Dazed & ConfusedThe statistics on how "modern individuals" think are clear, skepticism is at an all-time high and piggybacking along with that perspective is a profound sense of confusion. The culture is confused about what the church believes, and the church is confused about what culture believes. Far too often causing the two groups to either ignore, or talk passed one another. Part-and-parcel to this problem is the fact that far too many Christians do not know exactly what it is that they profess to believe to begin with. So in one sense, you can't blame the culture looking in to then likewise misrepresent and misunderstand the church. If Christians fail to articulate and affirm what it is exactly that they believe, why should the culture respond in any substantial way towards what they are saying?
The latest poles show a growing rise in "the nones," a group who claim some superficial form of being "spiritual" with an allergic reaction to being "religious." Our society is searching for meaning and something substantial to answer their questions, but with the skeptics making waves (mostly superficial ones might I add), and the Christian church failing to articulate exactly what it stands for (that being an inability to properly articulate the gospel); we're inadvertently handing these people over to a culture that only leaves them dazed and confused.
The ExodusNot only is our society moving farther and farther away from its Judeo-Christian understanding of things, but we're sitting by and letting the young people hop on the bus along with it. From personal experience I found that that (on the whole) the church is doing a semi-decent job at equipping our young people morally. Although there will always be certain blind spots, I personally found, when going into my first few years at university, that my friends and I knew how to deal with the issues of partying/drinking, sex, drugs, and so on. The church had (to some degree) equipped us with the tools to deal with those issues. However, the moment they stepped into a classroom they fall prey to the agnostic/atheist predators cleverly masquerading as university professors, and it all went downhill from there.
We're only fooling ourselves if we don't think that there is a battle going on around us. And just as we would not send someone into the front lines of a war zone without proper training and equipment, we should not be sending our young people out into the spiritual and intellectual battle fields of this world empty handed, unprepared, and inadequately trained. We as the church need to adequately train the Body of Christ, not only in what the gospel is and how to articulate it, but why it is true and reliable. People need the opportunity to understand how to think rather than simply what to think. They need to be able to articulate why exactly it is they believe what they believe, not simply that they believe it. The world has intellectual questions, but far too many Christians simply don't have proper answers - answers that do in fact exist. We need to quell the Exodus of young people leaving the church by appropriately training them, so that if they do chose to leave the church, to walk away from the faith, they do so in spite of the evidence, not because of it.
Deep Roots Make for Strong TreesWhen I was younger my family moved from one end of Canada (Ontario) to the other (British Columbia). My father, grandfather, and myself made the trip by car, while my mom and other siblings came later by plane. As we drove passed the long flat fields of Saskatchewan I remember looking out the window and seeing a vast field with a giant old tree right in the middle of it. I remember thinking to myself, "what was it that made that tree last so long?" It was completely open to the wind, rain and the hardships of nature. The answer however, lay not in what I could see above ground, but what was going on below, in the roots.
As Christians living in this society, we need strong, deep, intellectual and spiritual roots. The rains and the winds of skepticism and spiritual darkness are constantly effecting us, both directly and indirectly. And if we are honest, how many of us are totally comfortable with our friend, co-worker, family member, or even a stranger challenging us on why we believe what we believe? It can be a scary thought. Our roots might be there, but they are shallow, and far too many followers of Christ feel unprepared for their faith to be placed in the interrogator's box.
Being unprepared is the key ingredient to fear, and fear causes believers to shy away from situations that will require them to defend their faith. Many may not realize the vast depository of scientific, historical, philosophical, and theological data that stands behind the Christian worldview. Many simply don't know that there are credible, capable, and concrete answers to absolutely every objection raised against the Christian faith. It is far too late for the tree to start thinking about establishing its roots in the midst of the storm. The Church should be actively feeding and neutering our roots so that when the time comes, we stand true in the field, and not only that, but we make our mark and influence those around us.
Two Strands of One RopeIn his 2015 inaugural address Dr. Richard Land, the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary said:
"I [am] increasingly convinced, and have been even more so during the time that I’ve been here, that the way we’re going to spell evangelism, the way we’re going to spell missions, the way we’re going to spell discipleship in the twenty-first century is going to be A-P-O-L-O-G-E-T-I-C-S."
Apologetics and evangelism are two strands of the same rope. They are integral for one anothers' entire existence. Apologetics is not incidental to evangelism, it forms the very core of it. Although some do not seem to understand this today, the fact has certainly been understood throughout Church history. Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, and Tertullian, all wrote without the gift of brevity about the cultural issues of the early church period. Providing robust, thought provoking, and impactful answers to why they believed what they believed concerning their hope and belief in Jesus Christ. The Church has, from its inception, been a propagater and spreader of truth. But that fact has gone without saying that it comes with the reality of answering objections, questions, and providing the credible answers that our culture, countries, and world needs. C. S. Lewis in his essay "God in the Dock" stated that, "One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important."