The world I grew up in, not that long ago in the mid-1980’s, was radically different than the world my children are experiencing. I remember playing in the streets in Van Nuys, California sometimes long after the streetlights came on without ever fearing for my life or my safety. I would be lying if I said I would never let my children play alone out in front of our house that late (and we live in a relatively safe neighborhood).
The battle for ideas has shifted in the last several years, in my mind, to the battle for truth. We have moved, and are moving, away from a Postmodern mindset and moving into what the Oxford Dictionary called a “Post-Truth” age. The culture no longer seems to tolerate religious beliefs as a whole and seeks to embrace secularism on a larger scale than has ever been seen.
Who can blame the youth of today when they choose to side with everyone who “believes in the principles of free inquiry, ethics based upon reason, and a commitment to science, democracy, and freedom”? Where Christianity has failed to provide a solid bulwark for these youth they often leave the church at a staggering rate (59% disconnect from church life between the ages of 15 and 29) and often choose one of two paths, no religion or some form Secularism.
Many studies on religion and culture have been conducted and often with the same desperate results. America at the Crossroads: Explosive Trends Shaping America’s Future and What You Can Do about It is the most recent set of results from the Christian research giant, The Barna Group. Brought to the surface in this fascinating study are topics which span the attitudes of many Americans.
Barna, as they are wont to do, has some extremely relevant stats showing the trajectory of worldviews rampant in our culture. Not only do we see in this study that disciplines like bible reading and prayer are down even among Evangelical Christians, but it seems that the attitude of biblical authority is also in decline among the up and coming generation. Biblical authority seems to rear its ugly head in every generation so that is no big surprise to see this trend.
Among the diminishing attitude of biblical authority comes a low view of the divinity and teachings of Jesus. Many are simply unaware of the great defense we have in this area. apologists across the world are rising up to defend the historicity of Jesus, the incarnation and resurrection, and the accuracy of the record we have in Scripture.
Not only are we combating these trends on the level of physical evidence, we have a great number of Christian apologists who operate in the world of philosophy and worldviews. Men like Dr. James N. Andreson of RTS, K. Scott Oliphint of Westminster Seminary Philadelphia, R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries, and John Frame, model Triperspectivalist, are challenging the ideas that have long held sway over culture and Academia.
Points of Contact for Students
One reason why our students leave the faith is because they have not been shown the truth and beauty of the gospel. Pairing the gospel with a robust defense of the Christian worldview is utterly necessary. We must teach our students of the challenges they will encounter on secular college campuses. We must teach them to be diligent in studying the scriptures and seeking the face of God in Christ.
We must not only lead them along in studying other religions and worldviews, we must be sure to show them that attacks often come from inside the church. From the trends which America at the Crossroads reveals, this is being missed in churches across the globe. Those who are, either on purpose or via their glaring inconsistencies, perverting the gospel (i.e. Mormons, Jehovas Witnesses, and Roman Catholics) are gaining numbers oftentimes from Protestant congregations.
We must strive together with our brothers and sisters in Christ to defend this gospel from those outside the church who are suppressing the truth and against those who inside the church lead those astray by promoting false ideologies. We need a defense of the faith and an understanding of the bible so that every principality and idea raised against God will be demolished.
- 46 percent of adults are unchurched
- 34 percent of the unchurched describe themselves as “deeply spiritual”
- Americans are experiencing fewer close and lasting personal relationships
- 11 percent of adults have a conversation about faith in a typical week with someone who believes different than they do
- 34 percent say they know God is pleased with their priorities and life choices
*Paul Kurtz (1925 – 2012) on Who is a Secular Humanist?,
founder of the Council for Secular Humanism and Free Inquiry Magazine.
**As a foot note, I recognize that Barna does not label those believers and unbelievers in the most helpful way. This is almost impossible to carry into a study with the same definition used across the board. Even among Secularists the worldview varies widely. To group Christians into denominations or some other arbitrary grouping would simply not work well. Barna does their best by grouping those people into broad categories in order to present stats to as close as accurate as they can.