I heard these questions from young people in the 1980s, but they tended to die down (at least among young people in my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, who were then in the midst of our conservative resurgence). With no desire to use this post to enter into theological debates, I want to review some of the same questions I’m beginning to hear again—often, among college students raised in Christian homes.
- “How do I know the Bible is true?” Few young people I know are willing to accept their parent’s faith at face value. They respect the Bible, but that doesn’t mean they always accept it as truth.
- “If God is love, won’t He accept love in any relationship?” Some young folks accept the Bible’s description of God as love, but they turn to other sources to define that love. They thus broaden their definition beyond biblical parameters.
- “Does it really matter whether I go to church?” “If my faith is between me and God,” some say, “I don’t really need to be part of a church.” A spirit of individualism overshadows any sense of needing other believers as witnesses and encouragers.
- “Might there be more than one way to God?” Often raised among followers of other world faiths, many young people struggle understanding why God would judge their friends and classmates.
- “Who cares what denomination the church is?” The question is an honest one for a generation raised in local churches that often themselves exhibited little denominational connection or loyalty.
- “How do I know if this whole ‘religion thing’ isn’t just manmade?” They hear that thinking from others at times, and few believers have taken the time to try to answer that question.
Maybe these questions aren’t so new after all. Perhaps they’re simply a reminder of an important truth for church leaders: just because we tried to answer the questions in one generation doesn’t mean they won’t come around again. And, if we aren’t willing to hear and tackle the questions, we’ll lose another generation.