Why Youth Need Apologetics

Does it matter that the youth at your church get apologetics? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I was out walking today past a church when someone saw me who knew me from the past and asked what I was up to. In talking to him, I told about my work with Ratio Christi and asked if the youth of the church were getting anything in apologetics and he told me no. I offered my help and he told me “You like this stuff don’t you.” My reply was that it was not that I liked it, but that it is necessary.

We are multi-faceted creatures. We all know that. Even someone like me who is intellectual strongly has a great emotional and social need. This is something that thankfully marriage has helped to deal with which leads to more strengthening in the intellectual field. Emotional people need something to believe in as well and the socialites should want to be united in truth with their societies.

Our churches tend to deal when it comes to religion with the emotional and social side of faith. The intellectual side falls to the wayside, which makes it problematic when there are several children who grow up with an intellectual bent and do not ever get to hear about the difference their lives can make. My Christianity was always a part of my life, but nowhere near what it was after I saw the intellectual roots of my faith and what a difference it makes and how to think about it.

We seem to have this idea in the church today that we need to draw our youth to having a religious experience and once they have that experience, that will sustain them for the rest of their lives.

How many people on a new job have a great first day and look forward to more and then within a year or two if not even that long are already sick of their job?

We often speak of marriages that have a honeymoon period but when the honeymoon is over, no matter how much fun was had, the couple is not set to go on without a euphoric high of love. Most marriage counselors would tell you that if marriage lasting depended on a euphoria of love, most people would have to get remarried every couple of years.

How many parents are elated to finally have a baby born, but ask them if that same elation is there when the child cries at 3 in the morning wanting to be fed and Mom and Dad have a busy day planned.

The idea of “Hooked on a Feeling” has not served us well and when it comes to the most important truth in someone’s life, we’re telling people to do exactly that.

The problem is that if all there is is emotion, what happens when a stronger emotion comes by. Consider the boy and girl in the youth group who are dating and one night watching a movie and the parents have already gone to bed and some kissing gets started and before too long a lot of hormonal juices are going.

Do we really think that for a boy and girl caught in the moment that all of a sudden a verse popping into mind from St. Paul is going to be enough to deter them? That is a strong strong feeling and you can be sure that without having a place for sexuality in their worldview that they will give in to the pressure. (Note also if the church promised them they’d feel guilt afterwards and they don’t, they might think that maybe the church was wrong about a bunch of other stuff as well.)

When a college professor is up in front of his class railing on them against religion, is it really going to be enough for a student to be thinking about the love of Jesus if he is not even convinced at that point that Jesus is real? Now it could be that he will retreat and say “Well I may not have facts for my views, but I have faith!”

Such a student would have indeed saved himself. The problem is that is the only person he has saved and will save. He has shut himself off from any chance of having an impact on the Kingdom. After all, why should he go out and evangelize if he does not have any facts to share? Is he not supposed to teach the truth? Have we forgotten the concept of truth? Is it so absent to us that we forget that truth means that there are certain propositions Christians are to hold to be true and we are to pass them on?

The reality is, kids can learn this. Even if a child is not of an intellectual bent, they can at least learn enough that they know basic foundations and where to go for more information. They will have a knowledge of how Christianity informs their whole worldview, nay, is their whole worldview.

Such children will be better equipped to face a dark world and reach it for Christ. Such children will be better students, better children to their parents, better brothers and sisters, and eventually, they will be better spouses and parents.

Why? They will have no cognitive dissonance. They will see that Christianity is not just something that they take to church with them on Sunday and it will be really special when they die. They will see Christianity is a belief they can base their lives on and while it has great benefits when one dies, the reality of what it means and the difference it makes starts right now.

Our youth need apologetics and when we see the percentages increasing of students losing their faith, let us not blame atheists. Atheists are not to blame for being atheists. Christians are to blame for not being Christians. Atheists may be the ones that turn them away, but Christians are the ones who have not given them anything substantial to really be turning to.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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