How Teens and College Students can overcome “Crayon Christianity”: Examine Yourselves

Hebrews 5:12
  “You need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food.”

Are teenagers and college students searching for objective truth? Are they questioning whether Leftism, the fastest growing religious belief in American culture, or Christianity is objectively true? The answer is no.

What about young people who attend church? Surely, they are being taught how to examine their personal faith by testing their Christianity to answer the questions in life: How did the universe begin? Where did I come from? What is the source of evil and suffering? What is the foundation of human rights and the dignity of all people? What happens to me when I die? What is my purpose for living?

In their book ‘Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers”, Christian Smith and Melinda Denton provide the answer:

“The majority of teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their faith, religious beliefs and practices, and its place in their lives. The dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what they call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’, with the following points: 1) A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth; 2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions; 3) The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; 4) God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem; and 5) Good people go to heaven when they die.”

Why are many young people so inarticulate on their faith in Jesus Christ? Dinesh D’Souza, author of the best-selling book ‘What’s So Great About Christianity?’, explains:

“The Christianity I learned was very juvenile. You could call it Crayon Christianity, and so it was very vulnerable to skeptical assault.”

As our verse this week tells us, “Crayon Christianity” existed in biblical times. But the source of truth and wisdom was the Bible. Today, our universities see themselves, not the Bible, as the source of truth and wisdom.

When our youngsters leave us and head to college, are they equipped to give answers for why their faith in Jesus Christ can stand the tests of truth, or is it a “Crayon Christianity” that will easily wither under the scrutiny of leftist, secular professors? Dinesh D’Souza expounds on this critical issue: “As Christians we are sending our children off and they are going to get a withering attack on their faith. We’ve got to prepare our children. We can’t just prepare them with, ultimately, scriptural truth, we also have to prepare them with intellectual and moral defenses, so that they can fend off the attacks that will surely come.”

Why does D’Souza think we parents are “sending our children off to be attacked on their faith”? In his book “How Religious are America’s College and University Professors?”, Neil Gross found that “25% of college professors are professing atheists or agnostics (5-7% of the general population is atheistic or agnostic). Only 6% of professors said the Bible is ‘the actual word of God’. 51% described it as ‘an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts.’ 75% believe religion does not belong in public schools.”

Christian Smith and Melinda Denton provide further research, this time on why our college students are leaving Christianity. Here are their top five findings: “1) The primary reason is intellectual doubt and skepticism; 2) It didn’t make any sense anymore; 3) There are too many questions that can’t be answered; 4) Some stuff is too far-fetched for me to believe; 5) I think scientifically and there is no real proof.”

Over 20 years ago, Tom Bisset published his book entitled “Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith”, where he identified the top four reasons they abandoned their faith: “1) They had troubling, unanswered questions about the faith; 2) Their faith was not “working” for them; 3) They allowed other things to take priority; 4) They never personally owned their faith.” All these reasons are alive and well today in our young people.

So what’s the answer? How do our Christian teenagers and college students prepare themselves to not only survive but thrive in a leftist, secular America? Again, our verse this week tell us – be sure they can articulate the truth behind “the basic principles of the oracles of God”, which are embodied in our founding documents and are displayed in the Ten Commandments which hang on above the Supreme Court:

  1. All of us are created equally by our Creator, the God of the Bible
  2. God has granted us inalienable rights that no government can take away
  3. These rights come with individual moral accountability to God
  4. God has provided the solution for our sins in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #339

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