I have become very skeptical of the talk of theological “paradigms” and “worldviews.” There is certainly a way in which one views things, and there are certainly first principles and biases. However, whether or not there is a singular “Christian worldview” or an even more narrow “Reformed worldview” seems to be a different question altogether. I know of as many different Reformed worldviews as I do Reformed theologians.
The big problem with this way of categorizing people and ideas is that it always fails to do justice to the particulars. Anything that doesn’t fit is either lopped off or explained as a contradiction. This can also be an easy way to dismiss certain people or ideas without an actual argument.
Still worse is the dreaded “Greek worldview.” Sometime in the 19th century, a few German guys invented this trick. Anyone who is too concerned with precision is considered Greek. Anyone who is particularly spiritual-thinking is considered Greek. Anyone who uses metaphysics is considered Greek. After a while it became evident that “Greek” was a convenient way to dismiss traditional Christianity.
The better option was supposedly “Hebrew.” This basically meant a combination of materialism, skepticism, and relativism. The neo-Orthodox ate this right up.
But somewhere along the way conservative Reformed Christians started appropriating this methodology. I know that I used to until quite recently. It seemed to work well with the prior commitment of sola scriptura and even total depravity (though it rests on an exaggerated version of the doctrine). However, a problem arises when various Bible verses themselves appear to be “Greek.” The New Testament is itself written in Greek, and several passages certainly seem to be making use of “Greek” constructs. The Bible has no problem with “invisibility” or “spirit.” The heavens are all invisible, unless God chooses to make them visible (which is always a special occasion). The fiery chariots are there all along, even when you cannot see them. Angels are everywhere. When we die, our bodies will go into the grave, but our souls will ascend to the heavens. We walk by faith, not by sight.
John’s prologue certainly seems to make use of Philo’s language. And why shouldn’t he? Philo thought that the Logos was a deuteros theos. That sounds pretty Johannine to me!
Furthermore, the Greeks do not have an independent origin from the Hebrews. Both descend from Noah. The Greeks themselves come from Japeth (through Javan Gen. 10:2), a blessed son. Are we to believe that they completely rejected the basic categories of thought? And even if they did, we’d still have the trouble of identifying any one Greek worldview. Socrates was not terribly enamored with the Olympian gods.
Many times when you read about the horrors of “Greek thinking,” the author actually has no intention of discussing any idea in particular. “Greek” is just an effective rhetorical device. Of course we don’t want to be “Greek”!
But being Greek is no more problematic than being European or being American. There is negative baggage, to be sure, but there are also unique benefits. Why wouldn’t there be? God made the Greeks didn’t He?
And why in the world do we assume that we all need to think like Hebrews? The Gentiles could be God-fearers in the Old Testament. They could have their own points of view without having to become Jewish. Believers worship the same God, but do we need the same “worldview”? To a point, I suppose we do, but just how much is not at all clear. We certainly don’t live in the same world(s). My worldview is formed by family, friends, food, arts, culture, all of which are a million miles away from the 1st century, still more from the days of ancient Israel.
I may never know “my worldview.” I certainly don’t actively use it from day to day. Often I prefer to ask for others’ concepts and ideas because I simply don’t have a formed opinion on how a phenomena works. I’m teaching at a classical school, and one of the things that C. S. Lewis taught me is that students must be students before they become critics. Sweeping worldview claims are a good way to reverse this order.
A little gospel is in order though. If Jesus died for the Mississippians, then he died for their brains too. He has sanctified our various worldviews. He does not eradicate them, just as he does not eradicate us, but rather regenerates them.