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What Young Atheists Can Teach Us

Good Morning Beloved,
I read this article this morning during my devotions and I thought you might find these answers from Young Atheists interesting.  For those of us who have walked with the Lord for a long time, it can be hard to see things with the eyes of those who God is still reaching out to with His Gospel. (Pastor Mark)
It is from the September 2013 Issue of the Baptist Banner. You can visit their website HERE

 

Larry Alex Taunton directs the Fixed Point Foundation, which seeks innovative ways to defend and proclaim the Gospel.

Recently, his organization reached out to college-age atheists nationwide in a unique campaign. As Taunton contacted leaders of Secular Student Alliances and Freethought Societies, he had one simple request: Tell us your journey to unbelief.

Taunton did not dispute their stories or debate the merits of their views. He just listened. Many stepped forward — some reluctantly — but ultimately Taunton found patterns emerging from the young atheists’ stories, and he summarized them in a recent article in The Atlantic.

Their stories have common threads:

— The young atheists had attended church. Most participants didn’t begin with a naturalistic worldview but chose atheism as a reaction to Christianity, which they found lifeless, hypocritical, or uncompelling for a variety of reasons.

— Their churches promoted vague missions and messages. The students heard plenty of messages on social justice, community involvement and good deeds, but they failed to see a connection between these messages, Jesus, and the Bible. They knew intuitively that the church exists for more than social campaigns; it exists to proclaim the teachings of Jesus and His relevance to a sinful and fallen world.

— Their churches fumbled the big questions. When asked what they found unconvincing about the Christian faith, the students mentioned a lack of satisfying answers to such issues as evolution vs. creation, sexuality, Jesus as the only way, and the reliability of the Bible. Not only was the church often ill-equipped to delve into these issues; it lacked the stomach to tackle them at all.

— They respect ministers who take the Bible seriously. The young atheists expressed grudging admiration for pastors and other Christians who embrace biblical teaching and are not ashamed to say so.

As atheist illusionist and comedian Penn Jillette famously remarked, “I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize…. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell … and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward … how much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

— Ages 14-17 are key. While some participants said they adopted atheism as early as eight years of age or as late as college, most admitted embracing unbelief in high school.

— Emotions run deep. Most students said they lost their Christianity for purely rational reasons. However, the more they talked, the more they described a deeply emotional journey from belief to atheism. One young woman said she became an atheist after her father died — not because she blamed God for his death but because he was abusive and she did not want to think her father was still alive somewhere.

— Online is everything. When asked about the key influences in their conversion to atheism, not a single participant mentioned the “New Atheists” like Christopher Hitchens, or their books or seminars. Rather, they mentioned YouTube or website forums.

Getting real

There’s much we can do to engage our young atheist friends by listening to them, helping them wrestle with tough questions and providing a connection between Christ and a broken world. But we also must address the doubts and fears of young people in our own churches.

If Christianity is not objectively true, rationally compelling and personally engaging, then why should anyone — young or old — want to embrace it?

Scottish philosopher and skeptic David Hume once was spotted in a crowd listening to the preaching of George Whitefield, the noted evangelist of the First Great Awakening.

Someone said to Hume, “I thought you didn’t believe in the Gospel.”

“I do not,” Hume replied. Then, nodding toward Whitefield, he added, “But he does.” [BP]

 –Rob Phillips                                                                                                                     Vol. XXVI, No. 8, September 2013

[Rob Phillips is director of communications for the Missouri Baptist Convention with responsibility for leading MBC apologetics ministry in the state. Phillips is on the Web at www.oncedelivered.net. This article first appeared at The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.]



Deacon Elections 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9 & Acts 6:1-6

As summer vacations begin to wind down and the school year begins to wind up, it is time for us to once again turn our prayers and thoughts to whom God wills to be our next Deacons. There are new members and guests since our last Deacon Election, and I thought it would be helpful to review our process and seek God’s guidance on this very important endeavor.

At its founding, Grace decided to combine the biblical roles of Elder and Deacon into one position, that of Deacon (or as I like to joke “Delder”). Our current bylaws call for 8 Deacons, who will each serve a 4 year term, with 2 Deacons rolling off the board each year. Due to the Woodlief’s upcoming move to North Carolina, we will need to elect 3 new Deacons for 2015.

The Deacon Election process is broken up into 3 parts: The Nomination Phase, the Qualification Phase, and the Voting Phase. The Nomination Phase runs through the entire month of August. During this time, any member of the church may nominate another member of the church:
• Who is a male
• Who has been a church member for at least 1 year
• Whom they believe meets God’s guidance as outlined in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9 & Acts 6:1-6) and would honor Him in the role of Deacon.

The Nomination Phase will close at the end of August and the Qualification Phase will begin and run until September 20th. During this phase, the nominees will be interviewed by the Pastor and at least one Deacon to discuss the Biblical Qualifications and Practical Responsibilities of the role, as well as the Basic Biblical Doctrines of Grace Baptist that they will be asked to uphold.

All the nominees who do not rule themselves out during the Qualification Phase will be placed on a secret and randomly numbered ballot that will be distributed to all active church members beginning on Sunday September 21st. There will be a 3 week time period for all ballots to be returned to the church ending on Sunday October 12th, at which time all ballots will be tabulated and the results reported to the church.

So, open your Bibles to the appropriate passages above and open your hearts to God’s leading as we begin to discern God’s will for the next men who will help lead Grace Baptist Church for the next 4 years!!!
–Pastor Mark Elkins



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