No Wonder Two Thirds of Young People Are Leaving the Church

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In 2009, the book (which Britt Beemer from America’s Research Group and I co-authored) Already Gone, was published. This book detailed results of nationwide research into why two thirds of young people will leave the church by the time they reach college age.

It was found that the teaching of evolution and millions of years had a lot to do with creating doubt in their trust in Scripture. Such doubt (as Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:3) can lead to unbelief.

The research also showed that those young people (the two thirds group) who went to Sunday school were—surprisingly—more likely to have heard a Christian leader (pastor, Sunday school teacher, and so on) tell them they could believe in evolution and millions of years. We also found those in this group that they were more spiritually worse off than those who didn’t go to Sunday school and were more inclined to accept abortion and “gay” marriage.

The research also showed that churches and Christian homes were by and large not teaching children and young people how to defend the Christian faith. They were not being taught apologetics, yet most of these same young people were being taught the wrong sort of apologetics—“secular apologetics”—at public school and on TV. Most were being given the supposed evidence and reasons that evolution and millions of years are true (evidence there supposedly never was a global Noah’s Flood and evidence against the Bible being true).

Sadly, such compromised teaching of evolution and millions of years—accepting the secular religion of the day—is rife in churches across America. Here is an example (sadly, it is not the exception) I came across this past week.

Dr. Michael Helms, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Jefferson (Georgia) wrote an article for the column “Pastor’s Pen”  for the newspaper called The Paper of Braselton, Chateau Elan, Hoschton and Jefferson, Georgia. In this commentary, he is giving an answer to a question a 10-year-old daughter asked her father: “Who came first: Adam and Eve or the caveman?”

I have reprinted the article for you, along with my comments. Also, I have included PDFs of the actual article.

Who Came First, Adam and Eve or the caveman?

A fellow Rotarian has an intelligent 10-year-old daughter. Already at such an early age, faith and science are colliding in her world, creating tensions she's trying to reconcile. She asked her father not long ago, "Who came first, Adam and Eve or the caveman?"

It seems like a simple question for a Christian father to answer, but not so fast. If he says, "Well darling, you know the Bible says Adam and Eve were the first people God made, so that means they came first," then the child is conflicted with the science she's studying, which tells her the caveman evolved from lower forms of life.

Comment: Let’s examine the comment “conflicted with the science she’s studying.” As we see so often, people don’t understand there is a big difference between “historical science” (beliefs about the past) and “observational science” (which builds our technology and is based on the repeatable test). What he really means is what she is being taught about origins at schools conflicts with what the Bible clearly teaches about origins. And this is the issue. It is a conflict. If children in our church aren’t taught correctly, this is one of the very reasons such children begin to doubt the Bible and eventually leave the church.
If he says, "Well darling, scientists tell us human beings evolved, so the caveman came first," then the child is conflicted with the Bible, according to most preachers I know, for that would deny the historical accuracy of the scriptures. Wouldn't that destroy the trust and faith this child places in the Bible?
Comment: It certainly is causing a destruction of “the trust and faith this child places in the Bible.” And by the way, a “caveman”  is simply a man who lives in a cave! People living in caves are mentioned in the Scriptures (e.g., at the time of Job). There are people who live in caves today. Sadly, the secular world (and even some Christians) equates “cavemen’ with so-called primitive people, usually in some sort of evolutionary scenario.
I know committed Christians who believe God used evolution as His mode of creation. That of course means they must read the Genesis account as something other than a literal account of creation. I don't see where this interpretation affects their ethics at all, that is, how they treat

their fellow man, or even their love for God. Remember, many parts of the Bible are not taken literally. No one takes these words of Jesus literally, "So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It's better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet" (Matthew 18:8 NLT).

Comment: This is a fallacy so often used to undermine Scriptural authority. One takes a passage out of context, and uses that to reject taking Genesis (which is written as historical narrative) literally. By the way, it would be better to have only one hand and one foot than to spend eternity in Hell. In other words, one’s eternity is so very important—it is priceless and worth much more than anything on this earth.

Many times we have shown clearly that Jesus (Matthew 19) and Paul (Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15) quoted Genesis as literal history. If there is no historical Adam and no historical Fall, what is the gospel all about? Why are we sinners? Are we sinners? Where did sin come from? In fact, the first time the gospel is preached is in Genesis 3:15. If that is not to be taken literally, then the gospel is not to be taken literally. Genesis chapters 1–11 is foundational to all doctrine. If Genesis is not literal history, then what is marriage? It could be anything people want to make it to be. Jesus in Matthew 19 makes it clear that the doctrine of marriage is based on a literal Adam and Eve.

At what point in the evolutionary process would God have created male and female in His own image? That's a question I've never resolved. I have kept a simple faith and have always treated Adam and Eve as literal people, but I admit, I don't understand their timelines in relation to

the aging of the world and the study of paleontology.

Comment: If Genesis is not a “literal account of creation,” then how can this pastor even believe in a literal Adam and Eve? This is utter confusion—confusion because he is accepting the secular “historical science” and using that to reinterpret the infallible, inerrant God-breathed Word.
So what about those who use the Bible to establish the number of generations from the birth of Jesus to the creation of Adam to fix the age of the earth? In their desire to be as deeply committed to the Bible as possible, people who believe in this interpretation of the Bible have set themselves up to reject everything scientific that doesn't fit with an earth that's a little more than 5,000 years old. Are you ready to teach your children that dinosaurs were on the ark? Not me.
Comment: Actually, the years come to 6,000 not 5,000. So what is the reason he is not “ready to teach your children that dinosaurs were on the ark?” He doesn’t give an answer to the question, but in a way he answered it above: because he takes the word of fallible man, who has devised a religion to explain life without God, and adds that to God’s Word. In doing so, he, therefore, rejects God’s clear Word in Genesis; except, he wants a literal Adam and Eve, but doesn’t take the account of creation in Genesis as literal!
So how's a father to answer his 10-year-old child? You see, the pieces of the puzzle don't fit so easily together to explain to a 10-year-old or even to me just exactly how the world and human beings came to be or when. There's mystery in our creation. I suppose this is the reason all

the timeline questions are not answered in seminary, unless you attend one of those schools that has all the answers. Most allow for some mystery in God's world and in the scriptures.

Comment: There is no mystery. It is only a mystery when one takes man’s fallible beliefs of origins as infallible, and takes God’s clear Word as fallible! That is what is happening here—so sad.
Maybe that's the answer. You see, the child has asked a question that's a trap. Her father seemed to realize it was a trap and that's why he was so cautious in answering his daughter. He wants his daughter to affirm her faith while having a healthy appreciation for science. He doesn't

want her to reject either one, but to continue to subject both to tough questions, which demand the best answers, for this is one of the best ways for her to discover truth and knowledge. People with a healthy faith learn that mystery is a component of God, which should be embraced and incorporated in their faith.

Comment: The child asking a question is a “trap?” No, it is a child seeking to understand God’s Word and wanting answers to the skeptical questions of this age. This dad needs to stand on God’s authoritative Word and teach his daughter that what she is being taught at school about origins is a belief—it is fiction. He needs to instill in his daughter that scientists, who don’t know everything, who weren’t there in the past, have constructed a story about how they believe life arose on earth. The dad needs to teach his daughter that only God knows everything, and only God has always been there—and His Word is true and infallible. And then he needs to give his daughters answers based on God’s Word, and show that observational science confirms God’s Word over and over again. My fear is that if this dad takes this pastor’s advice, his daughter could easily end up in that two thirds that are Already Gone.
When Jesus was asked questions he felt were designed to trap Him, he always answered the question with a question. Maybe that's how this father could answer his daughter. Instead of answering her questions with a statement, perhaps he should respond with a question: "Well, darling, who made them Adam, Eve and the caveman?"
Comment: When Jesus was tempted by the Devil, He said “It is written . . . .”  When Jesus was asked about marriage in Matthew 19, he said, “have you not read?” I would say to this pastor, “Have you not read? “By one man sin entered the world and death by sin” (Romans 5). Have you not read, “The first man Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45)? Have you not read, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7)? Actually, I could give many other references; in fact, Genesis is the most quoted from or referred to book in the Bible.
You see, Genesis begins with a FORTISSIMO! "In the beginning, GOD." Everything begins with God. You can't have an Adam, an Eve or a caveman, for that matter, without God. Now, if you want to argue about time, go ahead, but the book of Genesis was not written to tell us how old the

earth is. It was not written to tell you where all the people came from. For example, where did Cain get his wife? Who were the people God was protecting him from when he marked Cain? We don't know and the author doesn't seem to care.

Comment: Genesis 5:4 tells us that Adam had other “sons and daughters.” The Bible does tell us where Cain’s wife came from. And it was “in the process of time” that lead to Cain killing Abel. By the time this happened, there would have been many people. Cain was obviously frightened of all his family members because he killed one of them.

And by the way, the Author is God.  The Author is Jesus—Jesus is the Word. So Jesus “doesn’t seem to care” about his Word? No wonder we have such problems in our churches with two thirds of young people leaving the church.

Genesis is written to tell us WHO made the earth and all that dwells within it. It is not written to tell us exactly how God made the earth or even the time lines, only that God spoke and that it came into being, "ex nihilo," that is, "out of nothing," and that we were made from the dust of the ground.
Comment: How does he even know this, as if Genesis is not to be taken literally? Then how can he take “In the beginning God” literally? Maybe that too is symbolic, so who knows what that means? This is all very inconsistent.
Scientists will continue to grapple with the how's of creation, but there will always be mystery around creation because when you begin with nothing and end up with a universe, that demands the presence of the supernatural, which is surrounded with mystery. You cannot explain how you get from nothing to something. It will be plenty to keep scientists busy for a long time.
Comment: Actually, secular scientists will continue to grapple with how the universe and life came into being until they are prepared to accept the Word of the infallible God who gave us a written revelation to tell us all we need to know.
If a 10-year-old can grapple with the question, "Who came first, Adam and Eve or the caveman," I think she can be comfortable living with a bit of mystery. "Child, what we know for sure is that the infinite God came first. What we know is whenever science proves anything beyond any doubt, only then can we can embrace it fully. Any thing science can prove does not threaten our faith. It's like God pulling back His veil and saying, 'This is how I did it.' But until then, much of life's origins remain shrouded in mystery, even as scientists chip away at understanding it. Be comfortable with mystery, for we worship a mysterious God, who has revealed enough of Himself that we can be assured of our faith in Him and of His mysterious nature."
Comment: This 10 year old won’t be “comfortable”—research shows what is likely to happen to her, sadly.
"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely" (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Dr. Michael Helms is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Jefferson.

Comment: How about taking the words of Paul in Corinthians and Romans where Genesis is quoted as literal history? What about the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 where he states that the woman is “of the man”—that woman came from man, just as Genesis describes (i.e., woman from man’s side).

Sadly, this sort of compromise is rife in our church; it reflects the state of the church and the state of so many Christian colleges. Look for the sequel to Already Gone, called Already Compromised, to be released May 1.

You can obtain the book Already Gone, and you can preorder Already Compromised.

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