mankind, but we need to be vigilant and teach our children to be aware and to recognize who they are interacting with and where their ideas come from. Even adults can be subtly influenced by friends and colleagues into justifying ideas and values that can possibly undermine their spiritual life. All the more, we need to nurture our children in the instruction and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4), since they face the challenges of strange and corrosive ideologies while they are still developing their understanding of life.
There are many ways one can approach the topic of worldview and we hope to expand upon this topic after the 2018 Family-Youth Conference, but for our purposes now we want to consider the Orthodox Christian view of man as a free rational spiritual being. Our Lord came and granted us the potential for a Divine-human existence.
One foundational aspect of a person’s world view is their understanding of Epistemology, that is, the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, in particular its foundations, scope, and validity. The foundational question is, How do we know concerning the purpose of life and man’s ultimate destiny? The Church answers that this question can only be answered by the revelation from God, through Jesus Christ Whom He sent into the world.
Creation is not eternal like God; creation is not God. All things were created out of nothing[i], and all of creation’s existence depends entirely upon God. It is not self-existent. Everything created receives its existence from God, and it exists only because God wants it to exist. Only God is self-existing, only God is real existence. God said to Moses that, “I AM He Who Is,” that is Existence itself. Between God and His creation there is an infinite abyss, an absolute distinction. We cannot attain to a perception of Him by analogy. Nothing in creation can be compared to God, for God is absolute otherness.
We cannot approach the knowledge of God on our own; this is one aspect of the significance of the term “unapproachable.” We can know God only by His revelation. He has revealed Himself through His Prophets and Apostles and the successors of the Apostles who have given unto us the legacy of the 7 Ecumenical Councils and all of the other councils that are recognized by the Church. Thus the Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church is the pillar and ground of truth.
Yet there is another aspect to the knowledge of God that only comes as a result of our being baptized and communing with God through our prayer life and partaking of the Holy Eucharist. Knowledge of the Faith is not limited to giving one’s ascent to and agreeing with the dogmas of the Church, but there is a knowledge that only comes from experiencing the life in Christ.
It is in this context that we want to introduce the topic of Worldview.