Metaphysical Challenge

In the spring of 1971, during my last year in high school, I was confronted with a metaphysical dilemma that summarizes the paradox facing all human beings . . .

Allegedly I was a Vanderbilt bound smart aleck but, secretly, I desperately wanted to go to the University of Arkansas, like my girl friend, Martha Lynn, and marry when I was 17 ½ .  This was the apex of the southern Arkansas pantheon—being a Razorback and attending school with one’s sweet heart. Prom night reminded me, again, that while Rick Sammons could be a Boll Weevil and my brother—another borderline nerd—could be a Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech, I was burdened with being a “Vanderbilt Commodore.”


The fact is, I perennially suffered from high school prom phobia.  Besides the fact that I abhorred dancing, I also dreaded the obligatory rituals that surrounded Prom night. On prom night, it was expected that one was to stay out all night and do wicked things with one’s girl friend/ boy friend or something like that.  My friend Ray and I had successfully avoided the life scaring scorn surrounding prom avoidance by escaping to his hunting camp, a modest metal building across the levee.  But my buddy was smitten this year and had his own girl friend.  Likewise, this year, as I mentioned, I had a girl friend too.

It is no easy thing to be a nerd heading to Vanderbilt University, and possibly Harvard Graduate School.  This cooled any ardor I could muster and my social status stock was at an all time low.  I mean, my reputation was at rock bottom.  In the unforgiving southern Arkansas social realm, I was somewhere north of a leper and south of a northerner.  My fate promised another year of social isolation.

Thus, my girl friend and my already tarnished reputation demanded that this year I was to stay out all night. I just had to.

It was no easy task.  I have always enjoyed going to sleep around 9 PM CST so the notion of staying up all night seemed impossible.

There was some precedence. For fiscal reasons mostly, and because, honestly, there was a definite enervated nightlife in southern Arkansas, we would spend hours “parking” with our girl friends.  It worked like this: the couple would find some obscure corn field, or my personal favorite, a road next to the Mississippi River, and would sit and talk and allegedly would do other things—although I never did.  No, really, ask Martha Lynn—or, perhaps, given my handicap—Vanderbilt and Harvard notwithstanding—you really do believe me!

A complicating incident occurred, however, that changed everything.

In March, 1971, I made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ.   I invited Him into my life.  Cornered, and then conquered by Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  I could no longer deny, could not escape, the fact that God loved me so much that He sent his only Begotten Son (John 3:16) and, as if He had not done enough, He died for my sins on the Cross at Calvary.  This was an incorporeal, metaphysical reality I could not escape!  Yes, I was captured by the love of God!

No, I had a problem.  On one hand, I had schemed to do all sorts of “wicked” things on Prom Night.  It was expected.  It was necessary. It was my corporeal reality.  Now, I had to consider an agenda, a world, which I could not see, but had more influence on me than the world I could see!

I was experienced, for the first time, a worldview battle. A worldview is a way that we relate to, and responds from a philosophical position that we embrace as our own.  Worldview is a framework that ties everything together, that allows us to understand society, the world, and our place in it.

A worldview helps us make the critical decisions, which will shape our future.  A worldview 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 whom he hurts or what rule he breaks. You see, there are basically two worldview roots, two “worlds” from which we draw our decisions and realities. One originated with Aristotle who argues that the empirical world is primary.  Thus, if one wants to advance knowledge one has to learn more about the world.  Another root originated with Plato (and later with the Apostle Paul) who argues that the unseen world is primary. In Plato’s case, that meant that if one wishes to understand the world he studies the gods.  In our case, we agree with Plato to the extent that we believe that God–who cannot be seen, measured–is in fact more real than the world.

Now, in my newfound freedom in Christ, I was faced with a metaphysical dilemma: Do I make decisions according to an abstract reality, like the Word of God? Or do I succumb to societal standards? Who/what will be my primary worldview?  Prom Night, in bold relief, caused me to make a choice. This choice is the choice all people must make in their lives. I went to the Prom (still hate those things!) but did nothing that would dishonor our Lord.

FSATAT chooses God.  We choose His Word.  We will be motivated by His standards, and His precepts.  In next issue I will give more details about the FSATAT vision and I know you will be impressed!  Stay tuned . . .

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