This week in the news was one of the saddest stories I’ve seen in some time. It is being reported that Atheism is the #1 religion in the United States. Whether you agree or not that Atheism is an actual religion, it’s still a belief system of sorts. It’s natural to ask, why is this happening?
Some people may even assume this is the worst news for Christians. However, the more I read the Bible, the more I see this is not a new problem. Sadly, it just seems so bad because we have not continued with the necessary church training to learn how to overcome these challenges. For many years the United States was the Christian nation we have read about in history books. It would seem that almost everyone was a Christian so it wasn’t necessary to learn how to defend the faith. These Christians grew to be comfortable in their faith with little to no objections from anyone else.
With the rise of an increasing amount of immigrants moving to the United States (mine included) they brought their objections and perhaps their distaste for the Christian religion and culture and Christians didn’t know how to answer them. America also has seen a rise in people practicing other religions. According to the Migration Policy Institute there was an increase in immigrants moving to the United States in 1910 and then again another dramatic increase in 1996. Currently, we have approximately 44 million immigrants living in the United States. Another telling sign may not be so much the numbers above but for 65,420,400 people living in the United States the top five languages spoken at home by children and adults:
Christians in America during 1910 and 1996 were not prepared to live side by side with other faiths. This is why Atheism is the #1 religion in the United States. Christians were comfortable in their faith and as soon as they were challenged with another viewpoint they didn’t know how to defend what they believe. We shouldn’t be surprised because we have allowed it to go on for such a long time. And now we live in an era called The Post Christian Era.
Americans were so out of touch with how to defend their faith they gave up on standing up for the truth because they just wanted to return to their comfortable Christian life.
What can we do now?
It’s time to go back to the basics when it was commonplace to know how to defend the faith. We need to start talking about apologetics and taking it seriously. We need to start at the foundational level and learn what it is to be a Christian.
When the word apologetics or defending the christian faith is brought up in conversations in the past I have been met with objections. Many times I am told that ‘God doesn’t need a defense’ or ‘I preach with the gospel’. However, is this biblical to think this way? Since we use the Bible to measure if something is true, is this actually what the Bible tells us?
What does the Bible say?
Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Jude 1:3: “Beloved, although I was ver eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Acts 17:16-34: “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was proved within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace everyday with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”
Acts 18:28: “When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.”
1 Corinthians 1:18-31: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”
2 Corinthians 10:5: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you out to answer each person.”
2 Timothy 2:24-26: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
Titus 1:9: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
I think the scriptures are clear in telling us to be ready with an answer to answer people’s objections and to help skeptics with their doubts.
Why is Defending the Faith Necessary for all Christians?
-75% of young Christians leave the church during college.
-Atheism is the #1 religion in the United States.
-Young Christians who leave the church feel they can’t talk about their doubts with others.
-We live in a Post Christian Era.
Many Christians don’t know how to explain why they are a Christian. While some can explain a personal experience they had, they aren’t sure why beyond that.
When we become a Christian we are called to be an evangelist and a disciple. A disciple of truth! And this means we are to speak about the hope that we have in Jesus. And in order to do that we have to be ready with a response, a defense of the faith. If you are just starting out it’s vital to know how to answer these two questions:
1) Why are you a Christian?
2) How do you know Christianity is true?
To be a Christian Defender means that you share about the hope of Jesus Christ. While there are different aspects to Christian defending such as science, morality, archaeology, philosophy, experiential, theology, etc. it all points to the truth. It is our job to speak the truth and it is the Lord’s job to soften the hearts and minds of the people you speak to.
When you accept Jesus Christ as Savior into your life you are not operating in your own strength or your own abilities any longer because you are a new creation. Once you have the holy spirit abiding in you, you are gifted with new abilities. What was not possible before is now possible because you are operating with the holy spirit. While you may feel like you don’t know how to answer objections, it’s never too late to begin.
As Christians we are called to be Christian Defenders not because we get a degree that says so but because we love God’s will. We love people because we have been made new by the power of God. That love is the strongest force on earth and if we don’t want to see Atheism continue to flourish we must learn to defend our faith.