CONGRATULATIONS 2011 Summit Essay and Video Contest Winner – Olivia Van Winkle!
The winner will be receiving a full-tuition scholarship to a two-week Summit Student Conference this summer. All students who submitted a valid essay or video will receive an additional $50 off registration for a 2011 Summit Student Conference. This is over and above the $50 discount that is available for any student who asks for “The Christian Worldview Listener Discount” upon registration.. A hearty “Well done!” to all the entrants for the thought and time you put into your essays. You can register for Summit by going to Summit.org or calling 1-866-786-6483.
Here was the topic for this year’s contest: Identify key passages related to economics in the Bible’s Book of Proverbs and explain whether those passages advocate for a capitalistic or socialistic economic system. Each student should define capitalism and socialism. Biblical passages outside Proverbs and other non-biblical sources can be referenced to make your case. Potential sources: Money, Greed, and God by Jay Richards, Making Modern Economics by Mark Skousen, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism by Kevin Williamson.
This year, we had a panel grading the essays based on a 25-point scale, with a possible 5 points in each of the following categories:
- Definition of terms
- Appropriate and adequate use of sources
- Clarity of thought and flow
- Strength of argument
We would like to congratulate 18-year-old Olivia Van Winkle of Mount Vernon, OH on her winning essay entitled, “Inherently Capitalist.” Olivia will be receiving a full tuition scholarship to a Summit Ministries Student Conference this summer. You can read her essay here.
We’d also like to congratulate the First Runner-Up, Naomi Baskin of Dayton, TN for her essay, “Proverbial Capitalism”. Naomi will be receiving a half tuition scholarship to a Summit conference this summer. You can read her essay here.
Congratulations are also in order for the rest of the Top 5:
- Kimmy Miller, Peachtree City, GA
- Rebekah Busch, Lower Lake, CA
- Connor Headrick, Monroe, LA
GRAND PRIZE: One full-tuition scholarship ($895 value) to a two-week Summit Ministries Student Conference at the location of your choice (Colorado, Tennessee, Wisconsin) in the summer of 2011.
RUNNER-UP PRIZE: One half-tuition scholarship to a two-week Summit Ministries Student Conference at the location of your choice in the summer of 2011.
ENTRY PRIZE: All students who submit a valid essay or video will receive an additional $50 off registration for a 2011 Summit Student Conference. This is over and above the $50 discount that is available for any student who asks for “The Christian Worldview Listener Discount” upon registration.
ELIGIBILITY: Students aged 16 or older who could attend a Summit Student Conference in the summer of 2011.
TOPIC: Identify key passages related to economics in the Bible’s Book of Proverbs and explain whether those passages advocate for a capitalistic or socialistic economic system. Each student should define capitalism and socialism. Biblical passages outside Proverbs and other non-biblical sources can be referenced to make your case. Potential sources: Money, Greed, and God by Jay Richards, Making Modern Economics by Mark Skousen, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism by Kevin Williamson.
ESSAY LENGTH: 500 to 750 words
VIDEO LENGTH: 4 to 5 minutes
DEADLINE: Sunday, April 10, 2011
RESULTS: The contest winner’s essay or video will be posted no later than April 16, 2010 on TheChristianWorldview.org. The top five entrants will also be posted.
SUBMIT ESSAY OR VIDEO BY EMAIL TO: David Wheaton, host of The Christian Worldview Radio Program
Email Address: feedback@TheChristianWorldview.org
ESSAY entries: Send essay in body of email and/or as an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .txt attachments only)
VIDEO entries: Upload your video to YouTube.com and then email the URL address to us. Your video should begin with the following text or statement: “My name is (insert your name) and the following video is for the Summit Ministries Video Contest on The Christian Worldview Radio Program.”
Include the following information in your email:
- First and last name
- Age, school, year
- Full mailing address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Essay title
- Word count or Video length
HONOR CODE: By submitting an essay or video, you are pledging that you are the original creator/author.
When you email us a video or essay, we will email you back an acknowledgment of receipt. If you have submitted an essay or video and haven’t received a receipt response from us, please email or call us.
Summit Ministries is the national presenting sponsor of The Christian Worldview with David Wheaton, a nationally-syndicated radio program that airs on 200 stations. For more information on Summit Ministries, visit Summit.org or call 1-866-786-6483. To find out more about The Christian Worldview, visit TheChristianWorldview.org.
Dr. David Noebel, president of Summit Ministries
“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
The dictionary definition of communism is: “a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.”
With hundreds of millions of people murdered, imprisoned, or impoverished in the last century by communist governments in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba, and elsewhere, it’s a good thing this failed experiment in governance has been thrown on the ash heap of history.
Or has it? According to Dr. David Noebel, president of Summit Ministries and author of the new book You Can Still Trust the Communists: To be Communists, communism and its stealthy step-children — Marxism, socialism, progressivism — are very much alive and growing in America and around the world right now … even amongst professing Christians.
Dr. Noebel will tell us how communistic ideas have influenced American society and why every Christian should be opposed to this God-rejecting worldview.
It is time to announce the winner of the 2010 Summit Ministries Essay Contest
on The Christian Worldview Radio Program!
The winner will be receiving a full-tuition scholarship to a two-week Summit Student Conference this summer. All other entrants will receive the Summit Lecture Series FREE when they register for a Summit Student Conference. A hearty “Well done!” to all the entrants for the thought and time you put into your essays. You can register for Summit by going to Summit.org or calling 1-866-786-6483.
Here was the topic for this year’s contest: In a video or essay, explain the key aspects of the worldview of proponents of “global warming / climate change” and how the Biblical worldview should inform the debate.
This year, we had a panel grading the essays on the following three points:
1. Was the essay topic addressed?
2. How compelling was the content of the essay or video?
3. How well was the content communicated (i.e. writing or speaking ability)?
So, to not hold you in suspense any longer, we’d like to congratulate 19-year-old Lauren Shirley of Texas on her winning essay entitled, “Environmentalism and the Christian Worldview.” Lauren will be receiving a full tuition scholarship to a Summit Ministries Student Conference this summer. You can read her essay here.
We’d also like to congratulate the “best of opposite” winner (i.e. video entrant), Laura Kouts of Oklahoma for her video. Laura will be receiving a half tuition scholarship to a Summit conference this summer. You can watch her video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYlfrMvXkYc
Others entrants meriting honorable mention are (not in any order):
Brittany Jones of Louisiana,
Hannah Victor of Pennsylvania,
Jeff Hart of New Jersey,
Jake Pederson of Wisconsin,
Martha Pool of Texas,
and Kristyn McIntyre of Maine.
All entrants are eligible to receive $50 off registration to a Summit Student Conference, and when they do register, they will receive a FREE copy of the Summit Lecture Series, which is a $95 value.
Our next Summit Essay / Video Contest is planned for early in 2011 so be sure to stay tuned to The Christian Worldview Radio Program or TheChristianWorldview.com website for updates.
Win a Full-Tuition Scholarship to a Two-Week Summit Ministries
Student Conference in the Summer of 2010.
GRAND PRIZE: One full-tuition scholarship to a two-week Summit Ministries Student Conference at the location of your choice in the summer of 2010 ($895 value).
ENTRY PRIZE: All students who submit a valid video or essay will receive a FREE copy of the Summit Lecture Series ($95 value) upon registration for a 2010 Summit Student Conference.
ELIGIBILITY: Students aged 16 or older who could attend a Summit Student Conference in the summer of 2010.
TOPIC: In a video or essay, explain the key aspects of the worldview of proponents of “global warming / climate change” and how the Biblical worldview should inform the debate.
VIDEO LENGTH: 4 to 5 minutes
ESSAY LENGTH: 500 to 700 words
DEADLINE EXTENDED TO SUNDAY, MAY 23, 2010
RESULTS: The contest winner and his/her video or essay will be posted no later than May 30, 2010 on TheChristianWorldview.com. The top five entrants will also be posted on TheChristianWorldview.com.
SUBMIT EMAIL TO: David Wheaton, host of The Christian Worldview Radio Program
Email Address: feedback@TheChristianWorldview.com
VIDEO entries: Upload your video to YouTube.com and then email the URL address to us. Your video must begin with the following text or statement: “My name is ______ _______ and the following video is for the 2010 Summit Ministries Video Contest on The Christian Worldview Radio Program.”
ESSAY entries: Send essay in body of email and/or as an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .txt attachments only)
Include the following in your email:
- First and last name
- Age, school, year
- Full mailing address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Essay title
- Word count or Video length
HONOR CODE: By submitting a video or essay, you are pledging that you are the original creator/author.
When you email us a video or essay, we will email you back an acknowledgment of receipt. If you have submitted a video or essay and haven’t received a receipt response from us, please email or call us.
Summit Ministries is the national presenting sponsor of The Christian Worldview with David Wheaton, a nationally-syndicated radio program that airs on 175 stations and Sirius Satellite Radio. For more information on Summit Ministries, visit Summit.org or call 1-866-786-6483. To find out more about The Christian Worldview, visit TheChristianWorldview.com.
College: Are Parents Getting Their Money’s Worth? Are They Getting More Than They Bargained For?
by Guest Blogger Dr. Jeff Myers
This fall, nearly two million American students will leave for college for the very first time. Their education will cost $12,000 a year for a public university and up to $50,000 for a private one. Scholarships and grants reduce the cost for most families, but still, the Wall Street Journal reports that the average student leaves college with $23,186 in debt.
Nationwide, the total cost for this transaction is somewhere between 25 and 40 billion dollars per year.
At least families are getting their money’s worth.
A recent study confirms what many parents have long suspected: going to college can make kids forget what’s important and embrace values that are counter to what they learned growing up.
Before I share this study’s results, let me say this to parents: leftist professors don’t feel sorry for you. As far as they’re concerned, you’ve been oppressing the masses to get that money anyway, so it’s deliciously ironic that you not only turn your children over to the indoctrinators, but that you fork over 50k to 200k and for the privilege of doing so.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the late Richard Rorty, one of the most prominent philosophers of the 20th century, said on the subject:
“… I, like most Americans who teach humanities or social science in colleges and universities … try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own … The fundamentalist parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire ‘American liberal establishment’ is engaged in a conspiracy. The parents have a point … we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours … I think those students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent Herrschaft [domination] of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents …”* [editor's note: sorry for all the ellipses, but it's hard to summarize Rorty's windblown rhetoric].
When it comes to reshaping values, liberal universities know precisely what they’re doing. And the reality is that about four out of five students walk away from their Christian faith by the time they are in their twenties.**
The Indoctrination Plan:
What Your Child Will and Will Not Learn
What your child won’t learn at college: a sense of citizenship. In February, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute released its annual report entitled, “The Shaping of the American Mind.” ISI researchers studied students’ knowledge of basic citizenship questions, along with 39 issue-based propositions and found that college graduates are dangerously ignorant of basic civics.
For example, fewer than one in two college graduates know that the phrase “We hold these truths to be self evident…” is from the Declaration of Independence (10% actually think it is from the Communist Manifesto).
What your child will learn at college: liberal radicalism. According to ISI, college graduates are significantly MORE likely to believe in abortion on demand and same sex marriage, and significantly LESS likely to believe that the Bible is the word of God, that prayer should be allowed in schools, and that anyone can succeed in America with hard work and perseverance.
The Transformation Plan:
Being Confidently Prepared Rather than Caught Off Guard
Obviously not all colleges are destructive. There are even a handful of great ones (I would humbly suggest that the one I teach at — Bryan College — is one of the excellent few).
But most Christian parents feel hamstrung. They are concerned for their kids but also realize that, with few exceptions, young people have little chance of becoming leaders without a college degree. They want their children to prepare for positively influencing the culture, but to not have their faith shredded in the process.
There is a solution and it is available now. Please, if you have a college-bound student, listen carefully to what I’m about to tell you. This is important even if your child is going to a “safe” college (some so-called “Christian” colleges are actually better at convincing kids to walk away from their faith than some secular colleges).
At Summit, students ages 16-21 gain the confidence they need to understand and defend an intelligent biblical worldview. They join a vast network of mentors whose books, writings and personal encouragement sharpen them for life-long leadership. Shoulder to shoulder they and their new-found friends stand strong together.
The 12-day experience for your son or daughter is $895 for the tuition, room, board and activities. That’s far less than most private camps because it is heavily subsidized by donors. And when you consider that the Summit protects against a destructive influence on campus, it’s a small price to pay. Considering the value of your child’s soul, it’s priceless.
Now Is Not the Time for Shortcuts
There is much at stake. Having your child read an apologetics book or go to a weekend conference is great, but it’s not the same as a two-week Summit experience, and here’s why:
1. Summit helps students “own” what they learn.
Over the course of 12 days, students are able to form questions and interact with top Christian professors, mentors, and classmates. As they become comfortable, they open up in small groups, around the meal tables and in open forums with speakers.
2. Summit prepares students to think through issues as adults.
Summit asks students to forsake adolescence and step up into mature adulthood. Over the course of 12 days students come to believe that it can actually be done.
3. Summit breaks the stranglehold of negative peer pressure.
Young adults seldom attempt to rise above what their peers think they can be. Summit students learn how to reverse this pressure and support one another in successfully thinking and living Christianly.
4. Summit helps students form relationships with expert mentors.
At Summit, students spend 12 days with experts who have the depth of experience needed to delve deeply into the complex challenges those students face. These experts are specially selected based on their ability to communicate effectively with students.
5. Summit affirms and supports parents’ roles and Christian values.
Kids are always asking, “Who else says so besides Mom and Dad?” At Summit, students are encouraged to honor their parents and be reconciled to them. This helps moms and dads strengthen their relationship before their sons and daughters leave for college, which is crucial.
Where Christian Leaders Send Their Own Children for Training
Summit is not a miracle cure. But for 47 years it’s been a trusted source for preparing students to be the kind of leaders who shape culture, rather than who are shaped by it. That’s why evangelical leaders such as James Dobson and Josh McDowell endorse it so enthusiastically — and why they sent their children to Summit before college; there simply is no substitute for the excellent training and mentoring Dr. Noebel and his staff provide.
I believe in the Summit. In fact I am planning to speak at every Summit Ministries session in the U.S. this summer in Colorado, Virginia, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Summit enrollment is limited by space. Most sessions do fill up, but you can download an application at www.summit.org. Scholarships are available for those in financial need.
Remember: before college, Summit. Please forward this to any parent who may benefit from knowing about it.
Dr. Jeff Myers is founder and president of Passing the Baton International. Jeff speaks to tens of thousands each year on worldview and leadership issues. This article was taken by permission from Jeff’s E-Newsletter “Get Ready to Lead.” To subscribe, please visit www.passingthebaton.org. For more information on Summit Ministries, please visit www.summit.org.
*Richard Rorty, “Universality and Truth,” in Robert B. Brandom (ed.), Rorty and His Critics (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 21-22.
**George Barna, “Twentysomethings struggle to find their place in Christian churches“; Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do to Stop It (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2009), p. 24.
Guest: Dr. David Noebel, president of Summit Ministries
Life is a clash of worldviews. Whether we realize it or not, there is a constant war being waged over which ideas, values, and beliefs will control public policy, media, culture, and personal behavior.
Recent events are a perfect example of this war of worldviews. Republican Scott Brown was shockingly elected to fill the Senatorial seat that Democrat Ted Kennedy held in Massachusetts for decades which resulted in Read more
Guest: Dr. David Noebel, president, Summit Ministries
We hear mind-boggling numbers almost everyday about the amount of debt in which America has spent herself. Government “stimulus” and bailouts, health care “reform”, and individual debt that all adds up to trillions of dollars in debt has become the norm in this country.
Whatever happened to staying out of debt and living within one means? Read more
Postmodernism comes in all kinds of shapes and expressions. This sort of variety can make it difficult to understand. Further, postmodernism resists categories and distinctions, and this makes it more difficult to nail down as a worldview. There is a larger intellectual history that must be understood in order to grasp the uniqueness and significance of postmodernism as a worldview.
Ideas Have Histories: How We Lost Our Minds…
While dividing history into distinct time periods is not an exact science, there are two major historical transitions that can help us clarify the emergence of postmodernism: (1) the transition towards modernism, typically dated around the 1700s and (2) the transition away from modernism which began in the late 20th century.
The transition from what is often called the pre-modern period into the modern period corresponds with the influence of Enlightenment thinking and the scientific revolution. Prior to the Enlightenment, there was a dominant cultural belief in the existence of the supernatural. This was due in large part to the rise of Christianity and specifically the Roman Catholic church as the most powerful cultural presence in medieval times. This was a world of authority, and authority rested in the hands of traditional institutions, especially the church, since it was entrusted with interpreting and communicating this truth to the common person.
With a belief in God came a strong belief in the concept of revelation, that God not only existed but had revealed Himself and His will in the Bible. This revelation was considered the primary source of truth, and could be trusted to unlock God’s metanarrative (or, “Big Story”) for the world. Believing was the starting point of real knowledge. St. Anselm, typifies a pre-modern perspective on truth: “For I seek not to understand in order that I may believe; but I believe in order that I may understand, for I believe for this reason: that unless I believe, I cannot understand.” This view of revelation and authority did not fare well during the Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment was a movement among European intellectuals in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the decades leading up to this time, the church’s authority had been successfully challenged politically (reactions against corruption), theologically (Luther, Calvin and the Protestant Reformation), philosophically (downfall of scholasticism), and scientifically (Galileo, Copernicus, and Baconian method). There was a growing disillusionment with the traditional educational, political and religious institutions, as well as their authoritative sources.
During the Enlightenment, authority shifted from traditional institutions to human reason. A scientific approach to the world yielded tremendous advances in medicine, technology, and communications and challenged the centrality of theology and religious belief as the paradigm for learning. Free from the restrictive shackles of traditional beliefs (thus, modernism), progress seemed inevitable. Immanuel Kant described this period of time in this way: “Sapere aude! ‘Have the courage to make use of your own mind!’ is thus the slogan of the Enlightenment.” 
The modern period had begun. The growing skepticism in regards to anything supernatural was matched by growing faith in human ability to know the world, control it, and reap the inevitable benefits. The “Big Story” of the world was not given by revelation; rather, it was to be discovered and perhaps even determined by science, reason and technology. This major transition was at the heart of the modern period.
However, from our 21st century perspective, it is clear that the predictions of utopia guaranteed in the modern period never materialized. Instead, modernists became disillusioned as military increase brought world wars; failed development policies led to class oppression and colonialism; economic idealism resulted in communism and the Cold War; and our best science created nuclear weapons and the threat of global devastation.
Postmodern writers, beginning with Nietzsche, began to question the integrity of modernism’s metanarrative of progress. In fact, the main casualty of a postmodern perspective is the very idea of a metanarrative. Postmoderns are skeptical of any and all claims to an authoritative comprehensive worldview, absolute truth about reality, and an overarching purpose to the human story. Postmoderns embrace local narratives, not metanarratives; a multitude of stories, not a “Big Story.”
In short, it could be said that religious metanarratives were dismissed by modernism. Man-made ones are dismissed by postmodernism. This is what Myron Penner and others have referred to as “the postmodern turn:” postmodernism is a turn away from the certainty and optimism of modernism. As Jean Francios Lyotard wrote: “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives.”
Answering the Postmodern Challenge
Postmodernism’s impact on Western culture is hotly debated, and various thinkers and writers- including those coming from a Christian worldview- have offered diverging opinions of it. Some see it as a passing fad; others see it as long-lasting paradigm shift. Some decry it as dangerously destructive; others embrace its destruction of the oppressive structures of modernity.
The most helpful contribution of postmodernism is, first, that it has successfully challenged the reigning paradigm of the modern period, which was based largely on naturalistic humanism. Modernism, in seeking to arrive at absolute knowledge through empirical investigation, separated matters of “faith” from matters of objective knowledge about the real world. Postmodernism confronts this dichotomy in ways that are helpful for the Christian worldview.
Second, postmodernism has cast a large shadow of skepticism (and has offered a strong dose of humility) on the modern belief in the efficacy and near inerrancy of human reason. As was seen during the modern period, human reason can be quite productive, especially in the arenas of science, medicine, and technology. However, human reason can also be manipulative and destructive, especially when it produces the totalizing ideologies (e.g. communism, Nazism, colonialism, etc) that characterized the modern period.
Third, postmodernism has demonstrated that objectivity and certainty are not exclusive to the realm of science as was claimed during the modern period. In fact, science is often quite biased and agenda-driven, and is therefore in no place to claim to be the final arbiter on all matters of knowledge. This is especially helpful for Christians, who often feel the burden to play by the rules of modernism and empirically demonstrate every aspect of Christian truth.
Fourth, postmodernism rightly reminds us of the power of our culture, and especially the language of our culture, in creating our frames of reference. The modern period demonstrated that this power can be used to marginalize and oppress others at the personal and the systemic level. For the Christian, then, care should be taken to distinguish Scriptural teaching from our cultural perceptions.
Finally, the emphasis of postmodernism on story and narrative fits (to a limited extent) with the way the Bible presents God’s interaction with the world. The Bible is, on the whole, a narrative through which God gives us the Truth about Himself, humanity and the world. Of course, for the postmodernist, no story is to be considered true in this absolute sense over and above any other story, and propositions from one interpretive community are irrelevant for others.
The Bible does not present a God whose story is one among many, but a God whose story is the story above all others. So, in dealing with the postmodern mind, evangelicals face a difficult situation. For the past several centuries, modernity has relegated Christianity to the category of an unscientific, unrealistic worldview that is simply not believable for thinking people. Some Christians are tempted to settle for having Christianity accepted as a truth rather than face the prospect of being dismissed due to dogmatically claiming to be the truth, and abandoning the concept of worldview seems to be a small price to pay for having at least some claim to “truth.”
Although the dethroning of humanistic scientific reason is attractive to battle-weary Christian intellectuals, the postmodern denial of all objective truth is unacceptable. Further, it is important to note that none of the positive contributions of postmodernism originated with postmodernism! In fact, the Christian worldview has always attested to the limitations of unaided human reason, the effect of the fall on objectivity and certainty, the tendency of humans towards marginalizing others, and the role the concept of story plays in our experience.
Despite the popularity of postmodernism among many Christians, the Christian worldview and the postmodern worldview cannot co-exist without one capitulating to the other. One could argue that we are chronologically “postmodern;” but ideologically, we cannot become “postmodernists.”
- Immanual Kant, “An Answer to the Question ‘What is Enlightenment?’” available online at http://www-personal.ksu.edu/~lyman/ english233/Kant-WIE.htm.
- David Wells, Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 2005), 74–90.
- Myron Penner, Christianity and the Postmodern Turn: Six Views, 19–28.
- Jean Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi, in Theory and History of Literature, vol. 10 (Minneapolis, MN: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1984).
- Note: This article is an adaptation and abrdigement from the second chapter of Making Sense of Your Wolrd: A Biblical Worldview by Gary Phillips, William Brown, and John Stonestreet.
Guest: Dr. David Noebel, president, Summit Ministries
Last week, we analyzed President Obama’s plan for government-run health care and concluded that it would have deleterious, even unbiblical, financial, ecclesiastical, and moral effects.
This week in Hour 1 of The Christian Worldview, we will delve deeper into the moral aspect of government-run health care to discover that euthanasia (“the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures”) is the inexorable result for the elderly and disabled when health care is controlled by government. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and the Health Policy Adviser at the Office of Management and Budget, says as much in this article.
What Do They Need?
In a previous article, I argued that a major project for those of us who work with students is to help them “get” Christianity. While a significant number of Christian students reject Christianity during their university years, far more struggle to embrace a faith that is not really authentic or orthodox. Theirs is a “moralistic therapeutic deism,” as Christian Smith put it—a tame faith that is privatized and perhaps personally meaningful but which is not publicly true, culturally significant, or fundamentally informative to the rest of their lives.
Rather than trying to make Christianity as attractive and entertaining as possible, we ought instead to be sure that what we are communicating to them is actually Christianity. As I noted, this is very challenging in a culture of information overload, where students are bombarded daily with a multitude of messages, most of which, encourage them toward a mentality of adolescence.
Still, there is good news. Adolescently minded cultures like ours inevitably have a leadership vacuum. So, there remains a terrific opportunity for influence for those who produce the leaders, especially if they produce networks of leaders who can think deeply and contribute broadly to a wide variety of cultural institutions.
How can we do this?
CHALLENGE STUDENTS, INSTEAD OF CODDLE THEM
Frankly, it is my opinion that we aim too low with teenagers. Students do not need more entertainment, whether it is from the television, the Wii, the iPod, or the youth group. We will never effectively prepare students to engage our entertainment-driven culture by replacing it with Christian entertainment.
It is foolish to expect students to take Christianity and the world seriously if all they have been exposed to at youth group is games, pizza, and mindless mini-therapy lessons that may or may not come from the Scriptures. The church should be the place where we no longer believe (and students no longer experience) the myth of adolescence.
Instead, students need (and want) to be challenged—with the Scriptures, theology, tough questions, and cultural dilemmas. We see this every year at our Summit student leadership conferences—students endure 70-plus hours of lecture and instruction on worldviews, apologetics, culture, and character. Then they call home and ask for more money, so they can buy books!
I think there is something of the imago Dei in these students that screams in rebellion against the low expectations they face everywhere. For proof, see the movement of teenagers started by Brett and Alex Harris’ book Do Hard Things.
GIVE THEM A THOROUGH EDUCATION IN WORLDVIEWS AND APOLOGETICS
Because everyone has a worldview—a basic way in which they see, understand, and interact with the world—education is at its most fundamental level a worldview-shaping enterprise. It is the responsibility of a Christian institution to challenge students with the Christian view of life and the world, while exposing the non-Christian worldviews that others hold and which are behind historical movements and cultural expressions.
First, students need to know what they believe. Many see Christianity as merely a private faith rather than as a robust view of reality that offers a tried and true map for life. If students are convinced that the core of the Christian faith is how they can get to heaven and have a happy life, rather than as the Truth about all of life and the world, they do not know what they believe.
Of course, there simply is no substitute here for equipping students to dive deeply into the Scriptures. At the same time, however, it is important to help them dive into the Scriptures in the right way. Unfortunately, many students have only seen the Bible handled poorly by other Christians. Often, their only experience with the Scriptures include it being replaced by therapeutic clichés, utilized and memorized completely out of context, tacked on but not central to a lesson, strangely pieced together with other verses to make a point, proof-texted to supplement a devotional book or song lyric, or largely ignored.
When the Scriptures are handled this way, bits and pieces of the Bible only get co-opted into the student’s existent worldview. They may know the Bible, but they don’t think biblically. Rather, the student remains as the central arbiter of truth and interpretation.
The goal is that the Scriptures would transform the student’s mind (i.e. worldview). I fear we may have a generation of students who see the Bible through the lens of their culturally inherited worldview, rather than seeing the culture through the lens of the Bible.
Second, students need to know what others believe. There are non-biblical worldviews that are battling for hearts and minds as well as our culture. Historically, Christians from Justin Martyr to Augustine to Pascal to Edwards to C.S. Lewis, not to mention the apostle Paul, exhibited a strong understanding of the competing worldviews in their cultures.
We at Summit Ministries contend that, at minimum, students need to have a handle on at least six major Western worldviews before going to college: secular humanism, Marxism/Leninism, postmodernism, Islam, New Age, and biblical Christianity.
Third, Christians must know why they believe what they believe. Too many Christians cannot answer, and are even afraid of, the challenging questions about God, Jesus, the Bible, morality, or truth. Unfortunately, too many adults dread the moment that a student asks them a tough faith question they cannot answer. This avoidance, of course, does not remove the question. It merely delays the question until the student is an environment where the question will be entertained (like college!). We ought to see these questions as opportunities for the student, and ourselves, to dive even deeper into this faith we claim is true. Plus, God is big enough for the question.
SHOW THEM THAT CHRISTIANITY IS NOT JUST ABOUT WHAT WE ARE AGAINST, BUT WHAT WE ARE ABOUT
Proverbs says that without vision, the people “cast off restraint.” One of the main reasons that students are casualties of immoral choices is that they lack a big vision for their lives. While they may know what they are not supposed to do, they fail to understand the life of meaning, purpose, and impact Christ calls them to. Christian students often get the impression that we are merely saved from, and not “to.”
The picture of redemption in Scripture is far broader than this. We often forget how many words used in the Scripture for redemption are “re” words: renew, regenerate, reconcile, redeem, re-creation, etc. The implication is that salvation is a return to the real life God intended for us before the fall. Christ not only came to save us from death, he came to save us to life—an abundant life at that!
This life is not merely our “spiritual” lives either. Rather, the Scriptures offer us the true Big Story of the world—from creation to new creation.
CONFRONT THEM WITH, RATHER THAN ISOLATE THEM FROM, THE MAJOR CULTURAL BATTLES OF OUR DAY
Challenging students to love God fully by thinking deeply, discerningly, and truthfully about His word and His world is foundational to what a truly Christian education is. Any other educational means and methods that do not include this as a goal cannot, in my opinion, really be considered Christian education (even if there is a plethora of rules, Bible references, and verses to memorize).
According to the way the Scriptures describe the grand narrative of God’s redemptive plan for creation, Christianity is neither a religion of ascetic withdrawal nor a dualistic philosophy that denigrates certain human activity as less than spiritual. Rather, followers of Christ are called to dive deeply—and hopefully headfirst—into the significant historical and cultural issues of the human situation. As G.K. Chesterton once said, “If Christianity should happen to be true—that is to say if its God is the real God of the universe—then defending it may mean talking about anything and everything.”
This is what ought to be meant when the language of worldview is used in education. Historically, Christians have sought to understand, and respond to cultural crises. They understood that these crises were the site of the battle of worldviews. Unfortunately, many Christians today are unaware of, disinterested in, or avoiding of issues like embryo-destructive research, euthanasia, emerging technologies, the arts, film, fashion, legislation, human trafficking, politics, and international relations. In Gethsemane on the evening before His death, Christ prayed these astounding words for his followers: “Father, do not take them from the world, but protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Our prayer, and preparation, for our children should be no different.
One final word about the spirit from which we approach the next generation. A few months back, I received a thoughtful and appropriate criticism to a talk I often give, which I call “Why students walk away from their faith (and what we can do about it).” The letter asked if I was coming at this issue from a position of fear—fear of the world and the enemy—and very appropriately suggested that Christians should not be fearful.
I must say that I fully concur with this point. The fear of God casts out all other fear. As the late Richard John Neuhaus wrote: “We have not the right to despair for despair is sin. And, we have not the reason to despair for Christ has risen.” I hope I am not approaching this issue from fear, though I can certainly see how it could be seen that way.
I hope I am approaching this issue from a perspective of realism, for students really are walking away from or checking out of the faith they were raised with, and we should confront this reality as Biblically and resourcefully as possible. This is not something we can ignore. As the historian Will Durant aptly noted: “From barbarism to civilization requires a century. From civilization to barbarism takes but a day.”
I can say in all truthfulness that as I write this, I really do have hope. Fundamentally, I have hope in Christ—He has risen. The day He died was actually the day that death died, and nothing can ever undo that reality. I also have hope in the Church, despite my critical words about it. I am part of this institution which Christ established and announced that against it the gates of Hell could not stand. (My reading of Church History has done more than anything else to secure my belief in those words).
Finally, I have hope because annually I work with many students—both here and abroad—who do, or are fighting to, “get it.” They want their lives to matter for Christ, they want to take the Gospel into all the world (including every corner of culture), and they want to think well about and in this world. They will be better than my generation has been. They will love God better, serve others better, care more deeply, and think more clearly. They want to read good books, and they want to live for something bigger than themselves.
Win a half-tuition scholarship to a two-week Summit Student Conference!
Grand prize: Two half-tuition scholarships ($400 value each) for one male student and one female student to a Summit Ministries Student Conference in Colorado.
Entry prize: A complimentary copy of Summit president Dr. David Noebel’s classic book, Understanding the Times, will be sent to all valid entrants.
Essay Topic: Write a letter to an atheist, like Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) or Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great), about why evidence and reason point to the existence of God.
Essay Length: 700-800 words
Eligibility: Students aged 16-22
Other: Scholarship can be used in the summer of 2009 or 2010. More info about Summit at www.Summit.org.
Submit to: David Wheaton
Send essay in body of email or as attachment in .doc or .txt format only (not .docx)
The Christian Worldview
P.O. Box 401
Excelsior, MN 55331
Re: Summit Essay Contest
Include the following on first page or cover page:
First and last name
Age, school, year
Honor code: By submitting an essay, you are pledging that you are the original author of your essay.