Christian Worldview

Fifteen Years and Counting

This article appears in the September 2006 issue of BreakPoint WorldView magazine.   “What is a prison evangelist doing commenting on American culture and Biblical worldview?” That’s a question I hear often. The past provides answers, as well as direction for the future. For the first ten years of Prison Fellowship, I spent much time evangelizing in prisons, building groups of disciples, and training volunteers. To witness God work among forgotten prisoners was thrilling. But I was perplexed: New prisons were being jam-packed faster than we could start Bible studies in them. Why? I asked. Then a simple truth registered with me: The surging moral relativism in American life was eroding our value system. The clearest signs of this were in the breakdown of the family and its effect on children. A whole new breed of young criminals—many of them following in their fathers’ footsteps—came of age. What’s more, the rot of popular culture poisoned their minds. Schools that no longer taught right and wrong betrayed them. Crime was not, as everyone had believed for so long, caused by environment or poverty; it was caused by people making wrong moral choices and by the lack of moral training during the formative years. IN THE BEGINNING We could never solve the problem of crime and delinquency, I realized, unless we addressed Americans’ flawed view of life. Everything I had been studying about Biblical worldview—the works of Francis Schaeffer and Abraham Kuyper, in particular—took on a new sense of urgency. At this point, God added a second call upon my life: to critique the false values of American culture and defend a Biblical worldview. The Church and our culture need to understand that Christianity is a coherent system for seeing all of reality. I began to talk about this in speeches and articles, addressing the big issues of truth, authority, and the right moral order of life. Then in 1991, after several years of urging by my friend Jim Dobson, I went on the air, broadcasting a daily radio commentary that you now know as “BreakPoint.” One of my assistants recruited an editor and, through Ambassador Advertising Agency, lined up approximately eighty stations that would carry the broadcast. The short broadcast was an entirely new format for Christian radio and a decidedly new subject—Biblical worldview. In the first days of broadcasting I wrote and delivered a commentary on basketball player Magic Johnson, whom the media celebrated for disclosing that he had AIDS. He may have been a great athlete and had great courage in discussing his illness, but a hero? No. I delivered a definite countercultural message, and the few staffers in our office answering the phone calls were overwhelmed. We received more than five hundred calls in one day. The rest is, as is commonly said, history. Soon radio stations all across the country picked up “BreakPoint,” resulting in a network today of almost one thousand radio outlets. In addition, more than 30,000 e-mail subscribers receive “BreakPoint” daily, and tens of thousands more read it on our and other websites. Today a team of capable writers and editors assists me (see below). They possess a wonderful wealth of knowledge and expertise. When we embarked on this endeavor, I sometimes wondered if we would be able to find enough subjects to broach. Now our problem is that we have more good script ideas than we have days to broadcast. When he was editor of Punch, the famous British humor magazine, Malcolm Muggeridge wondered if he could generate suitably humorous columns poking fun at British life every month. Then, as he later wrote, he attended the opening performance of Godspell. In the front row was the Archbishop of Canterbury, who at the end of the performance jumped up and shouted, “Long live God!” Watching that, Muggeridge said he never worried again, because there was no end to human folly. Humor, like social critique, is simply pointing out the absurdity of the human condition, examples of which all of us encounter daily. In this same way, “BreakPoint” has found plenty of material in our culture to address. Just open the New York Times every day. INTO THE FUTURE Prison Fellowship has been going through a transition over the past four years from my leadership to that of Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley. It has been a wonderful experience for me to see the ministry now in such capable hands. I am convinced that it will continue for generations yet to come, should the Lord tarry. Mark now delivers “BreakPoint” commentaries at least once a week, sometimes more. And the best news of late is that this seems to have no effect on listener response. That tells me that “BreakPoint” is not a celebrity phenomenon; this is a response to a felt need in the Christian community. Christians in growing numbers are recognizing that we have a Biblical duty to critique the false values of culture and to defend truth in every area of life. Why are people beginning to realize the importance of worldview, something that a generation ago was largely neglected? It is finally sinking in for the Church and the wider culture that how people behave is a direct indication of what they believe. We recognize that beliefs are formed by what we are taught, what we read, what we see around us, and how we understand reality. Our present crisis with Islamic terrorism is a good example of why worldviews matter. We are locked today in a profound clash of civilizations. Terrorism is the weapon of choice of Islamo-fascists who see the world completely differently. All religions are not the same. The differences between Islam and Christianity are deep, and they have major consequences in how life is lived. Why have we been so brutally attacked? Take a look at history. In the 1950s an Egyptian radical named Sayyid Qutb was imprisoned by then-President Nassar of Egypt. While in prison, Qutb studied the writings of German scholars who had shaped Hitler’s worldview. Interestingly, these thinkers—men like Heidegger and Derrida—were the advanced guard of what became the deconstructionist movement (which denied the existence of absolute truth) and the full-scale assault on truth in European and later American universities. Much of what Qutb absorbed was anti-Semitic vitriol. It was, in short, Hitler’s brand of fascism. Qutb developed a hatred of the West, believing us to be decadent and believing that the highest duty of Islamists was to destroy Jews, Christians, and infidels. Though he was executed in 1954, Qutb’s work was published in 1960 under the title In the Shade of the Koran. His brother, Muhammad Qutb, escaped from Egypt and became a professor at a university in Saudi Arabia. One of his prize students was none other than Osama bin Laden, and In the Shade of the Koran became a handbook for the Muslim brotherhood. So, as you can see, worldviews do matter. Christianity is a worldview in conflict today with Islamo-fascism, and in conflict with secular relativism in the West. While many Christians may not understand this, our detractors do. The leading deconstructionist scholar in America, Stanley Fish—who believes there is no truth, and even if there were, it couldn’t be known—says that there are no practicing Christians in America. Christians, Fish believes, behave as if Christianity was simply a matter of personal feelings or experience—whereas, in fact, Fish argues, it is a worldview, a whole system of life. But since Christians don’t believe that, he concludes that Christianity has no impact. Sadly, Fish is right. Writer Dorothy Sayers understood this all too well when she wrote in the immediate post-World War II era, “It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe.” This is the very goal of “BreakPoint.” No matter how the culture changes or what the world’s next crisis is, truth remains the same and will always have answers to the challenges before us. As God gives Mark Earley and me the strength, we will continue to preach this message. Lord, give us ears to hear and eyes to see.


Chuck Colson



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