Teenagers say family, friends, money, music and even reality television are more important than religion according to a recent survey of a 1,000 13-18 year-olds by Penguin books undertaken to mark the publication of Kevin Brooks’ novel Killing God. What have we done when six out of ten 10 children (59 per cent) believe that religion “has a negative influence on the world”?
The survey also shows that half of teenagers have never prayed and 16 per cent have never been to church. The controversial new book is about a 15-year-old girl who questions the existence of God. Kevin Brooks, the author, said: “I can’t say I am surprised by the teenagers’ responses. “Part of the reason that I wrote Killing God was that I wanted to explore the personal attitudes of young people today, especially those with troubled lives, towards organised religion and the traditional concept of God. “How can the moralities of an ancient religion relate to the tragedies and disorders of today’s broken world? And why do some people turn to God for help while others take comfort in drugs and alcohol? “These are just some of the questions I wanted to consider… And I wasn’t looking for answers.” The research also found 55 per cent of young people are not bothered about religion and 60 per cent only go to church for a wedding or christening. Only three out of 10 teenagers believe in an afterlife and 41 per cent believe that nothing happens to your body when you die, but one in 10 reckon they come back as an animal or another human being.
A the Church of England is looking to cut its budget for youth mission work a spokesman said: “Many teenagers aren’t sure what they believe at that stage of their lives, as is clear from the number who said they don’t know whether they believe in God. “On the other hand many of these results point to the great spirituality of young people today that the Church is seeking to respond to through new forms of worship alongside tradition ones.”
Today a new site Make Jesus Famous is launched- http://www.makejesusfamous.org.uk/. Let’s help it generate the ideas, commitment and inspiration to reach out to to those who really don’t know or care about Christ. Let’s give them a message of hope, new life, love and transformation. Let’s be the miracle to them.
For the full article on this story see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/5603096/Two-thirds-of-teenagers-dont-believe-in-God.html
I get The Timeseach Saturday, but due to a very busy day yesterday, I didn’t get chance to read it until this morning. Imagine my surprise when I opened the Saturday review section and page after page was full of faith issue material. The front page and page 2 was a feature on ‘Spread the word, God is Back’. Page 5 contained a tour of European sites featured in the film Angels and Demons based on Dan Brown’s book. Page 7 the visual arts column features Alan Frank’s reporting on Sister Wendy’s search for the icons of the virgin Mary. The book of the week on page 9 was ‘Blood and Mistletoe:The history of the druids in Britain’(ok this may be stretching a point!), and Christian J.R.R. Tolkein’s The legend Sigurd and Gudrun is reviewed in the fiction section on page 11 (mentioning the faith of C.S Lewis in passing) ,alongside a smallish write up under audio book of Nick Warburton’s ‘Five Plays from the Gospel of St Luke’. Even the crossword got in on the theme with 49 down (5) “Second verse that’s in Exodus for example.” and 23 across (23) “Devout pronouncement for religious leader.” Answers to these clues in your comments please! I didn’t find God in the Su Doku, but wait, if you divide 27 by 3 and then add…….
Oh, and the main section of the Times- well there’s usually a credo column and register feature , but also on page 47 under the World section, we had a report on the real Garden of Eden in East Africa- mentioning along the way the discoveries of Noah’s Ark, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the tombs of Jesus and Mary Magdalene!
See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6204239.ece and http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article6207399.ece
Have you even had days of doubt and disillusionment with yourself and others when you’ve wondered what it really means to be considered a Christian- a true Christian that is? Have you ever wondered how relevant the creed or articles of faith are in a post-modern world, and why a belief in unbelief seems to be taking root in our society? You maybe have looked around a bit more closely in church and though, “Lord, really is this it, is that what you have for me to do and be? “You are not alone and neither am I and I thank God for thinkers like Brian McLarenwho have the gift of opening the door on a better relationship with God. McLaren wrote; “The kind of people who would come to faith along the path I was trying to clear for them would not end up just like the people waiting for them in church. They would be like a bunch of wild-eyed artists and excitable children and rugby players walking into a room full of buttoned-down accountants and engineers…a great learning experience for all concerned but not the makings of a fun party.”
In his first book The Church on the other sideMcLaren wrote:
“You see, if we have a new world, we will need a new church. We won’t need a new religion per se, but a new framework for our theology. Not a new Spirit, but a new spirituality. Not a new Christ, but a new Cristian. Not a new denomination, but a new kind of church in every denomination…I began to doubt that any of us Christians are actually Christians.I relate this experience simply to illustrate the importance of our challenge:to reopen the question of what makes a good Christian…if need be, would we be willing to confess that we are hardly Christians at all and that we need to become as little children and start again?”
The faltering steps of a new child are always the most exciting yet full of risk and apprehension yet no fear. If you’re up for it so am I and let’s hold each other’s hand along the way.
May’s Third Way magazine carries a discussion of the integrity of biblical texts between Justin Brierley, Peter Williams and Bart Ehrman author of Misquoting Jesus.Ehrman’s claim is that we no longer have all the original words of the New Testament documents so how can they be authoritative. Misquoting Jesus,Ehrman claims, isn’t questioning whether God is true ,but whether scripture can give us access to the truth of God when we are in a palce where we don’t really know what the New Testament books originally said. I have blogged before about the bible see https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/the-eric-morecambe-bible/ and https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/oops-more-questions-than-answers/ and the accuracy and reliability of the texts is a subject of much impassioned debate if you thing the scriptures are completely inerrant and everything hangs on their accuracy. All of the Bible is inspired (2 Tim3:16), but that is not the same as saying that all of the bible is to be taken literally. We need to listen to scholars and commentators to grapple with a better understanding as best we can which parts are literal and which are metaphorical or figurative truth. We need to teach people in our churches more about the origin of the bible and how to interpret its various genres. Too much is at stake not to. As Dan Kimball puts it; “If we believe that all of the Bible is inspired, then our job is to study the Scriptures with great prayer and humility and to distinguish between the literal and parables, metaphors, hyperbole and other figures of speech.”
On Saturday two Jehovah’s Witnesses who knocked on my door ranting about lack of morality in the church and they began to use the Bible as a weapon for beating, bashing ans shooting down people. By the time they had left we prayed, and I hope I had introduced them to a Bible that provided light and guidance for walking in freedom- leaving the judgemental stuff for God later. They went away smiling and I went back in the house without a copy of The Watchtower- Maybe they’ll be back next week!
It is important to accept that the Holy Spirit can use the Bible to draw people to God but it is not the only source of dividne inspiration- he uses people and particularly what we say and do to reflect Jesus to others. Ehrman writes that; “We have more than 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, between which there are hundreds of thousands of differences…there are more differences in these manuscripts than there are words in the New testament!”. The foundation for Scripture is not scholarly agreement, and as Peter Williams put it in Third Way; “Scripture could be certain without humans being certain about it. The important thing…is not what humans think but what God thinks. My personal level of certainty about something is not the foundation for a Christian doctrine of scripture.”
He may be right, all I know is that if there are 5,000 contested words in the New testament then God has more than 5,000 ways of showing us that he loves us. Even if someone has changed (deliberately or by accident of translation) words or phrases found in the scriptures down the years it hasn’t lessened their impact to change lives and to reflect something of God’s love and the teachings of Christ.
For more on Third Way see http://www.thirdway.org.uk