Joel Belz: Mind shapers


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, March 27th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. WORLD founder Joel Belz has been thinking about who or what has captured our imagination.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: It may have been only 20 weeks since Election Day, but we’re already hard at it again. So may I remind you again of a lesson that seems hard for us to learn: Government isn’t the problem.

You’d never know it from the way we allocate our time, our energy, and our dollars. I’ve already heard people saying with all sincerity that they can’t remember a more important election than the one coming in 2020.

But as big and influential as our government may be, it is not so much a shaper of its people as it is shaped by those people. And two cultural players do more shaping than any other: the mainstream media and the educational establishments.

I mean “media” in the big sense—including both information and entertainment. We’re all scrambling to compete for your attention. Information, by itself, just doesn’t cut it anymore.

I mean “education” in the big sense, too. Certainly that includes government education. It has a 22-year monopoly, from age 3 to 25, on the thinking of at least 75 percent of all citizens. But I’m also including much of what goes by the name of Christian education. Sadly, it is often not that different.

I see three assumptions our nation’s media and educational establishments make that are particularly relevant for Christians. We’d be wise to pay attention to each one.

First, naturalism almost always trumps supernaturalism. Darwinism’s dominance over the last century isn’t just about science. It’s really about everything else. For if God isn’t the creator of all that exists, then He really doesn’t matter much. That is the implicit assumption of the media and the educational establishments.

Second, the “out-of-adjustment” explanation always trumps the “sin” explanation. Few behaviors are always and positively wrong. When something does seem out of kilter with society’s norms, it’s probably traceable to a bad childhood or some other kind of maladjustment. But even then, the problem is seen as minor. For if we saw our problems to be major, then we would need major outside help.

Third, pluralism always trumps truth. If you can get away with fudging the truth about origins, it’s probably OK if you also start questioning the essence of truth itself. Jesus’ claim to be “the way, the truth, and the life,” is far too arrogant and exclusivist for the education and media mainstream.

Soon, we’ll be exploring whether a few new faces in Washington and several state capitals might make a difference. It’s a good exercise. But the people who want to monopolize your mind are pretty much everywhere.

And yet before you think it’s hopeless, remember Paul’s words to Timothy: God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mound. It’s only by His Spirit that we can navigate the cultural influences surrounding us.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.


(AP Photo/Cliff Owen) The White House is seen behind security barriers in Washington, Sunday, March 24, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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