Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Prepare Your Children/Grandchildren for Times of Doubt (Part 1)

Why do you believe Christianity Is True?

How you answer will play a significant part in shaping your child’s worldview. Here are some typical bad answers:
  • “I believe Christianity is true because I read this book where someone died, went to heaven, and came back.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because there are secret codes found in the Scriptures.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because the lost day of Joshua has been found by NASA.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because we had a special speaker come to our class and show how the Gospel was written in the stars.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because I have seen pictures of Noah’s Ark.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because God spoke to me and told me ______”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because there are no better options and I have nothing to lose.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because my friend was healed of cancer after praying.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because I speak in tongues.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because my church/pastor says it is.”
Several years ago Barna published statistics revealing that 65% of young adults in the U.S. that grew up in the church participating in evangelical youth groups, walk away from their faith when they leave home for the first time. Since then other studies estimate the rate may actually be as high as 70-75%. The SBC Family Life Report issued study findings in 2002 that 88% of children in evangelical homes leave the church by the age of 18.

Why might this be? Some possibilities:
  • They succumb to temptations they haven’t face before
  • They didn’t learn to think
  • They are often consumed with the demands of making a living
  • They see right through the charade of those who profess the faith but don’t “walk the talk”
In a book published in 2005 entitled “Soul Searching”, students were asked why they left the faith. It was an open-ended question with 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.”)

In 2006 a Barna study revealed the majority of young adults in their 20s (61%0 had been churched at one point in their teen years but are now spiritually disengaged. In the book “The Last Christian Generation” published in 2006, study findings revealed:
  • 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
In a 2007 study by Lifeway Research & Ministry Development, findings showed:
  • 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%).

A 2007 Study of Student Ministries by Inquest Ministries revealed:
  • 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 
In a 2011 book entitled “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith”:
  • 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.”
  • 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
  • 23% said they had “significant intellectual doubts” about their faith
In 2011, Barna identified 6 Reasons that young adults leave the church. The comprehensive research project was comprised of eight national studies, including interviews with teenagers, young adults, parents, youth pastors, and senior pastors. The study of young adults focused on those who were regular churchgoers Christian church during their teen years and explored their reasons for disconnection from church life after age 15. No single reason dominated the break-up between church and young adults. Instead, a variety of reasons emerged. Overall, the research uncovered six significant themes why nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15. Barna's reasons young people leave the church:

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
A few of the defining characteristics of today's teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. As Christians, they express the desire for their faith in Christ to connect to the world they live in. However, much of their experience of Christianity feels stifling, fear-based and risk-averse. One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience). Other perceptions in this category include “church ignoring the problems of the real world” (22%) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18%).

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).

Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.

Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic and judgmental.
With unfettered access to digital pornography and immersed in a culture that values hyper-sexuality over wholeness, teen and twentysometing Christians are struggling with how to live meaningful lives in terms of sex and sexuality. One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church's expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality. One-sixth of young Christians (17%) said they “have made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.”

Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today’s youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion felt they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.” One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).

Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense. In addition, many feel that the church’s response to doubt is trivial. Some of the perceptions in this regard include not being able “to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36%) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23%). In a related theme of how churches struggle to help young adults who feel marginalized, about one out of every six young adults with a Christian background said their faith “does not help with depression or other emotional problems” they experience (18%).

(Continued in Part 2 here)

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