As I stated in my last post, The Berlin Wall is a great metaphor for the current reigning worldview in the West, secularism. My thesis: Secularism is a deeply flawed and weak explanation for the nature of reality. Correctly understood, we don’t need to fear secularism as a threat to the faith of our children. Thus we can have confidence that we can keep our kids Christian.
Secularism as pushed by Western cultural elites is a faith (i.e., a religious) commitment to a world without God. The secularist won’t tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t believe in God (as a good post-modern relativists you can believe anything you want as long as it floats your boat—”true for you but not for me”), but that belief must stay withing the walls of your church or home. The reason secularism is so pernicious is not because of it’s “doctrines” or what it asserts, but because of what it assumes: a reality where God is optional. The secular worldview in ways large and small, overt and covert, is presented as the default position (worldview) of enlightened, educated, rational, and reasonable people. It is assumed as superior because it is ostensibly “scientific,” and thus not in need of “faith,” which of course religious people need because they lack “evidence” for what they believe.
On the evening the title of this post came to mind, I’d been interacting with a possible publisher for the book. They have a concern with what appears my excessive confidence that we, Christians, can keep our kids Christian. Having read just the first few chapters and my proposal, it didn’t surprise me that they found my confidence problematic. To see if my confidence really is excessive, I suggested it’s necessary to read the argument I make throughout the book. I think it’s not excessive, but fair-minded people could certainly disagree. We’ll find out. Which brings me to secularism, and what will obviously have to be multiple blog posts as I address it.
Christians face a certain, unique reality in the 21st Century West (post-Constantine and the development of “Christendom”), one that has been brewing for hundreds of years. This reality, one that has everything to do with the confidence I speak of, is secularism of a certain kind. It is important to understand the distinction between the healthy secularism of government not being run by a state church, and the very unhealthy secularism of a worldview in which God is at best persona non Grata. You can find a great historical overview of how we got to this point in Hunter Baker’s The End of Secularism. Originally, as Baker argues, secularism was a reaction to the protracted wars of religion in Europe, and the idea of a Christian state that led to those wars. All religion and politics did when combined was create strife and misery. Secularism’s proponents had the benign intention of creating civil peace by getting religion, or The Church, out of the governing business. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there, and thus the secularism I address in these posts.
In my previous two posts (one and two) I argued that how we understand our origins, where we come from and why we are here, have implications for life that are all encompassing. If we, as Scripture declares, are creatures made in God’s image in God’s world, then we can know what “real reality” is, and live accordingly. The results will be positive because we can live according to the actual nature of things. If, on the other hand, all we are is lucky dirt that erupted for no reason at all with no cause but chance, a grand cosmic coincidence if you will, then the implications will be bad, very bad.
Things, of course, are generally never absolutely one way or the other, perfect good or perfect evil, because in fact, as is evident all around us, we live in a fallen world that was created by a God good. So we see evidence of fallenness and goodness in everything. But the logical implications of origins will eventually drive people one way or the other. This is very important and should not be missed: a person’s, or people’s, or country’s, or culture’s basic presuppositions about the world we inhabit and what human beings are, will eventually find its way into the culture.
In my previous post I argued that how we see our origins, where we and this universe comes from, have significant implications for how we see reality and live life, all-encompassing implications, both positive and negative. The reason this is important for keeping our kids Christians, as I said, is that our goal as Christian parents is to sell our kids on “real reality,” on existence as it really is, or in other words, as God created it to be. The lucky dirt people, as I called them, are those who see our origins in material chance, atoms that came together for no reason at all to “create” all that we see and experience. It is extremely easy, and I mean ridiculously easy, to persuade our kids that such a view of reality is totally absurd, because it is!
The consequences of the lucky dirt view are all negative, and I’ll focus on that more in the next post, but here I want to briefly focus on the positive effects of understanding the biblical view of our origins. I’ll do that with a story that highlights a concept called telos. It comes from ex-communist Whittaker Chambers, and his magisterial autobiography Witness: (more…)
In the beginning God created . . . We know this famous passage from Genesis 1, the first words of our Bible. What we often fail to appreciate, unfortunately, is how profound these words are in their implications for all of human existence. How human beings understand the origin of their existence has everything to do with how they understand that existence, and how they attempt to live it. Everything. If, on the one hand, we believe that all we are is lucky dirt as a result of an astounding cosmic accident, that will have certain implications. It is easy to prove both logically and practically none of these are good. By contrast, if we are created by an almighty personal God in his image, the implications of the logic flow in an inescapably positive and constructive direction.
Why would this be significant for keeping our kids Christian? Simply put, we have to sell “real reality” to our children. I cannot adequately convey how crucial this is as an apologetic for our children. The world works a certain way because that is the way God made it to work. If our origins, where we came from, are in the mind and will and power of God, then the reality we inhabit will in every sense reflect this God, the God we learn about in the Bible.