This is the manuscript for a talk I will be giving to 6-12 graders at my church next week. I owe a great deal of this content to Don Johnson and his book "How to talk to a skeptic", Eric Pelletier's article on "3 tests for Truth" and Peter Kreeft's "Modern Scholar Series on Thomas Aquinas". This is part one of a three part blog post. The next one will be up on Monday, Feburary 2nd, 2015. Enjoy!
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Okay for today I'd like you guys to take everything you know about Christianity and put it in a little mental box and put it up on a shelf.
I'm hoping to expand your mind and give you some new things to think about and then later will take that box down and reevaluate what's in that box.
I want to start by thinking about why we come to youth group and maybe the best way to do that is to think about inviting somebody else. So, if we are going to invite somebody else to youth group why would we tell them to come? Let's say we have a friend named Lisa and Lisa is kind of depressed, a little bit lonely, school stresses her out and she feels like she doesn’t have lots of good connections. So in talking to your friend, Lisa, you say:
“Hey! My youth group will fill all of those needs for you. So maybe you should come on a Tuesday night”.
Right? Seems like a pretty good idea and a pretty good way to invite somebody to youth group. The problem with this approach is that if we're just meeting the needs of people, there are other things could meet those exact same needs. So when talking to our friend Lisa and she says,
“Sure I'll try youth group, but I will also try another religion like Islam, Hindu or even a local concert venue or perhaps even a coffee house to take away my loneliness and I'll be able to talk to some friends. That way I won't feel so stressed out about school and my depression will subside, right? Or what if I just read a book while I am there to help with those things?”
In an article, someone had polled a number of people and asked them what is on their “shopping list for God”. Joy, being part of a humorous, compassionate, loving community, magic (like Chris Angel), peace and quiet were just a few things on that list.
See, when we base our decision to follow Christianity on what it does for us and what needs it fills we are completely missing the point. Not that filling our needs aren't important, but our real goal should be searching for truth.
Christianity attempts to answer some of the biggest questions that we have in life. Things like:
1. How did we get here
2. Why are we here
3. Is there a god
4. If so, what is he, she or it like
5. What is wrong with the world
6. How can it be fixed
7. What happens when we die
8. How then should we live
Christianity answers these questions based on truth, not necessarily how we feel.
Let me give you an example to help you understand. Gravity is the when one larger object attracts smaller objects. Things like the earth and your body. So let's say one day you decide to fly. You say, “man I really just feel like I want to fly” and everything in you just feels like that it wants to just lift off the ground and float. So you go up to your roof and you stand at the edge of the roof and with all the feeling that you have, you jump off. What will happen? You will hit the ground and you're probably going to break a leg or worse.
See, the truth of gravity will always supersede how you feel about flying, floating or what you think will happen when you jump off the roof. So our pursuit should be for truth not necessarily to fulfill our feelings and our desires.
Truth is what is. It was true that those treasures were where the maps said they were. This is the same thing that we do, when we look at the world around us.
The way we see the world or the map we use to answer those big questions I talked about earlier can be considered our Worldview. Everyone has a worldview. The question is whether or not that worldview is true. Does it do a good job at dealing with all the data that we have? We use this data to create our worldview and find out what is true.
So that leads us to our most important question, How do we find out what is TRUE? And its follow up question, is Christianity TRUE?
The method we use consists of three things. It has to be able to make sense within itself, fit the data we collect (we will call this science) and fit our experience.
This is the end of part one. Please feel free to leave a comment, or email me with questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
Come back for part two, next week!