Walking Away from the Faith, Part 1: The Perfection of God (revised)

Rick Mattson Apologetics 12 Comments

How can the church prevent its young people from leaving the faith?

I don’t know, exactly. But perhaps the current exodus from the church is at least partially our fault.

Recently I encountered  a now-adult atheist who grew up in the church but became disillusioned with God in his teen years because God didn’t perform as advertised. God didn’t answer prayer in the way he’d come to expect.

I’m afraid young people have gotten the impression that God is “perfect” by some worldly definition of perfection, perhaps along these lines:

For the faithful and righteous believer, God answers prayers, provides health and prosperity, chases away sadness and despair, and shows up when needed. Every single time.

* * *

But there’s a different perfection at work in the Bible. Perfect required Abram to wait twenty-five years for a promise to be fulfilled. Perfect commanded the people of Israel to wipe out the Canaanites, chose Jacob over Esau, and established a portion of the Messianic line through incest and foreign (non-Jewish) persons.

Perfect came to us in the manger, the donkey and the cross. And of course the resurrection. This is the perfection young people need to learn. Perhaps they will then adjust their expectations accordingly.

Next post: Walking away, angry at the church.

 

 

 

Comments 12

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  1. Good one. And yet I want to weep, because of those who are shelving their belief and leaving the faith. So grateful for you and those like you who study and persevere. Keep on fighting the good fight.

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      Yes, Laurel, sad. But few walk away from a full, robust understanding of Biblical Christianity. Usually it’s a twisted version of the faith they reject (as do I).

  2. Some keen insights written with precision, as always.

    Disappointment proceeds the disillusionment and the disillusionment is difficult to overcome. Not because those that have moved away don’t return from time to time hopeful to find the water they are thirsty for. They do.

    But when they return, the water that is offered is frequently drawn from the same perfected, tepid, shallow, safe well from which was the source of their disappointment in the first place.

    There’s much to explore here for all of us. I thank you for your ongoing Ministry, Rick.

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      I appreciate the good word, Mike. I gave only one example of a “leaver” in the post, but I encounter them all the time. Disappointment with God and the church is the number one reason I hear for their decision to walk away from the faith.

  3. I so agree. We have failed to lay out the whole picture from Genesis to Revelation and the what mankind did to the perfection of God with his free will. We tend to want heaven on earth. Sharon

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  4. The attitude of peers and the interaction on social media plays such a large part in the beliefs of modern-day youth. And interaction now comes from global sources. I feel there is much less response to and care about what their parents feel – and much due from lack of authenticity in what they have seen. I think so much of the older generation is still fairly clueless regarding the issues involved with the unbelief in this generation.

    Continued prayers.

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      Thanks Rhoda. Could be. Nor is the young generation a single voice. That’s my fear in generalizing about them as I have — that any specific assessment will be accurate for only a portion of young people and not the rest. Given that caution, however, I think it’s still worthwhile to put ideas out there.

  5. I recently read a book for seminary co-authored by a millennial and a PhD missiologist. It captured well this tension: this generation WANTS Jesus – they just can’t seem to find him portrayed clearly in the church. This is a strong wake up call and certainly sobering for those of us involved in church planting. What we say about Jesus matters now more than ever!

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      Michele, I’d like to see churches and ministries make a CAREFUL reading of the Gospels, and thereby see Jesus emerge in 3D. We should let him surprise us. I’m afraid too often we already know what’s there . . . so we miss what’s there.

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