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Christian Worldview Video Series Review by Heather JackowitzLigonier Ministries
PO Box 547500
Orlando, Florida 32854
The Christian Worldview video series from Ligonier Ministries consists of twelve 30-minute messages on three videocassettes. The topics are secularism, existentialism, humanism, pragmatism, positivism, pluralism and relativism, hedonism, science, economics, government, art, and literature. The first session, secularism, is really the umbrella under which all the remaining six systems of thought fall. The last five sessions are fascinating examinations of specific cultural topics. While Ligonier Ministries is explicitly Reformed in theology, these worldview videos are not doctrinally divisive. Rather, Dr. R.C. Sproul teaches from the perspective of orthodox Christianity, or what some might call historic or mere Christianity. He often refers to Christians of other denominations, including Roman Catholics, with respect for their ideas regarding a Christian worldview.
As foreign missionaries prepare for the mission field, so Dr. Sproul believes all Christians must study the culture in which they live in order to be effective witnesses for Christ. Our modern American culture, he asserts, is not pagan but secular, or concerned primarily with the here and now. In contrast, Christians are commanded to lay up their treasures in heaven. Dr. Sproul's compassion for the souls of unbelievers is apparent throughout the series, as are his joy and thankfulness for salvation through Jesus Christ.
Dr. Sproul is a passionate teacher who does an excellent job breaking down complicated material and making it easier to understand. He is outstanding in his ability to maintain high-level vocabulary and material while simultaneously simplifying the matter for the less scholarly. He often explains things two ways, once using the correct philosophical terminology and again using colloquial language.
These twelve sessions were filmed in the early 1980s, so hairstyles, clothing, and decor reflect the time. Dr. Sproul speaks to a live audience, not to the monitor. The audience, shown occasionally, is predominantly 60- to 80-year-old women. Dr. Sproul uses the podium occasionally, but he mostly moves around, gesturing expressively. His presentation is lively, and his enthusiasm is contagious. He scribbles key information on a chalkboard, but his writing is illegible, so important information is displayed on the screen as well.
At the end of all twelve sessions, my husband and I compared our opinions about the series. I was surprised to find that my husband preferred the -isms messages, and I preferred the messages about specific cultural topics. He said the -isms helped him to identify and articulate his past worldview and the changes he experienced when he became a Christian. He also considered them more practical for relating to the people in his life. I found the cultural messages more practical because of their application to homeschooling our children in science, economics, government, art, and literature.
This series is an overview, not an in-depth study. As you watch the twelve sessions, you will encounter many, many topics for further study. For example, during the segment on science, Dr. Sproul discusses the nature/grace debate surrounding Thomas Aquinas. Dr. Sproul's interpretation of Aquinas differs from that of many Protestant theologians, and I found myself wanting to learn more about this interesting man. You are on your own for these potential research projects; there are no supplemental materials available for study or testing.
One thing lacking from this series is a treatment of non-Western worldviews, namely Eastern mysticism or pantheism (God is all, and all is God). Our family recently watched the Star Wars movies from start to finish (or finish to start, depending on how you look at it), and while everyone enjoyed certain aspects of the films, overall I found them disturbing. After discussing it with a friend who teaches worldview courses, I realized that a pantheistic worldview pervades the films. This friend believes that pantheism is the up-and-coming system of thought that will compete for the hearts of our children. If you agree, you will want to find additional materials to supplement your worldview study.
This series would be valuable for mature high school students on up. It would make an interesting group study, as there is a wealth of material for discussion. Parents of young children would also benefit by learning how to think about and discuss issues with their children. Highly recommended!