Think Clearly

Love the Lord your God with all your ... mind ... Mark 12:30c

You do not need to spend very much time on university campus’, to discover that in general the academic and intellectual worlds view the statements I believe in God, or I believe Jesus rose from the dead with as much favour as if you said I think the world is flat or that I believe I am a rutabaga. But this attitude is far from contained to university campuses new breeds of Atheists are aggressively spreading the message that only the dim witted would ever believe in a god, and Christians are the worst offenders of them all.

The Psalmist says, “Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.” And while that statement may find a great deal of support amongst Christians, Western society tends to believe the contrary that only a fool says there is a god. This is the regard that the New Atheists have for people of faith. We are fools, we are irrational, we’re dimwitted, and we are dangerous. Richard Dawkins, one of the most prominent of the new Atheists enlists a quote from Thomas Jefferson to explain, and justify the aggressive approach they take; “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.” Thinly veiled, if veiled at all, behind their philosophical, scientific, or historical arguments for the elimination of faith is this principle.

Their goal is to rid the world of faith, and their method is to make people think having any faith at all is ridiculous. Instead of debate, they heap on ridicule. Quoting Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, “we are living in a time when certain critics of Christianity have abandoned all delicacy and decorum in debate. Rather than sticking to rational, carefully reasoned arguments, they have taken off the gloves to launch angry, sarcastic, and sloppily argued attacks. They lob their rhetorical grenades in hopes of creating the (incorrect) impression that belief in God is for intellectual lightweights who believe ridiculous, incoherent doctrines and are opposed to all scientific endeavour and discovery.”

And while the cheap shots that the New Atheists and others take are frustrating they are not really the problem. The problem is, we have made ourselves easy targets. So many Christians have all but abandoned training the mind. Instead we develop a surface level faith, we know all the 'Sunday School answers' but we have an extremely poor understanding them.

I have watched many people grapple with their faith in Jesus and what they believe once they finally come in contact with people who with passion, vigor and eloquence tell them exactly what is wrong with their beliefs and why they shouldn’t hold them. They discover when they try to answer back why they believe Jesus is the son of God, why they think the resurrection happened, why they think the bible is a reliable document that they really don’t know why they think these things other than they always have. This is having a disastrous affect on the church. A book entitled Essential Church?:Reclaiming a generation of dropouts, by Thom and Sam Rainer found that one of the most significant reasons why 18-22 year old's stop going to church is their personal beliefs and the churches stated beliefs differ. This is significant because people are not by on large leaving due to style, venue, programs, or location they are leaving because of beliefs. To be clear they still believe in God, just not the things we say about God. The Rainer’s put it this way, “To be blunt, God has converted our children, but we have failed to disciple them. Our children grow up in the church and experience all the programs and fellowship, but they do not engage the truths of Scripture. When they go to college, or find a new social network, the church’s role is replaced.”

This is something that I would call a failure in the system. We seem to have grown two, perhaps more, generations that for the most part who know very little about their faith. This has got to change. We can no longer afford to play around in the 'kiddy pool' anymore, we need to wade into the deep waters of scripture, theology, church history apologetics and so on. We have to stop being afraid to answer the tough questions, it is no longer acceptable to answer questions like 'Why can a trust the what the bible says?" with pat answers like 'Because the bible says it is trustworthy'.

We have to be able to answer the tough questions that people are asking. While it is interesting to be able to tell someone who Adam and Eve’s third child was, how old Methuselah was, and how many cubits are in a meter, they are not really the pressing questions of the day*. Instead we have to weigh in on things like; doesn’t science make faith obsolete? Did Jesus really say what the bible attributes to him? Did he really come back from the dead? Is there a God? If we don’t wrestle with questions like these, seriously wrestle with them in house how will we ever answer unbelievers when they ask? We can’t be afraid to ask the tough questions because people outside the church are certainly not and they have little problem supplying their own answers, answers we typically do not like and sharply disagree with.

Whenever I got in to trouble doing something foolish my mother would say "why didn't you use the mind the good Lord gave you"? I think that is a good question for the church today, why arn't we using our minds the good Lord has given us? It is time for us to Think Clearly about our faith.

*( In case you’re wondering, Seth, 969 and 2.8 roughly.)