It isn’t much of a secret anymore that the church in the West is in crisis. If you haven’t read one of the many church-produced or sociological studies, you’ve probably noticed it just by watching the news or looking around at society. But why is this the case? How did we get here and, more importantly, how do we fix it? [Read more…]
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Abdu Murray about his new book Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews (IVP, 2014). Murray is an attorney, a former Muslim, and an experienced apologist, and his book examines the critical questions of human existence in light of some of today’s major worldviews. This is part one of our interview.
CAA: For those who may not be familiar with your background, can you briefly share how you came to Christ and the ministry work you’re currently involved in?
AM: I grew up as a proud Muslim and I was eager to share Islam with the non-Muslims who surrounded me in the Detroit suburb where I grew up. In conversations with non-Muslim friends (especially nominal Christians, who I considered to be “low hanging fruit”), I frequently steered the discussion toward my favorite topics, God and theology. It was fairly easy to do because, as a Muslim in that context, I was “exotic,” which lead people to ask me about what I believed. I would then use those opportunities to talk about Islam and challenge Christianity. I would begin those conversations with a straightforward question that often caught Christians off-guard: “Why are you a Christian?” By far the most common response they gave was something like, “I was raised that way”, or “because my parents go to such and such a church.” I would then have a follow-up question: “Are you really going to trust your soul to a worldview just for tradition? Just because your parents believe it?” When those Christians would agree that tradition was not a good enough reason to believe something (and I still believe it’s not) I would then begin to challenge the Christian faith.
I typically began by challenging the Bible’s validity (if I could destroy a Christian’s confidence in the Bible, then I could more easily challenge the doctrines the Bible taught about God). Like most Muslims, I claimed that the Bible has been changed over the years, either intentionally or unintentionally, to include terrible blasphemies against God such as the incarnation of God in Christ, the atonement, and, of course, the Trinity. I would cite authorities like Bart Ehrman, claiming that even such “Christian scholars” (like a lot of Muslims, I considered anyone who was white and not a Jew to be a Christian) agree that the Bible has been changed. This argument would give me an avenue to talk about the Qur’an because, as a Muslim, I believed that the Gospel, the Torah, and the Psalms of David were once revealed by God, but became corrupted. And God revealed the Qur’an to humanity to correct all the corruptions of the previous scriptures and bring people back to true monotheism. To make that claim, I had to demonstrate that the Bible was in fact corrupted before the Qur’an’ advent in seventh century Arabia. [Read more…]
[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
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Summary in 400 words or less:
In current times, there is no doubt religious affiliation has at least leveled-off or worse, in sharp decline. Scores of data resemble what one can see, specifically in the church – a sea of grey. Many, especially young adults, are pulling away from engaging in the faith that Billy Graham, Carl Henry, Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis have proclaimed. If one of these greats were to ask the younger generation, whom I belong to, what religion do you call home? More and more will say “None.”
To substantiate this claim, one can look to what Pew Research has shown, “The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.”  Every urban, suburban, and rural believer should be concerned by such a trend.
But, does this necessarily mean they do not believe in the central doctrines of the Christian faith and have turned away from a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ? Not inevitably – saving faith comes through Christ alone and will persevere, though good works are signs of this saving grace. However, as evangelical theologian Kenneth Keathely has written, “Abraham and Lot were both justified (2 Pet 2:7–8), but they evidenced it very differently.” Even so, these None’s who are still believers have been coined as “Done’s” who are disconnected, disengaged, and see little worth in an active church life.
Many reasons can be attributed as to why this plateau /decline is happening. Maybe’s it’s a season that needs to be weathered, the Dones will become more engaged, and the Nones will be more open to spiritual conversation. Unlikely, as a response is usually mustered that goes beyond prayer (Acts 6:1-6). While praying without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17) we should, some more than others, be following the imperative statement set out by Peter. He said we should make a case for the Christian worldview from the purest heart possible with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Gary Habermas, Mary Jo Sharp, William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, J.P. Moreland, and Holly Ordway have and are making great strides to turn this tide around. Shouldn’t we as well?
Scripture for YouVersion: 2 Pet 2:7–8, Acts 6:1-6, 1 Thes 5:17, 1 Peter 3:15
http://oneminuteapologist.com/searchpage#worldview (Video # 187)
Three questions (one fill-in-the-blank, one multiple choice, one discussion question):
1. According to Pew Research, how much of young adults under 30 are now associating with no religion at all? A) 1/10, B) 1/6, C) ¼, D) 1/3 .
2. Not considered None’s because they still hold to essential Christian teaching, those who are not active church life are called ________.
3.What are some ways, either start or continue, to turn the None trend around?
References for further reading:
 Keathley, Kenneth (2010-01-01). Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Perspective (p. 166). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.
More info.: See George Barna and David Kinneman’s book Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect with Them, published by Tyndale Momentum.
Collaborators: Jonathan Hanna
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I suppose I should first apologize for baiting you into reading this article with a catchy title. No, I don’t actually suspect the church is creating a huge number of atheists, as there simply aren’t that many of them (as vocal as they may be!). While their numbers are on the rise, they are statistically few. What I am going to argue the church is often creating, might be better called: apathetic unbelievers or quasi-believers who might retain some form of ‘spirituality.’ That, however, would have made for a long, boring title. But, I think that this is just as bad, maybe worse, than if these people were becoming atheists. [Read more…]
When I was 15 I thought Christians were all idiots.
And I had good reason, based on what little I knew. Raised in a home where the most religious thing we ever did was say grace at dinner, I had very little exposure to church. I’m not even sure I knew it existed.
Despite this, I was always instinctually curious about religion. I was raised to be a reader, and at 14 I had (on my own!) gotten a copy of Huston Smith’s The Religions of Man. I also had a Pentecostal friend who took me to see a play at his church. This drama, which lasted at least an hour, showed sketches of the last moments of peoples’ lives. If they were a perfect person, they got to walk up the shiny stairs to the pearly gate; if horrible sinners, they were dragged screaming by the devil, down the aisle to the back of the church. The show ended with an altar call. [Read more…]