Last April on Episode 23 of our podcast, we discussed the phenomenon of YouTube celebrities and particularly looked at the deconversion from Christianity stories of Rhett and Link, who had shared those stories on their podcast EarBiscuits.
Just a few weeks ago, Rhett and Link each took turns sharing their “one year later” stories, particularly sharing and critiquing the intersection of faith with the cultural occurrences of 2020. You can listen to Rhett’s updated story here and Link’s here, although I again would caution you in letting your children listen to it.
That being said, I believe as parents and Christians it would be good for us to listen to these stories. These are two guys who were not just casually attending church, but involved in leadership, discipleship, and evangelism. They were engaged with the church and faith in the way we would hope our children and young adults would be. So I think it is important for us to hear some of their turning points and criticisms so we can help our own children navigate them.
Here are a few of the big issues I heard them bring up:
- That Christianity is an ideology. They often described Christianity as a set of beliefs to govern our lives. They also pointed out that the vein of Christianity they were involved in put a lot of emphasis on intellectualism and knowledge. Rhett particularly stated that his walk away from faith was one of rational decisions about what he thought was true (More on that in a minute). The concern I see with this point is that, while God gave us a brain to know and understand things, He also gave us His Son and His Spirit so we could know a real and personal God who is near us and wants a relationship with us. God isn’t an impersonal rule-maker or a philosophy to be understood. He is real and that reality must be pointed out and lived out in front of our children.
- That truth is something I must discover and decide. Modern and Post-modern thought has said we are the finder and creator of what is true. In that worldview, man is the ultimate authority. This concept is heard loudly in these guys’ story. The problem with this viewpoint is the finite and flawed nature of man. We cannot be the originator of truth. We must look to a source and authority outside of ourself. Just because I think or feel something, doesn’t make it true.
- That the response of the church to social justice and cultural issues is uncaring. There have been so many difficult and divisive situations occur over the last year. Rhett and Link both point out that in many of these Christians have seemed to either be silent or on the opposite side of caring about marginalized people. I think this one is a very complex criticism. Yes, there are those examples out there of those claiming Christ who have said and done awful things. Also, I agree that there is a level of apathy in the Western church, and we definitely have room to learn and grow. However, I also have seen glowing examples of churches caring for those who are vulnerable. So, to this point I would say we should own and confess our shortcomings, admitting our imperfection. And then we should point everyone to a perfect Savior, who has agreed to deal with my and your sins for the bringing of ultimate peace!
We want to encourage you to keep living in the tension of faith and culture with the young people in your life. Love them. Be patient with them. Talk them through these pitfalls and keep pointing them to Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. Be Abnormal!