In his article, “Why Some Younger Evangelicals are Leaving the Faith,” Terry Shoemaker, Lecturer of Religious Studies, Arizona State University offers several reasons why.
What I found interesting about this article is that a religious lecturer could write on such an important issue without mentioning what the Bible has to say on his topic. In other words, nothing is mentioned as to why people leave the Church from a Biblical perspective.
What Mr. Shoemaker observes is not without value, though he selectively targets white evangelicals for comment. The media’s obsession with being critical of Caucasians, while unfortunate, is typical of the current society in which we live.
It is instructive to realize that many people are leaving the Christian faith, or worse, do not even have a faith to leave. According to Shoemaker, “millennials are likely to not practice or identify with religion.”
Some reasons are given as to why white evangelicals are rejecting the Christian religion.
First, there is frustration that conservative Churches preach “God, country, and the Republican Party.”
Second, there is a rejection of the idea that God seeks to regulate the lives of the faithful. A more progressive idea of God is preferred.
Third, Shoemaker says that his research reveals the younger generation is fatigued with the evangelical position on racism and sexuality. What is implied is that young people believe the Christian religion teaches racism and is opposed to sexuality.
Fourth, apparently the youth of America do not want the Church to engage in a Cultural War. They do not want to hear people labeled as liberals, secularists, or atheists. Even if the identifications are important and correct, the labels offend social sensibilities and causes angst.
Fifth, the youth want to challenge the position of the Church on political issues such as immigration. Being indoctrinated with the idea of open borders, and the brotherhood of humanity, national boundaries are deemed to be offensive, at least to Jerry, one of Shoemaker’s interviewees who lives in North Carolina and grew up Methodist. “When it came to issues of immigration, we wanted our kids to know what it means to be an outsider. We want our kids to have a global experience.” Accord to Shoemaker, Jerry’s theological interpretation of the Bible has taught Jerry to welcome outsiders, and he applied this to national borders.
Sixth, the Bible is no longer to be the basis of authority on how a Christian should live. Freedom is taken to replace an evangelical interpretation of Scripture with one’s own cultural awareness. With a modern sophisticate ideology, Jerry articulated his position. “As opposed to looking to the Bible or church for answers, let’s have a multicultural world perspective to answer those questions.”
In conclusion Shoemaker notes that while Jerry, Sarah, Brandy, and some of the other 75 people he interviewed have turned from evangelical Christianity, some still attend a religious service, only one more progressive, meaning, one that agrees with their own private interpretation of Scripture, and the doctrine of sin, salvation, God, the gospel, race, sex, immigration, and multi-culturalism.
While the voice of young people deserves a hearing, the Church must always be committed to a historic and Biblical faith. The Bible commands Christians to defend the faith which has been entrusted to it. Not a faith that changes, but a faith that lives and abides forever. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
When the historic and Biblical faith is not understood and defended, when the Word of God is doubted, when the Lordship of Christ is rejected, the end result is predictable. The gospel will be transformed to fit a contemporary understanding and theological preference which inevitably manifests itself in ungodliness and a denial of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jude described what happened in his generation.
“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).
History is repeating itself through people named Jerry, Sarah, and Brandy.
Now understand from the Word of God the real reason why people leave the Christian faith, regardless of their age, lifestyle, cultural biases, or political ideology. Simply put, these people have never been born of God. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19).
To all who read these words, the question comes, “Will you too go away from the Church, from the Lordship of Christ, and from the historic faith?” May God the Holy Spirit keep you from being taken over by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Amen.