A very common reason why many young adults leave the faith is because they find that the Bible is not trustworthy. David Kinnaman discusses this in his book You Lost Me (which I highly recommend. Read my review of the book). Today I had the opportunity to discuss the issue with Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis in an interview about his book Already Gone (read my review here). What it all comes down to is the fact that many of our young adults are being captivated by the allure of science and rejecting the validity of the Bible. As a result, many of them are asking the question, “Can the Bible be trusted?”
Our response to this question needs to be tempered by an understanding of where the question is coming from. When an individual asks if science can be trusted, the world says, “Yes! You can test it for yourself. It’s built on a system of the scientific method which elliminates any variables to arrive at a difinitive truth.” We cannot combat this statement by simply saying that science is fallible. While there are many theories that are passed off as scientific fact, i.e. the THEORY of macro-evolution, it is not enough to attack the system and suggest that science is fallible. Experience and personal biases will deflate that argument. Furthermore, it’s not good enough to simply say that the Bible is infallible because it says it is and we have to accept it on those terms (as if our method is as testable as the scientific method).
The way to approach this problem is to admit that it is a philosophical conclusion, just like evolution. Both secular and Christian scientists practice the same methods and come up with different results. Those results are equal on a playing field of philosophical theories, but they are not equal in the scheme of theological understanding. Science cannot explain or prove God.
The strongest argument to prove the validity of the Word of God is to start with the existence of God. Yes, this is circular reasoning, but so is evolution. Admitting this will eliminate the rebuttal which is sure to follow. This is how a discussion for the authority of God’s Word looks like philosophically. (I am not an accredited apologist, or the greatest argumatician. I’m a simple theologian who has used this argument on several occasions to present the gospel, which should always be our point in defending the gospel and debating with unbelievers.)
An Argument for the Authority of God’s Word
Let’s start with the premise that God is real. (This is not where I would begin with an atheist)
If God is real, what would He be like? If God is not sovereign, namely He can be controlled and manipulated by man, then He is not God. (In every discussion I’ve ever had with an unbeliever who believes in ‘a god’, it hasn’t been very difficult to convince them that God must be sovereign and fitting the character described in Scripture.)
If God is sovereign, how are we to learn about Him? We would need an authority. You and I could disagree about who, what, where, or why God is, but that would make us the authority. If we are the authority, then God is not sovereign. We are. But if we are all equally authoritative, then God couldn’t be everything that we individually describe Him to be, so then we would really be describing ourselves and our own imagination of God.
Therefore, there must be an outward source of authority to determine who, what, where, and why is God. This authority must be accepted by those who trust God and believe in God. It must have rules and terms and be able to stand up to scrutiny. It must be unified and concise. By faith I come to the Bible and read it as that authority.
If the Bible is the authority of God, I have to assume that the Bible is accurate. Why would God allow a book to be written about Himself that portrayed Him wrongly? If the Bible is accurate in portraying Him and the only means I have in knowing about God I must be able to learn about Him through the study of the book. If that study is accurate, then experience should coincide with what I believe to be true about God in this book. Therefore, when the Bible says things that I can’t imagine – miracles, prophecy, worldview – I can be confident and trust what it says.
I therefore conclude that the Bible is the sole authority for theology and religion.
How I KNOW the Bible Is God’s Word
I’m convinced by this argument. Perhaps someone will see it as weak, but I started by saying that it is something I have accepted philosophically so whether someone wants to debate me or not is irrelevant. You cannot debate subjective truth. These kind of arguments are much better for those who are already born again. It’s hard to comprehend something that is built upon faith received from the Holy Spirit.
Now, my confidence that the Bible is true is built on more than a philosophical argument. My evidence is found in my faith, which produces hope, which produces a love for God and His Word. An unbeliever will not be able to understand an argument that approaches our undaunted trust in the Bible with faith, hope, and love because they are dead and blind. God has not opened their eyes to understand or comprehend the truth.
One of the major problems to why we are losing so many people, due to the fact that they have lost a trust in the Bible, is because they have not experienced the truths of God’s Word. They have not been challenged to seek God, to go to His Word to learn about Him, and they have not tested them to see if they were so. Basically, what we have told them to do is, “Just keep the faith, trust the Bible, and behave.” This is not a sufficient enough answer for them to stick around and personalize their faith. If we haven’t taught them how to make their faith their own, there is no reason why they should stay and recapitulate our expectations. That is a dead faith anyway and it’s not any better than their leaving it altogether.
(A Sort of Rabbit Trail)
Last night, Dr. John DeBrine and I went to a church here on the Cape to encourage their prayer meeting. John made a statement that really got my mind moving. The main reason why prayer meetings don’t generate a large attendance and why many people dread going to them (myself included) is because no one sees it working. Most of the time spent in prayer is about people who are sick. They have the same prayer requests every week. No change. The church isn’t praying for the church, but for problems. John said, “When was the last time you had something you were praying for happen that you couldn’t explain by anything other than God did it?” I don’t consider experience an authority, but lack of experience is a pretty good argument against a faith that works.
Young adults want to be engaged intellectually. Science is doing that. The church is just telling them to be quite, believe, and questioning their faith is not an option. While it is important to engage them intellectually, it is really the emotional connections that will cement their beliefs. When they have the ability to test science and experience the results they will believe the conclusions more than anything they have been indoctrinated to think. If we are going to engage the next generation we need to study up and know why we believe what we believe and then we need to model that in front of them. Finally, we need to challenge them to test their own faith. I’d much rather have a pagan in the family that new they weren’t a believer than someone who was mislead into thinking they were saved without really knowing the power of the cross.