Christian in Name Only


Christian denominations are using every means available to recruit teenagers into their ranks—modern communication, Christian music, online pastors. You can even find Bible translations tailored to teenage lingo.

On the surface, the strategy appears to be working. According to a study cited in the Opinion Journal, 88 percent of teens say they are Christian, and one third of American teens profess to be “born again.” The Barna Research Group, a Protestant research group analyzing Christian trends, found that 60 percent of teenagers believe the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teaching, and 56 percent feel that faith is important in their life.

Another study cited in the same Journal article revealed that 91 percent of “born again” teens do not believe in absolute truth. Josh McDowell, an evangelist and author, claims that nearly 60 percent of evangelical Christian teens say all religious faiths teach equally valid truths. Many teens believe two contradictory ideas—the Bible is totally accurate and there is no such thing as absolute truth.

Society’s message of moral relativism and tolerance—especially prevalent in high school and on college campuses—seems to be having a much stronger influence on teen behavior than religion is. Given society’s moral breakdown, that’s not exactly shocking. But when this breakdown begins to rub off on Christian theology, it reveals the shallowness of religion in our society.

Jesus said that man should live by every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth (Matthew 4:4). Living that way of life is a process of continually striving to overcome sin. The life of a true Christian is one of repentance. Those who refuse to change their behavior—who will not conform to God’s way of living—can still call themselves Christian. But they are Christian in name only.