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Worldview as a Total Belief System

QUESTION: Worldview as a Total Belief System


While Orr and Kuyper shared a belief in a common foe (modernism), and though it is believed that Kuyper relied heavily on Orr’s earlier lectures,1 their overall approach to worldview differed. Though Orr was clearly a Calvinist, he did not emphasize it as much as Kuyper did, who attempted to understand everything first and foremost in light of the absolute sovereignty of God. Kuyper’s famous line from a speech delivered at the opening of the Free University in Amsterdam, which he founded, reflects his starting point of thinking about Christianity as a worldview, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”2

Worldview as Applied Christianity
So, while Orr focused on Christianity as a total belief system in contrast with other systems, Kuyper focused on Christianity applied (more specifically Calvinism) compared with modernism applied. For Kuyper, worldview was a notion that offered an apologetic primarily not by comparison with other worldviews, but by allowing it to provide cultural leadership in a wide variety of areas;3 and he is well-known for his attempts to actually apply a Christian worldview to diverse areas of culture in The Netherlands through his various roles as scholar, journalist, writer, pastor, and politician. The heritage of the two diverging approaches of Orr and Kuyper can be seen in the different approaches to worldview study today.


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Heslam, Creating a Christian Worldview, 92-95. Heslam cites the following point made by Kuyper that were initially made by Orr: (1) Christianity and modernism each derived from separate, antithetical “first principles;” (2) the only Christian defense against modernism is the development of a comprehensive, coherent worldview; (3) the concept of worldview had bearing on all theoretical thought, not just religion; (4) all true religions possess a worldview of their own; and (5) the purpose of the lecture series itself was to show that Christianity had a definite view on things.
2 Kuper, “Sphere Sovereignty.” Quoted in Naugle, Worldview, 16.
3 Wolters, “On the Idea of Worldview and Its Relationship to Philosophy” in Stained Glass, 20.

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