Transforming Worldviews is a must read for anyone working or living cross-culturally. Worldview analysis is necessary for understanding and communicating in a new culture. This understanding only comes with careful analysis and reflection, not just more time spent overseas. It is possible to have vast experience living cross-culturally, but still have little understanding of the underlying worldview of that culture.
The first step is to acknowledge how our own worldview (fundamental cognitive, affective, and evaluative presuppositions a group of people make about the nature of things, and which they use to order their lives) interprets and distorts our understanding of other worldviews. It is as if we have a set of glasses permanently affixed to our face through which we interpret all the data that we observe. Because of this, we cannot be a neutral observer of other cultures and their worldview.
In Transforming Worldviews, Hiebert helps readers to understand the concept, function, and characteristics of worldviews. At the same time, he colors his explanations with examples of people interpreting the same data differently because of their worldview discrepancies. When communicating cross-culturally, we need to understand these differences, or we may find that, though we have given information clearly based on our worldview, the listener’s world view causes him to get a different understanding than we may intend. With fundamental differences in the interpretation of creation, time, history, purpose, cause and effect, etc. it is very difficult to get a clear understanding about beliefs and behavior. At times missionaries have focused on primarily transforming a person’s beliefs and behavior. Later they found that, if the worldview is not also transformed, instead of embracing biblical faith, he may have only altered the behavior and simply added Jesus to a preexisting list of gods.
After Hiebert gives an explanation of some methods of analyzing worldviews, he explores small-scale oral societies, peasant world views, the modern worldview, the worldview of late modernity (or post-modernity) and post-postmodern or Global Worldview. These chapters are outstanding and valuable for anyone working to understand their own worldview, divergent worldviews in your own culture, or who want to work cross-culturally.
Finally, Hiebert describes and analyzes a biblical worldview and gives steps to help people as they are transformed in their worldview, beliefs, and actions by their encounter with Jesus Christ. I recommend this book to anyone who would like to use worldview analysis in order to better understand how people think and process information in order to communicate more clearly and accurately.