We Need to Get Rid of Faith by Brett Kunkle: “In today’s culture, the word ‘faith’ comes with too much baggage. For many, faith is a blind, arbitrary leap in the dark that has no relationship to reason, evidence, or knowledge. So let me make a suggestion. Let’s use the word ‘trust’ instead. ‘Trust’ accurately communicates the biblical idea of faith. In addition, it helps us reunite true faith with reason, evidence, and knowledge. Why? Because we know people only put their trust in what they have good reason to believe is true.” (Read more)
Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God? by Alan Shlemon: “We need to recognize that ‘God’ is not God’s name. It’s more like the title of a position. The position is a what, but the person who fills that position is a who. It’s helpful to think of it as a public office. The president, for example, is the title of a position, but a unique person occupies that office and fulfills its duties. In the same way, God is the title of the position or office. Both Christians and Muslims believe in the same what – a God whose duties include things like creating, receiving worship, and judging. They differ on who they believe is the person who occupies that position. Muslims believe that person is Allah and Christians believe it is Yahweh.” (Read more)
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Ryan Bell, a former pastor and adjunct professor at a Christian college and seminary, is giving atheism a try:
“I’m making it official and embarking on a new journey. I will ‘try on’ atheism for a year. For the next 12 months I will live as if there is no God. I will not pray, read the Bible for inspiration, refer to God as the cause of things or hope that God might intervene and change my own or someone else’s circumstances.”
Bell is interviewed about the experiment here. He even has his own website to document the journey: YearWithoutGod.com. Unfortunately, I think Bell’s journey is misguided.
First, it seems obvious that raising doubts and questions about one’s Christianity is not the same thing as actually trying on and living out the beliefs of an entirely antithetical worldview. It’s like having struggles in my marriage, and rather than go to counseling, I decide to “try on” bachelorhood for a year. “Honey, for the next 12 months I will live as if there is no marriage here. I will not talk to you, I will not go out on dates with you, refer to you as the cause of home-cooked meals or clean laundry or hope that you might intervene in any of my affairs.” Guess where that journey ends? In divorce. Similarly, does anyone think Bell’s experiment will have any other ending but God expelled from his life?
Our approach to doubt should be one of openness, but also of caution. We should create safe spaces for people to get their doubts out on the table and grapple with them. However, we must not doubt God lightly or haphazardly. Doubt can lead you into deeper waters of trust in God, but doubt can also drown all remnants of faith too. And if Christianity is true, the consequences are eternal. Therefore, when it comes to our views about fundamental reality, our questions should cause us to think them out and reflect deeply before we start living out an entirely different worldview. Thankfully, God has equipped us with a rational mind to do just that.
So, is Bell going all the way in this journey? Will he lean fully into the absurdity of life without God? Or will he do what many atheists do and live on borrowed capital from a Christian worldview, which has the intellectual resources to sustain objective meaning and morality? If Bell doesn’t attempt to live out the logical consequences of atheism, he won’t really get the full taste of life without God, and thus, his assessment will be inadequate.
Well, if Ryan Bell is misguided in his journey of doubt, are there other ways of doubting that are better or more helpful? Yes, I think we can actually doubt well. Think about it, what’s the purpose of doubting? The end goal should be the discovery of truth. And there are better ways to find the truth than trying on atheism. If you struggle with doubt, don’t follow Ryan Bell’s lead. Gary Habermas is a much better guide. His free online book, Dealing With Doubt, will give you greater insight into the nature and causes of doubt and offer wise counsel as you travel your own journey of doubt.
Well, our Rethink Conference preregistration numbers suggest we do. With over 400 students, youth leaders, and parents already signed up, we have further evidence that youth are hungry for this kind of conference. Why? Because it's not the typical youth camp or conference, where students may be entertained, may have a lot of "fun," may be wowed with bells and whistles, but who may not walk away equipped with anything more than a temporary hyped-up experience.
Students want parents and church leadership to step up their training. The Center for Parent & Youth Understanding (CPYU) conducted interviews with students who had grown up in the church and were now in college. This is the kind of thing CPYU heard again and again:
CPYU: As you reflect on your church youth group experience, what are some things you wish your youth group would have done more of to prepare you for college?
Gabrielle: I was in several youth groups in high school and unfortunately found that youth group was too “soft”—we played a lot of games and had a lot of fun retreats, but rarely learned about the fundamentals of faith, why we believe what we believe, and what it is that we do believe. Now that I am in college, my faith is under constant scrutiny and always being tested by scientific concepts and the secular slant of most universities. I wish I had been equipped with a more solid justification for my faith: knowing how to answer the tough questions, how to respond to arguments, and how to stand firm in what feels like a storm against my spirituality.
Students want us to raise the bar of expectations and that's what Rethink does. This conference on October 25-26 will equip students with knowledge of the truth and the ability to defend the truth. There will be 8 hours of training on topics like abortion, the problem of evil, worldviews, intelligent design, tolerance and more. So what are you waiting for? Sign up today and plan to bring your students. You don't live in Southern California? That's not stopping others, as people will be traveling from out-of-state for Rethink.
Not convinced students need this kind of training? Check out these videos that might help persuade you and others.
Here is True U's "The Toughest Test in College" promo video:
I’ve never had someone
cry after my atheist role-play. Until now.
In September, I
had the opportunity to speak to a group of parents from Village Academy
Christian School in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Earlier in the day, I taught the junior and senior high
students at chapel and spoke to three different twelfth grade classes. I role played an atheist with the seniors,
to give them a glimpse of the intellectual challenges awaiting them at college,
and decided to give the parents, who had come out for an evening lecture, a
glimpse in the same way.
There was no surprise factor. The parents knew who I was and the Christian organization I
represented. Indeed, I told the
audience what I was about to do, turned my back on them for just a moment, and
then turned round again in full atheist character. I jumped into my role and they jumped into theirs,
attempting to defend the faith against atheist professor “Dr. Kunkle.” Sadly, they were ill equipped to handle
my challenges. I was glad to see
their fighting spirit, but their responses were only vigorous in style, not
substance. After half-an-hour,
many parents were exasperated and I ended the role-play.
“How was that for you?” I asked. “Extremely frustrating,” was the immediate parental
“Why was it so frustrating?” I pressed. One mom blurted out, “Because I didn’t
have any good answers.” As soon as
the words left her mouth, tears began streaming down her cheeks. It was a painful recognition of her own
inadequacy, and she knew what was at stake. As I glanced around the room, other parents were nodding in
agreement, eyes moist with their own tears.
Caught off guard, I began to tear up, too. I felt such compassion for these
good-hearted yet unequipped parents. Quickly gathering my emotions, I looked that mom in the eyes and gently
replied, “I know exactly how you feel.
I felt that way, too, when Dr. David Lane was dismantling my
Christianity in front of my peers, in my college philosophy class.” I told the parents my story and
encouraged them to prepare themselves so, in turn, they can prepare their own
Afterward, parent after parent thanked me. They expressed their deep appreciation
for the wake-up call, despite the accompanying painful realizations. And the mom who burst into tears? She walked up and gave me a big
hug. Then she shared how her
21-year old son, a student at Duke University, had turned his back on Christ
while at college. She was
convicted to begin a dialogue with him, as well as with her second son, a
junior at Village Academy. I
encouraged her, shared some resources, and gave her my email address with an
open invitation to contact me anytime.
Oftentimes, we don’t take the necessary steps toward growth
until we’re made to feel uncomfortable. That night, parents at Village Academy Christian School felt very
uncomfortable and they were motivated
to make changes. But what about you? If you were confronted by the claims of an atheist or skeptic, how would you answer? Could you answer? And can you prepare your kids to answer? If you're unsure or if the answer is "no," we hope to be your ally.
Join us at the end of this month, October 25-26, for the Rethink Student Apologetics conference. For students who are in junior high all the way through college, Rethink will equip them "to give a reason for the hope" they have in Christ (I Peter 3:15). We'll cover topics like evil, tolerance, Islam, the resurrection of Jesus, abortion, worldviews, and more. Adults are welcome, as long as you bring at least one student with you!