The Conversion of the Mind -- By: Bill Crouse

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 03:3 (Summer 1994)
Article: The Conversion of the Mind
Author: Bill Crouse

The Conversion of the Mind

Bill Crouse

One effect of global, high tech communication on this shrinking planet is the increased exposure we have to other lands, peoples, and worldviews. Today students on major university campuses will likely encounter professors who teach their subjects from vastly different perspectives. For example, a Hindu may be found teaching psychology; a Marxist, history; an existentialist, literature; and a humanist, science. Young people are now confronted with a virtual supermarket of worldview options upon which to base their lives. As a result, many Christians—confused, defensive, and often in the minority—tend to incorporate much non-Christian thinking into their own worldviews.

Christianity as a world and life system (weltanschauung) was not always on the defensive, nor has it always been viewed as one option among many, as we find today. For much of the history of Western civilization, Christianity has been the basis for world order. In the areas of critical thought, moral order, and culture, Christianity (i.e., its ideas) was predominant. Christianity set the agenda. This is not to say every important thinker or artist of the past was a devout Christian. But many were, and those who were not at least affirmed or accepted the basic rudiments of the Christian worldview.

Retreat and withdrawal of the church from active engagement in culture began, we believe, somewhere in the nineteenth century when it failed to adequately answer the contra-Christian arguments of the Enlightenment. Instead, the church took an increasingly defensive posture. As Christianity slowly lost ground in its conflict with Enlightenment humanism, it began to concede the area of culture to the enemy. This concession was no doubt partly due to the church’s embrace of the erroneous Neoplatonist idea which dichotomized life into the “sacred” and “secular” (or “spiritual” and “physical”). In keeping with this view, the “sacred” or “spiritual” area was deemed more important. Therefore

the church became increasingly preoccupied with the mystical and the hereafter, and looked upon itself only as an instrument of spiritual or internal change, while it retreated from its mandate of being salt and light in society. 1

Many Christian leaders spoke out against this error but were largely unheard. Perhaps the most eloquent was the great New Testament scholar J. Gresham Machen. He challenged his students at Princeton Seminary in 1912:

The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of all connection with Christiani...

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