Transforming Our Vision

     As I write this, I am in prayer and preparation
for teaching a portion of the new staff training course on worldviews. I’ve had
the privilege of helping to teach this class numerous times, and I am still in
awe that this opportunity has befallen me. A certain great grace has been shown
me by CCO leadership to allow me to stay involved in our organization in this
way and I am very grateful. Still, as I review notes, scour the landscape of
popular culture for illustrations and recall stories which helped me form a
culturally-formative world and life perspective, I am always haunted. Indeed,
and I don’t exaggerate here, it is one of the deepest burdens God has given me
in my life. I refer to the simple question asked, by many of us, of our own
lives, of our faith communities and especially of the CCO, in Brian Walsh’s
little book Subversive Christianity. There, Brian notes that even those
who reject dualism, who understand the biblical drama and the connections
between creation, fall and redemption, even those who are intentional and
self-consciously praying for a Reformed worldview, still all too often don’t
live any differently than any-body else. Why, given teaching about the Lordship
of Christ and the Kingdom of God, about the sovereignty of God and the
orderedness of creation, about the cultural mandate and God’s demand for
justice-why aren’t we so filled with vision an d duty and joy and love that we
live like we really believed it? Walsh, you may recall, develops his argument
that worldviews are more than ideas, more than beliefs, and that, yes, one can
have a reformational vision and still not be gripped by the possibilities of
hope. Our imaginations (a theme he nicely picks up from Brueggemann) are
captive to the times. And so I wonder if this class is useful. I wonder if it
truly helps form the worldview-analysis, if it empowers CCO staff to live
faithfully out of Romans 12:1-2? Do we really disciple our students differently
than other campus ministries? Are we decisively breaking with the mistakes of
both theological liberalism and shallow evangelicalism? Do we know and love the
Scriptures so much that our lives take shape as actually part of their ongoing
story? Do we find our hope in nothing less than the truth that God reigns, and
does that impact in significant and notable ways the very way we influence our
younger student friends and our campus culture?

     I was struck “like with a hammer” when
a simple verse popped out at me recently. After a well-known passage in the
fourth chapter of Paul’s second letter to young Timothy, Paul reports (I assume
that it is with great sadness), “For Demas, because he loved this world,
has deserted me…” Demas, you should know, is mentioned three other times
in Scripture (for instance, in Philemon he calls Demas a fellow worker).
Imagine hanging out and assisting Paul in apostolic ministry and then giving it
all up. While it may be appropriate to use worldview-ish jargon to understand
such things, or to wonder what kept Demas’ imagination from truly seeing the
Kingdom, Paul is blunt. Demas loved the world. For this month’s column, to help
you all recall those heady class sessions when the history of dualism and the
idols of the age were critiqued, where an “in the world but not of
it” strategy was envisioned, where a Kuyperian call to integrate faith and
learning was sounded, I offer this year’s class syllabus. I tried, you might
note, to suggest in rhetoric and style that this semi-philosophical stuff has
great implications. May you dream big biblical dreams as you invite students to
this sort of a worldview and way of being in the world for and with Christ
Jesus. I pray none of them who join you in developing a prophetic imagination
and Kingdom lifestyle end up like Demas. Worldview Class Syllabus

Monday – Transforming Vision
Chapter 6: The Problem with Dualism
Why is it that Christianity is so often considered “culturally
irrelevant”? Why do so few Christians see the implications of their faith
for daily life? How can we do campus ministry in a way which invites radical,
“whole-life” discipleship? Why do we seem to care more for Jesus the
Savior rather than Jesus the Lord?

Tuesday – Transforming Vision
Chapter 7: The Development of Dualism
To effectively challenge unbiblical dualism (which leads to truncated and
unfaithful living), we must know from where it came. Understanding this
diagnosis is critical if we are to be wise and mature leaders, helpfully
leading others and freeing them to a fruitful and faithful spirituality.

Chapter 8: The Rise of the Modern Worldview
Dualistic faith sets the stage for secularization and idolatry. Faithful
biblical people must spiritually understand the roots of Western culture and
the influences which shape our world. Jesus was harsh with those who failed to
understand the times and wept over Jerusalem for their lack of such insight.

Wednesday – Transforming Vision
Chapter 9: The Gods of Our Age
The Bible insists that we exercise discernment and prophetic judgment; we must
equip our younger Christian friends to withstand the false spirits of
modernity. How can we really “see” what is driving the engines of our
pagan society? Can we become communities of resistance to the worldliness of
the church? Can we nurture students to think deeply about their world and the
causes of its brokenness?

Thursday – Transforming Vision
Chapter 10: A Christian Cultural Response
We’ve been gripped by a full-orbed, reformational vision of radical, whole-life
discipleship. We’ve learned the history of dualism and discerned the (evil)
spirits of the age. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we are raising up a
passionate generation to be prophetic in denouncing and resisting the idols of
our time. Yet prophetic critique is not enough. Our biblically-informed, Godly
imaginations must give rise to creative and daring initiatives to redirect
culture, to transform the principalities and powers and respond with a
subversive faith big enough to reclaim the land for King Jesus. It is your job
and privilege to recruit and empower students to become agents of
creation-wide, redemptive cultural reformation. Can we do it?

Friday – Transforming Vision
Chapters 11 & 12: Developing the Christian Mind
God will not be honored until our resistance to the deforming influence of
secularized worldviews and social trends becomes a force of redirection,
offering healing insights in every area of life. To do this (this is so
important!) we need Christian thinkers who intentionally
“double-study,” working towards integral, Christian academic
discipleship. “Taking every theory captive” (2 Cor. 10:5 ), Christian
students will make a mark in their departments, witnessing to faculty and
classmates alike, preparing for careers which are holy vocations. A truly
Christian experience of college life includes thinking Christianly about majors
and course work, and seeing future work as callings into normative, Kingdom

Required reading:
Transforming Vision: Developing a Christian Worldview by Brian Walsh
& Richard Middleton (IVP)

Other highly-recommended books which will be referenced in class discussion:

  • Subversive Christianity: Imaging God in a Dangerous Time by Brian Walsh
    (Alta Vista Press) 
  • Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview by Al
    Wolters (Eerdmans) 
  • Heaven is Not My Home: Living in the Now of God’s Creation by Paul
    Marshall (Word) 
  • Who Turned Out the Lights? by Brian Walsh (Institute for Christian