Worldview and Womanhood

This article was originally published in The Virtuous Daughter, a magazine for young women.

What is the core of a biblical woman? We throw around the term, “Biblical Womanhood,” but what does that really mean? I think usually when we say “Biblical” womanhood, we are making a distinction between a worldview that is centered on and shaped by God and a worldview shaped by the world. Continue reading →

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Case for the Christian Mind part 3

This is part 3 of a term paper I wrote for a worldview class this summer. To read previous parts, click the sidebar on the left.

What can be done to change the state of our churches? What must happen in order to once again be salt and light in this world? We love God with our heart and soul; now we must learn to love Him with our minds. We can see that this is necessary for any relationship. For instance, if a husband were to love his wife only because she evokes great emotion in him we would say that it is a very shallow relationship. If someone were to ask that husband why he loves his wife, or what makes her unique, and he is able to give no answer, the wife is sure to be offended. Love without knowledge is a shallow love, not able to withstand testing. This is not to say emotion is useless. The wife would be equally offended if her husband never felt emotion toward her. However, emotion must be led by knowledge.

Our Christian walk is much the same way. When we begin to walk with Christ, it is often an emotional moment. That emotion however, must be first led by repentance for sin, recognition of Christ as Lord, and a choice of the will to worship Christ rather than our own flesh. It is a decision based on truth. Once we have made this decision we must not throw away the mind or compartmentalize it. God created us rational beings in His own image, and He has designed the world for us to be able to know the truth about it. He did not leave us to sit blindly in the dark. He has given us many things in the world to give us a solid reason for faith. While reason alone cannot bring us or another to Christ, He has given us these tools to further His Kingdom.

1 Peter 3:15 tells us, “ Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”(NASB) Many times we focus on sanctifying Christ in our hearts, and we ignore the command to be ready with a defense or an answer. We must cultivate our minds and our knowledge in order to do so. We cannot know how the Bible has been proved reliable through archaeology or that Jesus was a historical figure who walked on the earth without some study. Unless we search out the reason for our faith we are left with only blind faith. Exercise of the mind enables us to stand firm and not be ashamed of the faith that we have chosen based on that which we believe gives reasonable justification to our beliefs.

How can we prepare the next generation so that they will stand firm in their faith and be equipped to engage the world? First, we must teach them the truth on which their faith rests. Children need to know that God has given us evidence of Himself in the natural world and in history, not just in the Bible. They need to know that science and history support the Bible, not contradict it. Primarily, this must be done by parents. However, as churches we need to teach children apologetics hand in hand with Bible stories in Sunday School. Rather than asking them to blindly accept the faith we are passing on to them we need to teach them why this is a reasonable faith.

Secondly, we must teach them to defend their faith to others. Whether at school as a young child or in the world as a teenager or young adult they will encounter those that challenge their beliefs. Will they be able to communicate the reason they believe? Our education in church curriculums and in Christian education should prepare them to give an answer. They should understand the worldviews of other religions and be ready to encounter these worldviews with a clear and reasonable response. Children need to know that their faith is not illogical or only for idiots, as the world would have them believe. Rather, they should know that God has given us many clues to His existence and many external evidences which support what He has said in the Bible. We should prepare them to use these to defend their faith and not shrink in shame from those with opposing worldviews.

Finally, we must teach our children and young people to engage the world. Traditionally, walls have been built up to protect those within the church because they were not able to give an adequate defense for their faith. The safest course was to remain isolated, at least in terms of education and other areas dominated by a secular worldview. However, if we have given the next generation a solid foundation upon which to stand and prepared them for battle, we should be confident in sending them out. Rather than being suspicious of education as many in the past have been, we should encourage a spirit of learning and thinking. If this leads to college, university, or seminary for some young people, we should welcome the chance for them to engage the people on their campuses and in the professions where higher education leads them.

In Matthew 5:13, Jesus told us that we are the salt of the earth. As Steve Byler said, “Salt cannot change anything if it is left in the shaker.” If we are prepared, rather than fearing the moment when we are poured out of the shaker into the world, we can be confident of Christ and His truth in the world today. Consider how the conversation mentioned earlier could have been different if the storekeeper had been prepared. If the tourist had been given a logical and rational answer rather than a fearful one, his impression of Christianity may have been changed by his encounter. If Christians return to a thinking culture based on truth we will be prepared to engage the culture as salt and light.

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Bibliography

The Holy Bible, New American Standard Bible. Bible Hub. 2013. Web. 5 December 2013. <http://biblehub.com/&gt;.

Ham, Ken, Britt Beemr, and Todd Hillard. Already Gone. Arkansas: Master Books, 2009.

Pearcey, Nancy. Total Truth. Illinois: Crossway Books, 2004

Schaeffer, Francis A. The God Who is There. USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968.

Spencer, Greg.”Part Three: The Intellectual(!) Christian.” A Heart for Truth. Michigan: Baker Books, 1992

“Science Curriculum.” Christian Light Education. 2013. Web. 4 December 2013. <http://www.clp.org/christian_light_education&gt;. Path: Browse Curriculum; By Subject; Science

“Rod and Staff Science.” Milestone Books. Web. 4 December 2013. <http://info.milestonebooks.com/&gt; Path: Science

Fletcher, James. “Isaac Newton and the Bible.” All About Popular Issues. 2013. Web. 4 December 2013. <http://www.allaboutpopularissues.org/isaac-newton-and-the-bible-faq.htm&gt;

Case for the Christian Mind Part 2

This is part two of a term paper for a worldview class I took this fall. Click here to read part 1

Today, we see the effect of this in churches around the world. Older generations still appeal to blind faith, never discovering the roots for their beliefs, and many of the younger generation are bailing out. Many believe that this happens because young people go to college and are indoctrinated by the secular world view they hear there. However, research done by Britt Beamer for Answers In Genesis shows another thing. According to the study, 83.5% of those that attend church regularly throughout their childhood and adolescence and then leave during or after college do not have their first doubts about their faith during college. Rather, 39.8% start doubting Christianity in middle school and 43.7% begin doubting in high school (Ham and Beemer 32).

The cause of this rejection of the Faith cannot be reduced to a blanket statement. However, a major contributing factor is the church’s embrace of a divided religion. Faith and reason are considered two realms which do not mix. Society at large expects us to keep these separate and to not allow our personal beliefs to interact with our public life. This expectation began in the 18th century around the time of the Great Awakenings. A belief was gaining popularity in the scientific community which stated that you must use inductive reason alone when examining science and remove any influence that your philosophy might have on the interpretation of the facts (Pearcey 298). Christians were told that Biblical philosophy had nothing to do with science. Therefore, when anti-Biblical theories were proposed in science, such as Darwin’s theory of natural selection, few recognized the philosophy behind these theories nor had the Christian worldview to combat them. They simply believed what the secular world had told them—that this is how science is interpreted without philosophy. In truth, that is how science is interpreted with a naturalistic philosophy instead of a Biblical philosophy (Pearcey 310).

Today, this same mentality carries into the church. The Bible is taught in churches and Sunday schools as the Word of God, but science, reason, and worldview are never mentioned. In the mind of many Christians today these subjects have nothing to do with faith. Many teach that all a Christian needs to do is believe what the Bible says. No need to ask why they believe that the Bible truly is the Word of God or worry about how the science they are taught in school contradicts the Bible. “Just believe!” Here is where we begin to see the church fall apart. In the survey done by Britt Beemer, 82% of those that left church and no longer believe in the truth of the Bible have come to this conclusion because they doubt the authority of the Bible (108). And, because the church believes that faith in God is an act of the heart not of the mind, no one brings the facts to these young people. They are taught about the creation account from the Bible, but never taught how science and geology confirm the Genesis account of a young earth. They are taught that the Bible is inspired by God, but they are never taught how history and archaeology reinforce the truth of the Bible and give it credibility. Rather, they are simply told to take it on faith. And so it is that we return to the statistics shown earlier—83.5% of those that leave church begin to doubt their faith in middle school and high school. In this crucial time of their lives they are told by the church that they must simply accept their religion on belief alone and they are told by their schools that science tells the real facts about the world. No one is there to give an answer.

Many conservative churches, such as those in Anabaptist circles, have recognized this damaging effect. Homeschooling and church schools have become popular in an effort to shield children from the philosophy of the world. However, in many cases, rather than equipping children and young people with the answers to the accusations of the world, they simply shelter them. The philosophy of the church has trickled down into the education of the church. For example, in one major Anabaptist school curriculum, the origins of humans and the universe are only scientifically discussed in one textbook–10th grade Biology (Christian Light Science Curriculum). In another the curriculum only goes through 8th grade, and origins are never discussed scientifically (Rod and Staff Science). In both of these curriculums the student is never left with a doubt about God being the creator of the World according to the Bible. God as Creator is mentioned repeatedly throughout both curriculums, and yet the scientific data which gives credence to this belief is given in only one book. So, throughout their school years, children are never given a reason to believe what the Bible has told them. They are simply told to have faith in what they are taught. As they get older, higher education is discouraged. The reason for this is easy to see. If they have never been given a reasonable basis for their faith, how will it survive when torn apart by a secular college professor? As a result, there are relatively few Anabaptists who have been trained as doctors, professors, well educated ministers, and other professions which would be beneficial to the church and to the Kingdom of God in the world.

Conservative churches are turning out many adults like the storekeeper, who have no defense for their faith and no influence in the world. They are left trailing behind the rest of the world, considered as irrelevant as if they were illiterate. Or, young people are exposed to the world with no defense and they eventually walk away from the church bitter and disillusioned.

To be continued…

Case for the Christian Mind Part 1

This is part 1 of my term paper for a worldview class I took this fall. My thesis: “Christians must return to a thinking culture based on truth so that they can engage the culture as salt and light.”

The friendly stranger cocked his head to the side as he conversed with the plainly dressed storekeeper before him. “I just don’t see any reason to believe there is a God, ya know? Science explains life and that’s enough for me.” The tourist had stopped to ask the Mennonite man about the unique ways of his people and eventually shared his own beliefs. A minute ago they had been enjoying a lively conversation in which the Mennonite man was happy to share the traditions that defined him, yet now he shifted uncomfortably. The stranger continued, “I think your religion is nice for you and I don’t think there is anything wrong with believing in a God. I just personally believe science is more reliable.” The plain man shuffled his feet and looked down. He replied, “Well, someday you’re going to find out you’re wrong.” Shaking his head, the man from out of town turned the conversation to other things. He was convinced of only one thing—the ignorance of these Christian folks. An onlooker sighed as they watched the scene unfold. They knew the well-meaning storekeeper had never been told himself the reasons for which he believed in God, nor been encouraged to think about such things. He had been handed his faith on a platter and accepted it blindly. Now, however, someone was asking him about the contents of the platter and as he could not see it himself he had no way to defend the platter’s existence to another. Where has the church gone wrong? Christians must return to a thinking culture based on truth so that they can engage the culture as salt and light.

At one point in history the world understood that faith, reason, and science were not items to be kept separate. Isaac Newton, the great scientist of the 17th century, never would have stated that science contradicts the Bible. Rather, he believed the world of science provided ample support for the Bible (Newton, qtd in Fletcher). Today however, not only does the secular society at large accept the atheist community’s allegation that science contradicts the Bible, the church does as well. Most churches either try to change the Bible to match modern evolutionary theory or consider themselves at war with science and discredit anything from the scientific community. The first are those that compromise Biblical doctrine in order to say that God used millions of years to create the world. They do not stop to realize that the evolutionary theory has less evidence than the creation theory. Rather, they simply relegate the Bible to their private lives and accept that which atheists hand to them in the name of science as having nothing to do with the Bible. The latter type are those that would describe themselves as having no belief in dinosaurs or an ice age because they connect these with the evolutionary theory. Both, when confronted by the world and questioned on the logical basis for their beliefs, come up empty handed and defenseless. They have separated the mind from the heart in the foundation of their faith and it is crumbling beneath them.

To fully understand the state of Christianity today we should look back at ages past and see how we have been shaped over the years. The biggest changes in the American and European church began at the time of the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings. The first occurred prior to the American Revolutionary War and the second afterwards. The political climate was one of independence and rejection of tyrannical authorities. The political climate of the day became the spiritual climate as well. Independence from political authority now also meant independence from church authority. The attitude of church goers changed from one of learning from the wisdom of the church to a focus on finding out what they themselves thought. The educated clergy became the enemy of many, and so in the eyes of many people education became the enemy (Pearcey 276). The revival convicted many of their sins and encouraged them to turn to God. However, whereas conversion had once been considered a process in which you must search your heart, repent, and work out your faith, it was now considered an instant emotional moment. Rather than an act of the will and mind, it was called an act of the heart alone (Pearcey 278). Preachers appealed heavily to the emotions of their hearers, and with their emotions the people responded. The result was a separation of the use of the mind and the use of the emotions. In most cases emotion led, rather than followed, an act of the will to repent or trust.

And so it was that America began to love God more with their hearts, but then neglected the mind. This could not stand in the face of new theories and philosophies such as the new evolutionary theory proposed by Darwin in the 19th century. You cannot fight the mind with the heart. The church, rather than engage the culture with truth, built a wall around themselves so that they would not be affected. Rather than engaging and answering, they hid (Pearcey 291).

To be continued….