Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Teaching World View

Friday, January 18th, 2013

What is a “world view?”  A world view is a way that a person understands, relates to, and responds from a philosophical position that he embraces as his own. World view is a framework that ties everything together, that allows us to understand society, the world, and our place in it.  A world view helps us to make the critical decisions which will shape our future.  A world view colors all our decisions and all our artistic creations.  In the first Star Wars movie (1977), for instance, Luke Skywalker clearly values a Judeo-Christian code of ethics.  That does not mean that he is a believing Christian–indeed he is not–but he does uphold and fight for a moral world.   Darth Vader, on the other hand, represents chaos and amoral behavior.  He does whatever it takes to advance the Emperor’s agenda, regardless of who he hurts or what rule he breaks.  It is important that you articulate your world view now so that you will be ready to discern other world views later.

Answering the following questions is one way that you, and your children, can articulate a world view:

What is the priority of the spiritual world?

Authority–Is the Bible important to you?  Do you obey God and other authority–your parents–even when it is uncomfortable to do so?

Pleasure–what do you really enjoy doing?  Does it please God?

What is the essential uniqueness of man?

Fate–what/who really determines your life?  Chance?  Circumstances? God?

What is the objective character of truth and goodness?

Justice–What are the consequences of our actions?  Is there some sort of judgment?  Do bad people suffer?  Why do good people suffer?

(Adapted from Carl Henry)


Crossing the Rubicon

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

I don’t know, home schoolers, when we crossed the Rubicon. Perhaps it was when we turned off the television or refused to buy the latest entertainment center. Maybe it was when we drove our old cars another year so we could buy the best curricula for our kids. Or was it when we decided to read classics together in our homes? Somewhere, sometime, we crossed the Rubicon and there is no going back.

To push my metaphor farther, we were first “Obadiahs.” Obadiah, like Daniel, was a very influential in a very evil regime. King Ahab and Jezebel are very capable, and in many ways, successful monarchs. From their perspective, they are the ‘true’ leadership. Elijah, and the prophets, were radical, unreasonable, uncompromising troublers of Israel. They were not team players. No doubt Ahab and Jezebel could not understand why Elijah could not carry on a civil discussion about what they saw as tangential, civil issues.

This generation is the Elijah generation. To Elijah, the behavior of Ahab and Jezebel is absolutely appalling. While claiming to worship the Hebrew God they also fill the land with syncretism, with apostate worship of the BAALS. The crowning blow, to Elijah, was when these scoundrels placed the Asherah poles (places where believers could have sexual relations with temple prostitutes) on the hill next to the Temple. Enough was enough and Elijah was ordered home to confront these evil powers on Mt. Carmel.

And Elijah was not accommodating nor was he running away – don’t you just wish Ahab and Jezebel!—he is coming home to challenge the gods of this age.

Ahab and Jezebel are Post-Modernists. They celebrate the subjective. They are committed to compromise – it is their religion. Live and let live! What is the big deal?

Well, you see, Elijah cannot compromise with the stuff they are doing. There is no wriggle room in Judah and there is getting to be precious little wriggle room in the U. S. A. too.

The world of the Baals, folks, is falling apart. And quickly. As sociologist Peter Berger explains, “American mainline culture can no longer offer plausibility structures for the common man. It no longer sustains Americans.” Or, as my old friend Professor Harvey Cox, at Harvard, coyly observed, “Once Americans had dreams and no technology to fulfill those dreams. Now Americans have tons of technology, but they have no dreams left.”

In short order the Ahabs and Jezebels are going to find out that Elijah is not in a compromising mood either. Folks, there are some things one cannot compromise. Elijah and Jezebel are going to meet a man of God who speaks with concrete clarity, who carries the weight of truth.

Elijah is coming in 2010, Christian brothers and sisters. The days of Obadiah are over. Elijah is coming to town.

Are you ready? Can you give up your anonymity? Will you risk everything this year to do what God tells you to do? Will you go the extra mile in your home schooling to make sure that this generation will stand on Mt. Carmel and proclaim the sovereignty and goodness of our God? So they can bring the Kingdom on this earth as it is in heaven? The stakes are high; the potential rewards astounding. We have a chance, perhaps in our lifetime, to experience an unprecedented revival. This is the generation of Elijah. The generation that will have to walk the long, arduous walk up Mt. Carmel and they will challenge the gods of this age. Bring it on! We are ready! Every knee shall bow, every tongue shall profess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. Bring on the fire of Elijah, again, on this nation! God is calling forth our children–Elijahs who will go to the high places of our nation to challenge the prophets of Baal—in the courts, in the university, in the shop, in the home, in churches.


Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Be careful: what is a Christian college? Only a very few Christian colleges offer Ph.D.s. This means that the majority of Christian College faculties are trained in secular universities. That means there is no guarantee that Christian faculty will have a world view different from secular university faculty.

As a rule of thumb, in my opinion, evangelical students should try to attend Christian colleges. The fact is, if you are planning to attend graduate school, undergraduate degrees (if they are accredited) are more or less perceived equally by most graduate schools. If you have any doubt, phone the school and ask where their students attend graduate school.

Finally, in many ways it is a moot point. The majority of evangelical parents prefer to send their students to local, state or community colleges. Why? Cost. You can save on tuition and housing costs. In fact, it is not a bad idea to take most of your basic courses at a community or junior college. Keep this in mind, though. Transfer students with two years of college (c. sixty credits) virtually never receive financial aid. So, if you have a chance to receive scholarship aid, it might be more financial feasible for you to attend a four year undergraduate school immediately after high school graduation.

Speaking of graduation, why don’t some of you home school students consider a senior mission year? My son, Peter, finished his academic work junior year, obtained a good SAT Score, and spent his senior year suffering for Jesus at Maui (as in Maui, Hawaii) Bible College. It was a very positive experience for him. When he finished Bible College, he applied to college (his SAT scores were current) and he began his undergraduate education at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia.

Some students wisely learn a trade before they begin undergraduate school. For instance, I have heard of a young man (home schooled) who learned how to wire houses. While an undergraduate and then a graduate student at Cornel University, he paid his way through college by wiring houses. When he graduated with a Ph. D. in electrical engineering he had no debt and obviously he was very employable.


Monday, November 16th, 2009

What is an evangelical to do? An evangelical makes 1550 on the SAT and is invited to apply to Princeton or Rice or Stanford or Duke. Should he? And, if he is accepted, how does he survive—even thrive—in a secular prestigious/competitive college. Should you attend competitive secular colleges? Or do you attend Christian schools alone? I give an overview of how a Christian can prosper in an environment that is ipso facto hostile.

Under what circumstances would you perhaps decide to attend a secular college?

If you are a Daniel, or can exist and thrive in Babylon without being an Babylonian, you might choose to attend a secular college. Daniel was part of the elite culture in this hostile land. He was honored and respected, but he remained a worshiper of Yahweh (Almighty God). Even though he lived in a hostile, risky, dangerous land, Daniel was able to maintain his identity in the Lord. Remember: you can make bad choices in a Christian university as easily as in a secular University. The fact is, a better choice is merely to make Godly choices regardless of where you are!

When I entered Vanderbilt University as an evangelical freshman, before I began, I had decided to be obedient to Scripture. I decided that before I began my studies! And I am glad I did!

Over the next four years of undergraduate school, and then two years of graduate school, I was sorely tested. For example, I had decided to remain morally pure and chaste. That was no easy thing since I lived in co-ed dorms both at Vanderbilt and then at Harvard! But I persevered. Success was rooted, however, at the moment I committed myself to a discipline, before the actual temptation began. It wasn’t that the temptation was mitigated; it was simply that the desire to be Christ-like was greater than the temptation. Again, though, it began before I went to college.

If you are a Daniel, you may be called to an academic discipline no Christian college offers. In that case you might choose a secular university.


Friday, November 13th, 2009

That is all changing—and partly due to the popularity of the American home schooling movement. In massive numbers the American home school movement—initially and presently primarily an evangelical Christian movement—is depositing some of the brightest, capable students in our country into the old, august institutions like Harvard. And, what is more exciting, the flash-point of cultural change is changing from Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Stanford to Wheaton, Grove City, Calvin, and Liberty (all evangelical universities). Before long the new wave of elite culture creators will be graduating from American secular universities and Christian universities and they shall be a great deal different from the elite of which I was a part in the middle 1970s. I am not saying the secular university will change quickly—intellectual naturalistic reductionism makes that extremely difficult. However, I do see the whole complexion of university graduates to change significantly in the next twenty years. Never in the history of the world has such a thing happened.

Something similar occurred at the end of Augustine’s life in the middle of the first millennium. Augustine lived in a time when the Roman Empire was collapsing. However, while the barbarians conquered Rome, the Church of Jesus Christ conquered the barbarians. Augustine and his elite Christian generation was used by the Lord to assure the future of the European church and European civilization.

Again, in the 1600s a new generation of evangelicals arose—the Puritans. Likewise this new generation of elites settled the New World and established the United States of America.

Young people, if you are part of this new evangelical elite, you have immense opportunities ahead of you. A new Godly generation is arising. Are they called for such a time as this to guide this nation into another unprecedented revival? We shall see.

Now, though, it is important that we look at more practical considerations. For instance, how is one accepted and able to thrive in the most competitive universities—secular or Christian? What does it mean to be a “Christian” university?

As this author argues, however one may feel about it, most of the culture creators of America graduate from 10 or 12 prestigious, competitive, mostly secular schools. That will change slowly as Christian universities become more competitive in attracting the best students (this author observed recently that the Christian evangelical university Grove City had the same acceptance rate as Princeton University!). In fact, many of the world’s decision makers are graduates of these schools. And, praise God, evangelicals have more opportunities than ever to attend these schools. We have already discussed what the liberal 21st century university looks like.

Leaving Mecca – Part 2

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Readers should not presume that I am arguing for a return to this parochial purpose of higher education, nor are readers to suppose that I would like to live in a country where everyone is forced to embrace a particular religious world view. Nonetheless, by and large, the marriage of American education and religion was assured for about the first 150 years of our existence. Its demise in the 20th century had disastrous results.

In fact, this author argues that a primary cause of the present unnatural American embrace of narcissistic, naturalistic secularism can be traced to the evangelical loss of the university. When American elitism was separated from its evangelical moorings, the cultural decline of American culture was assured. The divorce of the American university–the breeding ground of American elite culture—and Christian evangelicalism has created some of the cultural woes we presently are facing as a nation. Its reclamation – the evangelical campaign to reclaim the elite leadership of this nation—bodes well for the future cultural health of the United States.

Recalling again my time in Harvard Chapel in the middle of the 1970s and hearing the bold—but accurate I fear—assertion that the next generation of of culture creators were attending this institution and institutions like it. We were told that we were the select few, the elite. That probably was true—evidenced by the cultural mess we find ourselves at the beginning of the next century.


Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

One Harvard professor, the great evangelical author Fred Buechner resigned from Harvard Divinity School because he felt embarrassed to mention God in his classes. “The mere mention of God-an omniscient God, God as a transcendent being– when I was there . . . would be guaranteed to produce snickers,” Ari Goldman wrote (Atlantic Monthly, Dec., 1990).

By 1920, with its reductionism mentality, the American secular university had become an inhospitable place for evangelicals. The mother turned and ate her young. The place that was founded by evangelicals, to prepare Evangelicals to be the elite of American culture is now a place of danger, risk, and struggle for its progeny.

Worse than that: Evangelicals seemed to accept willingly their own demise. Evangelical Christians in positions of formal power passively yielded to each stage in the advance of secularism. And, when they did resist, they failed.

Why? Douglas Sloan, in Faith and Knowledge: Mainline Protestantism and American Higher Education (Philadelphia: Westminster/John Knox) argues that the university looked to liberal Protestant Christianity to replace Evangelical Christianity. What no one understood, including Evangelical Christians, was that science, as understood in the late 19th century, was fundamentally at odds with Evangelical thought. The university was firmly in the camp of positivistic philosophy that basically had discarded the notion of supernatural from American intellectualism. Evangelicals tried accommodation, but, after the Scopes Trial, they abandoned ship, so to speak. So, if the secular university rejected evangelicalism, by 1920, evangelicalism abandoned the secular university.

In the end the university pulled back from affirming the real possibility of knowing God and of the existence of a spiritual world. What evangelicals learned, or thought that they learned, was that the secular American university was too dangerous a place to be. So they formed their own universities. It is unfortunate that there was no fight to the finish in the 1920s. If the issue had been forced who knows if we would live in a society dominated by secular-minded people. In the initial stages, though, Evangelicals did not muster the intellectual resources necessary to challenge the cultural assumption that knowledge comes only from natural sources (see Phillip E. Johnson , “How the Universities Were Lost,” in First Things 51 (March 1995) 51-56). They never have–even until today.

SUMMARY (University Series)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

In summary, until 1800 the intellectual elite of the United States emerged largely from evangelical seminaries. Policy, programs, and culture were created from an educated evangelical base. This slowly changed as the American university implemented its own version of the Enlightenment. Toleration became the lodestone that drew the American university forward. Evangelicals were relegated to graduate schools, seminaries, and courses. They no longer were welcome in the core undergraduate secular university. At the same time, in response, evangelicals abandoned the American university. That decision was bittersweet.

The effect of that decision was brought vividly to this author’s life when he entered graduate school.

I had looked forward to this day all my life.

Since I was 12 years old I had been told that I was going to Harvard. I had finally arrived.

It was late September and I was on my way to convocation. Now, keep in mind, convocation at Harvard University in the middle 1970s was convened by a homosexual Unitarian, so you can imagine how inspiring it was! But it was the only convocation that I had and I meant to make the most of it.

I lived outside Harvard Yard so I had to plan my trip over carefully. After referencing several Harvard maps, I had planned a perfect strategy to reach my destination. I set out.

However, along the way, I could not help noticing that several Harvard professors, the leaders in their fields, were going in a different direction. They were dressed in all their academic regalia. I tell you, they were impressive! I wanted those crows’ feet on my robes! I wanted to be like these fellows!

Now, I had a choice to make. I could follow my own path–a path that I had carefully laid out. Or I could follow these robust paradigms of academia! One would think that these professors knew a better way than I. They lived here. They had Ph.D.s—I could trust these people.

Wrong! They were lost and we all were late.

What is remarkable to me, too, is that I decided to follow these men without any prayer–indeed, as I realized that afternoon, I was attending Harvard without praying about my decision! No prayer at all. I was a believer for 5 years, still young, true, but it never occurred to me to ask God where He wanted me to go to graduate school! I was the perfect candidate for the American secular university: I was making decisions from an existential base and not from a confessional base. I was drawing my information from circumstances and my own scenario generating equipment. I was not walking with God! Yet, the allure of the secular university is quite substantial!


Monday, November 9th, 2009

This author doubts, really, if a free, and open debate can occur in a community (i.e., the university) where there is no loyalty to a higher truth, where consensus is absent. The best the American secular university can generate is tolerance for the sake of tolerance. History is reduced to a “pleasure principle.” Reality is not based on truth but on the latest political agenda of the reigning department head.

At the beginning of the 21st century there is truly an exciting phenomenon occurring in American society: a resurgence of evangelicalism. As sociologist Peter Berger accurately observes, evangelicals generally subscribe to two strongly held propositions: that a return to Christian values is necessary if the moral confusion of our time is to be overcome, and that the Enlightenment is to be blamed for much of the confusion of our time (Peter Berger, “At Stake in the Enlightenment,” First Things, March 1996, p. 18).

In fact, 21st century evangelicalism is one of the most potent anti-Enlightenment movements in world history. The excesses of Enlightenment rationalism, exhibited so ably in the secular university, have sabotaged the certitude of classicism and Christian theism that so strongly influenced Western culture long before the formidable onslaught of the likes of David Hume.

The Washington Post in 1993 coyly observed that evangelicals are “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.” And, among our own, evangelical professor Mark Noll unkindly observed, “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Indeed. Not any more. While conceding that faith is not a makeshift bridge to overcome some Kierkegaardian gap between beliefs and evidence, Evangelicalism posits that it still is important that people look beyond their experience for reality. Human needs and aspirations are greater than the world can satisfy, so it is reasonable to look elsewhere for that satisfaction. Worth is the highest and best reality (a decidedly anti-Enlightenment notion) and its genesis and maintenance come exclusively from relationship with God alone.

Evangelicalism, then, moves backward in time, far back in time, when intellectualism was not separate from religion. It blows the claims of the Enlightenment to bits.


Friday, November 6th, 2009

Recently my son, who is a student at a very strict Christian university, was forbidden to leave campus on the weekend to visit his brother who lived off campus. Now, in fact the reason my youngest son wanted to visit my oldest son was that they wanted to participate in a community mission outreach. My son was irritated, he was frustrated–but he was not confused. The decision of the university was exactly consistent with its world view.

Relativistic toleration makes justice impossible. Both Plato and the Apostle Paul agree, justice requires both a moral and an epistemological base. One cannot do justice unless one knows the difference between right and wrong. The fact is, the American secular university in its headlong pursuit of toleration is victimized by both injustice and relativism that leads to intolerance!

Most secular universities have concluded that abstract concepts like grace, hope, and especially faith are indefinable, immeasurable, and above all unreasonable. Not that God or the uniqueness of Jesus Christ can be proved, or disproved. There are certain issues which the order of the intellect simply cannot address, so we must rise above that to the order of the heart. Faith is our consent to receive the good that God would have for us. Evangelicals believe that God can and does act in our world and in our lives. Human needs are greater than this world can satisfy and therefore it is reasonable to look elsewhere. The university has forgotten or ignores this fact (Diogenes Allen, Christian Belief in a Postmodern World. Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 1989).

In the midst of so much uncertainty, it is good to serve a God who loves His creation. The American secular university would try to convince us that it is fun to be living in clashing relativities where the foundations and structures of thoughts are up for grabs. Every truth is negotiated. Truth emerges by virtue of persuasion and consent. Truth is democratized. Morality is based on objective truth from an inspired corpus of information (i.e., the Bible); morality is an outcome of human interchange (Kenneth J. Gergen, The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991. p. 46).