How would you respond to someone who points out (correctly) that there are more differences between the New Testament manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament? What about if someone claims that there is no proof for the existence of God, therefore why should anyone believe? Or perhaps the recent controversy over “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”?

The statistics of church dropout rates for young adults have been alarming for many years. Children raised in purportedly conservative, “evangelical”[1] churches simply drop out of Christianity. Sometimes it’s an intentional rejection of the faith of their youth; other times it’s apathy – the church and Christianity (as they understand it) is no longer worth the effort.

One significant reason for this phenomenon is quite simply that churches are not grounding their people, including their youth, in “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). When these adolescents and young adults encounter the radical skepticism of our culture, which is continually arming itself for warfare against Christians and the Bible, they’re defenseless. They don’t know what they believe and why they believe it. There are basically two options for them at this point: adopting a fundamentalist, head-in-the-sand faith that has no response to the skeptics and which can’t distinguish fact from fiction; or walking away.

At Gethsemane, we try very hard to look deeply into God’s word, week after week after week. But I’m not willing to assume that that’s enough. We have to acknowledge the skepticism and respond to it head-on. I’ve been using the phrase “Foundations of the Faith” just so I had a way to refer to this series of studies. Maybe we should call it, “Destroying Strongholds,” from 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

The goal of these studies is to equip all believers in the essentials of Christianity, specifically with a view to how these Christian essentials are being attacked by our secular culture and how we can respond. The format is intended to be informal, relaxed, with open question-and-answer. I’m planning to do them once per month, mostly because that’s the rate at which I can prepare. Lord willing, I’m going to start by looking at the reliability of the Bible.

Please be praying that God is behind this effort and is glorified by it. I look forward to seeing you for the first study, Wednesday March 15, 7:00 – 8:00 PM, at the church.

 

[1] I put evangelical in quotes here because the term is no longer used in its historical sense. I’d like to think Gethsemane stands squarely in the historical lineage of evangelicalism. I’d prefer we all go back to that definition.