By Gerald Cowan
A non-scientific, unofficial, random street poll several years ago asked these five questions of persons who declared themselves to be under the age of 30 years.
- Do you believe in the literal God of the Bible? 90% said NO.
- Do you believe the Bible is literally true and relevant for modern man? 90% said NO.
- Do you believe that man has an immortal spirit and will live forever? 90% said NO.
- Do you believe in a literal heaven and hell, as taught in the Bible? 90% said NO.
- Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? Most said NO, but – here is something very significant – many who said NO to the first four questions said YES to this last one!
This reveals something of the unhealthy attitude toward the Bible, even among professing Christians, and the predictable effects it has on the practice of the Christian religion. Modern man seems to go through a predictable cycle: A period of intense interest in religion and a zeal to know God is followed by a "cooling" and eventually reverses to a period of intense anti-religious feeling which focuses instead on personal freedom and rejection of div ine authority. We seem to be in the anti-religious, freedom-seeking phase in our country today.
At least in religion ours seems to be a "wayward and unfocused generation – an untoward generation" (Acts 2:40) – without direction or realizable goals. It is a "lost generation." Even overtly religious people seek freedom to "do it my own way." They want to worship the God of their choice in the way of their choice, and specify the results of their choice.
Who is to blame for the current situation, that is, for the aimless selfish wandering of the current generation? The outgoing generation (sometimes still called "the establishment") must certainly share the blame. They have not shown the upcoming generation that the God of the Bible is real and believable, and that all are truly accountable to Him. They have not demonstrated a faith that can be lived by – they have not been faithful to what they claim to believe. They are "worldly" – they have not rejected the world. They have not shared the gospel – perhaps they are convinced of its importance. They haven't been concerned enough about the lost. The current generation is suffering the effects of the attitudes and actions of past generations. But the present generation also shares in the guilt because evidence of God is available to all, and the believability of God is demonstrated for all. One who accepts20less than the truth will be held individually responsible by God (2 Thess. 2:11-12, Rom. 1:18-20).
What is the lesson for us now? We must not be victims of the past if we are able to improve the situation now. We cannot change the past, but we can change what we are doing in the present. If we understand the impact our attitudes and actions upon the next generation, surely we will make the needed changes.
– (NOTE: written as a sermon introduction); Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL. He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com