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CHARTING COURSE to a bold faith

Category: Option E Educating

Leanne Entermann

Submitted by Leanne Entermann on Fri 27/10/17 10:44

It wasn't until I was in Year 12 at public school that I met my first committed Christian. I was in a new school, a new state, and a new subject (home economics). A student in that class offered to help me with an assignment. She shared with me her experience and talents, her friendship and social network, and eventually her faith.

Growing up, I had never really known anyone who was a regular church goer or whose faith was the most important thing in their life. I had definitely never heard of anyone who went to church on a Saturday.
 
It was obviously a massive turning point in my life. I decided to follow God and get baptised. This decision influenced all the decisions I made after that. Becoming a Christian buoyed me through my early adulthood and gave me the courage to lean away from the party scene and the contradictory worldviews at secular university, and lean into God’s scene.
 
That time in my life was very difficult. The decisions I made were counter cultural and often challenged by many people every day. However, the more I learned and understood, the more confident I was to defend my decisions and my faith.
 

Faith and society today

 
For today’s Millennials, I think it’s even harder. The 2016 Australian Census shows that 39% of young people between the ages of 18 and 34 consider themselves as having no religion. In the United States, that number is still higher. Although Americans still claim they live in a Christian country, 49% of American Millennials say they simply have a ‘lack of belief’ and are ‘unaffiliated’ with any religion. Their reasons for leaving religion behind are intellectual:
  • “Learning about evolution when I went away to college.”
  • “Rational thought makes religion go out the window.”
  • “Lack of any sort of scientific or specific evidence of a creator.”
  • “I just realized somewhere along the line that I didn’t really believe it.”
  • “I’m doing a lot more learning, studying, and kind of making decisions myself rather than listening to someone else.”
We live in a post-Christian world. When young people leave school, they are greeted by an onslaught of anti-Christian rhetoric and secular ideologies, the effect of which can be devastating to their childhood faith. 
 

Our students crave the ‘why’ of faith

 
At the Education Leaders’ Conference earlier this year, Christian author and apologist Nancy Pearcey pointed out that school graduates often don’t have the resources they need to counter atheism, agnosticism, evolution, and other secular theories. Yet, unlike secular theories, Christianity is very capable of defending itself: “Christianity begins with a transcendent creator. It does not make an idol out of any part of creation (matter or biology) and therefore it’s able to explain all of human nature, without internal division or contradiction. The truth is a logically consistent, coherent whole,” Pearcey said.
 
Secular philosophies, she went on, cannot answer for the things that really make life worth living "like love, freedom, freewill, creativity, moral ideals and human dignity." These concepts simply don’t fit into an inhumane worldview, a world without God. They reduce human beings to purely biochemical or material forces. Just think of John Darwin’s view that men are merely animals, or more recently Australian roboticist Rodney Brooks’ theory: “Anything that is living is a machine. I’m a machine; my children are machines.” 
 
Brooks claims that he can “step back and see them [his children] as a bag of skin, full of biomolecules that are interacting according to some laws.” Yet, of course, he cannot treat them this way. These theories attempt to reduce human beings and their origins. “It’s a way to get rid of the evidence for God,” says Pearcey.
 
Students crave good, logical, academic reasons for their faith. They don’t want us to turn away from their sceptical questions but to provide solid historical, reasoned, evidence-based answers. They want their experience of faith to be based on more than just events that ratchet up their emotions. They want experiences that engage the intellect and stand up to rigorous examination.
 
In this post-Christian society, we must arm students with real reasons for their faith. They need to see that Christianity is, as Pearcey says “positive, humane and life affirming”, and that it is possible to counter the philosophies and theories that attempt to replace God and Christian belief. When their secular friends say: “There is no God!” we want BAC students to know why alternative philosophies are not adequate. We want BAC students to know how to defend their faith. 
 
My own experience of knowing nothing about God in my formative years and then discovering Him in my late teens is in stark contrast to many of the students I now work with. They grow up knowing about and experiencing a loving God, and yet many choose to walk away from Him at almost exactly the same time in life that I discovered Him. It is my hope that at BAC we will partner with parents and churches to develop more rigorous strategies to help our students graduate confident and unashamed of their faith. 
 

AUTHOR: Principal Leanne Entermann writes a series of articles called Charting Course in which she talks about topics important to the future direction of the College.


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