LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–After 13 years in pastoral ministry, one thing became abundantly clear to Tony Beam: Christians often do not know much about what they profess to believe.
Beam is taking direct aim at this eclipse of the Christian mind through his leadership of the Christian Worldview Institute at North Greenville College in Tigerville, S.C.
Beam, who was tapped as director of the new institute last summer, is teaching New Testament at North Greenville while the pieces of the worldview program are being put into place toward the start of classes in the fall of 2005.
Part of his day also entails processing hundreds of pages of reading on philosophy, theology, apologetics and other topics related to the way people think, toward hosting an AM radio show each day and writing a weekly column for a local newspaper and a monthly column for the state Baptist newspaper, the Baptist Courier.
“Everybody has a worldview whether they know it or not,” Beam said. “Many Christians believe things that aren’t Christian at all. And all unbelievers also have worldviews. For example, I run into a lot of pantheism — and whether or not the people espousing it know it is pantheism, it is pantheism.
“Christians need to be able to think biblically so they will be able to identify non-Christian beliefs and take them apart with Christian truth.”
One reason Beam is so concerned about worldviews is their intimate link to the way one lives. Christians often falter in their pursuit of godliness precisely because they hold sub-biblical views of God, man and grace, among other important doctrines, he said.
“George Barna’s research has shown that 93 percent of all Christians do not even have a Christian worldview,” Beam said. “This certainly affects the way they live because what you believe directs how you live. I appreciate this opportunity at North Greenville. Hopefully this will help pastors to learn how to communicate a comprehensive Christian worldview to the people in their churches.
“If we can’t process and express a biblical worldview in every area of life, then the church will not be effective. I think this is why churches have not been effective in truly reaching people in a postmodern culture.”
Beam said the institute will conduct research on issues of apologetics, evangelism and missions and also will work with the media to bring the Christian faith into the public square.
“Our purpose is to be an information center,” Beam said. “We will offer worldview classes in the college, speak in the local churches about issues of Christian worldview, publish weblogs and columns and other pieces to promote the idea of a biblical, Christian worldview.”
Several Christian leaders have inspired Beam and have served as catalysts in pushing him to develop his Christian worldview. Among his contemporary heroes Beam lists Prison Fellowship leader Chuck Colson, apologist Norman Geisler, author Nancy Pearcey and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr, alongside the late Francis Schaeffer and C.S. Lewis. Beam sees them as models for effectively communicating Christian truth.
“I have really learned a lot from Dr. Mohler,” said Beam, a native of Ellenboro, N.C., who received a doctor of ministry degree from Southern Seminary in 2002. “He is able to bring biblical Christianity to bear on every topic and is able to communicate that clearly. I am thankful for what Southern Seminary is doing in teaching its students to think biblically about every area of life.
“I have also been highly impressed with Nancy Pearcey’s book ‘Total Truth’ and all of Chuck Colson’s work. Their works are invaluable for apologetics and articulating a Christian worldview. There is some great work being done. We just need more schools and, more importantly, more churches, doing it.”
James B. Epting, North Greenville’s president, said the worldview institute will serve as a key plank in the college’s overall platform of being a Christ-centered institution that seeks to impact the world. The institute is a strategic part of the school’s focus on evangelism and missions, Epting said.
“Our goal is to have a world evangelism center that will house our Christian worldview center and our global missions center…. We do everything here to get one more [person] saved. We always want one more saved,” Epting said.
“So these programs complement everything we do and are interwoven into everything we do,” the president continued. “Because of that, it is a top priority to us to have a strong Christian worldview program in place. Dr. Tony Beam is perfect for the job. He has experience as a pastor, working with students, and speaking out on Christian worldview issues. He is well-known, particularly in South Carolina, for being a voice of the evangelical way of life…. Tony is helping us not just to talk about changing the world, but to do it.”
When a Christian understands what he believes and is able to express it in clear, cogent terms, then he is better able to proclaim the Gospel to a culture that is hostile to the Christian faith, Beam said.
“With skeptics — and there are millions of them in this culture — you have to be able to make logical arguments to open the door for the Gospel,” he said. “Ultimately, that is what this is all about — the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. Christians first need to understand their own beliefs and to be able to articulate them logically. Then they won’t be intimidated by skeptics and will be confident in expressing the truth.”