Updated: Mar 30
In one same week, two different grandfathers who do not even know each other, expressed to me their pained concern for their respective granddaughters who both feel depressed and too overwhelmed to want to live. Both adolescent girls have virtually no self-confidence. Both are isolated due to the shutdowns, and both are undeveloped in their faith. Similar to those girls are two young people who are part of my life whom I care about very deeply. The two in my network openly describe themselves as “terrified.”
So many youth (and overwhelmed adults) are drowning in the depths of emotional immaturity where raw fear dominates. They feel anxious with an Angst that is mostly undefined, and along with their sense of dread, they feel too afraid to ask questions. They are not asking, “Who am I? Who is God? Is there a God? How can I know?” You see, they are not looking outward--that’s the problem. They look inward, and what they see in themselves is incompetence, insecurity, and inadequacy.
Fear holds people hostage. Fear weighs people down. Yes, fear can motivate in positive ways as well, but motivating fear is not the kind of fear that makes adolescents feel dejected.
The fear I’m talking about deceives people and causes them to lie. People lie because they feel too afraid to face the truth. Have you noticed that we live in a lying culture? Lies are the norm these days. Lies, lies, lies. As one professor put it, ”Lies are weaklings that have to be upheld by other lies. Otherwise, the house of cards collapses.” It is not coincidental that “terrified” people tend to two things: believe falsehoods and tell lies.
Falsehood = Lack of truth. Fear = Lack of faith. Terror = Lack of reason.
“Without faith, it is impossible to please Him,” says the writer of the Book of Hebrews.
God requires faith because God requires truth from us. The truth is twofold:
1) God is;
2) God is a Rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Most people in society do not know the truth and do not value logic, and that double lack leads them into the bondage of sheer terror.
Though it shocks our sensibilities to find ourselves enmeshed in a culture that no longer values reason, the fact that we are shocked means that we ourselves forgot or maybe never realized that reason is a function of faith. Without faith, people are unreasonable. Apart from faith, we are unable to understand.
“Credo ut intelligam,” said Saint Augustine. “I believe in order to understand.”
Faith precedes understanding in the same way that receiving precedes giving. When I was a little girl, I had no money of my own to put in the church offering except that which my parents gave me to contribute. I had to receive in order to give. Similarly, we must first take something in and accept it in our minds before we can compute it. Faith takes something in. Reason computes it.
But in today’s globalized society? Today we are unwilling together as a society to take in raw data as it is. When we encounter something, we are no longer honest enough to think reasonably about what it is. Instead, we engage how we feel about that something. As one apologist put it, in this society we think with our feelings, not our minds.
Have you noticed how our language accords with the way that society has become so emotional? Instead of saying, “I think,” or “I believe,” what we usually say now is, “I feel.” If I may say this tongue in cheek, I feel like the words “I feel like . . .” are the start of every sentence people say.
Notice: Feelings are not tools of cognition. Feelings are important, but they are not the engine of the train. Feelings are the caboose. Feelings always follow; they don’t lead. So when feelings seem to come first, what that tells us is that we are no longer aware of our own underlying assumptions.
Under every feeling lies an assumption that is based on a philosophy. Last month I emphasized the fact that we all need theology. Theology, not philosophy, is the queen of the sciences. Even so, philosophy remains foundational as the means of procedure for theology.
People who scoff at philosophy and insist they are not interested in it absorb it nonetheless from schools, social media, television, etc. Young people pick it up before they have any idea of what they’re doing.
And what is the philosophy of today? It’s nihilistic: “God is dead.” It’s hedonistic: “Do what feels good.” It’s Kantian: bent toward the destruction of the mind by elevating the subjectivity of emotions above the objectivity of reason.
Terror arises in young people on account of their cognitive impotence to deal with their own existence. Widespread depression in today’s society issues from an unbearable inner condition that pertains to people’s lack of theology.
At Right On Mission, our approach is theological. We teach people from a variety of age spans to think Christianly, logically, and truthfully. If you're interested in learning, do not self-eliminate by telling yourself you’re inadequate or unfit for additional schooling. You can take courses. Just audit or take it Pass/Fail. You were made to think and be reasonable. Let's find out together (young and old alike) what it looks like to trust God and not be terrified. Anyone sincere believer age 18 on up can come take courses.
In closing, I invite you to meditate on our Why Statement. There is no need to be afraid.
We believe God’s people can learn to think so Christianly that they find the moral courage to act with integrity as Christ followers, even in the face of opposition.