By Jeff Keaton - Founder, CEO & President of Renewanation
Recently, I flew home from working with a school in Iowa and had the privilege of sitting next to an atheist. I sincerely considered it a privilege because on the morning of this particular flight, I had prayed and asked the Lord to give me a divine appointment on that day.
As it often happens, when this atheist found out I had given a speech the night before, he asked me what kind of speech I gave. This led to his telling me that he was raised in a Christian family but had rejected Christianity “a long time ago.” Thankfully, he was a very nice older man who was eager to have a robust discussion with a “man of faith.”
I mentioned believing in the facts that support Christianity, and he quickly told me there were no facts to support my beliefs; there was only faith. By the time we finished our discussion, he had agreed with me that his beliefs were also based in faith and that he couldn’t prove some of what he believed with observational science. Before we parted ways, he asked if he could have my business card because “I may want to contact you someday.”
Several things come to my mind as I reflect on this conversation with this precious, non-Christian man:
He is one of the millions of people in the United States who were raised in a Christian home but have abandoned the faith. This broke my heart and renewed my passion for helping today’s children develop a biblical worldview.
In spite of his rejection of the Christian faith, he still lived by many Judeo-Christian values. The teaching he received as a child has been very hard for him to reject. He agreed with me when I told him that many of his beliefs are rooted in the Judeo-Christian worldview. This reaffirmed my belief in the power and importance of teaching children truth from a very early age.
As I made a solid biblical case on a number of issues he raised, he seemed somewhat surprised at my arguments. He seemed to have never heard a good argument for the Christian worldview in so many areas. This reminded me that truth is like a lion. Just let it out of the box, and it will defend itself. No falsehood looks good when compared to ultimate truth.
Many of the arguments he gave in defense of his atheism were easily turned around to show the hand of an Almighty Creator. For example, he talked about how impossible it was for a god to create the complexities of the human body. I then simply asked him if he thought it was reasonable to think this complex human body came together with no designer and through random chance. I asked him if he could imagine the plane we were flying on coming together without a designer. I told him that when I see the beautiful complexities of the human body, I am drawn to worship the God who is so brilliant that He could put this together.
The last thing that comes to my mind as I reflect on this warm conversation is the need to be civil with those we fundamentally disagree with. He told me he greatly enjoyed our discussion and was possibly interested in talking more in the future.
According to Michael Snyder, 6,000-10,000 churches close every year in the United States.1 He also states that in 1986 only 10% of those between the ages of 18-28 declared themselves religiously unaffiliated. Today, 39% of the young people in this age bracket declare themselves religiously unaffiliated. That is an increase of 29 percentage points in less than three decades!
In all the cultural centers of power, such as education, arts, government, etc., the truth about God has been obscured or completely rejected. If we continue to allow these secularized centers of power to be the predominant influences in the training of our children, we will continue to see outcomes like we have seen over the last forty years.
At Renewanation, we have been given a mandate to help families, churches, and schools instill a biblical worldview in the hearts and minds of today’s children. With every child we reach, a new spark of hope begins to penetrate the darkness. We invite you to join us in this epic battle for the hearts and minds of our children. Visit renewanation.org to learn how you can join the cause.
Jeff Keaton has been a successful pastor, church and school planter, and ministry entrepreneur. As the founder and CEO of Renewanation, Jeff now works across the United States and Canada to help awaken the church to the great need to give every child a biblical worldview. Jeff is married to his high school sweetheart, Michele, and they have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and a grandson. He is the author of The Life of Radical Faith.
ENDNOTES 1. Michael Snyder, “Between 6,000 and 10,000 churches in the U.S. are dying each year,” End Of The American Dream, November 27, 2018, endoftheamericandream.com/archives/between-6000-and-10000-churches-in-the-u-s-are-dying-each-year-and-that-means-that-over-100-will-die-this-week.