Losing Young People to Atheism – Some Thoughts for Pastors
Last week we drew attention to research that indicates many young people leave the Church because their doubts are dismissed and their questions left unanswered. Now The Fixed Point Foundation reports that many “New” Atheists become disillusioned with the Church before they become disillusioned with Christianity. Specifically, they are annoyed with vague and superficial teaching that does not answer their doubts and questions.
Keep two things in mind. “Internet Atheism” plays a prominent role in many “deconversions”; but, as Bradley Wright points out, many young people return to the Church in later life. It makes sense, then, for the Church to combat “Internet Atheism”. We certainly have the means to do so. As J Warner Wallace points out, Churches can become relevant by explaining the faith in more depth and by making the case for Christianity.
Evangelicals and the Same-Sex Marriage Debate
Christian objections to same-sex marriage have led to accusations of homophobia and religious bigotry. It’s important, then, for the Church to clearly explain the principles behind the Christian view of marriage, and why we believe it is beneficial to society in general. A little rational light can quickly remove the need for heated debate.
“Saints and Sceptics” has discussed the issue briefly here and in more detail here.
The Iona Institute has made a wonderful little video to explain the case for marriage
A Matthias briefing gives an excellent summary of the Christian view of marriage. The superb Christopher Ash’s essay is more detailed, but repays careful reading. Of course, one does not have to be a Christian to believe that we should retain the conjugal definition of marriage. The Iona Institute briefly summarises the case for marriage here and here. Sherif Girgis, Ryan T Anderson and Robert George make a more philosophical case here.
Elsewhere, Social scientist Mark Regnerus argues that marriages are not likely to become more stable if we redefine marriage. He also worries that our culture is losing sight of the connection between sex and procreation. It is interesting to note that one can oppose the redefinition of marriage for a wide variety of reasons. The BBC website has drawn attention to gay writers who oppose the redefinition of marriage (although the Beeb’s article goes to some length to prove its politically correct credentials.)
Atheist and journalist Brendan O’Neill made intelligent and articulate comments to the House of Commons Select Committee on Marriage (Same Sex Couples). The video is worth watching, both for O’Neill’s arguments and the venom that rushes to the surface when the “political” class get scratched (video)
I’ll make no apology for drawing attention to Rosaria Butterfield’s story once again. She has surprising, and challenging, advice for evangelists. Her website is a treasure trove of wisdom and guidance that should be thoroughly explored by Christians before they get drawn into these debates.
Greg Ganssle has some excellent videos on the Wi-Phi Channel. Here he explains how we should think about “proofs” for God’s existence: