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questions and christianity

Nones, people who choose not to identify with any religion, are the fastest-growing group in America’s religious landscape. The American Family Survey reports their numbers increased from 16% in 2007 to 35% in 2018. According to Pew Research 44% of Americans aged 18 to 29 identify as Nones.

In post-Christian America, young adults are likely to feel social pressure to identify as a None. But Nones are not only driven by culture. Things about Christianity, as they perceive Christianity, drive them away. According to Pew Research they “question a lot of religious teachings” (60%) and, “don’t like positions churches take on political/social issues” (49%).
What young adults object to most often concern sexuality and science. According to Prof Timothy Beale, the actual problem is that Nones share a flawed understanding of Christianity. They presume Christianity is essentially a matter of passive adherence.

Hard questions have always been a part of Christianity. The four Gospels are packed with questions; from religious leaders, from disciples, from bystanders, from Jesus Himself. The Protestant Reformation, which reinvigorated Christianity, arose because people insisted on asking hard questions.

Prof Beale reports that when his students, including most Nones, are given access to Christianity not as rigid teachings, but as space for active engagement with humanity’s enduring questions, they lean in. When given space to research the Bible, students often conclude that it’s far deeper and more authentic than they’ve been led to believe. And they often find authentic Christianity a refreshing change from the polarized political interactions of their newsfeeds.

Job asked questions. The Old Testament prophets asked questions. Jesus’ disciples asked questions. That’s why Hope Community has made Q&A a regular part of our Sunday gatherings. Holy Spirit revelation comes neither from a priest or a sage-on-a-stage. The 66 books of the Old and New Testaments accurately record God’s revelation of Himself to His creation. But that divine revelation leaves lots of space for honest questions. ~

Dan Nygaard