This is the first in a series of ongoing posts at Telos Ministries
We have all read the statistics of young people who flee the Faith in which they have been reared soon after hitting college. There is more than one reason for this defection. The first and most obvious issue is probably the state of the heart. Is this individual actually saved? I’m not asking, “did they think they were saved?”, I’m asking “were they saved?”
Now, before someone calls me on stating the obvious, or what is worse, of relying on the easy explanation, let me make a personal observation. This shall also act as my baseline
In my experience most churches and most Christian parents do not teach the Christian Faith in a way that supports Godward faith in the world we are called to live in. And the major reason for this is a general disinterest in or else fear of doing apologetics.”
There it is. There is the statement I am going to try to defend and, more importantly, expound in these posts. But I’m going to begin where too few Christians today would want me to. I’m going to put in a plug for some good old-fashioned negative thinking!
Starting in the Negative
People don’t like the negative. They would far rather things were all positive. There’s too much negativity in the world they say. I hear them, and I agree, but only up to a point. If the negativity comes from a dour outlook; a refusal to say anything nice or anything edifying, then without a doubt negativity is unwelcome. If a person is always looking on the bad side they must not be allowed to dampen our spirits for too long. Time with such people, even if they are our friends, must be measured lest we get dragged into the doldrums.
Yet when addressing important issues it is often proper to begin in the negative. To start off all sanguine often brings a temptation to keep on looking at the bright side even when it has stopped being bright. It is difficult to be analytical with a perpetual smile on ones face. How easy it is to fool someone if you can make them feel good! Isn’t that what con artists do?
Think of a shell game or many types of gambling. Commonly you will be lured into thinking you can track the little ball under the cups; often you’ll be allowed to get it right the first time. Or you’ll win a hand or two, or get “lucky” at the roulette wheel once or twice. You’ll start feeling positive, and you’ll get taken. “All that glisters is not gold.” A critical approach can keep us out of a lot of trouble.
I think that for most adult Christians, what they want from their Christianity is solid values, wholesome music, nice friends, lively youth activities, and a bit of teaching thrown in. They want it all upbeat and uplifting. With these ingredients in their lives, many of God’s people are satisfied with what they have. No need to go deeper, and certainly no need to connect their kids minds up to the ramifications of being a Christian.
More Than Mere Belief
The trouble is that church environments like this are not very biblical, nor are they very solid. Grown ups may have tempered the Christian Faith to their middle class outlooks, but young people are not content to ask no questions. And if they are not given the opportunity to think through Christianity, it is likely they will not really make it theirs!
More thoughts to come…
Photo courtesy of Ray Miller