Apr 2, 2019
“Increasingly optional.” That’s the phrase the Barna Group uses to describe the attitude many evangelicals have about sharing their faith. According to their 2018 study, only 64 percent of evangelicals agree with the statement that every Christian bears responsibility to share their faith. Twenty-six years ago, in 1993, nearly 89 percent of those polled believed they had a responsibility to share their faith. That’s a drop of 25 percent.
As I mentioned on BreakPoint earlier this year, though nearly all American Christians believe that “the best thing that could ever happen to someone is for them to know Jesus,” 47 percent of practicing Christian millennials believe it’s “wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes they will one day share the same faith.”
Now, I think there are a number of reasons for these low numbers, including the way some of the questions were phrased. But there’s also the reality that many Christians suffer from poor catechesis; they’re intimidated by the difficulty of swimming against the cultural tide of relativism, and they fear insulting or hurting someone’s feelings.
And, I’d guess that many just fear sharing their faith poorly. That’s why many of us, even when we’re asked some of the common tough questions about God and Christianity, are quick to find a conversational exit strategy. We just don’t have the answers for tough questions people like to pose—not only about the existence of God in general, but about specific claims about Jesus and Christianity.
Well, there are two things you should know. First, this is the Golden Age of answers. What I mean is that Christian apologists, philosophers, speakers and writers have produced an amazing amount of material in just the last few decades that tackle almost every tough question for Christianity that there is. The answers are there. But second, those answers haven’t always made it to Christian discipleship and personal study. Which is a shame.
That’s why we’re tackling the “Four Big Objections to Christianity” in our next Colson Center online short course. Beginning Wednesday April 10, Sean McDowell, associate professor in Christian Apologetics at Biola University, will walk us through four questions that leave too many Christians stumped, and will teach us how to respond in grace and truth.
Two of the big objections that Sean will cover are ancient ones, and two are more modern.
The first question goes back as far as you can in human history: If there is a God—and this God is all powerful and all good—why is there evil? Pat answers to such a deep question won’t work these days. Sean will offer a framework for dealing with this problem.
The second question is one that went mostly unasked for about 1700 years: Can we trust the New Testament? But near the turn of the 20th century in particular, due to higher biblical criticism and skepticism of the supernatural, even many self-proclaimed Christians began to doubt the veracity of Scripture, especially those books that describe what Jesus said and what Jesus did.
(By the way, this question re-emerges with vengeance each Christmas and Easter because of those National Geographic and TIME magazine exposés on so-called “biblical scholarship.”)
The third question is one of increasing importance (just ask the United Methodists): Can you be gay and Christian? This question arose only because of the very modern innovation of the category of sexual orientation. Sean will explain the premises behind the question—what identity is and where we derive it from, and the difference between orientation and behavior, all in light of what the Scripture says about these things.
Finally, there’s the question Pilate asked of Jesus that is as old as humanity: What is truth?
This course will take place online four consecutive Wednesday nights starting April 10 and will be moderated by my Colson Center colleague Warren Smith. Every session will be presented live, with a question and answer period. If you have to miss a session, no problem. The recordings will be available to all who are registered for the course.
Come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary to register today.