Is Atheism the Reason Millennials are Leaving the Church?

Part 2: A Response to the Friendly Atheist

By Robin Schumacher

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Continued from Page One

Closer to the Truth

Turning his attention to Christians themselves, Mr. Mehta says, "A 2012 study by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that many Christians aged 18-24 felt that Christianity was hypocritical (49%), judgmental (54%) and anti-gay (58%)." Later, he says that Christian leaders have "played sloppy defense" and failed to address key challenges to the faith and that "more than anything else, atheism's best advertisements may be the words of Christian leaders themselves".

Here, in my opinion, Mehta is on much more solid footing.

The statistics used by the "friendly atheist" where Christian impressions are concerned are those of David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group (who Mehta loves to quote without the explanations or cures Kinnaman prescribes for the issues he highlights), who found that the term "evangelical" among millennial and similar age groups resulted in nearly half of them having a bad impression, 47% being neutral and only 3% having a good impression.[11] Moreover, a full eighty-five percent (85%) of Kinnaman's surveyed group said that Christians are best known for a hypocritical lifestyle.[12]

My response here is twofold. First, it should be acknowledged that when the media continually parades the handful of individuals comprising the Westboro Baptist church as something representing Christ vs. the many Christians who truly mirror Jesus, it is no wonder that millennials can sometimes be sour on Christianity. Here I would simply repeat the words of Augustine: do not judge a philosophy by its abuse.[13]

Second, we need to swallow our medicine when it's rightly prescribed. While the philosophical problem of evil is normally the number one intellectual argument cited by Christian skeptics as to why they don't believe[14], by far, the biggest reason many unbelievers call out (when pushed) as to why they ultimately turn from Christ is because they consistently see professing Christians failing to reflect their Lord.[15]

On playing "sloppy defense", sadly, I've seen this happen too many times, which is why I wrote the article "The Tragedy of the Dumb Church" some time ago.

Lastly, it is indeed depressing to see how the various immoral, idolatrous, and downright ignorant actions of certain Christian figureheads have tarnished the Church of Jesus Christ in recent years. Of course, many godly leaders have done just the opposite over their tenures, but their lives are routinely ignored by the press.

Again, while I disagree with much of what Mehta says in his article, on these points he must be given credit and we as Christians need to take action to correct the issues he cites.

Continue to Page Three: The Overarching Flaw
Continue to Footnotes

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Published 8-20-13