Thursday, March 23, 2006

Immature Truth vs. Mature Falsehood

Thanks to Steve Bishop I was recently introduced to Kenn Hermann's blog and a subsection called Every Thought Captive to Christ. Kenn is a history professor who has taught numerous classes on thinking Christianly and developing a Christian worldview. I'm grateful that he's making some of the materials he's used over the years available for others' use (with the reasonable request that they acknowledge the source).

So far, I've read one of the two papers he has posted called From Confession to Worldview. In it, Kenn contrasts two approaches to Christianity: Christianity as a realm of life and Christianity as a way of life. The former is a compartmentalized mindset that relegates faith to a segment of life designated as "spiritual" or "religious." The latter recognizes the all-encompassing nature of the faith for all aspects of life and thought. Kenn has also come up with two very helpful diagrams that illustrate the difference between these two ways of understanding how Christianity relates to culture and the rest of creation.

One of the points that really struck me has to do with the plight of many Christian teens who are ill-equipped to contend with the barrage of secular ideologies they encounter in college. Kenn believes (and I agree) that this is in large part due to the fact that these young people were taught to read the Bible in bits and pieces and therefore lack a unified vision of the faith:
They may have grown up in Christian homes, regularly attended church, and participated in church youth group activities, yet they lack a unifying understanding of how the Faith hangs together or what their confession compels them to do and think. They have memorized many Bible verses, read familiar Bible stories countless times in Sunday School, and sat through thousands of sermons, yet are unable to make any practical connections between those Bible passages, stories, and sermons and the stresses, concerns, and challenges of everyday life. They lack any sense of a unifying, synoptic, and comprehensive vision of what that Faith entails for living faithfully in the LORD'’s world. "Loving Jesus" seems to be the sum and substance of what they have learned about the Christian Faith.
Now, here's a sentence that really caught my attention: "It is impossible for an immature Truth to withstand the withering assault of a mature Falsehood." I may just have to add that one to my signature files!

Kenn goes on to describe what he has observed as a frequent reaction on the part of students working with a piece-meal Christian faith:

The tendency is for Christian students to slink away to non-threatening courses, seek the shelter of similarly immature Christian students, shove their faith more deeply into their personal lives, or, most drastically, abandon the dull Faith of their church for one of the gleaming Faiths of the university. Very few seek the wise alternative of digging deep foundations on which to build the superstructure of a solid Faith and Christian worldview.
It's wonderful that there are a number of ministries designed to instruct Christian teens in a biblical worldview but hopefully, local churches will see these as supplements to rather than substitutes for what should be happening on the homefront. We simply can't afford to have the mentality that camp or (Christian) campus is where we send our kids to learn how to make the connections between their professed faith and the entirety of their lives.

The imbalance between parachurch organizations and the local church with respect to helping Christians develop and live in terms of a comprehensive Christian worldview was the emphasis of an address given by Dr. David Naugle (see link in sidebar) to the 2004 Midwest Regional Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. The title of the address (which you can listen to here) was "A Christian Worldview and the Futures of Evangelicalism." Dr. Naugle stated the key idea he wished to express was that "...the progress and influence of a Christian worldview in evangelical culture is primarily due to the efforts of parachurch organizations and thus the crucial need today is for the promotion, development, and implementation of this same worldview vision in the preaching, and teaching, and ministries of local congregations."

Adequately preparing our young people to stand firm in their faith in the face of opposing schools of thought requires exposing them to accurate presentations of those ideas in addition to sound biblical theology. Exposing them to straw men (distorted and diluted versions of non-Christian philosophies of life that are easily toppled) may give parents and youth workers temporary relief but it also gives young people a false sense of security. Furthermore, it lacks integrity.

Stand to Reason's Brett Kunkle recently posted a series of reports about a unique missions trip he took with some high schoolers, college students, and adult staff to Berkeley, CA. Here's how he described their goal:
to expose Christian young people to secular thought in order to help them cultivate a Christian worldview. Rather than isolate students in a "Christian ghetto," we want to innoculate them from false views. What better place than Berkeley to give them a taste of the people that are waiting for them once they leave the safety of a Christian home, church or youth group.
I encourage especially those of you who are parents and youth pastors to take the time to read each of Brett's accounts. Not every church will be able to duplicate this effort but I think it can provoke the kind of thinking that families and churches need to be doing.

Berkeley Mission--Part 1
Berkeley Mission--Part 2
Berkeley Mission--Part 3
Berkeley Mission--Part 4
Berkeley Mission--Part 5
Berkeley Mission--Part 6
Berkeley Mission--Part 7
Berkeley Mission--Part 8

Related Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments: