Last week I introduced “Snyderian Truisms.” These are comments I’ve been making in class for quite some time, so I decided to turn them into official truths that I believe are undeniable. The first one was “Since God gave you a brain, He undoubtedly expects you to use it.” I give that one to my students in my American history survey courses on the very first day of class. Hopefully, it gets their attention and lets them know my expectations for the semester.
On the first day of class, I also present truism #2:
If you fill your mind with rot, don’t be surprised if you turn out rotten.
Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” In other words, you will become whatever you put into yourself. It’s both a warning and a promise, depending on what you allow to come into your mind.
One of my biggest concerns for this new crop of students is their fascination with certain commentators on society who mask their anti-Christian worldview through comedy. I’m more than a little dismayed by how those who call themselves Christians get their information from such sources. One professorial colleague told me he asked his class how they know what’s going on in the news. The response? They watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, among other questionable sources of authority.
Consequently, I put my students on alert from day one. I show them a slide with the pictures of Stewart, Colbert, and Bill Maher, and I say on the slide, “If you rely on Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, or Bill Maher for your worldview and your beliefs about American history, government, or politics, please let me know—I will pray for you.”
As you can see, I don’t just mount a blistering attack on those celebrities, but I do try to place doubt in the students’ minds as to the wisdom they might receive from them. Then, for good measure, I add this on a subsequent slide: “If you rely on Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, AND Bill Maher for your worldview and your beliefs about American history, government, or politics, please let me know—I will help set up counseling sessions with one of our psychology professors.”
Injecting a little humor into my warning helps get the point across that I’m not too keen on tapping into those sources for real knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. So I point them to the following Scriptures:
Colossians 2:8—See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5—We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
The Colossians verse is not an argument against philosophy, but only against the hollow and deceptive varieties. Philosophy, as originally defined by Noah Webster, is an explanation of the reason of things. I tell the students that Christians should have the upper hand for explaining the reasons for all things because we have a connection with the true Source who created all things.
The verse in 2 Corinthians allows me to remind them they have a ministry—as all Christians do—of tearing down false ideas and philosophies. They also have an obligation to submit their minds to the Lord and His truths. So don’t fill your minds with the rot the world offers, I tell them; instead, fill your minds with the thoughts that come from God Himself. By doing so, they will not only be blessed themselves, but they will be a blessing to others.