Christian Studies 12 is an advanced study that surveys and applies the significant differences between a biblical view of the world (i.e. study of human nature on such topics as purpose, meaning, motivation, morality and fulfillment) and the outlook of natural man. Such a study intends to increase a student's knowledge and understanding of "thought structures" developed by and perfected by man to oppose God's intent for human cooperation and fulfillment; and, to recognize in particular, how man-made ideas "impact and influence" how people from various outlooks "make sense of their everyday experiences." In short, this is a course that instructs students on the Christian worldview, putting the biblical view of reality in direct contrast with popular thought systems at work in the western world today. The biblical worldview will be mapped out and distinguished from four major narratives currently at play in substantial ways. Students will do exercises across eight practical domains (including law, government, economics, fulfillment, psychology) to observe not only how the hope of Christ differs in theory or principle from other beliefs (which is where most worldview courses stop short), but to experience firsthand how secular reality can be critiqued "in action" through the unique way this course calls attention to operating assumptions beneath the ways human beings aspire and respond to various stimuli in everyday life.
A worldview is an "unconscious" set of beliefs and assumptions about life that people implicitly carry into their everyday practices. Acting as a framework, it basically orients (gives direction) and motivates (prompts how to best act) as people seek ultimate fulfillment or make their basic everyday lives simply work. That said, one can imagine how people from different belief/faith backgrounds will set out to live differently (according to their deepest and most cherished beliefs "about the world"). The question of a person's worldview comes down to this: "what does a person most trust, take for granted or lean on" in everyday experiences to best fulfill their existence? The most extreme differences will be to: trust the authority of [a] God, trust the authority of one's impressions and/or experiences, trust the authority of a cultural consensus (science, peer pressure, fashion, materialism), or some combination of the three. In less common worldviews, people may be devoutly committed to an ideology or belief-system that prescribes certain actions with the hope of producing a specific result (Marxism, environmentalism and feminism are some examples). In this course, we will sort through the major worldviews, noting not only their differences, but more importantly, how we can begin to recognize what we ourselves put most of our hope or trust in...and why we may not be getting the joy out of life that we may expect, and which is our privilege as Christians. You may be surprised at what this will tell you. For example, we may find that while we profess belief in God with our heads, we might actually trust in something very different than what we say we believe (i.e. a Christian who trusts in his own power to produce certain results, even as they believe in God).
Most worldview systems seem to solve problems the same way because most systems place reliance on the "human individual" to accomplish their ultimate life purpose (with minor variations, which we will examine in this course). Christians most distinctly stand apart from the world insofar as their purposes and dependences are not in their own power or personal abilities, nor in anything material at all, but entirely based on the power and work of another - Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, many Christians hold to a belief that we only have a "moral" dependence on Christ, and that His atonement on the Cross only affects our "behavior" or ethical capabilities, with little consideration for the renewing of our mind or the effect or errant belief. In raising this, we not only contrast Christianity with other systems of belief, but also take note of cultural beliefs that have crept into the western church (self potential movement, individualism, success ethic and so on). As we will see throughout the course, to live under the dominion of Christ means we need not worry about and take control of ANY part of our lives. Rather, our duty as believers is to see the fullness of Christ's power affect ALL aspects of our reality, and thus, to respond faithfully (that is, by faith) to how He calls each one of us to live, according to His equipping in each of His own. Therefore, what makes us most distinct from the world is that we trust His power, and by so doing, do not trust our own understanding as if "to achieve" the fullness we were made for - who we are, how we live and what we will become. Our goal is in all respects to become like Christ - which is to trust Him for our fullness, just as He trusted God for His. Considering this, to study worldviews is to study the different ways people try to make sense of and live in reality without God (and to regard its ramifying effects), unless their worldview is Biblical Christianity.
There are 18 lessons in total - one per week for semester students, or every second week for students who choose to take the course in a Linear (all year) fashion. Students can self pace if they desire to take the course in a quicker fashion (i.e. quarterly, summer, etc). The course ends with a reflective project that allows students to draw together what the course has meant to them.
The course relies on a text called Understanding the Times. Students will also make use of an online Bible or one of their own.
- Understanding The Times: We will be using this text throughout the course.
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