Who's Waiting for You?
A Warning for Our Young People
Who's Waiting for You?
Preparing students to stand firm. • Brett Kunkle
WHO IS WAITING FOR YOU AND ARE YOU PREPARED? When you leave the safety of a Christian home or youth group and head off to college and work, are you ready to meet people who are hostile to the Christian faith? Are you prepared to meet their challenges? WHO YOU WILL MEET Some people, like ethicist at Princeton and author of "Practical Ethics," Peter Singer, argue that no newborn should be considered human until 30 days after birth and that handicapped babies can be justifiably killed after birth. My philosophy professor, Dr. David Lane, challenged my Christianity directly in class. One day, he showed me the apparent contradictions in the resurrection accounts found in the Gospels. It rocked my faith, and I went searching for answers. I was not ready for David Lane. REALITY OF THE COLLEGE CAMPUS According to a 2006 study by sociologists Neil Gross (Harvard University) and Solon Simmons (George Mason University): One out of four college professors is a professing atheist or agnostic (a percentage much greater than the general population, which is about 5-7%). Only 6% of college professors said the Bible is “the actual word of God” while 51% described it as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts.” 75% believe religion does not belong in public schools. According to the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, a survey of 1,200 college faculty revealed that more than half have “unfavorable” feelings toward Evangelical Christians. Finally, according to the North American Academic Study Survey, 72% of college professors identify themselves as politically liberal.
You're Not Ready
According to a recent book by sociologists Christian Smith & Melinda Lundquist Denton entitled "Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers" (Oxford University Press, 2005), the vast majority of U.S. teenagers were found to be incredibly inarticulate about their faith, their religious beliefs and practices, and its meaning or place in their lives. According to the researchers: “We do not believe that teenage inarticulacy about religious matters reflects any general teen incapacity to think and speak well. Many of the youth we interviewed were quite conversant when it came to their views on salient issues in their lives about which they had been educated and had practice discussing, such as the dangers of drug abuse and STD’s.” “We suggest that the de facto dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what we might call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’” (page 162): A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem. Good people go to heaven when they die. Smith’s Conclusion (excerpt from Youth Specialties interview with Smith): "But it hit us like a ton of bricks that most religious teenagers aren't being well educated in the faith or given much practice in articulating their beliefs and why and how they matter. For more than a few teenagers, in fact, it seems like ours was the first time any adult ever asked them what they believed. Some of them said exactly that…Many parents come from a generation that has bent over backwards not to 'shove anything down anyone's throat.' Consequently, their kids aren't getting much direct theological substance to embrace, revise, or reject. If so, that's a real disservice to kids." THE RESULT A significant amount of students end up walking away from the Christian faith due to their lack of knowledge which results in intellectual doubt and skepticism. Don’t fall into this trap! Instead, learn to love God with your mind.
Love God with Your Mind
What does it mean to love God? What does loving God look like? How do we love God? What do we typically associate love with? Matthew 22:34-37 says, Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. An intellectual love for God is included in Jesus’ command. In addition, Romans 12:1-2 says we are transformed spiritually by the renewing of our minds. For Paul, the key to life change is accumulating knowledge and developing a new perspective. Truth, knowledge, and study are powerful factors in our transformation. HOW TO LOVE GOD WITH OUR MINDS You need to know how to argue well for your Christian convictions and defend those convictions. An argument is not saying “You’re ugly and so is everyone in your gene pool!” When I talk about arguing well, I mean the ability to make a claim (i.e. The Bible is historically accurate.) and then to give good reasons why someone ought to believe the claim is true. I Peter 3:15 says, ...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…
Apologetics Is Essential
The word “defense” comes from the Greek word apologia. When you learn apologetics, you’ll have the tools you need to make a defense of your Christian convictions. Apologetics is ESSENTIAL to discipleship. Knowledge about God is essential to knowing God. Here are testimonies from college students about how apologetics is essential for their walk with Christ (from the Center for Parent & Youth Understanding – www.cpyu.org): Alysia at the University of Illinois said: “My youth group was fairly useless in preparing me for college. A short course in different religions helped me, but what helped me more was attending Worldview Academy for two summers. The challenging of my faith and teaching me the apologetics, leadership, and evangelism helped the most – especially by helping me determine why I personally believed in Christianity and by giving me the tools to help share that with others...My youth group was a place where the leaders were trying everything from games to parties to entice people to come, but they wouldn't dive deep into any theological or social topic. We were treated as intellectual babies and thus never grew to understand the importance or the relevance of the Christian faith.” Daniel at Erskine College said: “I wish my youth group had done more to prepare me for the academic challenges to Christianity instead of focusing on high school drama. I was fortunate to make great and knowledgeable friends, but I have known others who have turned away because of professors and students raising tough objections. I wish my youth group had taken things more seriously and done more apologetics and less of worrying about the drama of high school.” Gabrielle at Chatham University said: "I was in several youth groups in high school and unfortunately found that youth group was too ‘soft’—we played a lot of games and had a lot of fun retreats, but rarely learned about the fundamentals of faith, why we believe what we believe, and what it is that we do believe. Now that I am in college, my faith is under constant scrutiny and always being tested by scientific concepts and the secular slant of most universities. I wish I had been equipped with a more solid justification for my faith: knowing how to answer the tough questions, how to respond to arguments, and how to stand firm in what feels like a storm against my spirituality."
Develop a Christian Worldview
Christianity is not limited to youth group. It relates to every area of life including philosophy, history, science, bio-ethics, politics, psychology, morality, entertainment, and athletics. By compartmentalizing Christianity instead of incorporating it into every area of your life, you’re leaving the potential for a meaningful relationship with God untapped. If you find yourself un-passionate about your faith, it probably has no real connection to most of your life. In order to relate Christianity to every area of your life, you need to develop Christian worldview. WHAT IS A WORLDVIEW? Simply put, it’s a map of reality. A worldview has two parts: First Part: an explanation of the world (our view of the world) Second Part: an application of this view to life (our view for the world) Notice the two connected parts: A view of the world that influences our actions. A worldview also helps us answer these Four Key Questions (suggested by Ravi Zacharias): 1. Origin: Where did we come from? 2. Meaning: What is the meaning of it all? 3. Morality: How should we live? 4. Destiny: Where are we going? Bottom line: A worldview answers life’s biggest questions. We live at the mercy of our ideas whether we’re aware of it or not. How we think about things and the decisions we make directly express our view of the world. THE IMPORTANCE OF A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW Given what a worldview is, it is absolutely vital that you develop a Christian worldview. All truth is God’s truth…no matter where you find it. Christianity is “total truth” – it’s the truth about all of reality. A worldview helps you make sense of the world, God’s relationship to the world, and your part in the world. Developing a Christian worldview through the help of learning apologetics is vital to making beneficial decisions and effectively representing Christ. You want to confidently be able to say what C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
You may be thinking: Where do I start? How do I begin to love God with my mind? How do I learn apologetics? How do I develop a Christian worldview? READ Number one, do some reading. Whether or not you like to read, I think God thinks reading is really important. There’s a reason that He gave us His Word, the Bible. Reading has a way of structuring, disciplining, and growing your mind in a way nothing else can. Reading God’s Word is the starting point. We have to read God’s Word to know what we believe. It doesn’t take long to read a lot of the New Testament books in one sitting. Start by reading Scripture, and secondly, read some apologetic books. “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist" by Frank Turek and Norm Geissler is a good starting point. “Tactics” by Greg Koukl will help you make the case that Christianity is true. ATTEND Secondly, attend some kind of conference or camp that is going to be a resource, because you and I need to study with other believers. ReTHINK Student Apologetics Conference is hosted annually by Stand to Reason all over the country. Visit rethinkapologetics.com for more details. Summit Ministries, summit.org, two weeks of apologetics and worldview training that is going to equip you to meet the people that are waiting for you. Go to STRNextGen.com. This is a website that we’ve developed for students. Here, you’ll learn how to answer the four pivotal questions: Where did we come from? What is the meaning of it all? How should we live? Where are we going? If you grow in your knowledge of God, this could have a transformative effect on you. It’s not just going to make you a smarter person, it will help you engage the world for the cause of Christ. I haven’t seen anything create more passion in Christian students than when they know what they believe and why they believe it AND they engage the world.