A Christian professor is tackling the claim that young believers are “embarrassingly ignorant” of their faith in a new book intended to answer some of theology’s most asked questions.
Dr. Darrell Bock, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, joined co-authors Dr. Andreas J. Kostenberger and Dr. Josh Chatraw in tackling atheism, human suffering, perceived Biblical “mistakes” and other related themes in “Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World.”
Bock recently told TheBlaze that Christianity’s struggle to maintain its voice in U.S. culture might not actually be a bad thing — and highlighted the reasons he believes the faithful have struggled to articulate their religious views.
The central goal of “Truth Matters” is to help young Christians in particular understand and defend their faith by examining some common critiques of God and the Bible.
“We believe the church has done a very poor job of helping teens prepare for what they need on the university campus,” Bock said. “And we felt like pastors and youth leaders, not to mention students and parents, needed this basic help and orientation.”
Bock and his co-authors believe that many young people have been ill-prepared to deal with the scrutiny and tough questions they are sure to face — and that a shallow faith hasn’t enabled them to think deeply about Christianity’s more intricate elements.
“They are embarrassingly ignorant of our faith,” proclaims the book’s description, referencing experts’ analysis on young Christians.
Ignorance often leads to doubt, which led Bock to describe why so many young people simply aren’t prepared to handle these ideological and theological battles.
“There’s just a lot more information out there. There’s a lot more happening in terms of documentaries and specials,” he said. “It’s been happening really since the end of the 1990s … you’ve got a lot more niche channels … most of these shows are done through university settings.”
The author said that university experts presenting these projects tend to be more secular in nature and less likely to understand Christian theology. But that’s not the only factor at play.
Bock also said there are many Christians who aren’t attending church today and who are thus not receiving the theological training they need to form solid ideas about the faith.
“We have a lot of people who don’t go to church regularly,” he said. “What’s needed is making sure the full range of discussion gets out there.”
Furthermore, Bock believes that the church hasn’t done a very good job of interacting with the broader culture on complex theological issues.
These dynamics in mind, his goal with “Truth Matters” is to show Christians, both young and old, that they can have true faith in their religious worldview.
When asked how believers can be sure Christianity is “true,” the author highlighted the faith’s historical narrative.
“I think if you just look at the roots of how improbable the emergence of Christianity was historically — think about its origins,” Bock said. “It was tucked away in a tiny corner of the Roman Empire … involved people who had no political power whatsoever.”
He added, “If you just look at its emergence, that in itself is almost a supernatural story.”
Bock also discussed some of Christianity’s central figures — people he says were radically changed by the faith. Paul, who had previously persecuted Christians, is perhaps the most prevalent example of the sort of evolution he says belief in Jesus yields.
According to Bock, other faiths are “more of an ethic than they are a movement,” but that, in Christianity, “God fixes the problem for us,” whereas every other religion urges human beings to “fix the problem for ourselves.”
“If we were making it up, we’d do the old fashion way and we’d make sure we’d earn what we get,” he said of Christianity.
Bock also dismissed claims that some of the Bible’s stories were simply concocted.
“The idea that women would have been created to be witnesses to this event is something that doesn’t work culturally, because women couldn’t be witnesses,” he said of the Bible’s account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. “You wouldn’t have women be the first witnesses at the empty tomb.”
While Christianity is currently experiencing “a struggle to maintain a voice in the culture” in the U.S. and Europe, Bock said that the faith is actually growing exponentially in other parts of the world.
“At a global level, Christianity is doing very well … the global perspective is quite positive toward the faith,” Bock said.
As for those who might lament what they see as increased secularization in the U.S., Bock believes that there are some positives on the horizon, as he said that some “cultural Christians” who have traditionally embraced the faith because it is acceptable to do so have now stopped.
Rather than contributing to the watering down of the faith, he contends that their exit helps purify it.
Note: Professor Darrell Bock joined Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker on today’s Blazecast:
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