I’ve always felt as if I’ve known renowned Christian apologist Josh McDowell through his many excellent books, but I finally got to meet him in the flesh, and what a blessing it was.
As I mention in my latest book, “Jesus on Trial,” I read his book “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” many years ago as I was seeking God and was impressed by his comprehensive treatment of so many issues that trouble skeptics.
He is nothing if not thorough; he leaves no stones unturned in his exhaustive presentation of numerous topics concerning the authenticity of Christianity’s truth claims.
Josh was the keynote speaker Saturday night for an event sponsored by Ratio Christi, a group that organizes student clubs on college campuses across the nation to present the Gospel and evidence for the Christian faith to other students. It’s an amazing organization that is doing great work in combating the monolithic secular message emanating from so many of our universities and our culture.
I didn’t know what Josh would be discussing, but I assumed it would be some distilled form of his works on Christian apologetics, and I was looking forward to it. But he surprised me.
He presented material that I hadn’t read much about before, at least not in the way he framed it. He talked about three cultural changes that have created a “perfect storm” that threatens the church and the Christian worldview in our society: an epistemological shift that is undermining the very concept of truth, especially biblical truth, in our culture; an explosion of information via the Internet that is competing for everyone’s attention, particularly our children’s; and rampant pornography, which is frighteningly accessible to everyone over the Internet, including kids at a younger and younger age.
The epistemological shift is readily apparent to anyone keeping tabs on the culture and academia – and, sadly, for anyone who engages in conversations with people who have been affected by it. I discuss this in my book in a section on postmodernism, which challenges the very idea of absolute or objective truth.
With a straight face, a person will say: “Who are you to say what truth is? What is true for you may not be true for me.”
Is that statement true, by the way?
But on a more serious note, you can see how such a confused mindset would undermine evangelism. The Bible teaches that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” and that there is no way to the Father except through Jesus Christ. Be very careful to note that it doesn’t say that this proposition is true for some people and not for others or that it is only true for those who want to believe it. That statement is either absolutely true in reality or not, but its truth does not depend on whether we believe it or we don’t believe it.
But there can be no question that this kind of fuzzy thinking presents enormous hurdles for the evangelist who is seeking to spread the good news.
If he is approaching someone who doesn’t even accept the idea of truth, it is obviously going to be more difficult to convince that person of the gravity of the matters under discussion. In short, this type of postmodern thinking has led to intellectual and moral chaos that has undermined our society and our efforts to communicate the Gospel’s message.
Josh next presented his research on the overwhelming volume of data people are exposed to each day – 34 gigabytes of information a day – information that is in competition with all other information available to people. With so much accessible information, much of which contradicts the message of the church, it is increasingly difficult to reach people with the Gospel. Pastors and evangelists need to adapt to meet these changes.
The biggest single problem facing our young people, which the Internet is exacerbating exponentially, is pornography.
Children are exposed to it at alarmingly young ages, and the facility of their young minds causes an astonishingly rapid absorption of the images they are encountering, which can forever change their lives.
Josh warns us against believing we can completely shield our children from seeing these things. What parents need to do is to be open with their children about things and teach them that the biological differences between girls and boys are natural and wonderful. He encourages parents to have a close enough relationship with their children that they will feel comfortable enough to talk to them about any issue or problem.