Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

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MK Murphy

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Cold Case Christianity: UPDATED: Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

UPDATED: Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

Posted: 11 Jan 2019 11:43 PM PST

(Updated on January 12th, 2019)

Much has been written about both the Biblical illiteracy of teenage believers and the flight of young people from the Church. Many have observed this trend, and I too have witnessed it anecdotally as a youth pastor (and shamefully, I contributed to the trend for some time before I changed course). Some writers and Christian observers deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma. My hope in this post is to simply consolidate some of the research (many of the summaries are directly quoted) so you can decide for yourself. I’m going to organize the recent findings in a way that illuminates the problem:

Research Related to Spiritual Life of Teenagers:

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Oxford University Press, 2005

Book Findings: The majority of teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their faith, religious beliefs and practices, and its place in their lives. The de facto dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what they call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’: A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth; God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions; the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem; and good people go to heaven when they die.

Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church

Kenda Creasy Dean, Oxford University Press, 2010

Book Findings: Dean affirms what Soul Searching called ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ “If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation.”

The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change

Barbara A. Lewis, Free Spirit Publishing, 2007

Book Findings: More teens are embracing a nebulous belief in God. Yet there’s been an “explosion” in youth service since 1995 that Lewis attributes to more schools emphasizing community service.

The State of Theology

Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research (2015)

Study Findings: In this survey of theological beliefs, researchers asked self-professing Christians to respond to a series of statements related to classic, historic Christian doctrine. In every answer offered related to these theological beliefs, young people between the ages of 18 and 34 consistently held heretical views at a higher percentage than older respondents. Young people who identify themselves as Christians, are far more likely to hold views that aren’t Christian.

Research Related to the Attitude of College Professors:

Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty

Stanley Rothman, S. Robert Lichter, Neil Nevitte (2005)

Study Findings: “Nearly three-quarters” (72%) of faculty members describe themselves as politically liberal, according to 1999 data from the North American Academic Study Survey (NAASS), up from 39 percent in a 1984 survey by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

How Religious are America’s College and University Professors?

Neil Gross, Solon Simmons (2006)

Study Findings: About 25% of college professors are professing atheists or agnostics (5-7% of the general population is atheistic or agnostic). Only 6% of college professors said the Bible is “the actual word of God”. 51% described it as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts.” 75% believe religion does not belong in public schools.

The Religious Beliefs and Behavior of College Faculty

The Institute for Jewish & Community Research Review – Staff (2007)

Study Findings: The study revealed several findings related to the political and religious views of professors, including the following key discoveries:

“Most Faculty Believe in God, but Atheism Is Significantly More Prevalent among Faculty Than the General Public

The proportion of faculty who self-identified as atheist is over five times the proportion of people who self-identified as atheist in the general public.

Faculty Are Much Less Religious Than the General Public

The American public is much more likely to say that religion is very important in their everyday lives and to attend religious services more frequently than faculty.

Faculty Feel Warmly about Most Religious Groups, but Feel Coldly about Evangelicals and Mormons

Faculty have positive feelings toward Jews, Buddhists, Catholics, and Atheists.

Faculty Feel Most Unfavorably about Evangelical Christians

This is the only religious group about which a majority of non-Evangelical faculty have negative feelings.

Faculty Are Almost Unanimous in Their Belief That Evangelical Christians (Fundamentalists) Should Keep Their Religious Beliefs Out of American Politics

Faculty who are secular/liberal are more likely to favor separation of religion and government, and those who are religious and conservative are more likely to advocate a closer connection between religion and government.

Although Faculty Generally Oppose Religion in the Public Sphere, Many Endorse the Idea That Muslims Should Express Their Religious Beliefs in American Politics

Faculty are far less likely to endorse Evangelical Christians expressing their beliefs in American politics.”

Compromising Scholarship; Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education

George Yancey (2011)

Book Findings: “Religiously conservative academics are at a distinct disadvantage in our institutions of learning, threatening the free exchange of ideas to which our institutions aspire and leaving many scientific inquiries unexplored.”

Research Related to the Decreasing Christian Population in General

American Religious Identification Survey

Barry A. Kosmin, Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar (2001)

Study Findings: The number of people who identify themselves as Christian has dropped from 85% in 1990 to 76% in 2008. About 52% of American adults identify themselves as Protestant or other non-Catholic Christian denominations, according to the. That’s down from 60% in 1990.

America’s Changing Religious Landscape

Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: “The percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.”

Gallop Religious Identification Poll

Gallop Daily Tracking, Frank Newport (2015)

Study Findings: While the number of Americans identifying as Christians is still high (75%), it has dropped 5% since 2008

Five Key Findings on Religion in the U.S.

Gallop National Poll (2016)

Study Findings: This national poll about the religious affiliation of Americans revealed the following (among other findings):

1. America remains a largely Christian nation, although less so than in the past. 74% of Americans identify as some form a Christian, only 5% identify as affiliated with a non-Christian religion. when last polled in 2008, 80% of Americans identified themselves as Christian.

2. The trend away from formal religion continues. Approximately 21% of Americans say they are either atheist, agnostic, or have no religious affiliation. This is up 6% since 2008.

3. Americans continue to say that religion is losing its influence in American society. 72% of Americans say that religion is losing its influence on American life.

The Persistent and Exceptional Intensity of American Religion: A Response to Recent Research

Sociological Science Study (2017)

Study Findings: This study, examining General Social Surveys from 1989 to 2016, found the following:

1. The number of people who report they are strongly affiliated with a religion is in the minority but does not appear to have changed much from 1990 to 2015.

2. Less than 40% of Americans say they have strong religious affiliations. Those who say they are not strongly affiliated are leaving the church, down from approximately 55% in 1990 to approximately 42% in 2015. Those who claim no affiliation with religion have grown from 8% of the population to approximately 22% during the same time.

3. Only approximately 8% of the populations attends church multiple times in a week. The number of people who said they attended “sometimes” has dropped from approximately 79% to 69% from 1990 to 2015. Those who never attend church has risen from 14% to nearly 25% in the same time frame.

4. Approximately 33% of the [population described the Bible as the “Literal Word of God”. The number of people who describe the Bible as “Inspired, But Not Literal, has dropped from approximately 53% to 47% from 1990 to 2015. The number of people who describe the Bible as a “Book of Fables” has risen from approximately 15% to 21% during that time.

5. The number of people who identify as “Evangelical” has remained somewhat steady during this time frame, at approximately 29%. The number of people who identify as having a “Non-Evangelical” affiliation is down from approximately 66% to 51%. The number of people who say they have no religious affiliation is up from approximately 8% to 23% during this same time frame.

Research Related to the Flight of Young People from the Church

Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith
Tom Bisset, Discovery House Publishers (1997)

Book Findings: In this very early study, Tom Bisset interviewed people and asked them when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. He identified four prominent reasons:

1. They left because they had troubling, unanswered questions about the faith.

2. They left because their faith was not “working” for them.

3. They left because they allowed other things to take priority.

4. They left because they never personally owned their faith.

Southern Baptist Convention Data

Pinkney, T.C., Remarks to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, Nashville, Tennessee (2001)

Study Findings: Data from the Southern Baptist Convention indicates that they are currently losing 70-88% of their youth after their freshman year in college. 70% of teenagers involved in church youth groups stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation.

“The Religiosity Cycle”

Gallop Poll Study (2002)

Study Findings: The results indicate that teens are more religious during their early teen years, and that religiosity begins to decline as teens near adulthood. When asked, “How important are your religious beliefs?”, 63% of 13- to 15-year-olds answered “very important,” compared to 52% of 16- to 17-year-olds. Church attendance also drops during the teen and young adult years and begins to climb as adults age. Fifty-four percent of teens aged 13 to 15 reported having attended church in the past seven days, as did 51% of 16- to 17-year-old teens. The figure drops to 32% among 18- to 29- year-olds but rises again to 44% among 50- to 64-year-olds and 60% among those aged 75 and older. 69% percent of 13- to 15-year-olds report being members of a church or synagogue, compared to 59% of 16- to 17-year-olds, 60% of 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 80% of those aged 75 and older.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Family Life Council

Southern Baptist Council on Family Life report to Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (2002)

Study Findings:  88% of the children in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18

Revolution

George Barna, Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, IL (2005)

Book Findings: If current trends in the belief systems and practices of the younger generation continue, in ten years, church attendance will be half the size it is today.

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Oxford University Press (2005)

Book Findings: Students leave faith behind primarily because of intellectual doubt and skepticism (page 89). “Why did they fall away from the faith in which they were raised?” This was an open-ended question there were no multiple-choice answers. 32% said they left faith behind because of intellectual skepticism or doubt. (“It didn’t make any sense anymore.” “Some stuff is too far-fetched for me to believe.” “I think scientifically and there is no real proof.” “Too many questions that can’t be answered.”)

“Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf…”

Barna Study (2006)

Study Findings: A majority of twenty-somethings – 61% of today’s young adults – had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged.

The Last Christian Generation

Josh McDowell,  David H. Bellis, Green Key Books (2006)

Book Findings: 63% of teenaged Christians don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 51% don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead. 68% don’t believe that the Holy Spirit is a real entity. Only 33% of churched youth have said that the church will play a part in their lives when they leave home.

Assemblies of God Study

Dayton A. Kingsriter (2007)

Study Findings: At least half and possibly over two-thirds of Christian young people will step away from the Christian faith while attending a non-Christian college or university. Between 50% and 66.7% of Assemblies of God young
people who attend a non-Christian public or private university will have left the faith
four years after entering college.

LifeWay Research Study

LifeWay Research and Ministry Development (2007)

Study Findings: 70% will leave the faith in college. Only 35% eventually return. 7 in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 – both evangelical and mainline – who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23. 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church. “The most frequent reason for leaving church is, in fact, a self-imposed change, ‘I simply wanted a break from church’ (27%).” “The path toward college and the workforce are also strong reasons for young people to leave church: ‘I moved to college and stopped attending church’ (25%) and ‘work responsibilities prevented me from attending’ (23%).”

Unchristian

Barna Research Group director David Kinnaman, Baker Books; (2007)

Book Findings: Christians in their 20s are “significantly less likely to believe a person’s faith in God is meant to be developed by involvement in a local church. This life stage of spiritual disengagement is not going to fade away.”

Rethink: Is Student Ministry Working?

Steve Wright, InQuest Ministries, Inc. (2007)

Book Findings: 63% don’t believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 58% believe all faiths teach equally valid truths. 51% don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. 65% don’t believe Satan is a real entity. 68% don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity

Religious and Political Self-Identification, 1990-2008

Barry A. Kosmin & Juhem Navarro-Rivera (2008)

Study Findings: This research, based on the American Religious Identification Survey 2008, addresses the religious beliefs and behaviors of those born from the early to mid-1960s to the late 1970s to early 1980s:

1. Generation X has weakened its ties to Christianity (85% in 1990 v. 75% in 2008)

2. Generation X has secularized over time. In 1990 11% were Nones compared to16% in 2008; 13% of Generation X did not identify with a religion (including Don’t Know and refusals) in 1990, compared to 21% in 2008

3. Generation X Christian groups became more female dominated over time (with the exception of the Protestant Sects) while the Nones and Other Religions became more male dominated.

Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults

Christian Smith, Patricia Snell (2009)

Book Findings: Among American adults, emerging adults are significantly less religious.
Generally speaking, the importance and practice of religion declines among young adults. No more than 15% of the total emerging adult population, embrace a strong religious faith. 30% tend to customize their faith to fit the rest of their lives. They often have strong religious upbringing but tend to be more discriminating about what they will adopt. A smaller group, about 15%, believe in some higher power but are not sure what that is or means. About 25% of the emerging adult population may claim to be religious or even appreciate religion—but it simply does not matter. 5% of all emerging adults have had little to no exposure to religious people, ideas, or organizations. 10% of emerging adults are  skeptical of religion and reject the idea of personal faith. They tend to hold critical, derogatory, and antagonistic attitudes towards religion.

The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church

Jossey-Bass, San Francisco (2009)

Book Findings: 90% of youth active in high school church programs drop out of church by the time they are sophomores on college.

Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it

Ken Ham, Britt Beemer, with Todd Hillard, New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (2009)

Book Findings: Church youth already are “lost” in their hearts and minds in elementary, middle and high school – not in college as many assume.

After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion

Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University Press (2010)

Book Findings: “Unless religious leaders take younger adults more seriously, the future of American religion is in doubt.” The proportion of young adults identifying with mainline churches, is “about half the size it was a generation ago. Evangelical Protestants have barely held their own.”

“Spirituality in Higher Education”: The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA

Alexander W. Astin, Helen S. Astin, and Jennifer A. Lindholm (2010)

Study Findings: 52% of college students reported frequent church attendance the year before they entered college but only 29% continued frequent church attendance by their junior year.

College Transition Project

The Fuller Youth Institute (2010)

Study Findings: Current data seems “to suggest that about 40-50% of students in youth groups struggle in their faith after graduation.”

Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith… and How to Bring Them Back

Drew Dyck, Moody Publishers (2010)

Book Findings: The departure of young people from the Church is acknowledged and several categories of “leavers” are identified, including “Post Modern Leavers”, “Recoilers”, “Modern Leavers”, “Neo Pagans”, “Rebels” and “Drifters.

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith

David Kinnaman, Baker Books (2011)

Book Findings: Nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15.

Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood

Christian Smith with Kari Christoffersen, Hilary Davidson and Patricia Snell Herzog, Oxford University Press (2011)

Book Findings: Young adults are unable to think coherently about moral beliefs and problems. Young adults have an excessive focus on consumption and materialism as the good life. The prevalent lifestyle of young adults includes routine intoxication and drug usage. The sexual encounters of young adults are not practiced in an environment of physical, mental, or emotional health. Young adults appear to have an inability to care about, invest in, and hope for the larger world through civic and political participation.

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

Larry Taunton, Fixed Point Foundation (2013)

Study Findings: Taunton interviewed members of atheist college groups (the Secular Student Alliance and Freethought Societies). “These college groups are the atheist equivalents to Campus Crusade: They meet regularly for fellowship, encourage one another in their (un)belief, and even proselytize. They are people who are not merely irreligious; they are actively, determinedly irreligious.” Taunton eventually recognized an emerging pattern in those he interviewed, and he identified several characteristics of young “determinedly irreligious” college students:

1. They had attended church at one time

2. The mission and message of their churches was vague

3. They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions

4. They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously

5. Ages 14-17 were decisive

6. The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one

7. The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism

Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect With Them

George Barna and David Kinnaman, Tyndale Momentum (2014)

Book Findings: Barna Group conducted tens of thousands of interviews with unchurched people and discovered the following:

1. The number of churchless Americans has jumped by nearly one-third in just 20 years

2. If unchurched Americans were their own nation, they’d be the eighth largest on Earth

3. The younger you are, the more likely you are to never have been to church

4. The younger the generation, the more post-Christian it is

America’s Changing Religious Landscape

Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: “While many U.S. religious groups are aging, the unaffiliated are comparatively young – and getting younger, on average, over time… One of the most important factors in the declining share of Christians and the growth of the “nones” is generational replacement. As the Millennial generation enters adulthood, its members display much lower levels of religious affiliation, including less connection with Christian churches, than older generations. Fully 36% of young Millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 24) are religiously unaffiliated, as are 34% of older Millennials (ages 25-33)… As a rising cohort of highly unaffiliated Millennials reaches adulthood, the median age of unaffiliated adults has dropped to 36, down from 38 in 2007 and far lower than the general (adult) population’s median age of 46.4 By contrast, the median age of mainline Protestant adults in the new survey is 52 (up from 50 in 2007), and the median age of Catholic adults is 49 (up from 45 seven years earlier).”

Choosing a New Church or House of Worship

Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: In this seemingly unrelated study, researchers surveyed religious “nones” (78%) who said they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood, and asked them to explain, in their own words, why they no longer identified with a religious group. They discovered the following themes:

About 50% said a “lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention ‘science’ as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said ‘I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.’ Others reference ‘common sense,’ ‘logic’ or a ‘lack of evidence’ – or simply say they do not believe in God.”

About 20% said they were in “opposition to organized religion in general. This share includes some who do not like the hierarchical nature of religious groups, several people who think religion is too much like a business and others who mention clergy sexual abuse scandals as reasons for their stance.”

About 18% said they were “religiously unsure. This include(d) people who (said) they (were) religious in some way despite being unaffiliated (e.g., ‘I believe in God, but in my own way’), others who describe(d) themselves as ‘seeking enlightenment’ or ‘open-minded,’ and several who (said) they are ‘spiritual’ if not religious.”

About 10% said they “may hold certain religious beliefs, but they (were) not currently taking part in religious practices. And most of them simply (said) they (didn’t) go to church or engage in other religious rituals, while others (said) they (were) too busy for religion.”

Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back

Betsy Cooper, Ph.D., Daniel Cox, Ph.D., Rachel Lienesch, Robert P. Jones, Ph.D., Public Religious Research Institute (2016)

Study Findings: “Today, nearly four in ten (39%) young adults (ages 18-29) are religiously unaffiliated—three times the unaffiliated rate (13%) among seniors (ages 65 and older). While previous generations were also more likely to be religiously unaffiliated in their twenties, young adults today are nearly four times as likely as young adults a generation ago to identify as religiously unaffiliated. In 1986, for example, only 10% of young adults claimed no religious affiliation. Among young adults, the religiously unaffiliated dwarf the percentages of other religious identifications: Catholic (15%), white evangelical Protestant (9%), white mainline Protestant (8%), black Protestant (7%), other non-white Protestants (11%), and affiliation with a non-Christian religion (7%).”

“In the 1970s, only about one-third (34%) of Americans who were raised in religiously unaffiliated households were still unaffiliated as adults. By the 1990s, slightly more than half (53%) of Americans who were unaffiliated in childhood retained their religious identity in adulthood. Today, about two-thirds (66%) of Americans who report being raised outside a formal religious tradition remain unaffiliated as adults.”

More importantly, the study found that most Americans who leave their childhood religion do so before reaching adulthood. 79% percent of young adults age 18 to 29 who become religiously unaffiliated report making this decision during their adolescent and teen years. In years prior, those who abandon religious belief reported doing so much later. Only 38% of people over the age of 65, for example, reported leaving their religion during their childhood years.

CARA National Study

Mark M. Gray, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (2016)

Study Findings: (While CARA only surveys young Catholic believers, their results parallel the findings of Christian surveys as reported in this article). “The first CARA study, commissioned by Saint Mary’s Press, involved a survey with a random, national sample of young people, ages 15 to 25, who had been raised Catholic but no longer self-identified as such. The second CARA study, made possible through funding from the John Templeton Foundation, involved a survey of a random sample of self-identified Catholics, ages 18 and older, and focused on matters of religion and science.” Most young people said they left the Church by the age of 13: 63 percent said they left between the ages of 10 and 17. 23 percent say they left before the age of 10. Those who left cited the following reasons:

“Because I grew up realized it was a story like Santa or the Easter Bunny.”

“As I learn more about the world around me and understand things that I once did not, I find that the thought of an all-powerful being to be less and less believable.”

“Catholic beliefs aren’t based on fact. Everything is hearsay from back before anything could be documented, so nothing can be disproved, but it certainly shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

“I realized that religion is in complete contradiction with the rational and scientific world, and to continue to subscribe to a religion would be hypocritical.”

“Need proof of something.”

“It no longer fits into what I understand of the universe.”

NextGen Research

Larry Barnett, Next Generation Project (2016)

Study Findings: The NextGen research revealed the following key points:

1. Christianity’s decline in the U.S. spans every population segment – young and old, male and female, within every race, at all income and educational levels, and in every geographic region.

2. The presence or absence of doubt was found to be the single best predictor of Christian affiliation and spiritual health, compared to several hundred other factors.

3. Adults (and teens) who are younger, highly educated, knowledgeable, high-achieving, technologically engaged individuals who may have religiously diverse friends are the most likely to leave the faith.

CIRP Freshman Survey

The Cooperative Institutional Research Program (2017)

Study Findings: The CIRP Freshmen Survey of first-time students at 184 U.S. colleges and universities collects data on incoming college students’ background characteristics, high school experiences, attitudes, behaviors, and expectations for college. This survey revealed the following key points:

31 percent of incoming freshmen are religiously unaffiliated, a threefold increase since 1986, when just 10 percent identified this way. Because the survey is administered to students before they arrive on campus, the decline of religious identity noted in these cross-sectional studies cannot be attributed to college experience. Religious attendance is also falling precipitously among incoming students.

Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation

Barna Research Group (2018)

Study Findings: Barna’s most comprehensive research study investigating the perceptions, experiences and motivations of 13- to 18-year-olds in Generation Z, reports the following:

1. 59% of students in this age group Identify as Christian or Catholic (down from 75% for “Elders”). 21% say they are atheist or agnostic (up from 11% for “Elders’). 14% say they have no religious affiliation (up from 9% for “Elders”)

2. Students in this age group offer the following “barriers to faith”:

a. “I have a hard time believing that a good God would allow so much evil or suffering in the world” (29%)

b. “Christians are hypocrites” (23%)

c. “I believe science refutes too much of the Bible” (20%)

d. “I don’t believe in fairy tales (19%)

e. “There are too many injustices in the history of Christianity” (15%)

f. “I used to go to church but it’s not important to me anymore” (12%)

g. “I had a bad experience at church with a Christian” (6%)

3. Students in this age group struggle to reconcile science with the Bible. 24% side with science (up from 16% for “Boomers”). 31% believe science and the Bible refer to difference aspects of reality (up from 25% for “Boomers”). 28% believe science and the Bible can be used to support each other (down from 45% for “Boomers). 17% consider themselves on the side of the Bible (up from 13% for “Boomers”, but down from 19% for “Millennials”).

4. Students in this age group hold positive perceptions of the church in the following areas:

a. The church is a place to find answers to live a meaningful life (82%)

b. The church is relevant for my life (82%)

c. I feel like I can “be myself” at church (77%)

d. The people at church are tolerant of those with different beliefs (63%)

5. Students in this age group hold negative perceptions of the church in the following areas:

a. The church seems to reject much of what science tells us about the world (495)

b. The church is overprotective of teenagers (38%)

c. The people at church are hypocritical (36%)

d. The church is not a safe place to express doubts (27%)

e. The faith and teaching I encounter at church seem rather shallow (24%)

f. The church seems too much like an exclusive club (17%)

6. When students in this age group were asked why they didn’t think church was important, they gave the following reasons:

a. “The church is not relevant to me” (59%)

b. “I find God elsewhere” (48%)

c. “I can teach myself what I need to know” (28%)

d. “I think church is out of date” (20%)

e. “I don’t like the people who are in church” (15%)

f. “The rituals of church are empty” (12%)

ABC News / Washington Post Religious Affiliation Poll

Langer Research Associates (2018)

Study Findings: Based on 174,485 interviews from ABC News and ABC News/Washington Post polls conducted by telephone from 2003 to 2017, the study found that young people age 18-29 are increasingly non-religious, at a pace that far exceeds their older counterparts. From 2003 to 2017, the number of 18-29 year-olds who identify as non-religious has increased 16% (from 19% to 35% of the American population), while the percentage of Americans over the age of 50 who identify as non-religious has only increased 5% (from 8% to 13%).

When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?

Pew Research Center (2018)

Study Findings: This survey of more than 4,700 U.S. adults found that there is a broad discrepancy related to belief about God between 18-29 year-olds and older generations:

Those who believe in God as described in the Bible: 43% of 18-29 year-olds / 65% of Boomers

The survey also found that among people who believe in God or a higher power, young people are less likely to believe that God is active and engaged:

Those who believe God Loves all people, despite their faults: 67% of 18-29 year-olds / 83% of Boomers

Those who believe God has protected them: 68% of 18-29 year-olds / 83% of Boomers

Those who believe God knows everything: 63% of 18-29 year-olds / 76% of Boomers

Those who believe God has rewarded them: 61% of 18-29 year-olds / 68% of Boomers

Those who believe God has the power to direct / change everything: 52% of 18-29 year-olds / 67% of Boomers

Those who believe God determines what happens in their lives: 41% of 18-29 year-olds / 51% of Boomers

Those who believe God has punished them: 44% of 18-29 year-olds / 33% of Boomers

Those who believe God has talked to them: 21% of 18-29 year-olds / 31% of Boomers

Interestingly, this survey also found that young people, when they do think about God, are more likely to think of Him as a punishing Deity than their older counterparts.

Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics

Saint Mary’s Press Catholic Research Group and The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University (2018)

Study Findings: While this is a Catholic study, there exist many parallels with evangelical studies conducted over the past 10 years. This two-year national study on why young people are leaving the Catholic Church found that young ex-Catholics (the vast majority of which now identify themselves as “religious nones”) are leaving Catholicism for the following reasons:

1. “They perceive organized religion as having corrupted Jesus’ fundamental teachings.”

2.”They see the church’s dogmas and doctrines as nonsensical.”

3. “They believe they can live more moral lives without the baggage of religion.”

4. “Many perceive that religion was forced on them.”

5. “They report feeling freer and happier without what they experience as the burden of religion.”

“When asked at what age they no longer identified themselves as Catholic, 74 percent of the sample said between the ages of 10 and 20, with the median age being 13 years old.”

Millennials and Their Retention Since Confirmation: A Survey of LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) Congregations

Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (2018)

Study Findings: This comprehensive survey of 184 LCMA congregations found the following:

Congregations reported that only 1-in-3 of young people who were confirmed between 2004-2006 still worship at an LCMS church today:

30% of these young people left before they graduated high school

34% left after they graduated high school

The study also found that LCMS churches retained young believers at a much higher rate if:

1. They retain their youth pastor or youth leaders over a long period of time (“The data is clear that local retention when the pastor changes is substantially lower.”)

2. Their church leadership was generally younger (“Congregations with young adult leaders did better in all measures of retention. They were more likely to retain young people through graduation, they produced a greater number of confirmands that remain in the LCMS, they retained more in their own church body, and they even attract more young adults today.”)

3. Their youth group is larger (“Based on average weekly attendance, large congregations both confirm higher numbers of young people and retain more of their confirmands in the LCMS, regardless of whether they stay at their home congregation.”)

While this survey of books and studies is less than complete, it does provide us with powerful cumulative, circumstantial evidence supporting the claim that young people are leaving the Church in large numbers. More importantly, it appears that most of these young people are leaving prior to their experiences in college. But, while universities may not be the chief cause of the youth exodus, they certainly play a role in affirming and strengthening a secular worldview in the minds of young people who have already left the faith. Some studies have attempted to isolate potential responses that can be employed by parents and Church leaders:

Research Related to Potential Responses to the Flight of Young People from the Church

Youth Theological Initiative at Emory University in Georgia.

Elizabeth Corrie

Book Findings: There appears to be no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the version of Christianity some are taught doesn’t inspire them “to change anything that’s broken in the world.” Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on. “We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake,” Churches, not just parents, share some of the blame for teens’ religious apathy. “…The gospel of niceness can’t teach teens how to confront tragedy. It can’t bear the weight of deeper questions: Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can’t I get the good job I was promised if I was a good kid?”

Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults

Christian Smith, Patricia Snell, Oxford University Press (2009)

Book Findings: Parents are the most crucial and powerful socializers in the lives of their adolescents. The adolescent years are not the time to disengage as a parent. Growing adolescent independence often necessitates negotiation. If adolescents experience parents who are religiously withdrawn and functionally absent, then the faith of an emerging adult likely will also be vacuous, directionless, and empty. The more adults involved in the lives of adolescents, the better off they will be. This will mean that ministries to youth and families must find ways to incorporate loving, agenda-free adults into the lives of the ministry. Ministries to youth matter now more than ever. With the breakdown of the family and the systemic erosion of adult support, congregational youth ministers are more necessary than ever before.

Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media (2010)

Bradley R. E. Wright, Bethany House (2010)

Book Findings: Parents of students who did not leave the church emphasized religion twice as much as those who students who left the church. Students who stayed in church through college said that the first thing they do when they have doubts or questions was to talk to their parents and then read their Bibles.

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith

David Kinnaman, Baker Books (2011)

Book Findings: Nearly 25% of the 18- to 29-year-olds interviewed said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” most of the time. 22% also said the church ignores real-world problems and 18% said that their church was too concerned about the negative impact of movies, music and video games. 33% of survey participants felt that “church is boring.” 20% of those who attended as a teenager said that God appeared to be missing from their experience of church. Many young adults do not like the way churches appear to be against science. Over 33% of young adults said that “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” and 25% of them said that “Christianity is anti-science.” 17% percent of young Christians say they’ve “made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” Two out of five young adult Catholics said that the church’s teachings on birth control and sex are “out of date.” 29% of young Christians said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and feel they have to choose between their friends and their faith. Over 33% of young adults said they feel like they can’t ask life’s most pressing questions in church and 23% said they had “significant intellectual doubts” about their faith.

Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations

Vern L. Bengtson. Norella M. Putney, Susan Harris, Oxford University Press (2013)

Book Findings: Several key findings were discovered in this 35-year study of families, focusing on the question of how religion is passed across generations:

1. Parents continue to be the single greatest influence on their children’s faith.

2. When a child sees and hears that faith actually makes a difference in Mom and Dad’s lives, they’re much more likely to follow suit.

3. Young adults are more likely to share their parents’ religious beliefs and participation if they feel that they have a close relationship with those parents.

4. Young Christians who leave the faith are far more likely to return when parents have been patient and supportive – and perhaps more tolerant and open than they had been before the prodigal’s departure.

5 Reasons Millennials Stay Connected to Church

Barna Study (2013)

Study Findings: This research included a series of national public opinion surveys conducted by Barna Group to find the most effective ways to keep millennials connected to the church. The listed the following strategies:

1. Develop meaningful relationships with millennials

2. Teach millennials to study and discern what’s happening in the culture

3. Help millennials discover their own mission in the world, rather than ask them to wait their turn

4. Teach millennials a more potent theology of vocation, or calling.

5. Help millennials develop a lasting faith by facilitating a deeper sense of intimacy with God

Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith

Jana Magruder and Ben Trueblood (2018)

Book / Study Findings: A study was conducted by Shelby Systems in preparation for the publication of this book. The study surveyed 2,000 Protestant and nondenominational churchgoers who attended services at least once a month and have adult children ages 18 to 30 who are still believers. They found the following “Predictors of Spiritual Health for Young Adults”:

Child regularly read the Bible while growing up.

Child regularly spent time in prayer while growing up.

Child regularly served in church while growing up.

Child listened primarily to Christian music.

Child participated in church mission trips/projects.

In addition, they found that parents who had successfully passed on their faith to their children typically were involved in the following activities:

Reading the Bible several times a week.

Taking part in a service project or church mission trip as a family.

Sharing their faith with unbelievers.

Encouraging teenagers to serve in church.

Asking forgiveness when they messed up as parents.

Encouraging their children’s unique talents and interests.

Taking annual family vacations.

Attending churches with teaching that emphasized what the Bible says.

Teaching their children to tithe.

There you have it; a short summary of some of the research being done on the exodus of young people from the Church and some of the reasons they give for their departure. Can a case be made that young Christians are leaving the Church in record numbers? Yes. Can a case be made that many of these young people are leaving because the culture around them has impacted them deeply and caused them to question the truth claims of Christianity? Yes, again. So, what are we going to do about it? What can be done? Visit our Youth section to get a few ideas.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Apologetics at Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

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The Church and Her Creed

Nicaea_icon

While I believe in the church as being the people, as inferred by the Gospels and Epistles of the Bible. While there are four tenets, or marks, of the Church as referred to in the Nicene Creed.

…I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church…

One may refer to the one church, the one belief (to which the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed was intended to clarify.) The one brotherhood of mankind. However, the word “catholic”, unbeknownst to me, was a reference to (note the small “c” in “catholic”) the church universal or the undivided Christian church. I have always been of the mind of “to name it is to kill it.” Meaning that once you name something, you limit it by placing it into a neat little box…without any ability to expand barring the change of its name.

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. ~1 Corinthians 1:10 NKJV

Holy refers to the holiness of the Church which is presence on earth. Sadly, all too often, the Church in the eyes of many men and clergy is the building not the people. But we are reminded by Christ, Himself, that

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. ~Matthew 18:20 NKJV

Catholic, more than likely, refers to the origins of the Catholic Church in Rome, this was part of the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed created, or modified, at the second Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople (381 A.D.) which was convened by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I.

Apostolic may refer to:

An Apostle meaning one sent on a mission:

  • The Twelve Apostles of Jesus, or something related to them, such as the Church of the Holy Apostles
  • Apostolic succession, the doctrine connecting the Christian Church to the original Twelve Apostles
  • The Apostolic Fathers, the earliest generation of post-Biblical Christian writers
  • The Apostolic Age, the period of Christian history when Jesus’ apostles were living
  • The Apostolic Constitutions, part of the Ante-Nicene Fathers collection

Specific to the Roman Catholic Church

National churches

Christian denominations

Concepts

I am all for Churches and their administrations to develop studies and creeds to make life easier for the people they serve. However, when those nice steps to make things easier for the people are later used as a noose to help hang those, proverbially speaking, by trying to get them to yield more and more of their income in trying times is abhorrent to me! The purpose of the Church is to teach the people and spread the word, to glorify God in their selfless acts of kindness. To encourage and build up the people to go out even further to repeat what was done for them. We are all called into the ministry and priesthood to further God’s word.

Sadly, from my perspective looking through history, the latter creed (381 A.D.) was re-clarifying the church to be the center of the people’s minds and hearts, as opposed to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit (the Trinity) who was to be the center of the people’s minds and hearts.

Personally, I believe I could accept the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed without any modifications:

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilot;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

It being more personal, I would change out all of the “We”s for “I”s.

While I do not accept the Catholic Church as God’s Church on this earth, I believe they did and do serve a purpose in His God and Holy works on this earth. Most of what we have and know was protected by the early Church fathers which later became the Catholic Church. However, in my personal opinion, the Catholic Church, itself, has strayed from the Biblical tenets and God’s purpose, then became themselves more self absorbed and centered into the power they have acquired. My case in point is their consistency in protecting their clergy from prosecution in sexual misconduct among their ranks. Their history in denigrating the abused and victims of such crimes.

PLEASE, do not take this blog post as a snipe or shot at the people of the Catholic faith. Just as all others within Christianity are fallible, so are Catholics. Remember what King David told us and was reiterated by the Apostle Paul (Romans 3:10 NKJV):

They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.  ~Psalm 14:3 NKJV

Is your faith and belief based upon the bible and tenets, therein, or are they based upon doctrines taught to you without your researching what is being taught? We must be very careful, my friends. Jesus warned us

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. ~Matthew 10:16 NKJV

This warning of Christ to His own Apostles, applies to us as well. Wisdom comes from learning and studying, including learning from our mistakes! We become harmless when we show the love of God to those who wish to do us harm. Remember ever when the Jews wanted to harm Jesus…He walked right through them or went out another way.

Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. ~John 6:15 NKJV

Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. ~John 8:59 NKJV

Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand. ~John 10:39 NKJV

Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way. ~Luke 4:30 NKJV

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy

Refer to this for a Comparison between Creed of 325 and Creed of 381

References:

The Importance (and Early Use) of Creeds

Expositio in Symbolum Apostolorum THE APOSTLES’ CREED by Thomas Aquinas

The Apostles Creed

Was Jesus Promoting Evidential Faith or Blind Faith?

Listening to Cold Case Christianity (6/27/2014) podcast J. Warner Wallace truly made me think on the subject, that is what I like about his style…he questions your belief and challenges you to reason why you believe what you believe. All too often we, as Christians, do not truly understand why we believe what we believe. More often than not, we cannot truly express, verbally, what it is that we believe, nor are we able to defend the belief we have.

I have read two of J. Warner Wallace’s books Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Warner Wallace, and God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe by J. Warner Wallace. Both of which opened me and my mind to things which I would not have seen or thought of before. After reading his books I began listening to his podcast show. While at work I will listen to it for roughly 6 hours, 5 days a week. And I have only made it to January of 2015, thus far.

As mentioned so often in his books and podcast shows, Peter told us to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15 NKJV) I was turned on to, inspired toward, really, by Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Scott M. Sullivan, Michael Behe, Michael Liacona, and so many others. While building up to a voracious reading habit.

As Christians, we should all eventually come to the point where we will seek more information, more knowledge to aid us in our explanation of what we believe, a passion to speak on the subject as to why we believe what we believe, and finally to not argue but rather defend our position as to how we came to such a belief. Oddly enough, all too many will just brush off someone as being a heathen or pagan who challenges their beliefs without ever attempting to justify or explain their beliefs. We are mandated to:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you… ~Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV

…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. ~Mark 16:15-16 NKJV

And we are reminded, with equal importance, why we must warn those around us:

When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  ~Ezekiel 3:18 NKJV

I like the phase which J. Warner Wallace uses that we should not strive to be million dollar apologists, but rather we need to have a million 1 dollar apologists. In that, he means that we need to be just regular people speaking to others about Christ and salvation! Speaking anywhere and everywhere without fear. Why no fear? Because we will be chastised and ridiculed by everyone for the expression of our faith. Holding to the faith of Jesus Christ.

I heard from my mother-in-law, who had gone into a popular sporting goods store where a Muslim sales clerk had refused to deal with a customer because he bore a cross around his neck. The manager who handled the transaction stated to the man that he could have tucked “that thing” under his collar. And that is just one example of how Christians are being ridiculed. Sadly it is to happen, and it will get worse. Although, I pray ardently that it will not be as it once was under Nero, who used the Christians as human torches to light the roads in Rome.

ChristianTorch

I firmly believe, based upon scriptural truths, that Jesus was an evidentialist…He did not promote Blind Faith, as so many seem to think Christianity is based upon. Consider the following:

If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”~John 10:37-38 NKJV

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~John 20:24-29 NKJV

…And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”… ~Matthew 11:1-19 NKJV

There will always be those people who are skeptical and questioning everything, because they want to learn and because some do not believe and will never believe. However, there are those who will ask in order to poke holes into one’s argument(s). That is why I am a firm believer in apologetics and it’s studies, to prepare our ranks with the ability to defend your position as to why you believe what it is that you believe. There are those who believe upon seeing, but there are those who believe without seeing simply because they trust God and His Word and promises! It does not mean they are stupid or foolish, in fact, they have an extraordinary amount of faith. People such as myself who were indoctrinated into their original faith…simply because they were told to believe just does not hold water with me…especially when questions are asked without any truthful answers. A sad way to start a relationship, don’t you think? I would urge all my friends to follow my lead and seek out the answers to the questions you hold dearly and be able to defend your faith, not argue. Present your case, your studies, lay your knowledge bare before your detractors and show them you are a man, or woman, of real faith. No matter how you got to this point…you can answer all your detractors’ questions. The real problem is whether or not they will accept those answers you give them.

We each have a gift given to us by God, we also through that gift glorify our Creator. But regardless of your gift, we must all be prepared to answer the questions presented to us. I mentioned it in a previous blog post and I also know that J. Warner Wallace had mentioned it in several of his own podcasts, that our kids are sent off to colleges and universities to the wolf den. Roughly 16% of those who go in Christian graduate as Atheists, Agnostic at best. These are sad statistics which are based upon the fact that many of us as parents do not do a good enough job upholding our Christian beliefs and studies, as well as, talking to our kids on a regular basis.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents even though I had my differences with them. They would take me and my siblings to our religious studies on Wednesday nights, we went to church on Sunday, etc. But we never truly talked until long into my adulthood life. My mother wouldn’t carry on a conversation much past 5 minutes, once I was able to speak with her up to 20 minutes…for her that was Guinness Book material! My father was a bit different, when I was a baby Christian I held a very mild conversation with him when he was going through radiation treatments for his cancer in 1989. Which he succumbed to the battle about 3-4 months later. We never had a real conversation over beliefs and religion, as well as, salvation and Christ. After all, religion and politics were those two subjects you just didn’t have discussions over. I had some light conversations with my mother probably a few times over the last 10 years of my mother’s life. She also succumbed to her battle with cancer in 2012.

So long as you have breath in you, a heartbeat, and are able to speak…you can make your point. What is the absolute worse thing that can happen? Death? Feel strangely odd and out of place? What fear truly holds you back? Because it is nothing in comparison to God’s promise to sentence you to the “…lake of fire…” Now could it?? Think on that for a moment or two!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy

The Of Weakest Enemies Can Be The Most Destructive

weakest-enemy

In the Garden of Eden the enemy was a serpent. In the time of Noah the enemy of man was water. The impetus for the great Exodus was water, frogs, biting insects, wild animals, disease of livestock, locusts, darkness, and a great mist. In the time of Joel, the prophet, it was locusts, again. The list can continue on and on, but I shall refrain. The fact is, in each of these cases, the enemy was weaker than man. God uses the weakest in a genealogical line to do great things i.e., David, Samson, Noah, etc. God can also use the weakest of things to bring man to his knees; at least that is the hope in the long-run.

IImage result for cupn every case, no matter how you slice it…man was created to Glorify God. I f consider the purpose of a cup is for drinking and, therefore, glorifies it’s creator (a man.) Rather simplistic, in nature, but telling of the nature of things. Just as something simplistic can be used to explain things, the most simplistic of things can cause the fall of man.

“Nothing is weaker than water, But when it attacks something hard Or resistant, then nothing withstands it, And nothing will alter its way.

>OR<

Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the Bruce Leeobject, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” ~ Bruce Lee

While I do not ascribe to the beliefs from which these statements came, I do believe there is merit to these statements, in and of themselves. When water comes in abundance, as in a collapsing dam or, perhaps, the crazy down-pouring of rain for 40 days and nights…you are looking forward to a flood. Sadly, death by drowning and other means may occur.

Image result for Great Dust Bowl of the 1930sConsider the Great Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Think about how weak and yet how destructive wind can be. Also, think about how weak and yet how powerful the sun can be. Everyday things that we all take for granted and consider to be so weak, but has a tendency to be so very destructive to mankind.

Man has this propensity to be sinful, slothful, as well as, so many other qualities that areImage result for Great Dust Bowl of the 1930s sad and detracting from his purpose. We all have such problems and slip ups in our lives. Sadly, even more so, we fail to learn to control our natural desire to sin, which permits our weakest enemy to be so destructive in our lives. Our greatest enemy to us is our own inability to rule over our own desires. Think about this for a moment: Our desires are thoughts. Thoughts are weak and can be easily changed and averted. However, we tend to let them fester and build to something far and away greater than they should be…desires. Yet, these are still but thoughts in our minds. They can still be controlled, changed, and averted.

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” ~Genesis 4:7 NKJV

While reading my Chronological Study Bible (an interesting endeavor, I might add) today’s reading started with Galatians 1. A reminder to the Christians in Galatia, by the Apostle Paul, that he marvels, “that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ…” ~Galatians 1:6-10 NKJV This seems to be a plight for all mankind, in general, in that, we do not see things happening as fast as we like; then, we turn back to the old ways of our lives. But we must remember that all things happen in God’s own time, not ours (Ecclesiastes 3). And, without a doubt,

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28 NKJV

Everything takes time. I have noted, over the course of my time on this earth that man has such a propensity and desire to get into arguments, fights, and wars; however, if they are not won quickly they soon lose interest in them and forget the reasons why they got engaged in the first place. Sad, but very true.  Man is an arrogant winner and a sore loser. He, now-a-days, believes everything needs to be handed to him on a silver platter. But neither God, nor any man owes anything to any other man on the face of this planet.

Man, as well as you and I, need to remember something…life is a process, of sorts. And there is a learning curve attached to it. It takes a lot to learn the things of this life, it takes even more time to do the research to come to the belief that what we as Christians believe is true. In so doing your reading, studies, and your research that you will come to find out that the evidence leans in favor of the Bible and its teachings. More importantly, your heart is the clock and as long as it still beats and as long as you have breath in your lungs…there is still time to turn things around! Do not allow the enemy to gain a foothold over your eternal life. Once you have ended your life on this earth, your time is up…there is no going back and no ability to change.

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy

P.S. – REMEMBER: Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of Christ. Not the necessarily the literal birth on this day, but rather a gift to mankind to turn back toward God through the gift of salvation…through Christ Himself! May the blessings of God be upon you all and that you dwell in His love and peace forever and ever! Godspeed to all!

Are you defining faith the same way Richard Dawkins does or the way Jesus does?

Blogger’s Note:

This was shared by one of my favorite Apologists, J. Warner Wallace. (His books are a great read and his podcasts are well worth the time, as they are filled with knowledge which we all need to be armed and prepared to use. I found this to be rather intriguing and telling article. It is quite telling that regardless of who we are talking to, we tend not to ensure that we are on the same page and are not using the same definitions. Which is our gravest of mistakes! We fall into the trap of “assuming” things that can have grave consequences concerning our discussions and debates. We must learn to be a little more meticulous and a lot more quiet…you know, two ears to listen with and one mouth to talk with. Meaning we should do twice as much listening and half as much talking! (I fall into this category quite often, so I am neither casting stones nor am I pointing fingers; but I am passing on a warning!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy

P.S. Enjoy the read!

*******

October 17, 2018 by Erik Manning ORIGINAL ARTICLE

There’s this really annoying thing that I see many atheists do. Not to overgeneralize, but I’ve heard it far too often. And it’s that they will persist in defining faith as belief without evidence.

Here are some notable examples:

“Faith is pretending to know what you don’t know” – Peter Boghossian

“Faith is belief without evidence and reason; coincidentally that’s also the definition of delusion.” — Richard Dawkins

“Faith is generally nothing more than the permission religious people give one another to believe things strongly without evidence.” – Sam Harris

There’s also this thing annoying thing I see Christians do. And it’s that they’ll basically agree with the atheist.

The famous reformer Martin Luther is noted for saying:

Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.

That guy sure had a way with words. You’ll see similar sentiments echoed these days, even on church signs.

Blind faith or biblical faith?

Here’s the problem: This notion of faith just ain’t biblical. Faith isn’t believing without evidence. Faith is accepting the evidence you have as true and living accordingly.

Now you might say “Wait a second. Didn’t Jesus say “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed?” (John 20:29)

Yes, he did. But never read a bible verse in isolation to its context. Think about it for a second.

Thomas already had ample evidence. He saw water turned to wine. (John 2) He saw the lame healed. (John 5) He was there when Jesus fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. (John 6) He witnessed the blind see. (John 9) He was present when Lazarus come out of the grave. (John 11)

And he also already heard Jesus predict his own death and resurrection. (John 2:18-21) Or so John tells us.

Furthermore, he heard about the empty tomb from people he knew very well. His friends had already reported that they had seen the risen Jesus. Jesus wasn’t saying we’re blessed if we have blind faith. Jesus was chiding Thomas’ stubborn refusal to believe the evidence he already had.

Let’s look at the next verse:

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His Name.” (John 20:30-31)

This is also the same gospel that Jesus refers to his miracles as proof of his divine claims.

“…the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.” (John 5:36)

“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38)

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:11)

Jesus didn’t demand blind faith

Jesus wasn’t asking anyone to just believe blindly. He didn’t say that faith was a leap in the dark.

Jesus was saying have faith in the evidence he was providing through the miracles. He just expected Thomas to believe the testimony of others. Because there was a good reason to do so. There still is good evidence today. It’s what this site outside the blog is all about.

The same John who wrote the gospel penned a letter to a local church. He wrote:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us…”

Seen with our eyes. Looked at. Handled with our own two hands. Does this sound like “believing what you know ain’t so?” Can we please lay to rest this silly strawman?

The witnesses still speak today. We have the records that contain their testimony. God isn’t asking us to check our brains at the church door. Christianity teaches us to “prove all things, hold close to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Defining faith the way you wish is an easy way to take a cheap shot. It might score some rhetorical points. Christians have all too often accepted the definition their opponents have given. But faith is not a choice made in spite of the evidence but in response to it. And unbelief would be to close your eyes to it. Many did in Jesus’ day. Going back to John one last time: “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him.” (John 12:37) The evidence can stare you in the face and you can still explain it away if you want to.

Therefore, don’t let someone knows nothing about faith tell you what faith is for you. Jesus and John didn’t define faith this way. Neither should anyone else.

*****

Erik Manning

Erik is a former atheist turned Christian after having an encounter with the Holy Spirit. He is a graduate of Rhema Bible Training College and is interested in the intersection of evangelism and Christian apologetics

 

We Failed To Follow God’s Admonition

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God gave us up to the vile passions of our hearts and minds (Romans 1:26), because we failed to follow His admonition of ruling over the evil and sin that lied at our door (Genesis 4:7). We always seek to blame some one else for our misdeeds, our improper conduct, our lies, our mistakes, etc. But our greatest problem is traced back to Adam & Eve, back in the Garden just prior to their eviction. We, as the species of man, are easily tempted and easily fail by giving in to our temporal desires, instead of withstanding the temptation  and maintaining our integrity with God and His Word. Genesis 3 is a great explanation of how man easily gives in to temporal pleasures, whether by one we trust or by our own failure to stand firm in God’s Word. It all comes down to us and a choice to take one path or another. I have always said that “choice” is both man’s greatest blessing and greatest curse. Sadly, the Bible is riddled with those who have made very bad choices and few who have made wise choices.

God once spoke with Cain and told him rather plainly,

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord Sin-is-at-your-doorrespected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.  ~Genesis 4:1-10 NKJV

Cain’s anger was based upon a bad choice on his own part. Instead of choosing to a lessermy way valued offering, as many of us do or have done in the past, Cain could have chosen to give the best to God. Sadly, this is the story of many of us and the paths we have lead throughout our lives, by finding shortcuts in our work. In so doing, we fail to give our best to those who have employed us. Ultimately, WE work for God! We are reminded by the Apostle Paul:

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. ~Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV

We are also reminded by King David of the following:

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.  ~Psalm 24:1 NKJV

So, when you look at working and who you presently work for…remember that the What-does-the-Bible-say-about-workingrewards you receive are from God, Himself! God pays you through your employer and rewards you for what you do. If you receive little, perhaps…you have done little. Consider the The Parable of the Talents:

14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ~Matthew 25:14-30 NKJV

We are a product of our choices. Choices are not that difficult, you know…pick one or the assumeother. Unfortunately for us, we tend to choose to do what is easiest for us and most profitable for us. Even if we have to bend our principles a little. And when I speak of principles and their bending…I mean Yoga flexibility! Because biblical principles are rather rigid and should not be bent in any direction. Your word, my word, and the word, or promise of others, should carry a promissory meaning with it. That we are willing to live up to a specific code of ethics. That we will not lie to anyone, nor cheat them in any way.

The Bible is filled with advice and wisdom. We each can read and apply the basics of what is written therein. You know: Do not steal, do not lie, do not commit adultery, do not murder. Although, we must extrapolate some other teachings from the Bible. Such as determining what is meant by the numerous parables within the New Testament and then apply those teachings to our present day lives. This seems to be one of the bigger problems, as a whole, to mankind. Don’t misunderstand me, people are mean and demand their own way…even to the point of murdering, bearing false witness or stealing from others. But it is those people who are truly seeking the ways of God, those seeking to better understand Jesus, and those who seek the answers to the bigger issues of life’s great questions that are truly enamored by the Parables of Jesus. THOSE are the people that will greatly be affected by their quest for the “Holy Grail” of the Bible and it’s teachings.

We, as the species of man, often are misguided and lazy in our desire to seek wisdom. We know, inherently, that which is right and that which is wrong. However, we tend to take the more expeditious route by doing what is easy, more pleasing and more advantageous. It is those people who stave off the desires of the heart and carnal pleasures and follow the truest teaching of Jesus. Thereby maintaining a straight line of moral standards in our lives. Jesus was our example of moral standards and we are to follow His example, not the example of those around us or those who we have some sort of hero worship over.

Hope I did not over blather like a bloviated warthog! Godspeed My Friends!!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy

Jesus Was An Interactive Teacher, But What About The Church?

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I recently, in October, visited my sister in Tallahassee, Florida for my niece’s wedding…and a beautiful bride she did make, for certain! It was truly a blessing, doubly so, I might add. I attended my sister’s church, the 1200 Tharpe Street Church, the Sunday after the wedding. It was a beautiful sermon and gracious heavenly worship music.I was blessed and so surprise.

My sister leaned over to me and said something to the affect that “this is a far cry from the old Roman Catholic masses.” As though I might feel uncomfortable in the service. But I know we had spoken on several occasions that I had not been a Roman Catholic for decades, now.Later that day I spoke to her about that little act of kindness she showed me by handing me her first bible for study. While I had visited her she handed me my first Bible. As a kid growing up in New Jersey diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, we did not read the Bible, as mentioned before. The Priest said he would read the Bible and teach us what it said, because (in essence or in fact) we were too stupid to understand the Bible. And with that Bible, I told her, a journey began in my heart and soul to seek God. While I still have problems, as do most of us due to our carnal natures, we have found God in our own ways.

While I found it odd that a Priest would say such a thing. But, sadly from my perspective, it was one way the Catholic Church attempted to maintain power over the people within the congregation(s). Although, this was in direct conflict with God’s Word.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. ~Deuteronomy 29:29 NKJV

The word of God has been revealed to man, and is therefore no longer a secret. However, there are those who teach the word who seek to keep themselves in power, to a certain degree. Gutenberg placed the Bible in print for man to see. Tyndale was the one who gave the Word of God an English voice. For decades, if not millennia, the Word of God was in the Latin tongue. This, at some point in time was considered God’s Language. But how could such be? After all, looking at the Jews being God’s chosen people would make Hebrew, rightfully, God’s Language…don’t you think? The Bible was seen, in the eyes of many, to be a powerful tool over the people…and it was used very much so as a weapon against the people.

Well, let’s get back on track. What struck me was the teaching of Anthony Battle (Lead Evangelist), which also inspired this blog post. The sermon was a series entitled “Follow Me” on the teaching of Psalm 2:1-8. It was as though I were in a Bible Study, yet it was more deeply involved than that. It was truly different, from my perspective. It brought to my mind the teaching written about Jesus in the Gospels. I have been to many churches in my life. Some were powerful, some were truly motivated, others were very inspiring, but none compared to the interactive experience at the 1200 Tharpe Street Church.

What of your church?

While I do love my church, due to it’s set-up it cannot be completely interactive. As our well isnt that special dana carvey GIF by Saturday Night Liveset-up is a primary church with 4-5 satellite locations. However, as a single, sole church you can be more interactive. And please, do not misunderstand me…I am not touting that the pasture is greener on the other side of the United States. Churches are different. Both of our churches are non-denominational (Calvary Christian Church & 1200 Tharpe Street Church.) Each church has both problems that they must contend with, they have benefits that pique the interest of others, and each possesses a closeness that creates a family.

Jesus spoke out publicly and personally for all to learn and gain a renewed closeness to God. This, I believe, is one of the purposes of the church on earth. Often times we become so enamored by the building that we fail to realize that the church is the people. Many churches throughout the world begin in someone’s living room. Jesus taught the twelve and sent them out among the people to teach them.

After a few months of training the twelve Apostles became fishers of men, Jesus gave His students a “mid-term exam.” John Mark records: “And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. … So they went out and preached that people should repent [change their minds]. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” (6:7, 12, 13; cf. Luke 9:1-6).

Interestingly, in the parallel passage in Matthew’s gospel the make up of the “two-by-two” teams are given: Peter and Andrew; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew; James and Lebbaeus / Thaddaeus; and finally Simon the Canaanite and Judas Iscariot (10:2-4; cf. Luke 6:13-16).

Later, Jesus sends another group of seventy individuals out, most likely to Perea, in order to prepare that area for the next stage in His ministry. As with the Twelve, He sent these disciples out two-by-two as well (Luke 10:1).

Jesus set forth the Biblical pattern, two-by-two, for future missionary endeavors by the example of the Twelve and the Seventy. The Holy Spirit, in the Book of Acts, confirmed this pattern by example as well (Acts 13:2).

~”He Began to Send Them Out Two by Two…” by Gordon Franz MA

Of course, back in the day and time of Jesus, it was probably easier and more practical to have church groups in your home, due to the smallness of the cities and towns. However, the basic message I get from the Gospels and the Epistles is teaching people, interactively, and sending them out into the world to teach others. Even if the world you send them out into is the city in which you live. As the group grows in knowledge, send them out to teach others, then start up another group. There is no reason that you couldn’t stay in touch with your brothers and sisters. The teachings of Paul clearly indicate that he stayed in touch with those he taught and visited with them.

I hope I dd not blather on too much. And get too messy and all over the place. I also wanted to express what a blessing it was to receive a great teaching at such a wonderful church in a distant city!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy