“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” —Hosea 4:6
Today, a battle is raging for the soul of America.
Far from mere alarmist hyperbole, critical observers and analysts share a growing consensus that a decades-long worldview war is now entering a critical stage. While a litany of social, economic, political, and spiritual woes could fill volumes, a mere handful of reminders suffices to demonstrate that we may be facing a tipping point. As the greatest nation in history sinks further under a multitrillion dollar mountain of debt, thought inconceivable just a decade ago, our national leaders appear paralyzed by a lack of courage, competence, or both.
On the social front, an array of statistics testifies to our moral decline. Millions of babies continue to be aborted. Forty percent of children are born out of wedlock. Venereal disease is epidemic. And the divorce rate has dropped only because a proportionately fewer number of people are marrying — marriage now being deemed an “obsolete” institution.
In churches, biblical illiteracy has reached alarming proportions, while ever-increasing numbers of young Christians are abandoning their faith.
On college and university campuses, the reign of relativism and totalitarian tolerance continues its corrosive march across entire academic disciplines, while our leading business schools spawn growing legions of technologically sophisticated barbarians.
Clearly, the alarm has sounded. The clock is ticking. Yet most of the Christian church continues to snore undisturbed in a potentially lethal slumber.
Careening Toward a Precipice
“Like men with sore eyes: They find the light painful, while the darkness, which permits them to see nothing, is restful and agreeable.” —Dio Chrysostom, AD 40-120, 11th Discourse
As evidence mounts on multiple fronts that our nation is careening toward a precipice, there are nevertheless reasons to be hopeful.
First, we believe that we have not yet reached a point of no return. A vital window of opportunity still remains open. In fact, if even a modest portion of 38 million self-professed evangelicals would simply awaken from their slumbers and stand resolutely for righteousness and a biblical worldview — in their homes, their churches, and at the voting booth — it would be a “game changer.”
Second, through the work of Summit and related ministries, growing numbers of knowledgeable and resolute change agents are championing a biblical worldview in strategic centers of influence across the country. In over 50 years, Summit alone has trained 30,000 students, and more than 100,000 lives have been impacted by Summit’s worldview curriculum.
As we contemplate the need to awaken the sleeping giant of the evangelical church, it is clear that merely “more of the same” would be a prescription for certain failure. The rising tide of hostile worldviews will simply not be turned by timid steps, nor will inconsequential incrementalism be adequate to meet the growing threats to our faith, family, and freedoms.
What is needed instead is bold and courageous leadership by those who have soberly grasped the consequences of the failure to turn this rising tide. In truth, our situation is not entirely unlike that facing England in the 1930s. Debilitated by defeatism and pacifism in the wake of World War I, vast swaths of the nation supported appeasement and concession to the increasingly belligerent threats from Hitler. Some even dared speak of surrender.
Yet on June 18, 1940, as France fell and Britain stood alone, Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed his nation:
“Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. … Hitler knows that he will have to break us on this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free, and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, the whole world, including the United States, including all we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves for our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say: ‘This was their finest hour.’”
Ideas have consequences. Choices matter.
“Do not think that because you are alone in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13, 14
Echoing a noble sounding but confused piety, many Christians today have failed to engage in a battle that threatens our future because they believe the outcome is “all up to God.” A careful reading of the passage above should disabuse them of such notions. As with Esther, choices matter. If we remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance may arise from another place and another time, but many will perish in the interim. As with England in its hour of greatest peril, our challenge is formidable, but it is not complex. Success resides not in cracking some indecipherable code but in simply acting courageously on the clear choices before us.
First, rather than cultural appeasers and accommodators, we need leaders in the tradition of Winston Churchill who recognize that while losing this war would have unthinkable consequences, this could also be our finest hour.
Second, we must understand that resolve, while necessary, is not in itself sufficient. Just as America’s industrial strength played a critical role in turning the tide of World War II, so will worldview resources play a critical role in the outcome of this battle. We must move quickly and strategically to double, then double again, our capacity to stem the tide of secular humanism engulfing our country.
Third, by dramatically increasing Summit’s capacity and swelling the ranks of able and articulate Christian worldview defenders on multiple fronts, we can more effectively awaken, galvanize, and engage Christians now on the sidelines of this conflict.
We have no illusions about the magnitude of the challenge facing us. We recognize and lament that as it relates to the criticality of worldviews in determining the course of civilization, many Christians have been in the dark so long they don’t even realize that the lights are out. Yet history confirms that great awakenings are indeed possible. And that the course of world events is shaped profoundly by the choices we make.
“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.” —President Ronald Reagan
The history of great movements reveals that long before masses of people were mobilized, a pivotal role was always played by a select few. Whether it was Martin Luther in launching the Reformation … William Wilberforce in abolishing the slave trade … or Winston Churchill in galvanizing the will of Great Britain to defy the onslaught of Nazism, the simple yet powerful truth is that leadership matters.
Since its inception in 1962, through the vision and determination of Dr. David Noebel, a vital nucleus of friends has played a key leadership role in Summit Ministries. A relatively small group of friends, willing to share their God-given blessings, has consistently made a difference in making possible the far-reaching impact of this vital ministry.
You are reading this right now because you have demonstrated your Christian convictions and concern for our nation through your generosity. Your partnership with Summit has underscored that you, too, understand that ideas have consequences; that our choices matter. In light of the pivotal role your commitment and generosity can play in transforming Summit’s capacity to impact entire generations, we prayerfully submit for your consideration an investment that will touch thousands of lives for years to come.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back; lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.”
To meet the growing need for worldview training throughout the church, Summit is seeking to “lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes” of its ministry. A first critical step entails the renovation of Summit’s antique hotel in Manitou Springs, Colo., that has served as a training ground for tens of thousands of Christian students.
Here, students have learned to effectively articulate and defend a biblical worldview in the midst of a culture increasingly hostile to Christian perspectives and values. Here, students have found Christ waiting, calling them to surrender their lives to Him alone. It is also here, once renovated, that Summit plans to host a wide variety of adult conferences as well as strategic gatherings of influential thought leaders. Our goal is to mobilize and focus efforts and resources — intellectual, human, financial — at critical points in the battle for our nation’s future.
To accommodate a dramatic increase in its training initiatives, Summit must winterize its facility for year-round use — thus tripling current capacity. Functioning increasingly as a “War College” in the battle for the heart and mind of American society, the planned renovation of the campus will represent a major step forward in Summit’s ability to mobilize and equip Christians to be agents of transformation in centers of influence at home and around the world.
Beyond tripling our current capacity, completing the renovation of the facility will quicken the pace of subsequent strategic initiatives outlined in Summit’s strategic plan, like reaching out to churches and Christian schools across America.
Over the next five years, our target is focused and potent: to encourage, strengthen, and mobilize Christian leaders so that they can bring their skills and knowledge to bear on the culture. Summit believes we can help others see that together … WE CAN DO THIS! We reject the idea that young people are not capable of bringing about transformation. We have seen throughout history, and recently with Summit students, that even one passionate believer can turn the tide.
As Eric Metaxas details in his New York Times best-selling book Bonhoeffer, a young Dietrich Bonhoeffer received his doctorate in theology at age 21 but was unable to be officially ordained until age 25. To continue growing in the meantime, he accepted a summer pastoral internship in Barcelona, Spain. In one of his sermons he said, “God wants to see human beings, not ghosts who shun the world. … In the whole of world history, there is always only one really significant hour — the present … if you want to find eternity, you must serve the times.”
Bonhoeffer, who would later give his life trying to bring down Hitler’s government, was only 24 years of age at the time. Throughout history, God regularly gives astounding vision to young people. In fact, Acts 2:17 says, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”
Dare we to dream the dream that God will, through the intentional mentoring and cultivating of a biblical worldview in the rising generation, inspire vision in young adults that will have a profound impact on the world? This would truly be a joy to the world. As the great Isaac Watts hymn by that name says, “He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.”
In order to facilitate this mentoring quickly and effectively, we are strategically reaching out to churches across the country with the Cultivate Project. This program systematically trains church staff and lay leaders to mentor the rising generation. There are more than 300,000 churches in America — reaching millions of young adults. These churches act as a delivery system to inoculate young adults against lies that spread like viruses and destroy their futures.
To finish the renovation project and triple its capacity to teach and mentor young people, Summit needs $2.2 million to complete the final phase of construction.
This last push will winterize the facility, redesign and upgrade the wiring and plumbing, and configure many of the bathrooms so that they are private baths and adequate for guests of all ages. This winterization process will exponentially increase the capacity of the hotel for student trainings, adult conferences, and strategic gatherings.