The Truth Project Helps Develop a Biblical Worldview
Family North Carolina MagazineMay/June 2009
by R. Matthew Lytle, Ph.D.
A March 2009 survey by the Barna Group found that a mere 9 percent of American adults have a “biblical worldview.”1 The numbers look little better for the group Barna calls “born again Christians,” of whom only 19 percent have a biblical worldview.2 While these numbers are low, they seem to be steady. Barna has taken similar surveys since 1995 and notes, “The numbers show that 7% had such a worldview in 1995, compared to 10% in 2000, 11% in 2005, and 9% now. Even among born again adults, the statistics have remained flat: 18% in 1995, 22% in 2000, 21% in 2005, and 19% today.”3
If a Christian’s worldview is to be based on biblical revelation, then the fact that so few Christians hold to a biblical worldview is concerning. In order to help provide a remedy for this problem, Focus on the Family has developed The Truth Project (TTP) for the purpose of helping Christians develop a biblically-informed worldview. Before discussing how TTP aims to accomplish this task, it is necessary to understand what a worldview is and why it matters.
A worldview is the conceptual framework by which one understands the world around him. Another way to explain the concept of “worldview” is a set of lenses through which one sees his or her surroundings. Glasses bend light before it enters the eye and is reflected off the retina, thereby altering with varying degrees of subtlety what one sees. While eyeglasses generally bend light in such a way as to correct impaired vision, the fact remains that they alter what one sees. That is, they serve as a barrier or field through which all visual input must pass before it reaches the retina and is interpreted by the brain. As long as a person is wearing glasses, the images he sees will always be slightly altered in order to present an image of the world that has been adjusted, however slightly.
Worldviews work in a similar manner. Instead of glass, worldviews are made of presuppositions that determine how one understands the world. These presuppositions are determined by factors like tradition, experience, and possibly even genetic factors. Every bit of information that a person digests is interpreted through these “lenses,” so that any conclusions drawn from that information will necessarily be shaped by the person’s presuppositions.
A person generally forms them without realizing that he or she is doing it. They exist below the surface and often work there undetected. While many people are not aware of the presuppositions that make up their worldview, all people have a worldview. Everyone has a framework of concepts and presuppositions that determine how they make sense of their surroundings.
Although most people do not realize they have a worldview nor are aware of its contents, this does not mean that they cannot uncover the presuppositions that make up his or her worldview. Not only is it possible to determine the contents of one’s worldview, but it is also possible to change the presuppositions that make up a worldview and thus change the worldview itself. Once this happens, one’s outlook on the world and his or her place in it takes a different shape, and he or she begins to see the world in a new way.
How are worldviews shaped and reshaped? The most common way is by learning new things and thus gaining new knowledge about the world. As knowledge accumulates, worldviews change over time in order to fit the new data. This process often happens slowly and automatically, but it is possible to take an active part in shaping one’s worldview. The Truth Project has been designed to do just that.
The Truth Project
TTP is the brainchild of Dr. Del Tackett, president of the Focus on the Family Institute and aims at helping Christians understand, articulate, refine, and change their worldview. TTP director Gary Alan Taylor describes it as “a DVD-based small group curriculum on Christian worldview. It’s an attempt to allow the body of Christ to go through a systematic and comprehensive worldview study in a small group setting, which hopefully will bring them to the point that they begin looking at the world and looking at life from that perspective.”4
The Need for TTP
TTP arose out of the fact that many Christians are seemingly unaware of their worldview or how it affects their daily lives. According to Tackett, “the body of Christ has so bought the lies of the world that we have not only conformed to the world, but we are suffering deeply from the consequences of believing those lies. We have become convinced that the only long-term solution to this problem is to rebuild those foundations, to build again that comprehensive worldview within God’s people.”5 “Without that solid, biblical worldview,” Tackett continued, “we are going to conform more and more to the world and we will be ineffective in our call to be light and salt and our culture is going to continue to destroy itself.”6
Os Guiness, author and founder of the Trinity Forum, agrees with Tackett. According to Guiness, “Of all the issues todayyou could boil them down to half a dozenbut unquestionably truth would be major because the crisis of truth strikes at the heart of faith, it strikes at the heart of freedom, and it strikes at the heart of humanity.”7 He notes, “In almost every area, you can see that ‘we’ the church are just as badly off as ‘they’ the culture out there.”8
The reason that the church’s action is often indistinguishable from the rest of the world, according to the creators of TTP, is a matter of worldview. Every person has a worldview whether or not he or she knows it. Moreover, this worldview determines to a large extent how someone will act. If a person is unaware of the contents of his or her worldview and is also unaware of how life experiences shape it, he or she faces the real danger of being conformed to the world that bombards with its own message, which flows from its own worldview.
What TTP Teaches
As the name suggests, TTP focuses centrally on truth, which it defines as “that which conforms to reality.”9 “Reality” refers to both the creator God and his creation. Not only does TTP affirm reality, but it also works on the assumption that realityand therefore truthis transcendent and that it can be known. While these assumptions mark a departure from the conventional philosophical wisdom since the Enlightenment, they are nevertheless the hallmark of the classical Christian worldview. Moreover, the assumption that reality can be known is not confined to the church, but is also foundational for science. Indeed, the scientific method assumes that the world can be observed and that it is predictable enough to be able to adequately predict and model through scientific laws such as gravity or inertia.
There is therefore great latitude for agreement between the two circles when it comes to observing the world. The Christian worldview offers something that science cannot, however. The Christian worldview offers an explanation of how and why creation exists as it does now as well as where creation and history are heading.10 In order to accomplish this goal, TTP presents 12 lessons, each dealing with a different component of a comprehensive worldview. As the name suggests, TTP begins its curriculum by tackling the question, “What is truth?” The second lesson draws upon the definition of truth and argues that it “has a direct bearing upon the way we live our lives.” It then goes on to argue that “our understanding of right and wrong is directly dependent on our worldview.”11
Sessions three and four discuss man and God. In lesson three, Tackett contrasts the biblical concepts of the image of God and the fall of man against the widely held belief that humanity is inherently good. Lesson four discusses who God is, paying special attention to his personal and relational attributes as well as his remedy for reversing the effects of the Fall on humanity.
Lessons five through eight discuss various aspects of the created order. Beginning with science, lesson five asks, “What is true?” Defining “science” as the “systematic study of the natural world,” TTP spends most of lesson five addressing the conflict between Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Lesson six examines history and answers the question of whether the past has any importance for the present and why it is vital to remember the past. Lesson seven looks into sociology and considers the many different kinds of relationships of which life consists. Exploring “the most intimate of the social spheres,” lesson eight discusses the possibility of the Creator “dwelling in the heart of an individual.”
From here, lessons nine and ten move on to matters of the state. In lesson nine, Tackett discusses the unique role of the state to preserve order by bearing the sword, including a warning about the dangers of the state overstepping its authority. Lesson 10 examines America’s unique place in world history and the effects of its efforts to balance freedom with responsibility. Like lesson nine, this lesson includes a warning about what effects forgetting God has on freedom.
Finally, lessons 11 and 12 build upon the foundation of the first 10 lessons and draw out some practical applications for daily life. Lesson 11 shows that work, far from being the curse that many believe it to be, is an integral part of human life. Indeed, work is a way in which humanity can live out the image of God. The final lesson applies what has been learned so far to community involvement. This lesson teaches, “The ethical law and the meaning of the Christian life are summed up in the commandment to love God and one’s neighbor.”12 By understanding this important truth, the makers of TTP hope that Christians will apply what they have learned not only to their personal lives, but also to their community and culture.
TTP in Your Area
The only way to get a copy of TTP DVDs is to attend a training session, where attendees are equipped to lead the curriculum in a small group setting. Those interested in attending training sessions in North Carolina can contact the North Carolina Family Policy Council to either schedule a training session for their area or to find out about training sessions already scheduled near them.
Ultimately, TTP is about actively forming a worldview instead of being passively formed by one. Rev. Robert Sirico thinks that TTP is a step in the right direction, noting that it takes “academic disciplines, cultural realities seriously, utilizing those means and mechanismsnot just slapping Christianity on top of something and expecting that to be compelling, but to understand things down to their rootthe whys and the wherefores of things and then building the thing up.”13
Theologian Wayne Grudem expects this education in worldview to have positive effects for Christians and for society. According to Grudem, “It’s my conviction that when Christians see what the Bible teaches about these various areas of ordinary life, that their thinking will be transformed and their lives will be changed, so that day by day in the ordinary affairs of lifethe ordinary events of lifethey will be living lives that are much more pleasing to Godand, I think, having a transforming influence for good on our society as well.”14
R. Matthew Lytle is director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council.
“Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians oner the Past 13 Years,” <http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/21-transformation/252-barna-survey-examines-changes-in-worldview-among-christians-over-the-past-13-years>.
Personal Interview, Gary Alan Taylor, March 12, 2009.
Del Tackett, Video Interview, <http://thetruthproject.org>.
Os Guiness, Video Interview, <http://thetruthproject.org>.
How does Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project define “truth”? <>.
Oliver O’Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order: A Framework for Evangelical Ethics, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), ***.
<http://www.thetruthproject.org/events/A000000068.cfm/>. Accessed March 9, 2009.
Rev. Robert Sirico, Video Interview <http://thetruthproject.org>. Accessed March 18, 2009.
Wayne Grudem, Video Interview, <http://thetruthproject.org>.
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