God Really is the Best, Mr. Brad Pitt

The famous actor grew up in a conservative Baptist family, but at some point he turned to apostasy (fall away from faith).  In an interview he said:

“There’s a point where you’re un-tethered from the beliefs of your childhood. That point came for me when it was finally clear my religion didn’t work for me.”

This is a common pathway for people who turn away from faith. Their conclusion portrays a misunderstanding of the gospel, of faith and of God. They believe that the aforementioned concepts are religion. But religion is merely a man-made system and not to be confused with a saving relationship with God.

So they become angry with the religious establishment, and project that anger on God. Here is how Brad Pitt does not understand God:

“I didn’t understand this idea of a God who says, ‘You have to acknowledge me. You have to say that I’m the best, and then I’ll give you eternal happiness. If you won’t, then you don’t get it!’ It seemed to be about ego. I can’t see God operating from ego, so it made no sense to me.”

Clearly, Brad Pitt does not understand the gospel. He thinks that he has to do something like satisfying God’s “ego” to get salvation.  There is no mention in there about the suffering and death of Jesus in the place of sinners. He conveniently left that part out, because surely he heard it hundreds of times in church while he was growing up.

Does the God who actually dies for his creation sound like the egotistical god portrayed by Pitt? Among His last words, Jesus said: Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.

The ultimate act of love and unselfishness toward humanity is what illustrates the character of the biblical God.

But we must remember that God’s attributes of love and mercy cannot be separated from his divine wrath toward unrighteousness.

Ah, but it is this aspect that irks people like Brad Pitt.  They would love a god without the standards of holiness and therefore without consequence to sin. But this is not the God revealed in the Bible.

The biblical God became shame and died for humanity in order to save believers. But at the same time the evil born in the fall of creation must be punished, otherwise God would not be consistent in his attributes.

And yes Brad Pitt, God is the best.

Why are Young People Leaving Religion?

nones-exec-3

According to the latest data from Pew Forum on Religion, one in five US adults have no religion affiliation, while that figure rises one in three young adults who consider themselves part of the “nones.”  Nones are now a group that encompass atheists, agnostics, skeptics and open theists.

One in three!!! These are staggering statistics!

At the same time, NPR published an interview with six young people who have abandoned their religion, and I will paste some highlights here:

Miriam Nissly, 29, was raised Jewish and considers herself Jewish with an “agnostic bent.” She loves going to synagogue.

“I find the practice of sitting and being quiet and being alone with your thoughts to be helpful, but I don’t think I need to answer that question [about God] in order to participate in the traditions I was brought up with.”

Yusuf Ahmad, 33, raised Muslim, is now an atheist. His doubts set in as a child with sacred stories he just didn’t believe

“Like the story of Abraham — his God tells him to sacrifice his son. Then he takes his son to sacrifice him, and he turns into a goat. Today if some guy told you that ‘I need to sacrifice my son because God told me to do it,’ he’d be locked up in a crazy institution.”

Kyle Simpson, 27, raised Christian. He has a tattoo on the inside of his wrist that says “Salvation from the cross” in Latin.

“It’s a little troublesome now when people ask me. I tell them and they go, ‘Oh, you’re a Christian,’ and I try to skirt the issue now. They go, ‘What does that mean?’ and it’s like, “It’s Latin for ‘I made a mistake when I was 18.’

“I don’t [believe in God] but I really want to.

“I think having a God would create a meaning for our lives, like we’re working toward a purpose — and it’s all worthwhile because at the end of the day we will maybe move on to another life where everything is beautiful. I love that idea.”

Melissa Adelman, 30, raised Catholic

“I remember a theology test in eighth grade where there was a question about homosexuality, and the right answer was that if you are homosexual, then that is not a sin because that’s how God made you, but acting upon it would be a sin. That’s what I put down as the answer, but I vividly remember thinking to myself that was not the right answer.”

Rigoberto Perez, 30, raised as Seventh-day Adventist

“While I was younger, my father drank a lot. There was abuse in the home. My brother committed suicide in 2001. So at some point you start to say, ‘Why does all this stuff happen to people?’ And if I pray and nothing good happens, is that supposed to be I’m being tried? I find that almost kind of cruel in some ways. It’s like burning ants with a magnifying glass. Eventually that gets just too hard to believe anymore.”

Lizz Reeves, 23, raised by a Jewish mother and a Christian father. She lost a brother to cancer.

“I wanted so badly to believe in God and in heaven, and that’s where he was going. I wanted to have some sort of purpose and meaning associated with his passing. And ultimately the more time I spent thinking about it, I realized the purpose and meaning of his life had nothing to do with heaven, but it had to do with how I could make choices in my life that give his life meaning. And that had a lot more weight with me than any kind of faith in anything else.”

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What do all these young people have in common?  Their answers prove how ineffective formal religion is at addressing their need for a Savior.  They have all been exposed to empty religious practice which can never save.  Even the four who had contact with Christianity do not mention the center of Christianity: Jesus Christ.

Everything in their universe is focused on themselves.  They are the authors of their future and no one will stand in their way.

They have tried to find answers in religion and they could not.  Now they will attempt to find answers in the philosophy, meditation, and human wisdom.  They will fail with these as well…

Until they find “the folly” of the cross, and the Savior who was crucified on it.

1 Corinthians 1:21-25 “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”

The 113th US Congress and Religion

According to the Pew Research Center, the current (113th) Congress includes the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate, the first Hindu to serve in either chamber and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as “none,” continuing a gradual increase in religious diversity that mirrors trends in the country as a whole. While Congress remains majority Protestant, the institution is far less so today than it was 50 years ago, when nearly three-quarters of members belonged to Protestant denominations.

Catholics have seen the biggest gains, adding seven seats, for a total of 163 and raising their share to just over 30%. Protestants and Jews experienced the biggest declines in numerical terms.

There is a large disperity between the percentage of U.S. adults and the percentage of members of Congress who do not identify with any particular religion. About one-in-five U.S. adults describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – a group sometimes collectively called the “nones.” This is a rapidly growing group.

This country was never a “Christian” theocracy, but it was founded by Christians on biblical principles. We are now a far cry from our origins. I believe this trend is set, and we will see a continuing secularization of our society and our institutions to the point of religious persecution against Christians.

Please see the table below for details on the religious breakdown in the current US Congress. Among neo-Protestants there are a 73 Baptists and… one Pentecostal… (one for oneness?)