Standing for Truth and Defending Your Freedom
Standing for Truth and Defending Your Freedom

Why Johnny Can't Think

by Frank Wright, PH.D.

The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” So said the estimable Winston Churchill. This idea is more than just a close cousin of the aphorism that “history often repeats itself.” It was (in part) Churchill’s assessment that ideas have consequences, that past ideas, events, and decisions often shape the present and are an indicator of what we shall likely see in the future.

This month’s Impact Magazine and Devotional focuses on an idea, readily evident throughout the dark reaches of human history: the indoctrination of our children.

Indoctrination, of course, is not an intrinsically bad thing. The word has a Latin root, and in its simplest form it means to instruct in basic beliefs. However, in its contemporary practice (especially as it relates to children) indoctrination has become a strategic and systematic effort to draw young minds away from truth—and having done so, to replace truth with the cultural imperative of moral relativism. Teach the children—yes! But teach them first that there is no such thing as absolute truth. That is the heart, soul, and central goal of all modern efforts to indoctrinate our children.

We see the fruit of this idea everywhere around us, yet it is nothing new. From the fall of man, children have been in the crosshairs of the Evil One. Why else would God include the Fifth Commandment in the Decalogue? The commandment that children honor (and therefore obey) their parents is necessary because their fallen inclination is not to do so. It is this rebellious tendency that opens the door to the indoctrination of young and undeveloped minds.

In our day, the propagandists of moral relativism who prey on our children have been vastly aided by our me-centered, media culture. While the media culture gladly carries water for the moral relativists, it performs an even more sinister companion role in the process of indoctrination, in that it enervates critical thinking.

Thirty years ago Neil Postman penned a widely read volume titled: Amusing Ourselves to Death. His thesis was that an overly saturated media culture is the proximate cause of a dramatic and historic reduction in the attention span of both children and adults. This media-induced inability to maintain focus is the sire of an attendant inability to think critically. The issue has become: not why Johnny can’t read, but why Johnny can’t think.

As the proverb says: There are none so blind as those who will not see. In like manner, there are none so confused as those who cannot think. And while Postman’s analysis was inarguably true thirty years ago, how much more so today?

Compared to Postman, ours is a media culture on steroids. And this vastly diminished facility for critical thinking is now interlaced with an incessant media culture whose palliative properties cause young people to consume a great deal of media content while seldom spending time thinking seriously about it.

The result is the Credulous Generation. They live their lives seemingly locked in an embrace with a mirror. They struggle to grasp ideas bigger than themselves, yet they readily embrace shallow and self-serving notions of moral relativism. In their self-absorption, they often fail to see the humanity around them. And with their eyes reverently bowed to glowing screens, they seem impervious to a vision of the Divinity beyond them.

And with critical thinking skills atrophied from disuse, many young people fail to discern the oddity of what might be called an emerging libertarian-fascism. Tolerance, in this bone-headed worldview, means: you tolerate us; we persecute you. This logic-free reasoning is fully embedded in the rising tide of enmity against Christians. When someone stands and labels the Bible as “hate speech,” the 30-second attention span of young listeners renders them unable to critically evaluate the attack on truth and its Author. Like everyone who embraces moral relativism, they have a moral compass that spins full-circle, yet seldom comes to rest on anything meaningful.

All rising generations need purpose. None will find it kneeling by the water alongside Narcissus. A meaningful purpose can only be rooted in truth. As the saying goes: if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.

The drift from truth is always gradual, sometimes imperceptible. Yet the result is always the same. Once the sure and certain anchorage of truth is lost, the shoals of doubt, unbelief, and despair await. This, too, we see everywhere in today’s youth-oriented culture. Oddly, as the culture founders, few remember how the moorings were loosed—fewer still seem to know the way back.

Yet the Ever Living One is never left without a witness, and the Gospel is still the power of God unto salvation. The antidote to error was, is, and always will be truth. And this truth has been entrusted to us. With your help, D. James Kennedy Ministries will continue our bold witness for Christ through all available media, so that millions will hear, believe, and follow Jesus. And we will continue to challenge those who have believed to engage the institutions of our culture with truth.

As Churchill said, the farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see. We can look back and see a hill far away, where stood an old rugged cross. And we can look forward and see another hill, a mount not far from Calvary, where the Lord of Glory will return. When He does, may He find us bearing faithful witness to all—especially our young! And may they lift their eyes in faith to Him who is Truth. n