How many people in your life (family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances) consider themselves Christian? Think about this for a moment. If you’re like the average American Christian, you personally know many others who claim to share your faith in Christ–probably hundreds if you include casual acquaintances.
Now consider this. Studies show that only 9% of evangelical Christian adults and only 3% of evangelical Christian youth have a worldview that corresponds with orthodox Christianity.
Think of it this way: less than 1 out of 10 self-described evangelical Christian adults live their life consistently with their faith.
Here’s an illustration for you. A recent study* of evangelical Christian youth (the future of our churches!) found that:
10% are Deist (perceive God as original Creator that never intervenes in the world or hears prayers)
33% believe in reincarnation
23% are not convinced that miracles are factual
42% are unsure if evil spirits actually exist
48% believe that many religions besides Christianity may be true (religious pluralism)
We’re not talking about high school kids in general here; we’re talking specifically about youth who identify themselves as evangelical Christians. These numbers are alarming to say the least, and they strongly attest to the desperate need for apologetics education in our churches.
Consider 2 Corinthians 10:3-5–“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (NASB).
One of the things Paul is teaching us here is that our warfare is spiritual and a significant part of that warfare is fighting to destroy “speculations” made against the knowledge of God. The NIV version translates that word as “arguments” against the knowledge of God. In order to be effective warriors in our ongoing battle against the Enemy and to succeed in the Great Commission, we must be able to tear down false teachings and arguments against our faith. With the necessary knowledge we will not only ensure the integrity of our own worldview (which directly influences how we live), we will also help raise up a generation equipped to influence the culture for Christ rather than one that falls prey to our increasingly relativistic (true for you but not true for me) society.
I realize that not everyone is called to the deep study of apologetics, but I am convinced that it is the responsibility of each and every Christian to understand the essential teachings of Christianity, to know why it is an exclusive faith, and to be aware that there are sound arguments against non-Christian and anti-Christian teachings. Knowing that solid answers exist and how to access those answers when they are needed is an indispensable weapon for every Christian’s arsenal.
* These statistics are quoted from a lecture by Sean McDowell that was given at a Dallas, Texas conference on November 2, 2010. I attended the lecture, but failed to write down the source of these statistics. However, I trust Sean’s commitment to the use of credible source material.