Is Your Church Raising an Army of Skeptics?

by Jason Wisdom 

My students have a different journal question/topic every day when they enter the classroom. Yesterday the question was, “What is your biggest doubt or struggle with Christianity, God, and/or the Bible?” When it came time for discussion, one of the students said the following:

“I sometimes doubt my faith because I hear people talk about all of the amazing experiences they have with God speaking to them, or how they feel the Holy Spirit during worship, and stuff like that. I just don’t feel like I have that, and it makes me wonder sometimes if there is something wrong with me or if, I dunno, maybe they are faking it.”

Another student chimed in, “I know right. When people say stuff like, ‘I was praying and I heard God say something’ I am just like, ‘I pray, but I don’t hear anything. What am I doing wrong?'”

A third student said, “I wonder sometimes, you know, if it is really God that people are feeling or if it is just them getting into the music. I mean, I get goosebumps sometimes too, but I don’t think that means it is God or something.”

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Still another added, “And when people like pastors and stuff say that we ‘just need to pray harder and ask God to show us his will for our lives’, I just get confused. I don’t know. It just seems like I can’t tell what is God and what isn’t.”

This is just a small sampling of how it went. Several other students expressed similar concerns. It practically dominated the discussion in every class. I was deeply grieved. Not because I was shocked or surprised by what they were saying, but because it was entirely predictable. I have felt the same way on many occasions.

I don’t know how many times I have heard people downplay the need for doctrine and apologetics by saying things like, “What people really need is not a theology or evidence, but an experience. No one can take an experience away from you, and no argument can override what you have actually experienced.” Now, please don’t misunderstand what I am about to say, I believe that the Holy Spirit indwells every regenerate follower of Jesus. I believe that there is a first-hand, personal, experiential component to knowing and walking with God. So don’t hear me say what I am not saying. I am not trying to de-supernaturalize or de-personalize Christianity (though some will no doubt accuse me of doing precisely that). At the same time, I think there has been a movement within evangelical Christianity, especially over the past 30 years, to focus so heavily on the personal, relational element that it has almost become a new branch of Christianity–one where subjective experience trumps both revelation and evidence. You might ask, “Ok, so what’s wrong with that?” Simply put: conclusions drawn from subjective, personal experiences are notoriously unreliable…


Is Your Church Raising an Army of Skeptics? – Because It’s True