How long does it take to lose a culture, from a Christian perspective?
Actually, it takes only one generation.
The devil knows this, and of course God warns us about it. Adolf Hitler understood this when he said, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future!”1
Over and over again in Scripture, God instructs His people to make sure they train up the next generation.
For instance, when God miraculously enabled Joshua to lead the people through the Jordan River, the first thing He told Joshua to do was to take twelve stones from the riverbed to build a memorial. But what was the memorial for?
Joshua explained, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know . . . the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over . . . that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever” (Joshua 4:21–24).
The stones were to remind the parents to make sure they taught the next generation about the true God. They were instructed to pass on the knowledge and fear of God to their children.
I think one of the saddest pages in the Bible is in Judges 2:10–12, “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel . . . forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them.”
After Joshua and all the first generation of parents who entered the Promised Land died, the next generation served false gods! It took only one generation to lose the spiritual legacy that should have been passed on.
What happened? In Deuteronomy 6:6–7 God had given clear instructions to the fathers: “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
Obviously the parents in Joshua’s day did not teach their children as they should have—and in one generation, the devil had those kids! While it’s ultimately a matter of God’s grace that anyone is saved, God has given parents an immense responsibility to do their part. Over and over again, the Jewish fathers were told about their crucial role but they shirked it (see Psalm 78).
It’s Happening to This Generation
Sadly, this same situation already has occurred or is happening now in Western nations once influenced by Christianity. Many fathers today are not carrying out their God-given, God-commanded role to be the spiritual head of their house and to take the responsibility for training their children in spiritual matters.
In England, two-thirds of young people now say they don’t believe in God—in a culture where most people once went to church.2
In America, a major poll indicated that two-thirds of young people will leave the church once they live on their own.3 Answers in Genesis commissioned America’s Research Group to find out why this is happening and published the results in the book Already Gone in 2009. It showed clearly these kids were doubting and thus begin to disbelieve the Bible at a very young age.
We also established that around 90% of those who leave church attended public schools, where by and large God, creation, the Bible, and prayer (in other words Christianity) have been thrown out. Atheistic evolution is taught as fact. The vast majority of these students were not taught apologetics (how to give a reasoned defense of the Christian faith) in their homes or churches, so they don’t believe it themselves and certainly can’t defend it to others.
An Aggressive New Agenda Against God
The public schools have been teaching their own brand of apologetics: how to defend the idea of evolution and history over millions of years, thus causing multitudes of U.S. students from Christian homes to doubt the history in Genesis. Doubts about Genesis place young people on a slippery slide of unbelief that eventually destroys their confidence in the rest of Scripture. Their trust in the soul-saving gospel itself, which is grounded on the Bible’s historical claims, is undermined.
Young people are woefully unprepared to understand and defend their beliefs.
Even when parents pull their kids out of public school, the anti-God message is so prevalent in the media, museums, and colleges—and even among friends, neighbors, and workmates—that young people are woefully unprepared to understand and defend their beliefs. Even many leaders in Christian education have compromised with evolution and earth history over millions of years. Many groups are now even producing homeschool curricula that promote evolution and millions of years!
Eventually, most kids will leave the church.
Joseph Stalin knew the power of education as a propaganda tool. In just one generation, he converted hordes of the deeply religious Russian people into followers of atheistic Marxism. He said, “Education is a weapon, the effect of which is determined by the hands which wield it.”4
Sadly, most of the people who control the West’s publishing and video industries today reject the God of the Bible, and they are winning over the next generation, indoctrinating them in evolutionary humanism. Day after day, our children are bombarded with their message.
The consequences in America were again confirmed in October 2012, when the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released new survey results. The CNN website reported, “The fastest growing ‘religious’ group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion . . . . The survey found that the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans. Thirty-three million Americans now have no religious affiliation, with 13 million in that group identifying as either atheist or agnostic, according to the new survey.”5
The Old Approaches Just Aren’t Working
For years I have been warning churchgoers about this danger in my presentations. Despite the fact America has many megachurches and more Christian resources than any other country in history, America as a culture is becoming more secular every day. America is heading down the same path as Europe and England.
The CNN item reported that atheist and secular leaders were elated by the Pew poll. Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance, expected the growth to translate into greater political power for secular interests: “As more of the voters are unaffiliated and identifying as atheist and agnostics, I think the politicians will follow that for votes. We won’t be dismissed or ignored anymore.”
Just before the poll was released, Bill Nye the “Science Guy” (from a popular 1990s TV program), expressed the agenda of today’s elite in public education and the media. In a video entitled Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children, Nye basically says if children aren’t taught evolution as fact, America will lose its edge in science, and no longer have engineers and other innovators. Bill Nye, incidentally, was voted humanist of the year in 2010. His words reflect the growing, deliberate agenda of the media elite to capture the next generation for the secular humanists.
In an article by a staffer from the National Center for Science Education (an organization begun in 1983 for the explicit purpose of attacking the influence of creationism and now headed by ardent atheist Eugenie Scott6), it is very clear that the atheists today are out to get our kids.
The last paragraph of the article reads, “What we can do is work toward the day when American schoolchildren are taught evolution in the same way as any other well-established scientific idea, without caveats or apologies. With evolution at the center of biology, and thus important to the success of medicine, biotechnology, and agriculture, we can’t afford to keep it bottled up or to kick the can.”7
Atheists don’t want Christians teaching kids about God—they want to teach your kids there is no God! They really are out to get your kids, and they are using the public schools, secular media, museums, and other outlets to do this. The public schools (despite a minority of Christian teachers who are trying to be missionaries in the system) have by and large become churches of secular humanism.
Yes, the atheists, like Hitler and Stalin, know that if they can capture the next generation (through the education system, media, etc.), they will have the culture.
Christians need to take heed of God’s Word and ensure they are capturing the next generation for the Lord—passing that spiritual legacy along to the children, so they will not be captured by the world!
Yes, it takes only one generation to lose a culture. And America is on the brink of such a change right now! God’s people need to wake up and understand a battle for their kids is raging around them—a battle that is being won, at the present time, by those who seek to destroy the next generation spiritually!
A Call for Radical Change
In view of such relentless indoctrination that bombards our young people every day, giving a couple of thirty-minute lessons at church or home isn’t enough. While many parents have already opted to put their kids in Christian schools, weekly church programs, and homeschools, few appear to be doing a very good job filling in the gaps. More is needed.
Teaching young people how God’s Word—rather than the atheistic worldview—makes sense of our world requires intense study, commitment, and fervent prayer on our parts. The church and parents must reevaluate their old assumptions about the way we should be teaching our kids in a hostile culture, and work together to build the next generation by following the directives from God’s Word.
Imagine what would happen if God’s people raised up generations of kids who knew what they believed concerning the Christian faith, why they believe, and how to defend that faith against the secular attacks of the day. They could then proclaim the gospel with authority because they believed the authority upon which it stands. We would change the world!
Connecting Answers to the Gospel
America has long resisted the trend among Western nations to slide into secularism and unbelief, but that is changing. A 2012 survey found that the fastest-growing “religious” group in America has no religion at all. One in five Americans claims no affiliation with religion, and this category is even higher among young adults (one in three).
This downward spiral has impacted churches and Christian homes, as well. Two-thirds of children will leave the church after they leave home. So what’s missing in their lives? And what can we do to stop the exodus?
“Faith in Christ” isn’t blind. True faith must be built upon a knowledge of the truth, as revealed in God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:15–17). To be saved and walk with God, every believer first must know what he should believe and why. That’s our job . . . telling young people answers from the Bible. We’ve got to address the hard questions that are uppermost in their minds, including the origin of sin and death in this world.
The next link in the chain, once young people learn the truth, is for them to submit to the authority of God’s Word (John 14:21; James 1:22). They need to understand why we know the Bible is true: the authority of the One who gave it to us (Hebrews 4:12). They also need to see that, once they accept the Bible’s authority, it will make sense of the world around them.
Most Christians realize they need to proclaim the gospel if they want to see anyone saved (Romans 10:14). The definition of the gospel by which we are saved is quite clear: Christ died, was buried, and rose again “according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). But the power of the gospel rests on the authority of God’s Word (Romans 1:16).
A young person’s salvation is ultimately a work of God’s grace. Yet that does not excuse us from responsibility. We have the duty to plant and water the truth (1 Corinthians 3:6–7) and pray to God in faith. But God is the one who “gives the increase” and we should give Him the glory. God has designed this plan for conveying His grace, and we need to make sure we’re doing our part. We are the ones appointed to instruct children with clear answers, to show them the Bible’s ultimate authority, and to share the gracious promises of the gospel!