I had an interesting experience the other day. I can’t say it was a particularly pleasant experience ... in fact, I found it rather sad.
What happened was that I got a call from a 90 year old man who had read an article on the MarketFaith Ministries website that I wrote over ten years ago. It was an article explaining the basic beliefs of Deism.
This man told me that the beliefs about Deism that I had described in the article had so resonated with him that it just made him real happy. At this point, you need to understand two things. First, the article explained the basic beliefs of Deism and why that belief system is NOT true. Second, he didn’t care what I said about the fact the Deism is not true, he was excited because it was the first time he had seen beliefs that he agreed with actually spelled out in black and white.
He shared with me that he grew up in a Baptist church and even had relatives and ancestors, including his dad, that were preachers. He went on to share with me that he had been disbelieving the Christian faith for about 50 years. During that time he sought to express what he did come to believe, and after reading my article recognized it to be Deism – he believes God exists, but that He is not personal and has not revealed Himself to mankind. This man believes that God simply created the natural universe, and now just lets it run on its own without His interference or input in any way.
Of course, the article explained why Deism is not true, and I also, in talking with this man, explained once again why it isn’t true. I also asked him why he believed it was true. With that, he never really gave me a clear answer – only that he believed it. But he did mention several times what I believe was the real root of the problem, and I believe it can be broken down into two parts.
Part one is that in spite of the fact that he grew up going to church, he really did not understand the basic foundation of the Christian faith. Christianity is a relationship with God before it is a set of doctrines, and he seemed to have no grasp of the relationship aspect of the faith.
The second part of the problem had to do with hypocrisy in the church. It was apparent that in this man’s years of participating in churches, that people who called themselves Christians disappointed him greatly. This apparently repulsed him so much that he decided he didn’t want to have anything to do with Christianity.
This person is not the first I have interacted with who grew up going to church and ended up walking away. In fact, these days it increasingly seems to be a problem. And the explanations I get from people who feel this way are pretty much the same, no matter their age, social status, or race. And in this, they virtually all demonstrate a lack of real knowledge of the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith, and complain of hypocritical role models in the church.
The fact that these problems can be so clearly identified also gives us a legitimate solution to the problem. The solution, like the problem itself, must be addressed at two levels.
The first part of the solution is educational in nature. There is a traditional way that churches in America have approached Christian discipleship training. There is certainly nothing wrong with the traditional approach as far as it goes, but in modern society it is simply inadequate. It used to be that America was very homogeneous as it related to religious beliefs. And with that kind of uniformity, explanations of “why” the Christian faith is true and other beliefs are not were rather unnecessary. Pretty much everyone simply assumed Christianity to be true. Not so anymore. In our current day there are serious belief competitors to Christianity, and it has become necessary to include that “why” element in our discipleship training. To do that, churches must reimagine their discipleship training process. It is the addition of worldview training that provides us with the ability to get at those “whys.”
The second part of the solution is more personal. The reason there is so much hypocrisy in the church is because a majority of self-identified Christians (and I don’t think that is an exaggeration) simply do not walk the talk. They may claim to be Christians and be somewhat active in church activities, but their lives do not reflect the kind of transformation that a genuine relationship with Christ produces. They still lie, cheat, gossip, are sexually immoral, do not show compassion, and lack all of the other things that are expressions of a genuine Spirit filled life.
So what about you? Can you hold an intelligent conversation with a non-believer and explain why the Christian faith is true and other faiths are not? And does your daily life, as you live it out in the world, genuinely reflect the glory of Christ? It is only when both of these things are in place that we will see the Christian faith once again start to impact American society.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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