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Michael Kruger: Surviving Religion 101

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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August 15, 2022 2:00 am

Michael Kruger: Surviving Religion 101

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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August 15, 2022 2:00 am

Are your kids college-ready? Michael Kruger, author of Surviving Religion 101, examines how to prep teens for surviving religion—and keeping the faith.

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So I did. You know the Google thing was that I know that out. Now this is a year I think I will get current research on the number of Christian kids that walk away from the faith.

After college, define, according to Barna, 70% of high school students who enter colleges professing Christians will leave with little to no faith since Gary's parents and family life today when we want to help the relationships that matter most and will and Dave Wilson and you can find life or on our family. Family life today. It was apparent in a Christian home, in some ways we feel like our job is to prepare our kids to have a vibrant faith after they leave our home and that's like wow this not working so we need help now. We need some answers and what could it look like for us to prepare our kids and is anything we can do that. They don't walk away.

Yeah, and I can't the guy by better to come in the studio. If you give us of how we got Dr. Michael Kruger, the president of reformed theological seminary in Charlotte in the studio family today welcome. Thank you. It's so fun to be here and talk about the subject. Yeah I know it's a fashion New Year's area obviously written a book called surviving religion 101 subtitles just exactly were done by letters to a Christian student on keeping the faith in college.

Why did you write this, this book is got so little story to it and it's really different than other books I've written, because it's so much more personal and his personal action a couple ways. One ways. Personals is a little bit of my own story and the introduction of the book. I tell how I ended up as a Christian, a university setting where I was in a classroom and was bombarded by claims professor that I didn't have answers for. And it set me down a whole new journey figuring out what I really believe I thought I believe so. I remember that vividly ever since that day will write a book like this is funny to think that I'm the one doing it. But then that book is been percolating the back mine for years and then finally my own daughter Emma heads off to college want to go. My alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill which is where I experience that she got prepared to go off to college at the setting of this is the time so the book is part autobiographical and obsolete part about my daughter's own departure, and so is for personal to me and it's a subject near and dear to my heart.

You just hearing that sometimes I get a late night call yeah you wonder like I like that. All those are really fun so yeah usually it's about the time Iser got shot late at night and I'm better personal college student get me to go to bed and phone rings will see it's it's on my screen will see that some and she wants to face time with me and social pop on the screen, and sure enough behind her on the screen like eight of her friends all crowded into the video screen know she's like that. Are you awake yet was gorgeous I got a question for you.

And so for the next 45 minutes and I'm half asleep or down the rabbit trail of you know it is God predestined people are you know what we do about speaking in tongues are what we do in my Bible professor says it the Gospels are made up fables are stories and so whatever the issue of the day as were more grounded in the other, all thrown in the questions, and it's a lot of fun. I love it how much of you know your time. Even with them in her friends again. That could be expanded. All kinds hundreds of thousands of college kids and not just college kids.

We all of these questions you how much of your answer is I know your scholar on the Canon you have watched you and I mean I don't think I'd want to go to anybody else in terms of, you know the original manuscripts and what we have in our word, which is the Canon which is where we get our truths from but as you about answering Amber people that age or any age, how much of it is intellectual how much of you think is emotional or just the current world circumstances, or a college prof saying things that just target our faith where you answer those questions, you go right to the mind or ego brought in that yeah well I think it's fair to say that it's any question has multi-dimensions to in terms of its origins right so summer generally have intellectual questions anymore things I learned of the years is a lot of people never heard a good answer to the question I have, and as soon as they hear a good answer it, they can have that shocked moment like oh I didn't realize there's a good reason to believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead, and there's a sort of sense of epiphany. So some people do have generally intellectual questions and never ever get answer of yes a lot about our current state of the of the church probably then there's others who is not just intellectual, it's maybe they had a bad experience in church or maybe they you know I had parents who went to church and abuse them were hypocrites. Or maybe there's something that really bad happened in their life and they can't get over the problem of evil thinking that God doesn't really exist or could exist. We all know that what we believe is not just intellectual jumbled up together with our emotions or experience our background in one of things I love about this book that I tried to do is to make a personal know I wrote it is letters to my daughter so it's not just here, the intellectual data that's another hard to do, actually to give people data. What is hard to do is to give it to them in a framework they want to receive it. And so I tried to write this very personally as a father to daughter. I hope that comes across to the reader opposite my daughter but they can get the sense I really care about the person, not just the ideas, make what was your experience. You said you went to college me, you really start question what happened from there. Yes, my story is is always a key part of why wrote the book, so I arrived at UNC Chapel Hill as an undergrad. In 1989 since I myself in a religion class called introduction to the New Testament and there was a committed Christian love.

Jesus grew up in a Bible believing home with with bleeding parents taught the gospel. Young age and I thought no, I'm fine here you had a good youth group what what more you want right you pastor that was great.

So therefore all the world's fine so I got in this class and of course the professor was funny, smart, bright, witty, brilliant.

He started to just pick apart the New Testament in ways I never seen before. Now show me what thought prove contradiction showing the house historically unreliable. Show me how is been changed over time by scribes throughout the generations and there I was 18, 19 years.

I have answers all the time is of the professor.

I was securely from would eventually become famous in his name is Bart Harmon Romans nine barter measuring over 30 books now is still UNC Chapel Hill is one of the most prolific scholars today is very critical of Christianity at the time he wasn't famous yet. I had him as a as a rookie professor, but I didn't realize I was having what would become of the most famous critics of Christianity in the world today and course I didn't have answers so I had a decision to make. What was I going to do and was curious as to what other distractions some of my fellow believers left the faith. Some of my fellow Christians just pretend it wasn't happening just like I'm siding and engagements to stick my head in sand and pretend the sisters and happening at others looking for like hybrid positions like money back and believe in him here in class and believe the Bible and there I was like, what am I gonna do you know the Lord used it to put me on holy trajectory and I decided I would go find what the answers are not actually ended up leading to brand that I were, scholar, myself. It's it's funny how God used it for hopefully for good answer was interesting because as parents. I know what I pretend to do is I'm fearful and I don't want my kids. In those situations. Yes, the bubble yell about a secular university that can best of your faith correct, but instead you're saying that ignited your faith exactly. I think even his parents. Those conversations, you may not get to answer the questions that we can meet pump conversations at the dinner table. Tell me what you think about It's inevitable right so let's imagine you kept the bubble thing going, even through college and he said okay I'm not to let my kid go to secular school or not to let my child have a religion class okay well that's going to fix the problem because first of all evening so-called Christian colleges.

We know that some f-stops taught but then he went under 22. The graduate another center on the watercooler work in the hear the same argument so we do we really think that eventually you've got to deal with that. You just cannot exist in our world today. In perpetual bubble and I I don't think anyone ever really thinks that through and that's what hopefully my book designed to address. Yeah I know my first day in seminary working on a three year master divinity.

One of my first prof said hey first thing I want you to learn is read other people read skeptics read antagonists rated monies atheist. Do not just read what we give you. You need to know what others are saying you need to be on prove their right or wrong, you need to defend why you believe what you believe.

If you only stay in one little tribe and never breakout you will never expand a member center taken have told me that for I thanks will stay away from that.

Yes, it is same.

It was like a new thought like dreaming that's I can hurt me sexy can help me is like know this will help you so you're saying it's like you have to have the antibodies. Did you get your new system kick started spiritually. I remember when I was in college.

Josh McDowell came to our campus. Now we've hedged his son Sean on the honor program that I remember him saying this, I love to have your your thoughts on this MMM scene from the stage and again I'm not sure I get the number right but I'm I'm guessing he said this 90% of men and women to come up to him. Usually, college students and ask an intellectual question is not an intellectual question.

It's a moral question any said, I'll often look at a young man or woman say let me ask you question if I could prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt, to your satisfaction that Jesus Christ is who he said he was and he rose from the dead. Would you surrender your life to him and they often say no it was like one keep sleeping with my girlfriend know you and you and he says will then assign intellectual exactly exactly no I don't have a heart stat on it and certainly it maybe even his eyes. He says I think it's it's treated people believe in some ways, not what the facts dictate they believe what they want to believe and they also believe what fits with their earlier in prior held beliefs. So one of the points I make in the book is that whenever someone is presented with the evidence for Christianity you're not talking some with a blank slate right now.

Talk to someone who's neutral they already have a set of earlier more foundational beliefs by which they evaluate that claim. That's called a worldview, a system of thinking and so people can reject Christianity, not the silica is false because it doesn't fit with earlier beliefs they hold, which may or may not be true. So part of the goal of the book and in any conversations to get people to question their foundational commitments. So for example if you give someone the idea that Jesus rose in the data know I want to believe that when you bore down the why don't believe that it may turn out because they have this anti-supernatural world. Okay much evidence you give me miracles are possible so you cannot have evidence his eyes the World Trade Center.

Now the new one in New York City and it didn't matter because if miracles are possible minute dismissible so people definitely have bias and that's what makes things makes our talk and still thinking about your anticipation and excitement.

We saw the analyst calling.

Yes, because you like this is can be rich you in on these conversations I can go DPS is great and I thought if I would get that phone call and I were kids. He asked me some questions I would be in a panic do this. She could be like thinking for now think you need to get this, but that's what I would do I get this book because you're talking about are the things that our kids are facing like you are into what you doing had a really smart professor Christian exclusivity, hateful and intolerant Christian morals homosexuality held versus the letting God's suffering and evil the questions in the year, hitting all the things kids are being bombarded with and causing man to really think through how do I like leading that Steven and Wilson with Michael Kruger on family life today. You want to hear his response in a minute, but first let's talk about life can feel isolating right doing all the things in such a connected world, but we still feel so distance from one another we do about it.

Well, one of our past guests, Jenny Allen was on a mission to search for that same answer and wrote all her insights in a new book called find your people when you get today at family life will send you a copy of Jenny's book as our thanks you can give online. A family like or by calling 800-3583 29 that's one 800 F peasant family L as in life, and then the word today. Right now, back to Damien's conversation with Michael Kruger's thoughts on why so many kids walk away from their faith in Cali what was happening is lots of kids have shown up in college and it never had to wrestle these questions. I think what you're discovering is that we need some deep sustained reflection of the church upon why we have generations leaving the faith. So that's inevitable. Just on the way the world works, but are we doing an adequate job preparing people for whether to face, and I think the answer is I think clearly not in the way we probably ought to do. My book isn't written to parents is not written to churches and how to prepare kids for college if you actually got a college right but one of things I found out in all the enemies of done for this book is it people want to know how we got here like what what are we missing in the church that allows kids to go to college and get cream to have no answers. Like that's the real issue is not so much the kids leave not believing is so just leave not knowing why they believe and if they don't know why they believe they're gonna get out there and they're going to get crushed by the intellectual climate of most university. So part of my book is written to to just deal with reality and faced with was a lot of kids not knowing the answers I'm hoping to help but I think maybe a future book or future discussion can be. But what we do to dial the clock back and think how can we get this issue before even sending out the door. Maybe that's a discussion for another day.

Yes, those that what you think we've missed and this wouldn't just be in the church would be even in our own family rooms as he said yeah you know laying down the foundation of why we believe what we believe help in our kids understand that. I know that you know is a preacher for the last 30 years 30 years ago I could make a statement in a sermon why there's evil in the world. A loving God and give sort of a pat answer and it wasn't challenged the last 15 years. I started to realize if I don't go deeper, especially the next generation is literally sitting there listening to me pulling up their phone more they voted they know what some of the scholars and theists think and write about in there to listen.

My pat answer and go do you not even going near this question, yes I can answer this better new and so I realize why was a preacher.

If I'm worth what I'm doing.

I need to give them the parents would be looking at me like like going there and the kids and I thank you thank you because I'm doing whatever else to say. And I don't buy it anymore so that's what you're doing right yeah and I think one of things unseen over the years is a lot of parents and a lot of churches have for this bubble mentality of raising your kids like I need to protect them for anything that's challenging to them, protect them from getting any bad teaching and protect them from anything is false. So some parents honestly do such a good job of that. By the time the kids get to college. They'd not really heard much of anything. Yeah as far as an objection to the faith is killing that parent who's overly concerned about germs and always worried that their kids going to get sick so you have hand sanitizer everywhere and like really proud that little Johnny never got sick for the first 12 years of his life within a realize that, actually, because he never got sick and elderly versus immune systems never boosted and that he gets a lot sicker later. Ironically so you think you're helping your kid and you actually heard you get something true.

Spiritually, I think we need to get out of the bubble mentality is parents and churches insert in one sense inoculating our kids early with these things by introducing them to these unbelieving things in small doses, so to speak. So there immune system to be kicked in.

Spiritually they were not doing that in my book, as it was on the deck.

I'm getting them in 1819 20 but if we can start sort of dropping little things into their lives to help them think through this, all the better ice duplicates on the dinner table. I would protect him to be the unbeliever, the dinner table. However, they they were 10 1112 not be like okay, tell you as a non-Christian, I think there's no reasonably got exist. Here's the three reasons why sure he doesn't exist response.

What would you say that you know there riser being a light why don't you just figured out that's a great exercise and forces them to sort of push through what they may not know, not just accept it at face value, so it is apparent that soliciting thinking well I'm not a PhD I'm not a seminary profit. I've had this phone a couple times where I'll be in a park or some in the seven just couple times were somebody or come to share Christ with me and I do it you just yeah Yep I don't like yeah have you like to what I know I'm doing it. People yeah but I mean I tell him later but initially I pushed back you will hear slidably that here's what I found. They don't know why either and I can almost crumble their faith because they're not. They have no death. They have no just what the Bible says so is I guess I can work, so I think there's apparently single I can do the dinner table because once they push on it on yeah yeah well I mean I hate to back the questionable notch. But this probably gets to you wire the parents migrated to write but I will tell parents don't like you have to have a PhD to be effective at this if you're growing in your faith and your trying to learn it from the reading you doing with 10 1112 no kids not doing with some flossy professor your table right if you just know some basic things about why you believe you can really help your kid get there.

The other thing I would encourage parents to do was lean on other resources. Maybe you have a PhD. Fair enough. But you could help them go to certain groups that are wont to do the sorts of things or go to church that's Wanda exposing the sorts of things are going on the challenge them or have them read books.

Not to sound clich but the book I just wrote hopefully could help parents think through these issues so they could then talk to kids about yeah I mean I read it and yeah it's deftly not just for Kelly Chavarria.

I hope it's not what I've discovered in many conversations across the country.

The last year is that a lot of parents are coming up to me and they're saying I gave this to my college student and I'm reading it with them right and so there's a sense in which the parents and the kids are reading the book together.

Mike, that's exactly what I hope to center nothing wrong is apparent or a mentor saying you know I great question. I don't know was exactly find out together exactly.

I think that's part of the panic) thinks if I don't have all the answers.

I can engage in the conversation, but not bad sugar kids you have an answer and say, look, that's a great question.

Let's go together and find out what the answer is a whatever source are you going to have your kids read the book yes decor Sam is read the book. My son John is right.

I think all three brought the book. Actually, to be fair the book is dedicated all three.

Each chapter is dear Emma, because I had to. She was the one in college at the time, but really, in my mind I needed. Then John will be in college than syndicate would be in colleges of the book is for all of them and they've all read it or summons by read it most carefully because she's at UNC right now and they seem to really benefit resume from it, and we have these conversations quite a bit around the table. Is there a question that comes up. The most from Emma or college kids. You think you know what I wrote the book. There's 15 chapters and I tried to pick what I thought were the 15 most certain vital questions and no one picking 15/500 right so who knows if I got hit the mark properly, but one of the questions I think it I heard the most, and I think is is a sticking point people that they don't realize that you know there's always the problem of evil we could go there is always that the sexuality questions we can go there knows her biggies no doubt about it, but what I've learned over the years is there's one that's been even bigger than most will be not articulate as the problem of why does it seem like everybody in the world smart doesn't believe in a university setting. They go in thinking okay so Christian is true in a four Orthodox Christian was the only true religion and yet most the people at my university.

Don't believe it. And on top of that, most the smartest people. My University certainly don't believe it.

The people those letters behind their name really don't believe it. And then they's pause and think for moment was the chance that all of them are wrong and I'm right that one question is like a little sliver in your brain that if you don't answer that.

You're probably we leave you absolutely answer the book and I've actually started a little bit tardy answer which is it that would be a very damning question for Christianity. If, in fact, people form their beliefs on facts alone. We tend to think they do, which I think that people just for beliefs in this white lab coat scientific sort away where you could give them the right data to reach the right conclusions and so we think people form beliefs scientifically and in a linear way.

Therefore, if most people believe something, it must be true and if something is true.

Most people believe it or what weapons we we say something is true. Multiple don't believe we do that, but this is where everybody comes into the game with a worldview with predetermined ideas and not just any old worldview of fallen broken worldview.

That's at the core anti-God. From the start due to the fall of Adam, and due to the darkness of your heart and that colors why what they believe now is more, he said the map that's part of the answer. I think people just don't have those.

Those are categories you know you know this better than anybody. Even when you bring that to late show that the worldviews in their brokenness in the baggage. Even then, most people don't ever get through that worldview. Even though the facts point them there correct the look at acknowledge it in my right and they just will go not going to believe us right in what it really takes for a person to believe is a wholesale overturning of the way to look at the world.

If you give a personal those facts are they going that's really believe know what they need is a wholesale paradigm shift with the work that Christianity's call conversion and that is a work that is ultimately done by the power of the spirit is it apart from facts knows apart from the word no distinctly robust ultimately the spirit of the dozen or so therefore I could spend all day long will the data, but something got you been listening to David name Wilson with Michael Kruger on family life today is book is called surviving religion 101 and you can get a you part of a small group.

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That's 250 FF to save on all leader materials tomorrow. David name Wilson will continue their conversation with Dr. Michael Kruger on how to help a child who is having doubts about their faith tomorrow on behalf of David and Wilson. I'm shall be added see that next time for another edition of family life family like today's family life accrued ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most

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