Years ago, as part of my undergrad, I took a course in theater. I’m not sure why I did it, and I felt tremendously out of place among all those talented individuals. I’m sure that was visible whenever I’d have to get in front of the class and act. However, on one particular occasion, I came across a word I didn’t know, and I proceeded to slowly sound it out. Afterward, the professor, who was more encouraging than he needed to be, said, “Here’s a trick I’ve learned about public speaking: if you are unsure about a word, say it with gusto and confidence. If you do that, the people who actually know the word won’t judge you for getting it wrong. Instead, your confidence will make them question if they’ve ever had it right”.
I think we as Christians have fallen prey to that tactic too often. Christianity is classified in the Scriptures as “foolishness” to the world (1 Corinthians 1:18). Yet the reverse is also true: to the one who has tasted and seen the glories of God, it seems unfathomably foolish not to see His handiwork and creative wonders in those two books of revelation: nature and Scripture (i.e. Psalm 19). However, when we cannot defend to others what seems obvious to us, we begin to question if we’ve had it wrong altogether.
This happens, for example, on college campuses...
A born-and-raised Christian will come from Sunday School, Church services, and out of a Christian school, only – when sitting opposite a secular college professor – to be tremendously unprepared to “make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Having been one of those college students, I speak from experience when I say your mouth dries up and you want to roll into a ball and die. I’ve heard a professor attack the Lord’s Supper as “religious cannibalism”, another professor say that Scriptures couldn’t be real because Jesus never laughs or dances. Another even simply waved her hand and dismissed Christianity and creationism as myth and fable. For me, I praise God that my faith wasn’t shaken, but I certainly had no defense to give.
Having led a youth group for several years, I’ve seen several young men and women move into college and hear of rock formations and geological records and so on that apparently prove evolution. Many of these kids have then turned around and dismissed Christianity. That troubles me, because no geological record can disprove sin or an empty tomb. Yet this is simply a microcosm of the broader trend, as where previous generations raised in the church have wandered and returned, many millennials have wandered and not returned. It seems my college professor was right: if you say something convincingly enough, others will start to doubt themselves – even if it isn’t true.
The question we’re left with then is why this is the case, and that’s what we’ll address next time. Until then, however, it’s worth asking if we’ve fallen for this as well. When we see how our country has shifted so far from its founding ideals, and how many churches have followed suit, we have to ask if we’re simply listening to the loudest voice instead of to God’s Word.
My name is Bryan Lanting. I am a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, and I am presently serving Mt View CRC as their pastor. I am married to a wonderful wife named Sydney, and both of us are loving life, loving Lynden, and loving the Lord!