My friend John Stonestreet often says, “Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims.” No truer statement has ever been made, because no time in American history has presented young Christians with more ideological risk. You already know this if someone in your family is attending university. But while it’s tempting to see the battle of worldviews as a problem unique to millennial and post-millennial believers, all of us are impacted by bad ideas that creep into our understanding of the world. “Seasoned” Christians are just as susceptible to the lies told by our culture. That’s why Jeff Myers’ new book, The Secret Battle of Ideas about God: Overcoming the Outbreak of Five Fatal Worldviews, is one of the most important books to be published this year. I’ve known Jeff for several years, as I’ve served alongside him at Summit Worldview Conference. Few people are better qualified to talk about the worldview challenges we face as Christians, particularly the challenges facing young people. I recently had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his latest work:
“I’ve come to know you as the “Jedi Master” of worldview training. Why did you make this topic the focus of your academic and ministry life?
“Haha! At least you didn’t come right out and call me ‘Yoda,’ though I’ve always aspired to be fuzzy and cute.
The truth is I didn’t start out in worldview and apologetics, and I have no training as a minister. My career was in teaching at the collegiate level and running companies focused on communication and leadership. But as a Summit graduate from the 1980s, I have always loved the way David Noebel (Summit’s founder) framed ideas. As a student, I took my Summit training to class and my professors thought I had keen grasp of ideas. I never had the heart to tell them the truth—that I had learned it from a chart at a Christian camp.
Fast-forward to 2011. When Noebel asked me to be his successor, I basically took a four-year crash-course on worldviews, apologetics, and cultural engagement. My teachers were Summit’s amazing faculty and subject matter experts. Basically, I got paid to hang around smart people who specialized in very concentrated areas, until I became a guy who knew a little about a lot. The saying ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ applies to me. I’m less of a Jedi Master and more of a Jedi Jack.
“Why should Christians read The Secret Battle of Ideas About God?”
“I wrote The Secret Battle of Ideas About God in a time of great personal pain. In my research I was struck with how the worldviews trumpeted by the media and higher education system utterly fail to answer our deepest questions: Am I loved? Why do I hurt? What is my purpose? Why can’t we get along? Is there any hope?
If you’ve ever struggled with those questions, as I have, then I invite you to journey with me through in discovering that only a Jesus-focused worldview gives satisfying answers.”
“Jeff, I know this book is highly personal for you. Can you tell our readers how your experiences shaped and directed the way you wrote this book?”
“A little less than four years ago, through some difficult and tragic circumstances, I lost my marriage. Summit was going through some tough times, and suddenly I found myself having to also cook dinners for my kids and navigate school schedules and PTA meetings and so forth. I sank into a depression. Some buddies took me hunting. During an afternoon break, I went for a long run and felt myself overcome with despair. I broke. ‘God, why are you doing this? I have loved you! I have served you!’ I called God every name in the book.
About that time, I had been given a contract for Secret Battle. I decided to focus the book on whether a Jesus-focused worldview really answered my most profound questions. A mentor had told me, ‘When you go through suffering, don’t waste your pain.’ So, I made the decision—and it was a controversial one—to be very vulnerable about my own journey to finding heart answers as well as mind answers in Jesus.”
“You Describe an invisible battle of sorts related to the way each of us sees the world. Can you tell us what precisely you mean by that?”
“At any moment, we are under attack by thousands of ideas. They don’t present themselves as fully formed rational claims. Rather, they sneak into our thinking in fragments. They function like viruses, hijacking our hearts and minds, making us sick and miserable.
In Secret Battle, I wove together a narrative of virologists racing the clock against deadly viruses in the physical world with a narrative of how bad ideas, such as those spread by ISIS recruiters, capture unsuspecting people. For me, the virus analogy was a breakthrough. It helped me understand how bad ideas infiltrate our thinking and gain a foothold during tough times, and how we can stop false worldviews from multiplying our suffering.
“As I read the book, I was continually drawn to the centrality of Jesus in your writing. What is your hope for those who read this book?”
“The dominant worldviews of our day are full of bluster but quite pitiful in answering humanity’s deepest questions. Jesus is just the opposite—quietly powerful, generously loving, and patiently determined. After sharing this with an audience recently, the first three people to come up and talk afterward said, ‘I now know I’m not alone—through Jesus I can make it’ and ‘I didn’t know we could talk about this kind of thing in church—I’m so relieved’ and ‘This makes me want to discover God’s truth like never before.’ It was a blessing because those are the exact three reactions I’m hoping for.
My dream for Secret Battle is that it will ignite churches to more fully embrace a Jesus-focused worldview and to reach out to their communities in a powerful new way. In that hope, our Summit team assembled a captivating video course to go along with Secret Battle. It is sort-of like Truth-Project-For-A-YouTube-Generation. I hope millions get to see it.”
I highly encourage you to get The Secret Battle of Ideas About God and carefully examine the ideas you hold as a Christian. If you’re a high school or young college student, I also hope you’ll consider joining us at Summit Worldview Conference so you can be immersed in an incredible Christian worldview experience. Jeff and I will be waiting for you, along with many of the best Christian educators and apologists in the country. So, read Jeff’s book and join us as we help you engage the secret battle of ideas.
For more information about strategies to help you teach Christian worldview to the next generation, please read So the Next Generation Will Know: Training Young Christians in a Challenging World. This book teaches parents, youth pastors and Christian educators practical, accessible strategies and principles they can employ to teach the youngest Christians the truth of Christianity. The book is accompanied by an eight-session So the Next Generation Will Know DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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