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I have begun this series with this three-part introduction, trying to bring attention to the matter of Truth and the authenticity of our allegiance to it as Christian parents. My concern is that Christians nowadays do not prize Truth for what it is – an attribute of God – but rather treat it as something they can use a bit of when they think it needful. Francis Schaeffer used to say that the Church should live out what he termed “true truth” before the world. But the Church has forgotten the importance of Truth, and its role as the witness to the Truth in this dark and deceitful age. Truth must come first. Our preferences are not that important.
I realize that in putting matters this way I am not going to make many friends. But I am not concerned with making friends so much as with telling it as it is. And the fact is young people raised in Christian homes and attending evangelical churches are leaving those churches in droves.
According to a Barna poll 66% of these kids are deserting their Christian upbringing. And the figure may be even higher. A survey conducted by the SBC asserts that 88% of young people walk away from the faith never to return. And there is no sign of any abatement. Something is badly amiss, and Christian parents especially need to stop pretending everything’s okay so long as their kid or teenager has a good time at church.
Loyalty and Credibility
In surveys which have been done of young people who have ‘left the Faith’ the issue of deep commitment to what we Christians claim to believe crops up continually. Young people can sense when we are believing Christianity for its usefulness or pragmatic value, and when we are believing it because we know it is true and our allegiance is to it as Truth. The former carries no assurance because Truth is being used as a prop for our life-choices. The second is in rather short supply in our evangelical churches. There is a lack of integrity and sincerity about the Church today. Sincerity is the great by-product of holding loyally to the objective Truth of God’s Word. The term Paul used when describing the “Belt of Truth” in the Christian Armor (Eph. 6:14) demands such loyalty. You can’t put on this “belt” if you don’t prize Truth. You don’t prize Truth if you don’t submit to it and internalize it.
The Truth ought to have the sort of authority over us that old-fashioned Headmasters had over school children. But too often Truth is treated like modern Headmasters are. They have a position of authority, but there is very little they can do with it, and the kids who pay lip-service to them know this. Insincere people tend to let the side down and don’t much care if they do. Sincere people who have placed themselves in subordination to the Truth, whatever the cost, have the kind of integrity which our young people are looking for.
What it Takes
My big concern in this series is how to use apologetics in evangelizing and building up our children, whether they are aged eight or eighteen. But I felt I needed to stress this issue of authenticity; the difference between using something true and committing to it because it’s true. To do this we need to ask ourselves some hard questions about our churches. Does our local church emphasize Bible doctrine, or is doctrine and theology never really discussed? Does the leadership have an unequivocal stance on the six days of creation and Noah’s flood? When was the last time the ugliness of Sin was spelled out in a sermon? We must ask ourselves, Did we choose our fellowship primarily because of its commitment to the Truth, or did we choose it for the music or the programs?
1 Peter 3:15 tells us to,
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.
Here is the classic verse for Christian Apologetics. We are to be “always ready” to defend the Christian Faith. We are always to be able to “give a reason for our hope.” But please do not overlook how the verse starts: “sanctify [that is, set apart] the Lord God in your hearts.” To set God apart in our hearts demands of us that we allow His Truth to have full authority over us. In Christian venues where Truth is not seen as primary, we must respectfully depart and seek out those that do. No one leaves the Faith over the music. They do and are leaving over the matter of Truth. Let us defend the Truth, but let us be real!