The following is an adapted excerpt from chapter 1 in Dr. Jeff Myers’ book, “The Secret Battle of Ideas about God.”
As ministry leaders, we need to constantly remind those we teach that mindless Christianity does not please Jesus. We need to stay focused on sharpening our worldview. Why? Because we live in a time of war. There are no soldiers in this battle. There are no landing craft, no bombers flying in formation, no artillery emplacements. Yet attacks occur every minute of every day.
The battle we’re in is a battle of ideas. Ideas are thoughts and suggestions about what we ought to do. Our ideas largely determine our understanding of life’s meaning and guide us in the way we live. Everyone forms ideas about questions such as:
- Am I loved? If I were to disappear, would anyone miss me?
- Why do I hurt? Bad things have happened to me. Can I overcome them and find joy?
- Does my life have meaning? Is it possible for me to find direction in life?
- Why can’t we just get along? What will it take for us to stop fighting and find harmony?
- Is there any hope for the world? So many things seem to be going wrong. Are we doomed?
- Is God even relevant? Does God get involved with the details of my life?
The set of ideas that we form in answer to these questions is called a worldview. A worldview monitors the ideas we are exposed to and isolates the ones that appear to be destructive. But it’s possible to have a worldview that is porous, letting through some of the most damaging ideas. Or a worldview might be skewed in some way, welcoming ideas bent on doing us harm.
The battle of ideas never lets up, so how can we remain standing against such an onslaught? We need a healthy worldview that accurately identifies the ideas that come at us from every direction. We catch ideas from church, from culture, from family, and from friends. Billboards, speeches, songs, video clips, memes, pictures, Facebook posts, and lines from movie dialogue all present us with fragments of ideas that assemble themselves in our minds. If we are to live whole, satisfying lives, we need to do two things. First, we have to catch good ideas, and second, we have to avoid catching bad ones.
Unfortunately, bad ideas are easy to catch because they share a distinguishing characteristic with one of the deadliest things in the physical world.
Bad Ideas Are Like Viruses
The battles we face are more like germ warfare than like military warfare. That’s because bad ideas are like viruses. A virus is an organism with genetic material coated by a protein. Genetic material is common and ordinarily not harmful. Proteins are necessary for the body to do its work. Separately they’re harmless. When combined, however, they can be deadly.
Bad ideas can multiply out of control, like the spread of a virus that becomes a pandemic. And even though idea viruses cause mass destruction, the battle we face is a secret battle because it’s hard to accurately identify bad ideas until after they have struck.2
Idea viruses hover around us like secret agents waiting to infiltrate. Is there anything we can do to prevent them from sickening our souls and ruining our lives? Bad ideas are highly contagious. But they can be defeated if we keep one simple thing in mind.
How Bad Ideas Are Defeated
The key to achieving victory in the battle of ideas is to develop a worldview we can affirm and embrace every day until it becomes a habit. As Aristotle said, habit is what brings virtue to completion. We become the thoughts we habitually have chiseled into the granite of daily practice.
We can develop a worldview that gives us something to live by—and something to live for. A worldview also helps us ward off bad ideas that make us miserable. It functions as an immune system for ideas. This is important because bad viruses can’t be conquered with good viruses. There is no “good” cold that combats the virus that causes a bad cold. Preachers and politicians and philosophers can’t live out our worldviews for us. It’s time for each of us to step up.
My life revolves around boosting the power of good ideas and blunting the effects of bad ones. Through a program called the Summit, I help prepare people of all ages to strengthen their Christian worldview and become leaders. Once my students tune in to the world of ideas, they can see the way that bad ideas fill their hearts and minds with wrong answers to questions to life’s biggest questions. In the end, most of them learn to trust what God has revealed about himself, the world, and humanity. I have seen it change thousands of lives.
As a graduate of the Summit myself, and now as its CEO, I have lived in the world of ideas, receiving bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from leading universities. In decades of reading, study, and interacting with others, some of the ideas to which I have been exposed are true. Some are counterfeit. I have studied secularism, Marxism, postmodernism, new spirituality, and Islam, among other worldviews. I learned that some idea viruses are crafted in primitive training camps. Others are assembled on prestigious college campuses, in distinguished-looking legislative chambers, in libraries, or even in buildings covered with religious symbols.
Knowing a little about how viruses work has helped me prepare students to develop a simple set of good ideas based on what Jesus taught and deftly counter the attacks of bad ideas. Long experience shows me that our deepest heart questions revolve around love, hurt, meaning, peace, and hope. Here’s a simple set of “declarations of freedom”—six truths that release us from the grip of idea viruses that intend to do us harm. These declarations help us get a proper view of the world and for the world and resist the bad ideas trying to penetrate our defenses:
- I am loved. Deep, unconditional love exists, and I can have it.
- My suffering will be overcome. Hurt will not win. Indeed, it already has lost.
- I have an incredible calling. My life has meaning. I bear God’s image.
- I am meant for community. I can overcome conflict and live at peace with those around me.
- There is hope for the world. I am not doomed. What is right and just and true will win.
- God is relevant. God is real and the Bible is true. His love is unconditional.
These declarations of freedom are not just positive self-talk. They have deep roots in the teachings of Jesus and his culture. Nor are they theological platitudes. They’re very practical and livable. That’s the good news.
But the bad news is that these declarations are under attack. Bad ideas flood our minds and hearts every day, trying to convince us that love isn’t real, that suffering is meaningless, that our lives have no purpose, that we are all alone, and that despair is our lot. Bad ideas are on the attack. We need a strong worldview to keep them at bay.
True Christianity is not mindless. We need to strengthen our minds and have the mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:16).
To continue reading about how the Christian worldview stands apart from false worldviews in answering life’s biggest questions and how you can bring this to your church or home, download sample materials or purchase at secretbattlebook.com.