The Intellectual Christian
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Dear Faithwriters community:
I would appreciate feedback on this piece as I am not sure if I have gotten my point across or even proved my point. Thank you!
Recent polls show Christianity on the decline in America. According to one 2009 poll the number of Christians declined by 12 percent since 1990.
Christians often debate whether or not the percentage of respondents who identified themselves as Christian are indeed Christian. There is a difference between being “Christian” and being “a Christian.” Regardless, it is widely believed that America being a Christian Nation is no longer true, something the President has even said.
What I find most interesting is that atheism is not much of a threat anymore. For years, Christians battled with public schools and higher education systems which teach evolution and other philosophies seemingly opposed to and taught as a replacement for Christianity. This was done more or less (it was believed) as a way to eliminate Christianity from the culture. For Bible believing Christians this seemed to fulfill prophecy. There are countless passages in the Bible related to the persecution of Christianity but John 15:18 works well to prove my point: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”
Thanks to the burgeoning study of Christian Apologetics the figure of Jesus Christ is no longer in question. Now, one may decide that Jesus, who even the ancient Jewish historian Josephus mentions, is not the Son of God, but very few people believe He did not exist. And very few people can deny the role this ancient historical figure played in the rise of Christianity. Touting atheism (See The 10 Minute Atheist) seems, well, silly.
Therefore, it would seem to me that the best offense against Christianity is to take it from the heart to the brain. This is what I believe is happening in today’s public schools and even Christian universities. The rise of the intellectual Christian is underway. But unfortunately the deadening of the heart accompanies this new phenomenon.
In many ways Christians struck first. Christian Apologetics aims to combine intellect with the heart. There is no shortage of books on the proof or evidence of Christianity. This study has been around for well more than a decade and continues to grow. But those hostile to Christianity can eliminate the heart and no longer risk alienating students who know full well who Jesus Christ is.
My first exposure to this was actually in the mid-1990s when my college roommate who came from a strong conservative, Catholic family headed off to Berkeley, Yale and finally Boston College in pursuit of his Ph.D. in theology. Watching his evolution was extraordinary. Unfortunately, my next experience has been with a family member who attends a conservative Christian school.
This family member is very intelligent. He’s a church-going Christian who has been on several mission trips. He prays, reads the Bible all the stuff Christians do but he also lives life on his terms. Rules don’t seem to apply to him and for years I couldn’t quite put my finger on his persona. It wasn’t until I read a quote from William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who said in a 2009 CNN article that there is a radical shift towards individualism.
“The three most dreaded words are thou shalt not,” Donohue said. “Notice they are not atheists, they are saying I don’t want to be told what to do with my life.”
The intellectual Christian is embracing the truth of Christianity much like we embrace the truth that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater. But embracing the heart of Christianity to one’s life is another matter. After all, demons believe in Jesus too. A recent conversation with my family member opened my eyes a bit on his thinking as he revealed animosity towards Billy Graham. Yes, that Billy Graham.
The criticism weighed on Mr. Graham was more or less that he travelled around, preached the gospel, people got saved and then Mr. Graham left. This family member has never been to a Billy Graham crusade nor do I think he has ever listened to him. I am sure these criticisms were passed on through his university theology classes as he has embraced other beliefs taught to him in this manner. I argued that Billy Graham’s intention was to not rack up numbers but in fact the idea was to get the newly converted into a Bible believing church. The whole point of Graham’s crusades was to plant seeds – a very Biblical concept.
Ironically, this conversation stemmed from a comment I made regarding today’s youth embracing what I have heard to be called the “New Christianity” which is more or less using Christianity as an insurance policy while you lived life on your terms. In other words - individualism. This family member vehemently disagreed with me saying that’s how it was in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Thanks in part to Mr. Graham. I did not nor do I still understand his reasoning.
I also learned in this same conversation that most of his friends from high school who he went to summer camp, cross-country and international missions trips, and church every Sunday are for the most part no longer in the Christian faith. He even stated one friend was flat-out a Universalist and has rejected Christianity as his parents faith. (This did not come as a surprise to me regarding this young man.) Interestingly, we both agreed that the high school Sunday sermon which consisted primarily of a 30-minute rock concert followed by an oft stand-up comedy routine by a hip, gimmicky high school pastor did little in getting teens to embrace Christianity.
Individualism is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Watching this family member participate in activities and other questionable standards of behavior that are seemingly contrary to Christianity, and violate rules he is supposed to be held accountable to simply because he doesn’t like them or agree with them has even made me question my own faith at times because it seems to be working so well for him.
I recognize that there is a fundamental change in thinking with today’s youth (See the Special Generation). I’ve previously written about the lack of today’s parenting (See the Passive Generation) and with the internet and ability for one to market themselves seemingly to the entire world through social networking sites (See the Faceboon Delusion), I suppose it should not surprise me that individualism is so rampant.
The bombardment of messages teenagers and young adults receive on a daily basis tell them in essence that the world revolves around them.
Christianity teaches the exact opposite.
Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all. - Mark 10:15
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Dear Andrew, I read your article a few times and was still not clear about the main point.I was not sure whether you were talking about intellectual Christianity or individualism. I know that you see the two related, but this was not clearly shown in the article.
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