-by Thomas Fretwell
A fierce battle is being waged for the hearts and minds of our young people. Christian youth are being assaulted on every front by worldviews and beliefs that challenge the very foundations of their faith. From the science classroom, to the entertainment industry, they are being force-fed a steady diet of secularism and evolutionary propaganda. This narrative is so pervasive in our culture that it has essentially been protected by a wall of political correctness, which stifles reasoned debate under the guise of ‘tolerance’.
Are we equipping our youth for this battle?
A robust Christian faith should be able to provide answers to challenging questions that arise from competing worldviews. We must take seriously the responsibility of the older generation to pass on the knowledge of God to the younger generation.
This is a question that we all have to ask ourselves, especially parents and youth leaders. Or are we sending them out unprepared? We cannot shy away from hard questions. On the contrary, a robust Christian faith should be able to provide answers to challenging questions that arise from competing worldviews. We must take seriously the apologetic mandate found in verses like 1 Peter 3:15. The Bible is equally clear on the responsibility of the older generation to pass on the knowledge of God to the younger generation (Deuteronomy 6:6–7, Psalm 78:5–7.).
When Joshua entered the Promised Land, he was told to make sure that the book of the Law did not depart from his mouth, to meditate on it, and obey all that was written. Only then would he have success (Joshua 1:8). Yet, tragically, by the time we get to the book of Judges, Joshua and his generation have passed away: “there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, or the work that He had done for Israel” Judges 2:10. This failure to pass on the knowledge of God to the younger generation led to the moral decline we see in Judges when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 17:6. This closely parallels the situation of our day in which man’s opinions have replaced the authority of Scripture.
What message are we sending to our youth about the authority of the Bible?
We see the battle for hearts and minds being fought on many fronts, in the classroom, in the media, and in the courts. We exert our resources fighting the fruits of secularism, yet we often see little fruit. Why is this? It is because these are only symptoms of the problem and not the cause. The real battle is taking place elsewhere! It is an all-out attack on the authority of the Word of God. If we allow this to be set-aside in one area, this will undermine our entire foundation. We must understand this as we seek to equip and train our youth to stand strong in this culture.
Although the entire Bible is the subject of attack, probably the fiercest battle is being fought over the historicity of Genesis chapters 1 to 11. Unfortunately, this battle is being waged on two fronts; not only the clash with the secular culture but also the compromise from segments of the Church. Did God really create in six days? Is death really a result of the Fall? Was there really a global Flood? All these questions and many others are being asked by the culture and are a challenge to our young people, and all too often the Church has no adequate answers. Sadly, many apologists and theologians have considered these issues to be divisive, secondary issues that only hinder the mission of the Church. As such, they do not see the problem of accepting the evolutionary idea of billions of years and merging it with the Bible. Many are seemingly unaware of the inconsistency this creates with the Biblical record and the bad example it gives to our youth.
Is their faith being undermined or strengthened?
This is a massive problem. The culture screams at them, “The earth is billions of years old, and we evolved over millions of years!”, and the Church whispers back at them, “Don’t worry about that, it’s too divisive, just have faith in Jesus!” So what happens when they study the New Testament and see that Jesus clearly taught that humans have been around “from the beginning of creation” (Mark 10:6)? Surely this phrase only makes sense if Jesus is referencing day six of creation week; but evaporates into meaninglessness if a 4.5 billion year old earth is true.
Jesus believed in a historical Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4), Noah’s Ark and the global Flood (Luke 17:26–27), and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15). Very evidently He considered the early chapters of Genesis to be historically accurate. You see, if a leader tells them to trust in Jesus and that His Word is true (John 17:17), but then also says it is fine to believe in millions of years, a local flood, and death before the fall, that person has actually undermined the very words of the One he is telling them to believe in. This inconsistency shows that such a leader does not really believe that the truthfulness and authority of the Bible extends to the early chapters of Genesis.
For our younger generation, this inconsistency is only one small step away from questioning the veracity of the words of Jesus himself. “If Jesus was wrong about Noah’s Ark and the Flood, what else was He wrong about?” they ask. At this point, Biblical authority is so undermined that other areas of the Bible, which the culture does not agree with, become suspect too.
If we want to help our youth stand firm against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:10–11), we need to do all in our power to make sure we pass on the message of Biblical authority, and this has to begin with the very first verse!
Thomas Fretwell works full time but is also an associate tutor in apologetics at Kings Evangelical Divinity School (UK). He serves as an elder and in youth ministry in his local church.