Caged lions …
And the young generation in the church
Published: 13 May 2005 (GMT+10)
There is a story about a famous preacher of the past who, when asked about defending the Bible, apparently said something like this: ‘How would you defend a lion? Open his cage and leave him to defend himself!’ Although it reflects a high view of the Bible, I think that in many instances, the way this ‘caged lion’ philosophy has been applied has actually hindered the spread of the Gospel.
For one thing, the Bible describes itself as the two-edged sword of the Spirit—a metaphor which suggests that it is to be actively used by us, not just ‘released’. And how are we to use it? If all it took were the words of the Bible itself, then virtually all preaching and Christian writing would be unnecessary. All we would have to do is quote the Bible in readings.
The Bible itself gives example after example in which it is spoken and taught about, not just quoted from. Paul at Mars Hill explained biblical truths to his audience; he did not just quote the Scripture. He did so in a way designed to present the Bible’s message in the most effective context for their need. Acts 19:8–10 even refers to discussing and arguing (some versions use ‘disputing’—not to be confused with argumentativeness) as a tool of evangelism of the great Apostle.
And 1 Peter 3:15, which we often refer to, highlights the need for Christians to be ready to ‘give an answer’ when challenged. The Greek text literally refers to defending the faith, giving reasons for what we believe, not just reciting what we believe.
Over and over, we hear of how young people have been let down by their parents and church leaders in this way—probably using a version of the ‘caged lion theory’—i.e. you don’t question, or try to defend, the Bible. (I’m sure, incidentally, that the preacher concerned would be horrified that his lion metaphor had often been taken to mean not using reason to support the Bible.)
‘When I was little, I would ask questions about absolutely everything around me, and that naturally spread to asking questions about the Bible. My family couldn’t answer me when I asked where “Mrs Cain” came from, or how all the animals fit on the ark. When they did give me an answer, more often than not it was such a weak one that even I could see that it didn’t fit. They discouraged me from asking questions about the Bible, telling me to ‘just believe’. And I tried, but it was impossible for me to stop asking those questions.
‘In school, we learned about the Big Bang and the evolutionary theory so early I can’t even remember when it was introduced. My teachers were more than happy to answer my questions, and to my mind at that age, those answers seemed to make sense. So I learned that the Bible was a nice storybook, but it wasn’t true. It wasn’t an overnight transformation, but I gradually began to lose any belief I had had in the Bible, and over time, I became more of an agnostic, though I called myself a Christian to keep my family happy. Faith was fine for less intelligent people who needed that crutch, but I considered myself above that.’
Notice how the ‘caged lion’ approach ends up caging the minds of the young, allowing them to be ensnared, unopposed, by secular philosophies.
But one day, says Lita, she stumbled across our website. To her amazement, the questions no-one had been giving her answers to for ten years, such that she assumed there were no answers, were all answered
‘… in literally the first day I was at your site. Dr Sarfati’s article, Loving God with All Your Mind: Logic and Creation, helped me realize that true faith and intelligence aren’t mutually exclusive. I didn’t get saved right then and there, but God had His foot in the door. All the objections that I had always had to faith were crumbling around me, and I found myself with no excuse not to believe. A few months later, I became a Christian. God has used your ministry to affect so many lives, mine among them. Thank you.’
The ‘caged lion cop-out’ may be an excuse for apathy, for an unwillingness to face the tough questions. But perhaps it is sometimes the result of fear—a fear that maybe the Bible will ‘lose the contest’ if exposed to scrutiny. So what might seem like a ‘faith’ position may be close to the opposite.
Today’s younger generation is more enquiring than any before it. That’s why it’s important for us to not only have a powerful, extensive website/resource store, but to spend much time, energy and resources continually sharpening, upgrading and adding to the material provided there.
My heart aches thinking of all the young folk out there desperately needing the answers, like Joanna W., who writes:
‘Up until this past week, my faith had been wavering, due to gaps in my knowledge of [Genesis creation history as confirmed by science], which I had filled with evolutionist explanations. As a year 11 student, [one of my science courses] threw up great contradictions to the Bible’s account of history; for example, carbon dating and the evolution and extinction of dinosaurs. Because of this, I was finding it hard to put my faith in the Bible’s account; because of gaps in my understanding and knowledge of this, I had no counter arguments for dilemmas put to me by my [evolutionist] peers. I prayed for the answers to these questions for months on end …’
Joanna, who says that she now has the answers that were ‘preventing total faith in Scripture’, has passed the information on to her mother, a religious education teacher, to use in her own lessons. And so it spreads.
More and more Christians are waking up to the powerful tools that are available to not only reach the young, but to uncage their minds for God, before they drift away from the church. Chris J. emailed to say, ‘I am a youth pastor, and I praise God for your wonderful ministry!’
George K. is a public school teacher, who says he will be recommending to his students to check out the CMI website for themselves. He says, ‘Your site provides scientific, accurate and clear explanations of the lies of evolution. Keep up the great work.’
John T. writes:
‘I am a former theistic evolutionist. I have always been a Christian, but until my first year of high school I believed that Darwinian evolution was “fact” and that anyone who contradicted that was an ignorant fool. I also thought that Genesis’s teaching of a six day creation could be brushed aside as an allegory. Thankfully I was able to meet the right people who showed me the fallacy of evolution.
‘But even after I realized that Darwinism was false, I was still convinced of long ages and believed the Gap Theory about Genesis … . Then about a year ago I was debating an evolutionist online and was searching this website for information. I ran across the Young Age Evidence part of the website and mostly thanks to that information (as well as books recommended by this website) I was able to accept what the Bible taught. Because I could now believe everything the Bible said I became a much better Christian and my relationship to Jesus Christ grew more than I ever thought it could. Thank you [CMI], I’m now 16… [and I] share this message with as many people as possible with mostly positive results.’
And it’s not just high-school students; David B. wrote of how his nine-year-old daughter was able to take a stand when her friend said that Adam and Eve were not real and that we came from cavemen. He said, ‘I firmly believe that had I just told [my daughter] about creation and didn’t provide any scientific support, she would not have stood her ground. Your ministry allows me to “harvest” the most important fruit in God’s kingdom … my own family.’
Finally, some extracts from an email from Kurt M. He says,
‘I’ve grown up in a Christian home, but from a very young age I remember wondering when dinosaurs were created, if they died out long before humans came along, whether the days in Genesis 1 were long ages, how all the animals fit on the ark, and who Cain married. Because of the facts of science, and without the help of any Christians (because I found no one who knew the answers) I figured that both the Bible and science were right, and where they conflicted, science was just more right. …
‘Then, last year, … listening to what [CMI’s] Peter Sparrow had to share, I found the pot of gold I was sure I’d been looking for … The Answers Book [now The Creation Answers Book]: where Cain found his wife, how long the days in Genesis were, how all the animals fit on the ark, and the elusive dinosaur question!
‘The week I bought that book was one of the most exciting weeks of my life. What I read changed my entire perspective of Christianity. I’d finally realized that I didn’t have to abandon reason to have faith in Christ, and that I could take my brain with me into church. More than that, I realized that what I once thought was the biggest stumbling block for any Western Christian was in fact one of the greatest witnessing tools available to our generation!
‘One clear example of this was the change I encountered in a guy I led on a Christian camp in 2003. He was quiet and shy, and seemed fairly uninterested in God stuff. This year (04) on the same camp I saw him again—now an outspoken, passionate and dedicated follower of Christ. I asked him what had changed, and to my surprise he said three words: [the name of our ministry]!
‘On discovering that God did have answers to earthly things (He doesn’t require blind faith), I started believing the heavenly things with much more conviction and passion (John 3:12) like my mate from camp … .
‘I want to say a huge “thank you” to [your ministry] for providing Christians with real reasons to believe (not half-baked compromises), and for showing me truth when I needed it the most, at a time in a teenager’s life when its either God’s way or the highway. … Please keep up the amazing work, answering the sceptics and fighting compromise, and allowing the Word of God to have the first and last word on everything, because, as a friend of mine once said, thank God for the Bible—the only reliable evidence “cos it’s not from us!”’
Notice how Kurt understands that we don’t use science to ‘prove the Bible’, but we put God’s Word ‘first and last’, which puts science in its proper perspective.
Pumping out, refining, upgrading and promoting this information, continually, is a daunting task, to put it mildly—done by a relative handful of people, without the support of governments, research agencies, taxpayer dollars or even any official support from any church denominations. But it is also an incredible joy when we see testimonies like these.
The only way we’ve been able to do it more and more, and see such results, is because of supporters like yourselves, so please share in our joy.
New outreach thrust
In early 2005 we saw the release of a landmark CMI book written specifically with the goal of reaching a generation whose beliefs seem almost unfathomable to many Christians.
Gary Bates’s Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection will meet head-on the ever-changing challenges presented to us by today’s culture.
Beliefs in extraterrestrial life, UFOs and ancient astronauts are growing rapidly and are causing many to disregard the Bible, thinking it to be silent on such issues and therefore irrelevant to this ‘modern-day phenomenon’.
We need to be prepared to ‘give answers’ and this book reflects our willingness to meet this challenge at the cutting edge of where people, especially the young, are ‘at’.
This article was reproduced from a newsletter sent to ministry supporters in 2005.