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Underage Thinking

Well, I’ve been in Ohio for the past week — I know you’re very jealous. I was on an awesome and exhausting speaking trip with Axis, a ministry devoted to helping people move from apathy to compassionate action. (Listen to some folks from Axis on The Boundless Show.)

We spoke to the entire student body of Cedarville University for a couple of days, and we also got to speak to a high school leadership conference and in a church setting. We talked about the problem of evil, doubt, and we asked questions of the worldviews of naturalism (atheism), spiritualism (eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism) and theism (Christianity). We spoke 11 different times last week, so I’m completely worn out, but also so encouraged by the great people we got to meet and the “underage thinking” we were able to encourage in students.

I’ve been on the board of directors with Axis since the nonprofit started about five years ago. They go around the country speaking to students and parents about unquestioned answers and the validity of the Christian worldview. Many students fall away from their faith when they go to college — before they get to a university campus, they’ve never been asked tough questions about their faith or forced to think through why they believe what they believe. So we talk about different worldviews out there; we see how they answer big questions about origin, reality, purpose, identity, ethics and death. We show tons of media clips — the latest songs, movies, video games, etc. — to see how popular culture is answering these questions. (Hint: not usually in the best way.)

One of the things that stood out to me the most this past week was how easy it is for me as a Christian to live out the big questions of life from the point of view of naturalism or spiritualism. Sure, if someone asked me about my identity as a person, I would say it is in Christ, that it is to bear the image of God and be in relationship with Him and others. But do I live out my purpose like the world does?

There’s a popular Bruno Mars song right now called “It Will Rain.” In the song, he says that if his girlfriend ever leaves him, no religion will save him, and she might as well leave morphine at his door so he can medicate himself into oblivion. His identity is completely wrapped up in a relationship. So, I might say that my identity is in Christ, but do I live like it’s found in other people?

Another example that struck me had to do with spiritualism. One of the things encouraged by this worldview is to follow our hearts when making decisions. Now, I know that I say I look to the Scripture in all my decision-making, but do I? Or do I go with my gut or ignore what the Holy Spirit is telling me in favor of what I want to do or what feels right? When we asked this question in our presentation, we looked at clips from Oprah and Thumbelina that encouraged us to follow our hearts when making decisions. We looked at the cover of People Magazine which had one of ABCs Bachelorettes claiming that she had to follow her heart when choosing a guy. And then we looked at a clip of Mr. Burns, the rich old man from The Simpsons who is being asked by the townspeople to provide electricity for those in need. They give him all kinds of reasons, and then they finish by telling him to just follow his heart. The next scene is them being run out of his mansion by viscious dogs. Mr. Burns’ heart is evil, so when he followed it, the consequences were negative. The same is true of me. My heart is wicked; it often desires the things that will harm me.

Axis is all about helping people think through their faith — belief and action. Del Tackett, creator of The Truth Project, always asks if we “really believe that what we believe is really real.” Because if we do, our lives will show it. Do I say I believe the tenents of Christianity but live as a practical atheist? My actions will show my true beliefs.

So, that was my week! Crazy, but so good.The presentations are so fast-paced and engaging, and they really get students thinking and challenged in new ways. If you have any connections with your church or a high school or college, you should consider having Axis come out for a speaking gig. (They might even let me come with, and then we could be real, live friends!)

Are there some ways that you might be claiming the truths of Christianity but practically living out another worldview?

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About the Author

Denise Morris Snyder

Denise Morris Snyder is a mom, wife and part-time discipleship pastor at CrossRoads Church in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. She previously worked as an editor for Focus on the Family and a writer for David C Cook. She has her Master’s in Old Testament Biblical Studies from Denver Seminary.

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