The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of BCNN1. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).
It’s true – time really does fly.
Eight years ago, I wrote an article entitled “The Tragedy of the Dumb Church”, which struck a nerve with a lot of people. It was circulated widely on the web and also resulted in invitations to speak on some nationally syndicated radio shows.
In the article, I talked about how a friend of mine, who has a real heart for grounding youth in the faith, contacted all our community churches about conducting free-of-charge apologetics training for their young people. His gracious offer was sadly met with a talk-to-the-hand response from every local church.
Now it’s my turn.
Because I continue to see data suggesting that many people leave the church or consider it irrelevant because it fails to answer the tough questions that are thrown at it, I contacted the mega-church I go to about starting up an apologetics ministry. Because I’m formally trained in apologetics and theology, I offered to spearhead it and help train a volunteer staff who could serve as a group ready to answer people inside or outside the church who struggle with questions about Christianity.
I spoke with five(!) campus and ‘connection’ pastors about it, and also offered to teach formal culturally relevant classes at the church where these issues could be openly discussed. This time, I was the one who got the shrug-of-the-shoulders response or simply ghosted on email.
That experience got me thinking – could it be that between the last time I wrote on this subject and now, things have gotten worse on this front for the church?
In This Corner
The fact is, it’s ugly out there and getting worse.
Data from the Barna group has identified a number of disturbing trends that should cause all Christians concern. Gen Z teens are much less likely to assert religious identity than generations before them with a rise in espoused atheism also being witnessed. Almost half of practicing Christian Millennials (47%) believe that evangelism is wrong, and my bet is that their lack of confidence in not being able to answer hard questions from their unbelieving friends plays a role in this.
Who can blame them? In the worldview ring, the opposing corner of Christianity has an impressive array of challengers that is certainly intimidating.
First up is the current post-truth culture. Postmodernism was one thing, but dealing with a secular mood that acknowledges something is true and yet rejects it because it goes against their personal preferences or interferes with their social/political activism is an entirely different beast.
Then we have scientism, which is the default fall back foundation for those who reject spirituality. Scientism is critical to and for the non-religious in order to, as Richard Lewontin puts it, “not allow a divine foot in the door.”
For some, scientism devolves into something more antagonistic – something I call hatetheism. Think of it as atheism with healthy doses of snideness, contempt, and a willingness to do anything needed to make religious faith appear idiotic and even dangerous. For example, Victor Stenger does just this when he says, “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.”
Last but not the least is the relatively new voice of apatheism. On its opposition to Christianity, authors Paul Rowan Brian and Ben Sixsmith state: “The greatest threat to Christianity is found not in the arguments of the atheist but in the assumptions of the apathetic. The danger is not a hostile reception of belief in God but an incurious indifference to the idea.”
Against these seemingly-powerful opponents to Christianity, who can blame Gen Z and others for being bullied into silence and inaction?
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Robin Schumacher