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Religion = Worldview + Theology

This entry is part of 5 in the series

"Worldview-Forming Worship"

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Everyone has an implicit worldview—a fundamental orientation of the heart expressed in assumptions about reality, and most people have an explicit theology—conscious beliefs expressed in stated propositions. The combination of worldview and theology is what constitutes a religion. Expressed in this way, all people have a religion, whether they acknowledge it or not. Even atheists have a religion; their worldview consists of an assumption that only matter is real, combined with a theology that denies the existence of God. This produces an atheist religion that affects everything about how they live and interact in society.

Thus, while believers and unbelievers may sometimes hold to similar assumptions about the nature of reality, since their theologies are fundamentally different, biblical religion and non-biblical religion are always antithetical to one another. The Bible teaches that stark enmity exists between God and the world, between belief and unbelief. There is no neutrality between God and the world, a disparity articulated clearly in passages such as James 4:4 and 1 John 2:25:

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

This biblical concept of “the world” refers to the religion—a combination of worldview and theology—of this present sinful age that is ruled by Satan. It is a value system that is actively hostile to God and alienated from God. The world around us is not neutral; it is ruled by “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2) who is the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4). It is human environment left to itself.

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What is the Nature of Religion? Theology

Biblical religion, on the other hand, involves the formation of a worldview and theology in accordance with the Word of God. Conscious belief in the truths of Scripture—most importantly what it teaches about God’s purpose for his creation, the reality of sin and judgment, and forgiveness found in the atonement of Jesus Christ—reorients the believer’s heart toward God, motivating him to live in accordance with God’s will for his glory.

Discussions of worldview, theology, and religion can often seem abstract and irrelevant to the practical issues of life, but nothing could be further from the truth. Our underlying assumptions combined with our beliefs concerning God and the purpose of life—our religion—affects everything about us: what we value, where we find meaning and purpose, how we interact with others—everything concerning our life in this world.

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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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