Have you noticed this happening? I am in my early 30's and what I have found with a lot of people that I went to college with and also those that are young in the church is this new "thinking Christian" in the 21st century. What it seems people have gotten tired of are those "Christians" who when asked a tough questions by others just grin like Bob Ross and softly say, "Just have faith" and then go about licking their glue stick.
It seems as though the Christian has gotten tired of being ran over by the atheist and the postmodern who pose great questions of the Christian faith. They ask tough questions, that I might add, are completely valid. The problem with what I found throughout the 90's is that most, when asked tough questions just stated, "the righteous shall live by faith" and then they moved on. What they forgot is when Peter states,
"but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
1 Peter 3:15
Instead of a defense, most Christians pointed to their WWJD bracelet and "My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter" bumper sticker and called it a "defense." This is lame. This was lame and always will be lame. The term defense that is found in 1 Peter 3:15 is actually court room language of providing evidence to show that the truth in you is actually true. It is evidence that would convince a jury that you are right. Instead, what we have found is the "Jesus freak" with a painted smile that should be put in a straight jacket and laughed out of the court room.
What is interesting is the turn of events that is happening within the Christian community. It seems as though Christians are tired of getting ran over by thoughtful and insightful atheists and other religious leaders. When they stopped grinning and licking their glue stick they found that the person asking the question was still standing there trying to understand why you chose Jesus over Ghandi. Now, the Christian isn't laughing, but are now posing the same questions, looking for answers. Yes, there are still those plastic Christians who don't know jack about those around them that are begging to be answered. But, what I have found is that more and more Christians are having personal revivals of understanding within the Christian faith. They are seeing that the Christian faith isn't another stupid religion, but one that has evidence, one that involves thinking, logic and deep historical roots that is found little among other religions or atheistic thought.
It seems we are on the edge of a New Christian. I say "new" with a little smirk because it isn't new, but it is vintage. It is old school. It is what Christianity was always supposed to be about. Christianity wasn't supposed to be t-shirt theology, but deep rooted understanding about life and culture and eternal answers to what is happening around us, all for our Creator's glory.
So, what is now happening with this "new" Christian? They are finding that the best books are not the new ones, like "The Shack" with some lame depiction of God as a black woman, but they are finding that the best books to read about the Christian faith come from the early church fathers, the reformers and the puritans. Those who had to defend the faith in the most vital times in history. Those whose heads always had a bounty. Those who had to show others why the Christian faith was worth dying for. Those who saw the communities around them falling into paganism and wanted revival of Christian thought. Those who saw families losing a child every year to a new plague, or a new disease. Those who had to give answers at funerals of why there was a plague and it seemed like God was not there.
I believe the reason that we went to sleep for so long in this country was because of its wealth and protection. We do not find our children dying of malaria. We do not find our churches being ransacked to kill the pastor and those in attendance. We do not have fear when we read our Bibles in public. When these things don't happen the people get comfortable. When we get comfortable we become complacent. When we become complacent, we buy t-shirts and bracelets that have a better testimony than we do. And when this happens when we are asked questions, instead of saying, "I don't know" we grin and provide a life verse that speaks about inner change and faith that no one sees besides on our cars. Aliens must think at times that our cars are the ones that are saved and not us.
Why now though? Why are we starting to see the change in Christian thought to more of a vintage thought? I would presume it is actually because of the world wide media being seen so closely. Via the world wide web, the global economy, etc. everything in the world is at our finger tips. We have now had some fear with 9/11 and the massive attacks around the world. More questions are starting to be posed to us, and instead of grinning and bearing it, we actually want answers ourselves. We want more than a bracelet, we want a faith worth dying for.
We are tired of looking like idiots to others. In this United States, Christianity is not the only religion, but we are finding that instead of India only having Buddhists and Hindus, that our neighbors are Buddhists and Hindus. That instead of the Middle East having all the Muslims that next to our churches are Mosques. When this happens, you cannot shrug it off as that is just "them" because it is now "us" in the United States. When a Christian says something that is not true about another religion, the person within that religion is right there to correct them...to their face.
Because of this, the "New Christians" are begging for answers. And guess what? They are easily finding it. Christianity is not built as a religion of straw, but a religion with the most secure foundation found: THE Creator of all things. The only omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God. With this, the "New Christian" wants to represent HIM well, instead of being a feeble example.
Although we haven't seen this happen thoroughly yet, it seems like it is happening right in front of our eyes and I am excited to see it work itself out. I am thankful for men like Gresham Machen, Francis Schaeffer, Ravi Zacharias, Tim Keller and David Wells. These men have helped and are helping our "New Christians" find help in time of need. These men have shown and are showing the Christian that the Christian faith is a faith with evidence, not a blind faith like so many claim.
I would encourage everyone who is a Christian to make sure that you are ready to give a defense to those who question. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know" or "I struggle with that too." Be honest with people because they see through your crappy answers. Go find the answers though. Go search and try and show the person posing the question that you aren't trying to win a debate, but are trying to show them the deep impact these questions and answers have on their soul.
May we all understand that the atheist or the questioner of Christianity desires these answers and is not merely asking to stump you. We know this because God tells us that he has set eternity in every man's heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
How about we put away our t-shirts and really lame bracelets and actually pick up a book that will depict our glorious God and then share that with those who desire to know the hope that lies within us. Because your boss is not a Jewish Carpenter, but he is the Lord of Glory.
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