As I was preparing for our first staff meeting to kick off the youth apologetics curriculum, I saw an email from our youth pastor in my inbox. Since I am easily distracted, I popped it open real quick to see if it was anything important and I stopped in my tracks. She had received an email from the mother of a youth that rarely came to our church. The mother had sent a copy of an essay titled “I Believe”, in which the youth has laid out their current religious worldview.
I have to say up front that my first reaction was sadness. Not because of anything said; it is a well-written, very open, and honest essay. I was sad because I could feel an overwhelming confusion and fear permeating the words. The youth has convictions about their beliefs, but they have no stable foundation for them. They are balancing precariously on the edge of a precipice and can find no life-line to secure them. This is painfully apparent in their conclusion:
“To conclude, I have no idea what I think anymore but I want to one day know what i’m looking for in this life in regards to religion or lack thereof.”
This person has spent a good portion of their life in or around the church and has no idea what to think. They are bombarded day in and day out with conflicting worldviews, with ideas and opinions, and they have concluded that it is just too much to work through. Reading through the essay, the student has bits and pieces of a number of religious worldviews ranging from theism to secular humanism to eastern mysticism. The fact that most of these ideas conflict with each other only adds to their confusion. It appears that no one has taken the
time to teach this student how to process and reason through.
Now, let me make one thing perfectly clear; God values the mind:
- Jesus said, ““You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.“ (Matthew 22:37-38 ESV)
- God is perfect in knowledge and, in fact, knows everything both actual and possible (1 Samuel 23: 11-13; Job 37: 16; 1 John 3: 20)
- God exhibits wise intelligence in choosing the best goals and the best means of accomplishing them. So wise is He that Scripture calls Him “the only wise God” (Romans 16: 27)
- He is the God of truth who cannot lie (Titus 1: 2) and who is completely reliable (Romans 3: 4; Hebrews 6: 18)
- His very word is true (John 17: 17)
- His church is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3: 15)
- He invites His creatures to come and reason together with Him (Isaiah 1: 18) by bringing a legally reasoned case against His actions to which He will respond (Ecclesiastes 6: 10; Jeremiah 12: 1; 20: 12)
- The God of the Bible requires teachers who diligently study His Word and handle it accurately (compare 2 Timothy 2: 15 and 1 Timothy 4: 15-16)
- He demands of His evangelists that they give rational justification to questioners who ask them why they believe as they do (1 Peter 3: 15)
- On one occasion His chief apostle, Paul, emphasized that his gospel preaching was by way of “words of sober truth” (Acts 26: 25, nasb) when Festus charged that his great learning was driving him mad (Acts 26: 24)
- God requires transformation by way of the mind’s renewal (Romans 12: 1-2)
If we, as a church, were cultivating the mind in a way that reflects God’s values, this student would at least have the ability to sort through the myriad opinions that are being thrown at them on a daily basis.
What we need to realize is that this student is not alone. They had the courage to voice their opinions, but many more do not, especially inside the church. We all have questions and doubts. We must create an environment where those doubts can be voiced without reproof or prejudice. There is nothing wrong, sinful, or evil about asking questions and being uncertain. We have to stop fostering this deception or face the ruin of so many.