Every now and then, I visit other churches in order to see what kinds of traditions they observe and what kinds of issues they tackle in their weekly worship services. Last weekend, I visited a non-denominational church. As I write this column on a Thursday morning, I am on my fourth day of trying to figure out what the pastor actually said, if anything. To be frank, I suspect that the pastor is still trying to figure out what he actually said, if anything.
The thesis of the sermon, which was given to a church heavily populated with college students, seems to have been that Christians need to be “bold in their faith.” I only inferred that was the pastor’s thesis because he said, “you need to be bold in your faith” about 50 times. Apparently, this was deeply inspirational to many of those present. It must have been because I kept hearing people shout back at the pastor with phrases like “tell it,” "bring it,” and “preach it.” Fortunately, none of the congregants actually hurled his undergarments on the stage as the pastor was “bringing it.” For awhile there, I was worried.
Even though people seemed to be enjoying themselves, I saw the pastor’s message as a lost opportunity. Something seemed to be missing to me. So I did what I often do in situations where I think the pastor may have missed the mark. I asked myself what I would have done differently had I been preaching the sermon. Specifically, what would I have said? Here’s what I came up with:
Young people, many of you are starting out a new semester in college. Unless this is your first semester, you know you will be attacked for your beliefs. Worse, your professors will actually try to destroy your faith while you are in college. They will do this in a number of predictable ways each semester.
First, your professors will tell you that science and religion are incompatible. They will even go so far as to say that science has disproved the existence of God. To make matters worse, these lectures are most common among professors in departments like Education, English, and Sociology. In other words, the lectures are usually coming from professors with no expertise in science.
Something unusual happens not long after the professor has pledged his allegiance to science. Inevitably, he will show a willingness to throw science out the window when it is necessary to advance the cause of sexual liberty. The first casualty in this selective war on science is the unborn human. Despite a clear consensus in the science of embryology, which says the unborn is a distinct, living, and whole human being from the point of conception, your professor will insist the embryo is merely an undifferentiated “clump of cells.” This is how he justifies the intentional dismemberment of his fellow humans.
The professor’s war on science will not end with attacks on the unborn. The next predictable attack will be on the concept of gender. Insisting that the male/female gender binary is somehow antiquated, the professor will throw biology out the window, again in the name of sexual liberty. Even your feminist professors will do this, somehow missing the fact that declaring gender to be a “useless concept” renders their previous research on gender discrimination useless.
Finally, your professors will claim that there is no objective basis for truth or morality. Elevating hypocrisy to a Zen Art form, these professors will tell you this after they have handed out the course syllabus outlining their policies on academic dishonesty. In other words, those who insist that nothing is really objectively true or wrong will punish you because it is somehow wrong to be dishonest with them. Thus they insulate themselves from the consequences of their own worldview. But everyone else is expected to live with the consequences of the professor’s bad ideas.
For far too long we have been ignoring this nonsense. We have been coming to church to hear feel good sermons and to shout, “bring it” at a pastor who really isn’t bringing anything. It feels good for an hour or so. Then we return to the cultural battlefield utterly unequipped. But all of that changes today.
We are about to pass around the offering plate. Every single dollar we collect will be used to equip young people to recognize the dangerous ideas that are polluting our culture today. If you are a high school or college student who is at least 16 years old, I want to ask you to take two weeks out of your summer to train your mind so you can learn exactly why you need to be bold and exactly how to do it in today’s culture. Before you commit, take a few minutes to visit the Summit Ministries website to see what we are asking you to do.
I am excited about creating this new opportunity for so many of you. In the past, our pastors have admonished us to “be bold” without giving specifics. The reason such pastors prefer to speak in code when they talk about boldness is because they are simply devoid of boldness. In fact, they are spineless. But there is no room for spineless hypocrisy among those charged with carrying out the Great Commission.
That is all I have for you today. Next week, I am going to begin a new series on defending the unborn from a scientific and philosophical perspective. If you wish to avoid the subject of abortion and instead attend a church dedicated to making congregants feel comfortable by avoiding serious topics altogether we can help you. We have compiled a comprehensive list of dead churches as well as dead college ministries. Their names and contact information are provided in a pamphlet you can pick up at the welcome desk in the fellowship hall.
I hope you’ll join me here next week instead. I intend to bring it.