Thursday, October 4, 2018

Book Review: The Secret Battle Of Ideas About God - Overcoming The Outbreak Of Five Fatal Worldviews

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Introduction: What Is Meant By A Biblical Worldview?

I just finished reading a marvelous book by author Dr. Jeff Myers entitled: "The Secret Battle Of Ideas About God - Overcoming The Outbreak Of Five Fatal Worldviews", which aids greatly in thinking through current events in 21st century Western culture. So what is a worldview? A worldview is a systematic model that each person constructs in answering life's most important questions. The concern of the book in this review is to equip readers with not just any worldview, but a Biblical one. Dr. Jeff Meyers' mentor, George Barna, is cited in the book with the following definition of what makes for a Biblical worldview: 

"(A) means of experiencing, interpreting, and responding to reality in light of a Biblical perspective."

So who is Dr. Jeff Myers? He is President of a worldview training ministry called: "Summit Ministries". The goal of the ministry is to equip people with the tools they need to construct a Biblical way of thinking (i.e., "a Biblical worldview). 

The Big Questions That Any Worldview Ought To Address

In his book: "The Secret Battle Of Ideas About God - Overcoming The Outbreak Of Five Fatal Worldviews", Meyers utilizes the metaphor of a virus to describe how bad worldviews can "infect our thinking". Whenever we talk about worldviews, we are looking at how a given set of beliefs address life's most important questions. 

So, what are the questions Meyers is interested in seeing answered? The following headings in several chapters of the book summarize the big questions, which he also spells out on page 22 of the book:

1. Chapter 3, "Am I Loved?"

2. Chapter 5, "Why Do I Hurt?"

3. Chapter 7, "Does My Life Have Meaning?

4. Chapter 9, "Why Can't We All Just Get Along?"

5. Chapter 11, "Is There Any Hope For the World?"

6. Chapter 13, "Is God Relevant?" 

The Worldviews Covered In "The Secret Battle Of Ideas About God"

As Dr. Jeff Myers deals with the subject of evaluating various worldviews, we find him focusing on five particular religious/philosophical belief systems and their comparison to Biblical Christianity. As a way of getting a handle on what each of the following worldviews espouse (Secularism, Marxism, Post-modernism, New Spirituality and Islam), Meyers suggests a four step process of both defining and preventing infestation by the worldviews just listed:

A. Identify.

On the subject of life's meaning, we find Secularism asserting that life is about control. With respect to Marxism, it defines life's meaning as having to do with redistribution of wealth and bringing change by social revolt. With concern to Post-modernism, the main point of life is that there is no "main point", since truth and moral absolutes are defined by individuals or culture. New-Spirituality (formally known by its older moniker, "The New Age"), states that life is about human consciousness rising to find unity with the universe. Then lastly, Islam's definition of life's meaning has to do with submission to Allah. The Gospel asserts that meaning, value and purpose in life is found in God as decisively revealed in the incarnation of the Son of God as Jesus of Nazareth.

B. Isolate.

Just as a virus needs identified before prescribing treatment, so it is with any worldview that has mixture of truth with harmful error. The next step is then to isolate the worldview and see how it "ticks". As mentioned already, the six big questions (see above) are used to audit each of the five worldviews covered in the book. Just to take one of the questions as an example, ("Is There Any Hope For The World?), the five worldviews answer the question, per Meyers' summary, as follows:

1. Secularism believes, in the words of philosopher Paul Kurtz, who also authored the Humanist Manifesto II, "No deity will save us; we must save ourselves".

2. Marxism suggests we raise taxes and confiscate property until wealth is redistributed. Only then can a future human utopia be realized.

3. Post-modernism declares that: "there is no meaning".

4. New Spirituality asserts that, "when we act as though we're one with the universe, only then can hope be discovered".

5. Islam emphasizes that hope is only discovered through submission to Allah. Dr. Meyers offers two references from the Quran to demonstrate his summation (Quran 16:36; 35:24). 

The last remaining two steps in arresting the influence of bad ideas in our minds is to inform and then invest in other people. Meyers certainly does a great job of informing people about how each worldview handles the major questions of life. The investment part deals with how we communicate the Gospel in a winsome way and demonstrate how it alone answers all the big questions of life.

Declarations To Live By

To bring the reader to a better understanding of the Gospel, Dr. Jeff Meyers utilizes what he refers to as "declarations" that set us free from idea viruses:

1. "I am loved". Deep unconditional love exists, and I can have it. 

2. "My suffering will be overcome." 

3. "I have an incredible calling."

4. "I'm meant for community". This declaration points to the place of the local church and community of believers in Jesus Christ.

5. "There is hope for the world". This of course is found in Christ alone. 

Answering The Big Question: "Is God Even Relevant?"

The final chapter of Dr. Meyer's book raises the question: "Is God even relevant?" The particular interest of this final chapter is demonstrating not only why Christianity best addresses the big questions of life over against its rivals, but also why any of the foregoing discussion is relevant to today. Meyers begins with a wonderful quote from C.S. Lewis:

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it; but because by it I see everything else."

To reinforce the relevance of the Gospel to worldview thinking and practical everyday life, the five affirmations mentioned at the beginning of the book are repeated once more:

A. "I am loved". Meyers refers to the Greek noun "agape", which speaks of self-sacrificial love.

B. "My suffering will be overcome". Meyers mentions the Greek verb used in the New Testament to describe victory, "nikao", from whence is derived the sneaker brand "Nike". 

C. "I have an incredible calling." Here Meyers calls to mind the Greek word "kaleo", a verb often used to describe Jesus' calling of His disciples to follow Him.

D. "I'm meant for community". Here Meyers uses the Hebrew Old Testament term "shalom", which speaks of attainment of inner-peace, contentment, relational balance, as a result of living life according to the will of God. 

E. "There is hope for the world". In this final affirmation, Meyers references the Greek word "elpis", which is often used to translate the word "hope" in the New Testament.

All in all, Dr. Jeff Meyers' book is a call to focus one's worldview on the Biblical God revealed in Jesus Christ. He approvingly quotes A.W. Tozer:

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

By evaluating the five fatal worldviews of new spirituality, secularism, post-modernism, Islam and Marxism, Jeff Meyers wants to make clear the message of the Gospel. In one of the most memorable quotes of the book, Meyers writes on page 189:

"The Gospel isn't just good news for those who have never heard; its good news for those who love Jesus but wrestle what this means for everyday life."

Closing Thoughts:

I would highly recommend Dr. Jeff Meyer's book: "The Secret Battle Of Ideas About God - Overcoming The Outbreak Of Five Fatal Worldviews" for anyone desiring an introduction on how to communicate, live and defend the Gospel in today's culture. 

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