In a culture that increasingly subscribes to moral relativism, it’s “crucial” for Christians to have more than a superficial understanding of Jesus and a defense for both His deity and existence, a pastor and apologist has said.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Mark Clark, founding pastor of Village Church in Vancouver, Canada, said the onus is on Christian parents and teachers to have a “clear, full picture” of Jesus, as the next generation is going to “reject Christianity based on how Christians live their lives and the hypocrisy and divisions they see in the church.”
“Depending on our ideological bent, we'll home in on different aspects of Jesus and then ignore other aspects,” he said. “Yes, Jesus was all about the Golden Rule, but He was also about the scandalous idea that you have to give up your family life if it’s an idol in order to follow Him. We focus on Jesus saying, ‘I'm the truth’ and forget that He loved, served, and gave His life for the people and loved the poor and the marginalized and that Christianity actually flourishes among the margins.”
“We need to see Jesus clearly and fill in the pieces we’ve gotten wrong.”
A recent study from Barna found that two-thirds of teens and young adults (65%) agree that “many religions can lead to eternal life” compared to 58% of teens and young adults surveyed in 2018. Additionally, 31% of teens and young adults “strongly agree” that what is “morally right and wrong changes over time, based on society,” compared to just 25% in 2018.
The reason for this shift, according to Clark, is twofold: “Part of it is not having a biblical worldview constructed through the biblical text,” he said. “The Bible is very clear about the exclusive claim that Jesus is the only way.”
But a more subtle reason for this shift, he said, is the philosophy of “the autonomous self” that has slowly seeped into both Christian and secular cultures over the last few decades.
“We used to have a more collectivist attitude; now, we’re all about self-actualization,” he said. “This is about your personal feelings. This is about you flourishing as an individual. Once we've made that pivot, then everything is relativized and it becomes ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth’ rather than absolute truth.”
“As a culture, we’ve traded out the truth for, ‘we all just wanted to get along,’” he continued “This massive hermeneutic of the self has made it so that all truth becomes relative and, 'I can believe what I want to believe, don't project your values on me.'”
A self-described “skeptic,” Clark became a Christian at age 19, after conducting exhaustive philosophical and historical research for the person of Jesus. So through his speaking and writing, Clark said, he tries to address both the believer and the skeptic.
In latest his book,The Problem of Jesus: Answering Skeptics’ Challenges to the Scandal of Jesus (Zondervan), Clark asks readers to grapple with the teaching, claims, and actions of Jesus. He looks at the historical and philosophical evidence of who Jesus really was, and examines how Christians should properly view Him.
“I wanted to write something that both challenged, informed, and convinced the skeptic, but also helped the believer deepen their faith and inspire their affections and heart for Jesus,” he said.
“This question of Jesus is the definitive issue for the fate of everyone who's ever lived. You’ve got to figure it out. You've got a look at it square in the face and chase it down, versus relegating it to a space that doesn’t matter.”
Though questions surrounding Jesus’ existence have become “popular” in post-Christian culture, both liberal and conservative scholars agree ...