As the ocean receded nearly half a mile from the shore along the coast of Thailand and Indonesia on December 26, 2004, many tourists and natives followed it out in amazement to look for shells. Unfortunately, they did not recognize the danger until it was too late and they were engulfed by the tsunami that eventually claimed more than 160,000 lives.
Yet, amazingly the 196 villagers who live on the tiny Surin Islands off the coast of Thailand all survived the deadly tidal wave that swept their houses, boats, food and possessions out to sea. These “sea gypsies,” as the Moken people are called, have an oral tradition that includes “a wave that eats people.” They knew when the sea retreated “a bad thing was going to happen,” and they fled to high ground. As a result, none of the Moken people died. They survived because they knew how to read the signs of the times. Even though they lost their possessions, they preserved their culture.
Sadly, a leader of another village of these “sea people” recalled as a child being told of impending danger when the ocean retreated rapidly. However, he never passed that knowledge onto his children. Out of his 600 villagers, 240 were killed or injured.
Christian parents seek to protect their children from the dangers of the culture, but sometimes we fail to equip them to impact their culture. We teach them Bible stories, but they have no understanding as to the application in society. A biblical worldview gives them the tools with which they can see clearly their surroundings and then know what action to take. Just like the small tribe of “sea gypsies” who survived the tsunami, the Bible speaks of a small group of Israelites who “understood the times” and knew “what Israel ought to do.” This small tribe became great leaders. (I Chronicles 12:32) Christians must understand the times—they must think well and think hard—before taking on the culture. Worldview is often defined as the set of glasses through which one sees the world. Only a biblical worldview gives the Christian a proper perspective of the world around him so that he then knows how to act.
Having taught worldviews now for over 20 years with Worldview Academy, I have seen the difference worldview training makes in the lives of Christian students. I recall once when I was speaking at a Worldview Academy Christianity and Culture Conference in Texas where I met the parents of a 6-year alum—a student who had attended Worldview Academy Leadership Camp for six years!!!!—What’s up with that? Of course, I asked the question more diplomatically than that. However, their response as parents still amazed me. At one point the father shook my hand and soberly announced, “It is the best money we have ever spent.”
In Florida, a pastor’s wife told me, “My son attended Worldview last summer, AND I MUST TELL YOU, he came back a changed person—and I mean for the better.”
One Labor Day weekend I received a call from a young man enrolled in a conservative college that teaches a biblical worldview. He said, “I just called to thank you for all you teach at Worldview Academy. I was sitting in my worldview class as the professor explained what we were going to cover during the semester, and I realized I had heard all of it at Worldview Academy.”
In Wyoming, I met another Worldview Academy dad who drove over 100 miles to attend one of our conferences. He said, “I’ve sent my three children through WVA, and I thought it was about time I took advantage of the opportunity to receive the training myself.”
“Yeah, yeah, Bill,” you, the reader, might be thinking, “that’s great puff-blicity for worldview training, but I’m a mature, Christian adult. Don’t try to con me into attending another seminar or sending my student to Worldview or Worldview at the Abbey Bridge Year with anecdotal testimonials.”
I fully understand—your time is valuable, your finances are limited and your ability to sit through session after session decreased dramatically upon graduation from college. However, I believe Christian worldview training is so imperative for students and adults that I want to illustrate from personal experiences how my having been fitted with a biblical set of glasses has changed my perspective on even seemingly insignificant matters. We are admonished not to be taken captive by secular ideas in Colossians 2:8 and then to “take every thought captive” in II Corinthians 10:5. Yet, secularism so permeates our culture—our lives—that it is nearly impossible to escape its influence. For example,
FOUR SEEMINGLY UNRELATED EVENTS…
First, I took Ruby Nell, my then 10-year-old, to our small, downtown confectionary for some ice cream. We made our choices from a delicious and delightfully named selection of flavors—pumpkin, pistachio, peanut butter, strawberry and a rich concoction called “Death by Chocolate.” As we enjoyed our tasty treat, another family with children pointed to their desires behind the glass case. The server acknowledged one of the choices with these words, “One scoop of Death?”
Even in that pleasant respite on that warm autumn afternoon with my daughter, I could not escape the realization of the Fall. Death was a word new to Adam and Eve’s obviously expansive vocabulary—after all, Adam named all the animals. Yet, death is so common to ours that we make it a delight to our palette. Our secularized culture feeds it to us one small scoop at a time.
“See to it that no one takes you captive…”
Second, a few years ago I was asked to debate Dr. Michael Tooley, a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, on the topic, The model of evolution provides greater benefit for society than does the model of creation. The non-Christian videographer I hired to film the event came up to me after the debate and asked, “Why is the Christian faith the only true religion?” I spent the next 20 minutes talking with Brian about who Jesus is. He was really hungry. The entire debate may have been for him.
Here is what Dr. Tooley has written in a published article entitled In Defense of Abortion and Infanticide,
“Since I do not believe human infants are persons, but only potential persons, and since I think that the destruction of potential persons is a morally neutral action, the correct conclusion seems to me to be that infanticide is in itself morally acceptable.”
I wanted you to know the character of this professor who daily instructs young minds at the university level.
Third, I helped a close friend, Rusty, with his floor cleaning business one night. At the time he needed the help; I needed the extra money. A big job—10,000 square feet of tile required stripping, cleaning and waxing at a local bingo parlor. Arriving at 8:30 pm, we found the place filled with patrons. The smoke was stifling and the silence was deafening as the patrons listened with hushed reverence in hopes that lucky numbers would lead to wealth and happiness. Rusty even commented that the place had a church-like atmosphere when we walked through the door. Yet, the nicotine and tobacco stained the walls and had even seeped into the floor tile leaving a deadly, yellowish tinge over everything.
This long-time establishment honored its “members” who had been attending the nightly sessions for 15 years or longer with stars and their names embedded in a section of the floor tiles—a walk of fame—that reminded one of my non-Christian co-workers of cemetery markers.
As we walked out the door the next morning into sunshine and fresh air, I realized our culture does call us to worship at the altar of secularism—riches and short-lived fame—even if it is in a dingy, backwater bingo hall.
“…and empty deception according to the tradition of men…”
Fourth, when my second son, Josh, was 19, he found a one-owner, jewel of a classic car for an extremely reasonable price. It was a hoot to drive, and, of course, he took almost as much pride in it as I did in him being able to have it. I chipped in to buy much-needed new tires, and he found collector’s wheels to make it unique. It was a beauty. I say, “WAS,” because I totaled his car through a careless and foolish mistake. No one was injured, but my pride was severely bruised, and my view of my driving prowess blindsided. I was so ashamed that I couldn’t bear to have my family come to the crash sight and see the twisted wreck of a once beautiful road machine. What a humiliating, crushing blow to realize I wasn’t in control. “…according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than…”
Four seemingly unrelated events have led me once again to four obvious conclusions:
First, I have freedom from death eternal through faith in Christ and freedom from those small scoops of death served up by our secular culture through the washing of the Word if I just choose to partake.
Second, I am humbled by God’s Truth and angered that we allow false teachers to instruct students in secularism without challenge.
Third, I am thankful that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life rather than on some dingy walk of fame in Hollywood, in the halls of power or on some bingo parlor floor.
Finally, my son, Josh, told me that he had felt compelled to pray for my safety shortly before my accident, and as I apologized to him for destroying his car, he hugged me and said, “Dad, it’s only a material thing; it doesn’t matter. I’m just glad you’re safe.” I’m astonished by grace and blessed with family. God graciously has reminded me I’m not in control.
“…according to Christ.”—Colossians 2:8
Worldview matters in even the most ordinary of life’s activities. I constantly have to learn to think hard and think well in order to be aware of the sea change in the culture and not be swept away in a tsunami of secular thought.
- Bill Jack