Our new book Already Gone has already had a phenomenal impact on numerous churches across America. This book details the results of a survey conducted by America’s Research Group, headed by respected market researcher and behavioralist Britt Beemer—highly respected in both the secular and Christian world.
Britt set out to find out why—and importantly when—two-thirds of our young people are eventually walking away from the church. The results were both revealing and shocking. Britt co-authored the book with me—keep in mind that he would not put his name on a book if he could not agree with the interpretation of the results or if they were not statistically valid. The Already Gone research was carefully done and the results were interpreted according to the normal rules of statistical analysis.
Many pastors have contacted us to say that Already Gone has caused them to totally appraise/change how they run their Sunday schools, teaching programs, etc. in their churches.
However, I was saddened to read a review of the book by a Lutheran pastor (who calls himself Darthjedi in his posting)—from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America denomination (ELCA)—which showed a high degree of carelessness and antagonism to our approach to Scripture. In fact, if the research for the book Already Gone was done in the same way this review was conducted, it would have no credibility whatsoever.
I have reprinted the negative review, interspersed with a few comments of mine—just to show how such a pastor imposed his (no doubt liberal) views on the book, instead of reading the book carefully and considering the results.
The Single Reason Why Churches are in Decline (According to Answers in Genesis)
November 4, 2009 at 12:29 pm . . . This is probably the longest title for one of my blog posts, but I wanted to share a book I read recently. Ok, let me stop there and be truthful, I skimmed this book for about 10 mins. The book’s title is “Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do To Stop It.” For obvious reasons, I was intrigued, so I started reading the back cover, the inside cover, and started with the introduction. I froze in my tracks when I read who the publishing company was- Answers in Genesis.
Well, Answers in Genesis is not the publishing company. On the spine, inside the book, and in other places, it prominently displays the publisher’s name, Master Books (part of the New Leaf Publishing Group). Master Books is an independent company (with shareholders) and separate organizationally from AiG. The co-author of the book (me) is a staff member of AiG.
NOTE: He admits he “‘skimmed this book for about 10 minutes”—and then somehow managed to write a detailed critique. That is not what I call careful research. This statement alone illustrates that his review has absolutely no credibility—and as you read his critique, you will notice that because he didn’t read the book, he gets so much wrong—including jumping to conclusions. If his sermons are prepared like this, I frankly fear for his church!
Why I froze. For those who are not familiar with Answers in Genesis, they are a very large fundamentalist fringe group with a lot of money.
I wish it were true that we have a “lot of money.” Notice too his language here about AiG: “‘fundamentalist fringe group.” So, before reading the book, he already had pre-conceived ideas about AiG, even falsely claiming that we—a non-profit organization, and a member of the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability—were making lots of money.
Also, it would be interesting to know how he defines fundamentalist. It used to be that this word referred to those who accepted the fundamentals of the Christian faith: e.g., inerrant Scripture; virgin birth; bodily resurrection of Christ; God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—three in One; Jesus Christ is God in the flesh; etc.
Now I know using the word, “fringe” group is a dangerous word to some, but they have one goal and one goal only—to teach Creationism.
That is simply not true. If you read our core values statements, mission statement, and so on, we state clearly that our mission is to bring reformation to the church and to proclaim the gospel. I always summarize our purpose this way: to stand on the authority of God’s Word, proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to see people saved and be in Heaven! In fact, I often state in my talks that there is no purpose in converting people to creationism—for creationists will end up in Hell just like an atheist if they don’t believe and trust our Creator as Lord and Savior.
This pastor has never contacted me or others here (to my knowledge) to find out what our goal is—and besides, if he were to read our statement of faith and mission statement (on our website), he would not have written the false statement he made.
In most of the writings that I have seen from them; all of them point back to creationism. I really mean everything—nuclear weapons, racism, stem cell research, etc—all go back to creationism and more specifically the mainline’s departure from teaching creationism.
“Nuclear Weapons”? Where did that come from? And as we say over and over again (and I have stated on this blog many times), racism and other moral ills are caused by sin! Now, evolution can fuel racism, as even many evolutionists admit, but we do not say that evolution causes racism.
In the last year, I got up close and personal with this group as our VBS program was purchased from them (I was not aware of this until it was paid for) and hearing about the Creation museum found in Petersburg, KY. The Creation museum has been featured in some news stories due to it’s stance that humans and dinosaurs co-existed and were aboard Noah’s Ark. The Tyrannosaurus Rex, according to Answers in Genesis, was a vegetarian and would never harm a human because God wouldn’t allow it.
Well, Genesis 1:29–30 make it clear that humans and animals originally (before sin) were all vegetarian. So, it is not AiG’s idea that animals were vegetarian to start with—this is the clear teaching of Scripture in Genesis—if you take Genesis the same way Jesus Christ did, as literal history (e.g., Matthew 19).
Of course they also proclaim that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
If you add up the dates in the Bible (using the genealogies) and accepting the straightforward reading of Genesis that God created in six ordinary days, then the age does come to about 6000 years.
Let me stop for just a moment because I know that many Christians believe in some form of Creationism (including myself). I was recently freed by hearing that those in the scientific community who believe in intelligent design feel that Darwin’s theory of evolution is not the only alternative to creationism. What happens though is that if you say you believe in intelligent design, you are instantly linked to creationism (ie the world is only 6,000 years old) when in fact intelligent design means that you feel that the world was not created by just a series of random events as some evolutionists proclaim (ie Dawkins).
Interesting—he “‘feels . . . the world was not created by a series of random events.” If his understanding of the world is based on feelings, how does he know he can trust any of his feelings? What a subjective way to determining “truth”! Why should people accept what they “feel”?
So, this is not an attack on Creationism, but rather this fringe group who believes and promotes things that even most fundamentalists who agree with a literal translation of the Bible don’t agree with.
We would need to see a list of what he thinks (maybe “feels”!) “fundamentalists” believe. Also, we would need to understand what he means by (or “feels” that) “literal translation of the Bible.” I suspect he means “literal interpretation.” However, when we use the terms literal interpretation, we really mean taking it naturally—according to the type of literature/language used, as there is poetry in the Bible (e.g., the Psalms), apocalyptic literature, etc. And really, the whole issue concerning what this pastor has written really comes down to how we view Scripture—that is the real issue and would need to be sorted out first before even discussing other matters.
I know that was a long tangent, so let me get back to the book. After freezing in my tracks, I decided that I was going to start on chapter 1 just to be sure. So I started reading. I heard how certain churches (*cough* only mainline *cough*) are definitely in decline,
If he read the book, he would find that the group chosen for this study had to come from a theologically conservative/evangelical church background (as they understand conservative and evangelical). These are the best the stats could be.
kids are leaving when they reach the teenage years,
America’s Research Group used the Barna research that verified two-thirds of teenagers are leaving the church—and then we located 1000 such people to interview for this research
they are not being educated properly in these certain churches, and so they are leaving. The reason why…. wait for it…..wait for it…. surely you have a guess why they are leaving by now . . . . that’s right because certain churches (*cough* mainline *cough*) are not teaching “proper” Creationism (ie Answers in Genesis’ version). That was their sole reason.
Actually, if he had read the book and looked at the research, many reasons were given as to why the young people left church. In fact, the number one reason was “hypocrisy.” Britt Beemer then delved further to find what they meant by “hypocrisy,” and found that it was basically because they were told by the church that they believe the Bible, when in reality the people didn’t believe it as written—this was seen as hypocrisy.
One hundred and fifty pages plus all revolving around why Creationism is important and what is the proper way to teach it and why your kids will be better off knowing the proper way. ARRRGGGGHHHHHHH!
Actually, the book dealt with the results of the research. One of the factors that did cause many to doubt the Bible was the age of the earth issue—as seen in the statistical results. But the point is this book documented real, statistically valid research conducted by a leading market researcher. The book wasn’t just based on someone’s opinions—it was reporting on real research that can’t be ignored. Anyhow, how would this pastor really understand this when he didn’t read the book carefully as he admitted above?!
Now again, let me emphasize, I believe in intelligent design, but if I started teaching things according to Answers in Genesis’ definition of Creationism, not only would I have teenagers leaving, but most adults as well!
Actually, if he doesn’t teach the Bible as authoritative and doesn’t teach young people how to defend the faith in today’s word—many will leave the church. I wonder if this pastor has researched where the adults are now who were once children in his church? That could be interesting!
I personally have a feeling that most teens when faced with ideas like AiG’s ideas would balk. As I wrote, most fundamentalist Christians agree with mainline churches that AiG is just way too out there with their ideas and are not Biblical, even though they claim that they are.
Actually, AiG teaches what Martin Luther taught about Genesis—and Calvin—and John Gill—and so on. So, who is really “out there”? We receive increasing numbers of testimonies from teens who either become Christians or rededicate their lives as a result of the Lord using AiG to help them know they can trust the history in God’s Word. That’s why they can trust the gospel based in that history.
Just for the record, let me cite one more thing at the Creationism museum -- Adam and Eve do not have genitalia!
What is that all about? We recognize we now live in a fallen world, and we are not going to depict a totally naked Adam and Eve before the Fall occurred. We ensure that Eve’s long hair (or the use of plants) tastefully and modestly covers her body.
I write this not to only criticize, but also to warn. There are many things labeled Christian out there. Some publishing companies are also very rich and can print as many things as say Augsburg Fortress can.
Again, we are not the publishing company, and we are not rich. In fact, the Creation Museum does cover day to day running costs with admission fees, but any new exhibits or upgrading of exhibits can only happen when extra funds are raised through donations.
But, just because they are labeled Christian be warned. Look at the publishing company, see what else they have published, and usually if they are a Christian publishing company, they will have a mission statement-read it. Here are some Christian companies that I have purchased from that tend to have “good” theology- Augsburg Fortress, Fortress Press, Concordia, some Zondervan, Barna Group, Regal, Abingdon, and some Multnomah. These are just a few, but the warning is be careful what you buy or in my case get for free.Yes, go to the publisher’s website (New Leaf Publishing Group) and read who they are. Glad he mentioned Barna—America’s Research Group built the Already Gone analysis on Barna’s research and took it a step further!
It is so sad to see a pastor, who is responsible for leading a congregation and representing the Christian faith in his community, mock a Christian organization that stands on biblical authority and boldly proclaims the gospel, and on the basis of a 10-minute skim of a book that we had written based on statistically valid research, which was conducted by an independent, highly respected research group. Excuse me, pastor, but your agenda (as shown below) is showing!
No wonder the church is in trouble in America when pastors think like this!
While this liberal pastor scoffs at what the Already Gone research documents in regard to young people leaving the church, in another blog posting he states:
I was on Twitter yesterday (surprise, surprise) and saw a tweet on #ELCA about another church in California that took their first vote to leave the ELCA. The tweet read “When will the church stop bleeding?” I am assuming this means that we are losing churches and losing members left and right and all over. “So, are we bleeding as an ELCA? Are members leaving in droves? Is it over for the ELCA?”
It seems they are losing people—wonder why? But read the next section regarding what pastors like this one are teaching:
It is sad to see the consequences of such a pastor’s poor research and view of Scripture played in this additional way:
This blog is going on, but for unions, I recognize that the Bible did not have just marriages between men and women. As much as people want to argue that point, it just isn’t true. There were marriages between men and many women, there was wife swapping, etc, so some definitions of marriages changed through time. As society changed the definition marriage changed in the Bible. It wasn’t just between a man and a woman, so don’t try that one. In fact, Paul felt that as Christians no one should get married unless they cannot control their lust. In fact 1st Corinthians 7 has a lot of odd things to say on marriage and how we are to live as Christians and it isn’t positive toward married folks. In fact Paul says that married folks cannot truly serve God (vs 32–33) because of our spouses, we become too fixed upon worldly affairs. Therefore if we are truly following the Bible, no one who is a Christian would be married, but we don’t want to hear this. Therefore if we are going to ignore this and continue to marry and bless people, I say allow everyone who wants to to control their lust.
With such a view of Scripture, no wonder people are leaving the church—and churches are leaving this denomination! He needs to read what Jesus said about marriage in Matthew 19: He made them male and female, and this is the cause (reason) for marriage. He also needs to read what Martin Luther said of marriage—Luther stood on Scripture and certainly believed marriage was between a man and woman only.
Now, who is the pastor who wrote this scathing “review” based on scanning Already Gone for a few minutes? A staff member tells me that he is confident that “Darthjedi” is the pen name for Justin Johnson, pastor of St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Geneseo, NY. Apparently the church purchased our VBS curriculum (which he obviously did not like at all). The website for the church has a link by Pastor Johnson to the blog posting reprinted above about Already Gone. His Twitter page matches the biographical information of the Darthjedi blog, I am told. On his Twitter page (with a link to his Darthjedi blog) he calls himself “PrJusto,” i.e., Pastor Justin Johnson.
Well, I wonder what would Martin Luther say to this Lutheran pastor, as Luther believed in a literal Genesis—six literal days, the institution of marriage, etc. just as we do at AiG. Martin Luther believed Genesis and that marriage was one man for one woman, just as Paul and Jesus teach so clearly (e.g., Matthew 19:4–7). No doubt Martin Luther would be horrified to know what is happening in some of the Lutheran denominations today.
Part of the mission of AiG is to call the church back to biblical authority—as Luther did in his day. Pray for this pastor and the church in this nation!
(Deuteronomy 18:18) I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto you, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our conversation with God.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,