Who knows if young people before the 1960’s trusted anyone over thirty, but since then the youth in our country have been taught to consider anything “old fashioned” as somehow “less than”. On the other hand, they are also led to believe anything found in a book a teacher uses as a textbook is automatically valid.
As a result, the religious beliefs of many young people are a mix of views from often radically opposed ideologies. As schools move away from teaching students how to discern and think and towards mere memorization of facts, the ability to discern truth from wishful thinking is being lost.
While it may not matter in a lot of areas whether or not young people are confused, when it comes to God and Christianity, it matters a lot. God has laid down truths in the Bible that are unchanging. He has given us commands that are to be obeyed, no matter when or where people live. Yet, many young people believe the Bible is just one of many equally valid sources of “good ideas” to be accepted or rejected for how they fit into an individual’s life view.
So how can we move young people towards discernment as they read books, texts and articles? How can we convince them to measure everything against God’s truths before accepting or rejecting it?
There are many things we can do to help them, but teaching them a few discernment habits to use when introduced to new material is key.
- God’s Truths are unchanging and should never be rejected. It doesn’t matter how much research a person has supposedly done or how many degrees they have earned or books they have written. If what they are purposing is in direct conflict with something God has said in the Bible, they are wrong. Period. To suggest otherwise is to undermine God as the one true, all-knowing, all-wise, God.
- Every human has one or more biases. To claim to be totally unbiased is misleading. Everyone has a belief system of some sort. What they believe must fit into that system or they will reject it. An atheist is not going to support God – or else he or she would no longer be an atheist. Any material must be examined with the author’s biases in mind.
- Everything should be sorted through the filter of the Bible for truth. An idea may sound really logical, but be based on logical fallacies. “Evidence” can be faked or viewed from a bias that sees a different meaning than someone viewing it with a different bias. Everyone on the block may believe something, but if God says it isn’t true, then it doesn’t matter how many people believe it to be true – it’s not, because God said it isn’t.
- We as Christians should except God’s truths, even if we are the only person left who does. Elijah learned it only seems that way, but even if it is, Christians are still going to be held accountable for God’s truths. God doesn’t accept the votes of humans to change His truths.
These habits involve beliefs that many Christian young people aren’t taught – even in Christian homes. Many may attend schools that openly mock these attitudes. You will be fighting against a strong cultural tide to convince students to use these filters for anything new they hear. If we can’t convince them to use these though, the likelihood of them obeying God’s commands is slim indeed.