Why have destructive ideologies such as critical theory (underlying current race and gender controversies) made such headway in the church? Phillip Johnson gave us a hint more than 20 years ago in his book Defeating Darwinism when he wrote of how the oppressive, day-by-day assumption of materialism in science education and work spills over into other disciplines Christian young people study in colleges:
“As students grow more and more accustomed to assuming materialism and naturalism in their academic work, the concept of creation by God gradually tends to become less real to them. It is not so much that any single finding undermines their faith; rather, the day-to-day practice of thinking in naturalistic terms about academic subjects makes it awkward to think differently when it comes to religion. Young intellectuals may insist for years that they are still believers, but then one day they wake up to realize that their belief has been emptied of its content, and they either throw away the empty shell or fill it with something else. That is why every mainstream Christian institution is beset these days by people who want the church to turn away from its old business of sin and salvation and devote its energies to whatever social causes are currently fashionable in the secular world.” (p. 88
Note that last line in particular, in light of many current trends among younger Christians. What Johnson warned about 20+ years ago as merely the church being “beset these days” has become the uncritical default assumption in our youth. And unfortunately, the pablum-type of moralistic and intellectually shallow “worldview thinking” that has prevailed in Christian educational circles for just about as long as it has been since Johnson wrote “Defeating Darwinism” has only made it all the more likely that Christian young people will keep defecting in favor of the much more viscerally-engaging and “relevant” ideologies trampling our whole culture into the dust “these days.”
There is hope: but only if classical Christian educators start taking the classical tradition much more seriously than we currently do. It isn’t enough to read the books around Harkness tables and have kids write worldview analyses of the dumb pagans. We’ll never get anything from that but more shallowness and laying the foundations for cultural irrelevance or actual defection from the faith.