Statistics tell us that more and more young adults are claiming no religious affiliation. Many young people blame God for the pain in their lives and have chosen not to follow God. Others have decided that God does not exist at all. Many of those who have chosen not to believe in God have become quite evangelistic in their anti-God rhetoric, using YouTube videos, seminars, blogs, and books that bolster their anti-God stance.
After having read several books written by authors who seek to deconstruct Christianity, I have noticed a number of similarities in them. It seems that several of the authors had a connection with more formal or liturgical churches during their childhood but dropped out of church in their teens or early adult life, primarily because that highly structured and often overly ritualistic church experience did not meet their spiritual needs. They falsely equate their personal church experiences with God. They also falsely believe that their church experience is the norm for all churches. They theorize that since their church experience was not relevant to their worldview, then God must not be relevant. They assume that churches, and by extension, God, cannot meet the spiritual needs of postmodern people. These writers are convinced that their negative personal experiences with religion somehow negate the positive personal experiences of hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. They are also convinced that since they have concluded that churches and God are both irrelevant to life, then God must not exist, and it would be acceptable to them if churches did not either.
Another similarity is that these writers ﬁnd extreme examples of religious abuse and then try to make the case that the extreme is actually the norm. For example, many of them will refer to violence that has happened somewhere in the world due to religious extremism. Then they wrongly conclude that all religious people are prone to violence. This could not be further from the truth. This approach ignores the reality that the vast majority of the followers of all religions are nonviolent. There will always be a small group of people who are willing to use religion to force their will on others. That has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with those individuals’ quest for power. Those same types of people will also use money, politics, education, or the legal system to force their will on others. Their quest for power is what fuels their fervor, not their faith.
Another similarity is that these authors omit any discussion of the weaknesses of nonreligious people. They will discuss in great detail the violence of a handful of religious extremists, but they fail to mention the violence of atheist governments such as China, Cuba, or the former Soviet Union. These nations did terrible things to their own people in the name of atheism. And they were not led by a handful of extremists; they were led by large numbers of officials who enacted policies for entire nations. Yet somehow this fact escapes the notice of those who want to portray only religious people in a negative light.
Many young people have read these books and have been deeply inﬂuenced by them. These books automatically classify religious ideas as illogical. They portray people who hold to a sincere faith in God as naive or uneducated at best, and at worst, as using faith to deliberately manipulate people’s emotions for selﬁsh gain. It is easy to see why so many young people consider themselves as non-religious after enduring this barrage of anti-religious propaganda. In the next few posts we will continue to explore this strain of thinking that has become so prevalent in our society.
Adapted from Dr. Dorsett’s book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway Christian Resources.