The relevance of dogmatics

 St. Thomas

I greatly appreciated this article about churches producing atheists. Here’s an excerpt:

 Horvath, who has taught religion to middle school and high school students, explained that some of the recurring questions young adults struggle with but churches often fail to address include the formation and development of the Bible, the presence of evil and suffering in the world, and the question of inspiration and inerrancy.

“In large part, it happens when the church leadership is completely unaware that their members – and not necessarily just the young members – have questions at all,” explained Horvath to The Christian Post. “And [they] continue merrily along thinking that to retain the youth they just need to be entertained.”

I think he’s saying that Halo 2 game nights and Praise & Worship meetings aren’t enough; kids (some) will actually break free from the Christo-materialist shell you’ve created for them and start contemplating first things. It got tiring as an undergraduate to meet so many Evangelicals and Catholics (mainline Prots were indifferent) who not simply drifted away from their faith but consciously rejected it and for precisely the same reasons that Horvath points out (the problem of evil, Bible difficulties). This is not to undermine the consumerist-materialist-selfish factor, but people really do have intellectual problems not just moral, as much as I believe the latter to be decisive. Common sense words of advice: Teach the faith, addressing these issues, yet not constricting our theology to apologetics but presenting it in all its radiance as the Word of the Eternal, Merciful, Loving, Triune God. There are actually theologians a lot smarter than these know-it-all curious, inquiring young minds who have dealt with these issues and even taken the time to write it out in order to impress their academic peers serve and build the church.




  1. I grew up in a large mainline Protestant church which had a very active youth group, but had no youth Bible Study or Sunday School at all to accompany the pizza/movie/hangout time. As a young person of more intellectual bent this was often frustrating (my mother once got in a shouting match with the Youth Minister over the lack of meatier programming, in fact). As a current undergraduate, your broad strokes about Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mainliners really strikes home: most people in the first two camps go strongly one way or the other, and most people in the third don’t care.

    When I survey the general opinions young people today have about the Church, or even religion in general, it really impresses on me the fact that we Christians really need to start fighting back strong to make up for some of the cultures of laxness that exist all over the Church as a whole.

  2. Yes, “culture of laxness.” What strikes me is the disconnect between all the great work being done by academics on this front and its miniscule infiltration to the people in the pews. Much of the blame has to be laid on the seminaries. Or maybe its just the type of people who become youth pastors (you know what I mean). I, however, had a great youth pastor who (while hardly an intellectual) did try to teach us the faith and how to live it, while doing the pizza nights, etc. He was limited, however, by being a typical of Evangelical culture: 6 day creationism, plenary inerrancy, and so on, which simply won’t hold when someone goes to a non-Evangelical college and learns it ain’t just so, no matter how long you try to deny it and blame it on secular propaganda — such cognitive dissonance can only be sustained for so long.

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