For the past fifteen years the Nehemiah Institute's ministry has been conducting a Christian worldview testing service used in Christian schools, churches, home schools, and various other Christian ministries. The primary use of the test has been with high school students. The test, known as the PEERS Test, measures understanding in politics, economics, education, religion, and social issues (PEERS). Results from each category are classified into one of four major worldview philosophies: Christian Theism, Moderate Christian, Secular Humanism, or Socialism.
In the mid-1980s, it was common to find Christian youth in both Christian schools and public schools scoring in the Moderate Christian worldview classification. Home school students generally scored 15-20% higher than average than day schools.
However, with nearly each subsequent year of testing, we found the understanding of the Christian worldview by students to be lower than the year before. This trend has continued through year 2000. The only exceptions to the decline were Christian schools that had adopted specific worldview materials in their curriculum. These are primarily schools known as Principle Approach, or Classical Christian, and home schools. I believe students from these schools represent the true remnant and hope for the future, but they represent less than 5% of total students tested.
The following chart shows the trend in worldview testing over the past 13 years. The results shown are for three specific groups of students: students in "worldview" schools, students in typical Christian schools, and students from Christian homes in public schools. PEERS results of public school students are achieved by testing high school youth groups in evangelical churches. These are, supposedly, the "more committed" youth.
Christian Worldview in Decline
From 1988 to 2000, average scores of Christian school students dropped by 30.3%. Results of evangelical family students in public schools dropped 36.8% in the same period. Christian students attending public schools now regularly score in the lower half of Secular Humanism and students in typical Christian schools score just below the minimum score to be rated in the Moderate Christian worldview. This is not a pretty picture and raises grave concerns for the future of the Christian church in America.
Many Christians are acutely aware that something is amiss with this generation of youth. Principled values of morality seem non-existent. Now PEERS Testing quantifies this loss of morality and lack of belief in Biblical truth. Few are surprised that this is happening in government schools, but it is shocking to most Christians that the trend is the same in Christian schools. It appears that Christian education is little more than baptized public secular education in the majority of typical Christian schools.
The Foundations Are Being Destroyed: What Will the Christians Do?
We have established 20.0 as a "Danger Zone" benchmark for PEERS Testing. This is based on test results of individuals responding to ads in the Humanist Magazine and the New Age Magazine for our worldview test. As a group, they scored in the range of 20.0 to 80.0 in all PEERS categories, expressing strong anti-Biblical views of life. It is my opinion that a generation of youth from "Christian homes," scoring this low, will surely lead America into a dark age in the subsequent generation.
All government originates in families, and if neglected there, it will hardly exist in society....The foundation of all free government and of all social order must be laid in families and in the discipline of youth....The education of youth, [is] an employment of more consequence than making laws and preaching the gospel, because it lays the foundation on which both the law and gospel rest for success. Noah Webster
Based on projections using the decline rate for Christian students, the church will have lost her posterity to hard-core humanism between 2014 and 2018. This is approximately one school generation of youth, 12-16 years. If these projections hold true, it won't be the end of the world, but it will be the end of America as we have known it for over 200 years. One could argue with projections of worldview scores, but the historical data is indisputable. The real question is: What will the church do to reverse this downward trend in Biblical worldview understanding?
Unless we are dealing with the problem of losing our youth to humanism and socialism, does it really matter what else we are fighting?
Anything you can do in your circle of influence to tell the serious need for worldview training, and testing, will be much appreciated. You may call for a free information packet (1-800-948-3101) or visit our web site to obtain further information on our worldview testing service- http://www.nehemiahinstitute.com.
For a fuller treatment of "worldview in the classroom," please order our study, Teacher's, Curriculum, Control: A "World" of Difference. Call 1-800-948-3101 and ask for TCC; $5.50 Visa or MC.
Or send payment to Nehemiah Institute, 1323 No. 3rd St., Aberdeen, SD 57401 with TCC in memo.
"Come, let us build" (Nehemiah 2:17)
- Dan Smithwick
Dan Smithwick is President of Nehemiah Institute. The institute is a research and educational private foundation providing worldview testing and training materials to Christian educators. He has been guest speaker on several Christian radio shows. He is married and has five childen. He can be contacted at [email protected].