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Colson’s ‘How Now Shall We Live?’ offered as 8-week worldview study

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The last thing Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey want Christians to assume is that an abstract word like “worldview” does not belong in their vocabulary.

“Most people don’t realize it, but they have a worldview,” Colson says in the new study, “How Now Shall We Live?” produced by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. The eight-week study includes a workbook, leader guide, videos and trade book coauthored by Colson and Pearcey.

A worldview is the set of basic beliefs that answer the fundamental questions of life, Pearcey says in the video, adding: “A worldview gives us a framework for understanding the whole world.”

In their coursebook, Colson, former presidential aide to Richard Nixon and founder of the international ministry Prison Fellowship, and Pearcey, a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Renewal for Science and Culture, emphasize that competing worldviews are the bases for today’s spiritual battles.

Christians must exercise a Christian worldview in the face of the prevailing secular worldview, Colson says. “They need to get serious about seeing the world the way God sees it.”

The study is designed to help Christians use a Christian worldview as a roadmap for life. It tells readers how and why their faith should be brought into all aspects of their lives. The five areas of Colson and Pearcey’s book — Worldview, Creation, The Fall, Redemption and Restoration — make up most of the study sessions.

During the first session, Colson sets the stage for the challenge he and Pearcey put to viewers.

Today’s mindset in America is naturalistic, “that there is a natural explanation for everything,” he says. “Naturalism is people playing God.”

That mindset influences many of the issues and debates surrounding Christians today: abortion, evolution, the existence of truth, the sexual revolution, movies, television and music, the place of the family and the role of work. The list could go on and on, he notes.

“The real battleground is the battleground of ideas,” said LifeWay editor Dale McCleskey, who coauthored the project’s adult leader and study guides. “Helping believers achieve a biblical worldview and understand Christianity as a total life system is the purpose behind this study.”

McCleskey said he believes the study is absolutely crucial for churches today because it will equip Christians to:

1) understand the hidden culture war taking place in society.

2) become “worldview missionaries” able to share Christ effectively with a post-Christian culture.

3) save children and grandchildren from being carried away with the false beliefs of naturalism.

The first video session begins with a movie, “Katy’s Metaphysical Adventure,” included in the leader kit. The hour-long film introduces viewers to 15-year-old Katy, who has encountered a world of ideas that contradict the faith of her family. The movie is based on a story that appears in the book, and the kit includes permission for a church to purchase time on a cable access or local channel to show the film.

Colson, tapping an experience he had with his grandson at Epcot Center in Disney World, recounts, “When I took my grandson to Disney World and Epcot Center I wasn’t thinking about the battle between naturalism and biblical theism or about the lack of Christian influences at Disney World. We were just there to have a good time.”

The Living Seas exhibit was “a real shocker,” he says.

In the video story, Katy’s father thinks the exhibit and program “made it sound as if God had nothing to do with any of this, that nature by itself had the power to create the universe.”

In his own visit to Epcot, Colson explains, “I saw this incredibly well-done presentation of what, from my perspective, was blatant naturalism and kept looking at my little 8-year-old grandson’s innocent face as he was soaking all of this in with awe and wonder.

“The thought that flashed across my mind is that millions of kids come here, and this leaves a more profound impression on them than all of their biology textbooks and geology courses combined.

“This simply underscored for me how important it is that we be discerning about the values of the culture in which we live.”

Why can’t Christians discern the subtle ways naturalism and secularism influence our culture’s thinking, he wondered.

“We don’t think ‘Christianly,'” Colson says. “In the book I argue that what’s missing is the Christian mind — where we look at all of life through the lens of Scripture.

“It means we have to be very skeptical about what is fed to us as a steady diet in popular culture, academia and elsewhere.”

The study helps Christians apply specific questions to various philosophies, belief systems and scientific theories that create various worldviews. The questions are:

1) Where do we come from and who are we (creation)?

2) What has gone wrong with the world (fall)?

3) And what can we do to fix it (redemption)?

Colson and Pearcey devote particular attention to the role of science in today’s secular mindset.

“Science is granted authority as the final truth, as the measuring rod by which all other knowledge claims are judged,” Pearcey says, describing the power culture gives science. “When science speaks, every other field is expected to accommodate to its pronouncements — including theology.”

Instead of hiding out and hoping that scientific claims will just go away, Christians must open up the debate by asking the tough questions sometimes ignored by proponents of certain theories, such as the Big Bang, she says.

“What this means for Christians is that if we want to craft a reasonable defense of our faith capable of winning a hearing in today’s world, we must begin by addressing the challenges raised by science,” she says. “Otherwise, we simply won’t be taken seriously.”

The authors say the study helps Christians explain to their children why some of the things they learn in school are wrong. It helps them address questions like, “If I heard it on the news, and it makes sense, how do I know if it’s right?”

Colson and Pearcey want Christians to come out of retreat and start engaging the world they live in.

“Most of the great Christian martyrs of modern times, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, saw clearly the evils of the society around them and knew how to deal with them frontally,” Colson says. “Sadly, today Christians are simply sleeping.”

    About the Author

  • Kristin Searfoss