A massive generational change has occurred in America, and we’re feeling the effects of this upheaval. I’ve been warning that this is coming for decades, and it’s certainly here (and with no sign it’s slowing down!). What do I mean? Well, consider the results of the American Worldview Inventory 2021, a survey conducted by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University—it perfectly highlights this sad generational shift.
Belief in God Just Gets a Shrug
According to this new survey, a shocking 43% of American Millennials (identified in this survey as those born between 1984–2002) “don’t know, care, or believe God exists.” Less than half (48%) hold to the “Golden Rule” of “treat others as you want them to treat you,” while nearly 4 in 10 (38%) give the green light to revenge, saying “you try to get even with people who have wronged you.” Many Millennials believe “an abortion performed to reduce personal economic or emotional discomfort” and “premarital sex with someone expected to be their future spouse” are “morally acceptable.” All of these beliefs are in sharp contrast to those held by previous generations.
Syncretism and Moral Therapeutic Deism—the Way of the Young Folks
So, what is the dominant worldview of the younger generations? Dr. George Barna, the respected researcher behind this new survey, says the dominant worldview of our day is syncretism (i.e., a blend of a variety of religions and beliefs), leaning heavily on the worldview of Moral Therapeutic Deism. What is MTD? Well, it can be summarized with these key beliefs:
- God remains distant from people’s lives.
- People are supposed to be good to each other (i.e., moral).
- The universal purpose of life is being happy and feeling good about oneself.
- There are no absolute moral truths.
- God allows “good people” into heaven.
- God places very limited demands on people.
That certainly sounds like what the majority of people in the US believe today (particularly the younger generations). As the study mentioned above found,
Millennials are “far more likely” than other generations to:
- Define success in life as happiness, personal freedom, or productivity without oppression
- Consider an abortion performed to reduce personal economic or emotional discomfort to be morally acceptable
- Consider premarital sex with someone expected to be their future spouse to be morally acceptable
- Deem reincarnation a real possibility
- Be liberal regarding fiscal and social policies
- Champion liberal theology
- Be among the “Don’ts”—people who either do not know if God exists, do not believe that He exists, or do not care if He exists
It’s all about being “happy” and feeling good—there’s no room for sin, God’s wrath, biblical justice, absolutes, personal responsibility, self-sacrifice, tolerance for others (love for enemies), or uncompromising biblical truth in a worldview that’s all about me, what I think, and what makes me feel good in the here and now.
A Religion of Sand
In other words, as I’ve said many times before, these younger generations aren’t irreligious or neutral about worldviews. They have a religion—it’s a religion of their own making as they act as their own gods. It’s man’s word as the authority. It’s secularism, where man is the authority and decides truth. Such a worldview may borrow morality, or other truths like the existence of God, from the Bible, but it is distinctly un-Christian. It’s based on the sand of man’s opinion, grabbing elements from a variety of different “religious traditions,” not on the unchanging rock of God’s Word.
This worldview is radically changing the West because ideas have consequences. And ideas based in sinful, fallible man’s opinions will have deadly consequences. History bears that out and modern generations won’t be an exception.
What Should We Do?
So, what’s the church to do in light of the seismic shift in the culture? Well, what the true church has always done throughout history: believe and obey God’s Word, preach the gospel, and refuse to water down truth to accommodate a dark world that hates the light of Christ. How can we do that? Well, it starts with each individual Christian committing to knowing, believing, defending, and proclaiming God’s Word. And then teaching others to do the same. We must:
- Contend for the faith. The faith was once for all delivered to the saints, as Jude reminds us (Jude 1:3). There isn’t a different “progressive” faith, syncretized from a bunch of religions and our personal experiences, for the 21st Century. We aren’t somehow more enlightened than past Christians. We need the Word of God—the only infallible revelation from God—to build a proper worldview and know the truth that sets us free. Those who know and love Christ and his Word must earnestly contend for the faith amidst false teachers and an apathetic culture that lazily accepts their own ideas as truth rather than doing the hard work of rightly dividing the Word of truth.
- Always be ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15). Our culture asks hard questions about the truth of God’s Word, the reality of the gospel message, and the authority of the Scriptures. We must be ready with answers for the precious hope we have in Christ alone. We must demolish arguments that set themselves up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). Really, this means we must be equipped with apologetics. And the first line of defense for our faith is knowledge of the Word of God. Read your Bible. Read it to your kids as a family. Nothing can replace time in—and with—the Word of God. It alone is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). And as you read and study the Word, accompany your study with good apologetics resources (such as those we offer at Answers in Genesis). Make sure your children and grandchildren are reading God’s Word and solid apologetics resources.
- Thoroughly understand the gospel message. Many “Christians” today have a gospel of self-help, prosperity, or vague morality. The Jesus of their own making is there to help them, make them feel good, or give them the moral high ground over others. That is not the biblical gospel—and it doesn’t save! The biblical gospel is so much better, deeper, and richer. The biblical gospel is that Jesus came to save sinners (Matthew 1:21; 1 Timothy 1:15). He didn’t come to end oppression, poverty, or injustice (though he will do all that in his second coming); as the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament make clear, he came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to die as a ransom for our sin (1 John 2:2)—a substitute in the place of sinners (and all of us are sinners, Romans 3:23). Then he rose from the grave, triumphing over death and sin. He now freely offers forgiveness and new life for eternity to all who will recognize their need of him, turn from their sin, and trust alone in Christ for salvation. With so many false gospels and cheap versions of Christianity out there, it’s essential we have a deep, well-grounded knowledge of the biblical gospel message.
It’s the Word of God that anchors us to truth, no matter the generation or what’s currently rocking this broken world. Let us remain steadfast, holding to Christ and his Word, and boldly sharing the gospel and biblical truth with a world that desperately needs to let go of its false ideologies and turn to the only true foundation that will last the test of time: the very Word of God.