Ideas and Truth
Ideas have consequences. The statement seems self-explanatory, but the real and deep impact of ideas reaches into culture, changing the minds of people and the way that they think. If believers are not careful, we can fail to recognize the impact that secular ideas have have on our own worldviews.
Richard Weaver wrote a book around 1950 entitled “Ideas have Consequences.” In 1 Timothy 6:20, Paul urges Timothy to avoid ‘worldly and empty chatter and opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge.’ That implies that whether an idea is true or not is immaterial to the consequences it can have in the world and upon society.
The power of ideas is self-evident:
Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Nietzsche influenced Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Hitler took Neitzche’s book and distributed it to all of his SS brigade and to Benito Mussolini, and it influenced Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf.
Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species influenced all of Western Culture, more perhaps than nearly any book besides the Holy Bible. Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital, which influenced and shaped many of the world’s political systems for nearly a century and he, in turn, was so influenced by the writings of Charles Darwin that he wanted to dedicate the English version of Das Kapital to Darwin, though the offer was rejected
Books written in one century sometimes redefine life in the next.
It’s all about ideas.
The New Testament is certainly an example, but so is Thus Spake Zarathustra, which arguably has influenced our culture and the thinkers of our culture more than virtually any other in the twentieth century, though it was penned during Neitzche’s lifetime of 1844-1900, sometime before his entry into an asylum.
As Christians,we should be aware of the great challenges being issued to us by the world and by those ideas that are falsely called knowledge (1 Tim. 6:20). The appropriate response we should have is to actively engage ideas and thought systems and to develop a healthy appetite for theology and her handmaiden, philosophy. That means becoming conversant about different belief systems, ideologies, and worldviews. We must guard against thinking of these things as being irrelevant and allowing indifference to lead us to inaction. Whether we realize it or not, our worldviews are being shaped by everything we see, hear and read– and it is important to understand that. For those reasons, we must “study to show ourselves approved” and “be transformed by the renewing of our minds” by avoiding any hint of anti-intellectualism that might cause us to retreat from the battlefield of ideas.
We have a responsibility, as those who have been called out, to be guardians of the truth– contending earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
So, as Christian educators, we must lead the way and help people recognize the impact of ideas and in doing so, cultivate a hunger for truth in those we teach by engaging both the heart and mind.