We talked about imaginative apologetics last week, and I want to talk a little bit about why apologetics is so important in the world right now.
I saw a rather disturbing statistic that showed that there is a massive number of millennials who claim to be Christians but do not have a biblical worldview.
According to the American Culture & Faith Institute, only 4% of adults between the ages of 20 and 29 could be described as an Integrated Disciple. This research defined an Integrated Disciple as one who, “people who are designated as having a biblical worldview based on integrating their beliefs and behavior into a lifestyle that reflects foundational biblical principles.”
To translate this into straightforward English, only 4% of millennials are actually looking like Christians. Sure, some people might identify as Christian; Christianity is still the cultural default especially in many parts of America. However, only 4% of millennials actually have a biblical worldview that influences their behavior. Only 4% of people in this age group actually try to apply a traditional Christian value system to their everyday lives.
This frightens me for several reasons.
First of all, as a Christian, I do grieve for the souls of those who have chosen separation from God. They have rejected the offer of reconciliation that God has made freely available to all who will simply ask for forgiveness of sins. This is the first and most obvious problem with a generation that is actively running away from God.
Another potential problem is that only 10% of all adults live as Integrated Disciples, but 46% claim that they do. In other words, 36% of the people surveyed said that they had a biblical worldview, but when they were asked specific questions about traditional Christianity, it turned out that their worldview was not very biblical. Their worldview did not line up with the traditions of Christianity that they claimed to subscribe to.
A major problem with that is when people come up to the 36% of Christians in name only and ask them why they are Christias. The reasons they are giving are not traditional Christian reasons. Of course, there is room for some diversity of opinion in Christian circles; we obviously do not believe exactly the same things on every single issue, but this study specifically asked about fundamental beliefs that have been traditionally seen as fundamental to Christianity. These were not questions of whether or not you are young earth or old earth creationist for example where two Christians might very well answer in different ways and simultaneously remain Christian.
These 36% are using the label of Christians, but they are not practicing what they preach, so the world really has no idea what Christians are. If 10% of all adults and only 4% of millennials are actually living as Integrated Disciples, or Christians who actually seek to live as Christians, then no wonder our culture has a hard time figuring out why we as Christians are the way we are.
I suppose that’s the challenge then for you and for me, and that is part of why I write this website as well. I was not a part of this study, but I subscribe to traditional Christianity, and I certainly do try to apply it to my life to the best of my ability. Obviously I am imperfect, so I do not apply it perfectly all the time, but I do try. I think I would have been categorized as one of these Integrated Disciples.
Those of us who subscribe to traditional Christianity must be very public about it. If we believe that it really is good, and if we believe that it is something that other people ought to know, then the minority of us who actually believe that Christianity is important need to be the ones talk about it because obviously there are not very many others who will.
Our brand of Christianity is going to be different than the 36% of Christians in name only, but that’s what we need to get the world to see. We’re supposed to stand out. Consider the words of Jesus.
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV).