October 21, 2010

But How Do We Know We Are Right?

Last year after a gurgling Fall giving devotions at youth group that amounted to little more than 'Jesus loves you, Be good' I decided we needed to go deeper. So we did. I started from square one asking the question 'Is there any reason to think there is any sort of god out there?' We took 10 weeks or so and went from there until we finally arrived to talking about who Jesus is, who he claimed to be, what he did to back up those claims and finally we talked about Jesus raising from the dead.

The process was long, but people were engaged. Great questions were asked, good discussion was had, and for the most part people kept on coming. At the heart of my reasoning for this teaching plan was I wanted to give people reason to know belief in God and Jesus was reasonable; that they had good reasons to believe Christianity was true. So I laid it all out, I gave every cleaver answer I knew to every tough question I was aware of. When I concluded my last talk I was satisfied.

And that is when Emma asked the question, but how do we know we are right? Had she asked it 10 weeks earlier I would have been thrilled, I would have thought to myself hold on girl cause I am about to tell you. But she didn't ask at the start of my brilliant lecture series, she asked at the end. She sat through 10 devotions/lectures/discussions lasting roughly 30 minutes each, talks that were specifically aimed at showing that Christians had good reasons to think we are in fact correct in our beliefs.

I wish I could tell you that I had a brilliant response for Emma, but I didn't. I didn't have any answer left in me that I hadn't already given.

The experience bounces in my mind from time to time still. And I find myself asking, 'what did I miss?' I covered all the apologetics basics, I used both C.S Lewis AND  N.T Wright! The only thing I thought I left out was I avoided negatively critiquing other's specific beliefs. But given the general live and let live nature of our culture I have a hard time believing that if I had tossed in some Muslim bashing I would have won anyone over.

So what did I miss? I could supply some easy answers at this point. Something like service, people need to see that the things you believe matter to the way you act. Or maybe something like love, people don't care what you know until they know you care. Or uncertainty, people are tired of being bullied by ideas I should have used more 'maybe's' and 'seems like' in my presentations.

There is a quote attributed to Einstein I like, "make everything as simple as possible but no simpler". It has become a motto of mine. Trying to sit down and insert one of the above answers would likely be making the problem simpler than it really is.

What did I miss? I took too simple an approach. It is time for us to give up our belief in silver bullets and quick fixes. That if only we did X everything would be better. If we want the next generation to embrace Christianity we need to give them something more than a watered down version of what was passed to us.

How do we show that we are right? We Think Clearly, we Worship Continuously, we Relate Purely, and we Live Justly.

Sounds simple doesn't it?

It's not