From The Denison Forum
by Dr. Jim Denison, President

My response is below — Pastor Mencarow

Why are young people leaving religion?

A third of young adults in America say they don’t belong to any religion.  Why?

NPR did a fascinating story on this phenomenon, interviewing six young adults in Washington, D.C.  They came from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions.  One was raised Jewish; she still loves going to synagogue but describes herself as having an “agnostic bent.”  She goes to be quiet with her thoughts, but states, “I don’t think I need to answer that question [about God] in order to participate in the traditions I was brought up with.”

The Muslim considers the account of Abraham offering his son to be “crazy” and became an atheist because he couldn’t believe such stories.  The Catholic left her church because she disagrees with its beliefs on homosexuality.  The Seventh-day Adventist couldn’t understand why God allowed the suffering his family has endured.  One young woman, raised by a Jewish mother and Christian father, lost her brother to cancer and “realized the purpose and meaning of his life had nothing to do with heaven, but it had to do with how I could make choices in my life that give his life meaning.”

The sixth person interviewed has a tattoo on the inside of his wrist that says “Salvation from the cross” in Latin.  He now says, “I don’t [believe in God] but I really want to. . . . I think having a God would create a meaning for our lives, like we’re working toward a purpose—and it’s all worthwhile because at the end of the day we will maybe move on to another life where everything is beautiful.  I love that idea.”

These interviews illustrate a fact about the “non-religious” that many overlook.  While 88 percent of them are not looking for an organized religion, 68 percent say they believe in God and most claim to be spiritual in some way.  It’s just that they believe they can define spirituality as they wish, without the traditions and hindrances of religion.

What do these stories have in common?  Consider an analogy.  As many of you know, our oldest son was diagnosed with cancer a year ago.  He had surgery last February and radiation in March and April.  His last MRI was clear, for which we are very grateful.

When we received his diagnosis, imagine that my family and I chose to stop believing in medicine.  We could still go to hospitals without participating in their activities.  We might reject his diagnosis and thus the science that produced it.  We might not understand why doctors allowed our son to develop cancer.  We could seek meaning in the fact of his disease rather than its cure.  We could believe in the idea of a medical cure without participating in its process.

If we made this decision, which would we harm more—medicine or ourselves?

 

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by Pastor Mencarow:

This part particularly caught my attention:

“These interviews illustrate a fact about the “non-religious” that many overlook.  While 88 percent of them are not looking for an organized religion, 68 percent say they believe in God and most claim to be spiritual in some way.  It’s just that they believe they can define spirituality as they wish, without the traditions and hindrances of religion.”

The Holy Spirit in Rom 1:18-25 has a lot to say about “defining spirituality as you wish”:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened .  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.  Amen.”

“changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man” includes “defining spirituality as they wish” — as THEY wish, not as God’s Word reveals Him.

The bottom line is that we either trust the Bible even when what our sense of right and wrong tells us not to believe it, or we trust our sense of right and wrong even when the Bible tells us not to believe it. 

And the Bible even tells us why our sense of right and wrong cannot be trusted:  “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die : For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5).  “Knowing good and evil” means having a sense of right and wrong apart from God’s Word and trusting it.

Our reason was created by God.  What is created cannot judge the One who created it.

Why would someone trust an ancient book to tell them what is right and wrong instead of trusting their own reason?  That trust in the Bible and realizing that your reason /sense of right and wrong is fallen and corrupt comes only from the gift of faith:  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

This sermon expands on that critical subject:  http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=104121757565

 

 

 

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