So let us speak for a moment, you and I, about Christian worldview education. Like anything else that is good, it can be done poorly, and whatever else you say about the strengths of Christian worldview advocates, they have not yet been able to shake the bell curve.
Did you ever stop to think about the fact that fully half of all medical doctors in America graduated in the lower half of their class?
In other words, there are advocates of Christian worldview thinking whose reasoning processes go clunkity clunkity blam. That is true, and I have seen it myself. Of course, I have also seen the kind of secularist who thinks that climate change is causing these extra comets to appear, and so keep in mind that the bell curve follows every social group around, like six feet of toilet paper on your shoe. And let us not leave out that congressman, a member of our Sanhedrin, who was fearful that Guam might tip over.
So what brings this up? I just got back from the ACCS conference, an organization dedicated to promoting the absolute authority of Christ in the life of the mind. And at this conference, Canon Press formally rolled out their Christian worldview guides, with many more to come. And I have noticed, over the last year, a certain restiveness among the cool kids, with a sneer or two directed at the term worldview. Some are afraid that the absolute authority of Christ in the life of the mind is a dangerous thing, and might eventually raise questions about the propriety of their skinny jeans. If we bring Christian worldview thinking to sartorial matters, who knows what the harvest will be?
And by the way, since you mentioned skinny jeans, how would I answer the objection that I—born as I was in 1953—am fixating on skinny jeans as though they were still a thing? Is this not proof positive that “Christian worldview thinking” is sometimes just a shammy cloth for shining up our own personal cultural prejudices? Well, no, actually. Having eyes in my head, I can see what the folks are still doing, and can read what they are saying about what they are doing.
And then, on top of all that, Rod Dreher was speaking at another classical Christian educators’ conference, and he wrote this piece responding to comments made by another presenter at that conference. A reasonable response to Dreher’s take was offered here, and I myself would like to add my own two bits.
Dreher took an online “worldview quiz” and came out as having a 57% Christian worldview. Inspired by his example, I went and took the same quiz, and came out significantly northwards of that. Maybe I got some extra credit for calling Nancy Pelosi names in the comments box. Just kidding. But Dreher says this about his score:
“I suspect that my deviations came partly from answers that reflected my belief that evolution and some level of government involvement in the economy are compatible with Christian belief. Disbelieving evolution comes from a certain interpretation of the Bible. It is also hard to find clear, irrefutable Scriptural support for free-market capitalism.”
My irrefutable scriptural support for capitalism would be this. “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex. 20:15). Just as the institution of marriage is assumed by the prohibition of adultery, so also the institution of private property is assumed by the prohibition of theft. “This is a strange religion you have. Tell me more.”
And it is true that disbelieving evolution comes from a certain interpretation of the Bible—let us call it the Christian worldview interpretation. Work with me here. A Christian worldview is not the sum total of what all the people who are going to Heaven think. It is the system of truth and life that is revealed to us in the Bible. We find out what that is by careful and submissive study, and not by counting available extant interpretations. Dreher is quite right that some Christians interpret the Bible to make room for evolution. But other Christians interpret the Bible to make room for Tom and Sam in the sack together. Now what? To the law and the testimony (Is. 8:20).
But here is the central difficulty.
“If I heard Joshua Gibbs correctly yesterday, he was saying that the worldview model gives a student permission to point to a text, label it, and dismiss it after only a superficial acquaintance with it. This is not real learning; this is sorting our prejudices.”
But Christian students are NOT supposed to arrive at the Christian school as blank slates. This is the point where the apostle Paul would start shaking before blurting out, “μὴ γένοιτο people!” Christian children are to be taught, from their mother’s breast, as the absolute truth, the fact of creation, Christ’s Lordship over all, His death on the cross, His resurrection, and His rule over the world. The word of God in Scripture should be so far into their bones that there is no possibility of extracting it. By some means or other, Christian children should be thoroughly catechized. And if they are, then their first encounter in their Christian school with some of the things that the world cooks up will be bewildered astonishment. “Wait. People think that?”
Imagine a grateful child growing up in a godly home. He is fed, he is loved, he is disciplined, he is read to, he is cared for, and all the rest of it. At some point, someone will have to explain to him what abortion is.
Yes, those outside the faith do things like that. Yes, they think that. And a Christian teacher leads the Christian student into a respectful and diligent interaction with the best arguments the other side has. This is so that the student may learn how to refute them completely, down to the ground. But you lead them to that place from an absolute assurance of the truth of the Christian faith. The goal should be to bring to them to the worldly philosophers and authors and poets with honest and equipped minds, not with open minds.
There were no questions about this process of education on the quiz that Dreher and I took, but I think there should have been. Underlying Dreher’s questioning of Christian worldview education is the grandest secular misconception of all, which is the myth of neutrality. Having just read his Benedict book, I do know that he has a Christian worldview in many respects. But as these questions reveal, even though he is one of our generals in the battle against secularism, he is in some significant respects a secularist himself.